The award-winning HBO series Westworld has returned for a second season, with a third already confirmed. Based on the 1973 film of the same name, the futuristic Western is centred around the wealthy visiting an amusement park which allows them to indulge in their fantasies with the robotic ‘hosts’, supposedly with no consequences. However, the hosts developing consciousness may change the repercussions for the guests.

The new iteration makes several nods to the original, yet the experienced production team have managed to diverge from the original film. Co-creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy made the executive decision to have a host as the protagonist unlike the film’s human lead character. The series also features a larger cast, with more women taking on prominent roles; but the main difference is the success of the series compared to the movie, which was a flop.

Season one proved to be somewhat of a success and with a price tag of $100 million I would hope so. The pilot did well in building up the universe and establishing the hosts and the human characters. This first season did well to explain how the theme park works as well as demonstrating how the hosts felt having to repeat their lives over and over; for example, when Maeve first saw the underground of Westworld and realised that her life was not her own. The character development was well thought out: Dolores changing from a sweet innocent homemaker into something much more violent and dangerous. Yet she maintained her original self around those she cared about. It shows the emotional complexities of the hosts as this development happened throughout the season rather than through a sudden change in character. Evan Rachel Woods who plays Dolores made both roles convincing. It seems the show has not gone too action based and violent but remains quite philosophical in exploring the nature of consciousness.

After the success of season one, I had high hopes for season two. Season one had strong characters and built up the basis of the universe convincingly. That said, season two changed the characters’ core personality, mainly Dolores who has no kindness left after what she did to Teddy. Season two seems to overcomplicate the story by joining with a Japanese world and later substituted for a Native American world despite the title being Westworld. It seems to change worlds to distract the viewer from the fact that not much is happening. Unlike season one, the second season moves away from the philosophical point and seems much more action based with the only story being humans vs robots.

Featured image credit: HBO via Esquire