#BingeWatch: WESTWORLD season 2 – An Appreciation

One of the positive things about being quarantined is you’ve got the luxury of time to catch up on some of my favorite shows. I LOVED the first season of WESTWORLD when it premiered in 2018. My hubby and I finally finished season 2 Thursday night and of course I’m still thinking about it. I’m surprised I didn’t have nightmares of Halores, ahah. If you’ve seen season 2 you know what that means!

It’s truly one of the most bizarre, inventive, meta, enthralling, and addictive shows I’ve ever had the privilege of watching. It’s perhaps the trippiest show, which is made all the more discombobulating given the non-linear timeline. In fact, one of the most fun things after binging shows like Westworld is consuming ALL of the articles, theories, explanations, etc. because truly, this is the kind of shows you want to pick apart and discuss endlessly with fellow fans.

Thanks to this Insider article, I can make some sense of the timeline of the show, I said some because everything is still trippy AF and you never really know which part is real. I also love how the show keeps us guessing who’s actually human and who’s a host, aka robot.

If you haven’t caught up with season 2 yet, here’s the trailer to wet your appetite… it took me waaay too long to finally catch up with it, but it’s so well worth the wait!!

There are SO many things to appreciate about this show… so consider this an appreciation post.

The Score & Opening Credits

I absolutely love is Ramin Djawadi‘s haunting score and this stunning opening credits! TV shows have really upped their game in creating truly beautiful and memorable opening credits, but I consider Westworld’s music and graphics one of the most innovative. It truly fits the tone and eerie, mystical vibe of the show itself.

 

Genre-crossing brilliance

We’ve seen countless human vs robots movies/shows but I think Westworld still sets itself apart because it can bridge multiple different genres – this season it shows there are other parts of the theme park explored, there’s the Raj as in the British Raj period in the Indian subcontinent, Ghost Nation with the Native American tribe and Shogünworld that’s modeled after Japan’s feudal Edo period.

I was just in Disney World in early March (yup, right before there was any COVID-19 cases reported in Florida!) and it’s eerie to imagine if a theme park like this exist… man, even just thinking about it gives me the chills!

The Production Values

This show has got to be a dream not just for the cast to work with, but the crew! The ultimate sci-fi western mixing gunslinging & futuristic, lifelike androids. In every episode I’m constantly in awe of the production design that sometimes it’s distracting! I love the juxtaposition between the desert landscape of the Old West and the super high-tech, space-age technologies with its cutting edge gadgetry, weaponry… and of course the ‘host’ aka robot-building mechanisms. After all, most of the technologies and concepts explored in the series are not only totally plausible in the near future (check out this Venturebeat article), some like 3D printing, intelligent machines, etc. are already here.

I love the BTS featurettes on how the filmmakers built the stunning world of Westworld, and these two on the sets and how they created those creepy-looking drone hosts (which are actually costumes that actors wear)… fascinating stuff!

Thought-provoking concept

The show-runners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy have really upped the ante and took this show to a whole different level from the 1973 movie version, directed by its own writer Michael Crichton. I haven’t seen the movie but I can’t imagine I’d enjoy it after seeing this phenomenal series. But the idea of a futuristic theme park where visitors can live out their wildest fantasies without any consequences is inherently intriguing… of course we all know everything comes with a price, and not all of it is monetary.

The running theme of ‘what is real’ and of course, ‘what it means to be human’ is at the core of every good science fiction… and that’s why I love this conversation between Dolores and Bernard, further blurring the lines between fantasy & reality, constantly flipping the roles between the creator and the creation… these scenarios that could potentially make one question one’s own existence!

What separates humans from robots is our mortality. Most of humans vs droids stories usually focus on the bots wanting to be like humans, to break free from the codes and human control as they’re often created to serve us. But what if there’s a twist? The series explores a grandiose concept that perhaps it’s the humans who want to be like the bots, to be able to live forever.

The Riddle of the Sphinx is an especially eerie one with plenty of philosophical speeches to ponder. Immortality is an often-told concept and seemingly a constant humans’ obsession with trying to cure death. I guess this is a ‘disease’ for the wealthy… I mean, no matter how much money one has, they still only have the same normal life span like the rest of us. Of course that doesn’t stop many companies in reversing the course of aging and offering us ways to ‘cheat death.’ We certainly don’t need any tv show, no matter how brilliant, to tell us it’s futile and playing God has dire consequences.

Great actor Peter Mullan as James Delos

Humans aren’t meant to live forever, let’s drink to that, shall we?

Speaking of living forever… reading this Vulture article where a futurist discuss the plausibility of AI developing consciousness in our world today is pretty eerie. Now, since we are all now living under a global pandemic and self-quarantining to save our lives, I thought about if something like Coronavirus were to happen in Westworld and spreading throughout the vast areas of the park… well, wouldn’t it be the end of humanity as we know it? I mean, as humans would start dropping like flies, the bots would live on as they’re obviously immune to organic viruses. It would be catastrophic not just for the park, but the world beyond.

Westworld Season 2 MVPs

I might do a separate blog just to talk about the cast. Man it’s really tough to pick just one as this show thrives on a talented, eclectic ensemble of phenomenal actors! It’d be too easy to pick

Ok for the sake of an argument, I’ll go with these two.

Thandie Newton – Maeve

It’s always clear from season one that Maeve Millay, a brothel madam in the local Mariposa Saloon, is much more than meets the eye. I knew she’s a special host, but just how special is she? Well, season 2 explores that brilliantly, boasting Thandie’s best performance yet. The kind of host never to trifle with and in the Akane No Mai episode in Shogünworld she proves just how mighty Maeve can be. I’m not going into details for spoiler sake, but when it happened I literally gasped! There’s also a scene where she finally get to humiliate one of her creators for constantly degrading her fellow robots, it’s one of the show’s funniest moments. Let’s just say he finally got his comeuppance.

Zahn McClarnon – Akecheta

While some sites have said the Kiksuya (which means “remember” in Lakota) is the best episode of season 2. That might be debatable, but I’d think it’s the most emotional one, which is quite a feat considering the episode consist almost entirely of expository flashback. Zahn McClarnon delivers an absolutely moving performance as Akecheta, delivering a monologue to a young child (in Lakota language no less), telling his story of his lost love and how he came to figure out just what kind of world he’s been living in. That whole bit of ‘take my heart when you go’ could’ve come out so mawkish and schmaltzy, but his performance holds it together and really made you care. It seems the show, just like the park’s creator Dr. Ford (Anthony Hopkins), is pro-host, and when you have character like Akecheta, it’s easy to see why.


Season 3 – beyond the park

Season 3 has started on HBO, and boy the trailer looks freaking amazing!! I’ve been waiting to see just what would happen if the hosts goes into the real, human world that they’ve been forbidden to enter. I’m salivating but I’d rather wait until all episodes are available as I prefer to binge on shows, I mean I find it torturous to have to wait a whole week to see what’s next!

Right now, I’m actually still reading all kinds of stuff about season 2! So if you have some great articles about it (NO SPOILERS for season 3 please!), please do share!

Have you seen WESTWORLD season 2? Let me know your thoughts!

Super Bowl 2018 trailers: MI6 Fallout | A Quiet Place | SOLO | Avengers Infinity War | Westworld Season 2

Happy post-Super Bowl Monday!

Me & hubby at Mall of America

I normally don’t even watch Super Bowl at all but this year my home state is hosting the big game so I can’t help getting a bit caught up in the spirit of it all. Mall of America was practically a SBLII hub with the teams sleeping on opposite ends of the mall (Eagles at JW Marriott and the Pats at Radisson Blu).

I stayed away from downtown though, I mean it’s freakin’ cold even for longtime Minnesota resident like me (-3˚F temp but feels like -15˚) at the time of the game, plus traffic & parking has been a nightmare this entire week. Yes we’re the #BoldNorth and all but we have to deal w/ this frigid winter and snow all season long, not just on Super Bowl weekend.

I started typing this as the game just wrapped. Congrats Eagles! It was a pretty exciting game actually, though I was really paying attention during commercials to make sure I don’t miss any new trailers!

So if you missed the game last night, or just wanna rewatch those trailers again, here we go…

MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: FALLOUT

This is the one I’ve been waiting for! Tom Cruise has recently joined Instagram and has been teasing us w/ a bunch of exciting stills. He even shared the video of how his ankle got broken on Graham Norton which made it into the movie! Well, MI:6 looks like another crazy action flick!!

Pscyhed to see the practically ageless Angela Bassett joining the team (she’s also in Black Panther AND Infinity War, wahoo!!), whichever side she’s on, I know she’s gonna be bad ass! Heck, she’ll be 60 this year but this lady looks like she could easily take out both Cruise and even Superman himself. Speaking of Henry Cavill and his much-ballyhoo-ed ‘tache, just what is the purpose of his facial hair in this flick??

A QUIET PLACE

Now, as you know I don’t normally go for the horror genre. But this one has got me intrigued mainly for the pairing of real life husband/wife John Krasinski and Emily Blunt, and it’s Krasinski’s directorial debut! The trailer looks so suspenseful w/ the family in an isolated place facing an unknown, but terrifying threat. I might wait for some reviews to see if my nerves can handle this movie.

SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY

Hmmmm, not really feeling this one. Alden Ehrenreich (who was good in Hail, Caesar!) have huuuuge shoes to fill. I mean it’s hard to get Harrison Ford‘s iconic smirk out of my mind, that playful, smug, sarcastic style we’ve known and love. I love the casting of Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian, but it remains to be seen if Alden could be even half as charismatic as Ford in the role. He does have nice hair though 😉

AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR

Ok the entire gang is back to unite against a common enemy! Watching the trailer made me even more pumped to see Black Panther (they scheduled the advanced screening on the evening on the 13th, YAY!!). Amongst the entire Marvel superheroes, I’m most excited to see T’Challa and Cap…

… not only Cap’s got a new haircut, he’s got some new cool, albeit rather strange-looking, shield too!!

HBO’s WESTWORLD Season 2

This is the TV series I’ve been eagerly anticipating! It’s been over a year since season 1 wrapped, and I remember thinking how long we’d have to wait. An entire year! But at the same time I’m glad the writers take their time to make it, and now we’ve only got a couple more months to go ’til season 2 drops on April 22!

“… we’ve lived by your rules long enough… we can save this world… we can burn it to the ground… and from the ashes build a new world… our world.”

The trailer gives me goose bumps!! Yep, the robotic hosts will rule over all… man I can’t wait to see this series!! April can’t come soon enough!

BONUS trailer!

Ok this one isn’t even a movie, but the teasers have been one long, brilliant buildup to … a commercial for Australia!

DUNDEE

What an amazing cast the Aussie Tourism Board managed to assemble for this commercial!! Danny McBride is hilarious as Crocodile Dundee’s supposed son (even Paul Hogan made a cameo), surrounded by the who’s who of Australia celebs superheroes … Thor, Harley Quinn, Wolverine and even Gladiator himself. Apparently the campaign cost $36 mil which isn’t surprising given the scale, but it was a lot of fun to watch.


Thoughts on these trailers? Which movie(s) are you most anticipating?