‘Westworld’ promises more mind-meddling delight

“Under all these lives that I’ve lived, something else has taken root. I’ve evolved into something else, and I have one last role to play. Myself.” — Evan Rachel Wood (“Westworld” character Dolores Abernathy)

The long-awaited reckoning has finally arrived.

HBO’s critically-acclaimed and all around beloved series “Westworld” builds on season one’s violent end, illustrating old-fashioned Western vengeance, masterful unpredictability, and a promise of beyond-the-surface mysteries awaiting the eagle-eyed audience in its already mind-screwing season two premiere, where “chaos takes control.”

Masterminds Jonathan Nolan (known for “Interstellar” and “Memento Mori”) and Lisa Joy (“Burn Notice”) are back with a Pandora’s box of a tale this season, creating a horrific, yet carefully crafted atmosphere with uncertainty at every corner — the apple of every J.J. Abrams, Black Mirror and Sherlock fans’ eye.

Set at the intersection of the near future and the reimagined past, in “Westworld: Season Two” human appetite is no longer indulged without consequence. Now that the androids have supposedly broken free from their loops, the price paid for their lifelong suffering will now be paid in blood – and lots of it.

While the first episode of season two, “Journey Into the Night,” got off to a slow and confusing start – the multiple timelines are back – its deliverance of ruthless retribution, psychological instability and the introduction of new puzzles surrounding several characters makes season two a clear, hour-long reminder that we have barely scratched the surface and that more jaw-dropping twists and turns are heading our way. Those who enjoy “Westworld’s” signature take-its-time storytelling will appreciate episode one’s not-so-linear approach.

From androids to humans, the cast absolutely killed it. Replacing the human supremacy reality for a more anarchic one, “Westworld” now harbors hosts ready to take their “primal fantasies” out on the very people they were programmed to serve. The talent coming from both sides created a captivating experience combining terror and character development intrigue. After breaking free from her loop, the sweet farm girl who perceived the world from a naïve standpoint is now gone. She is swallowed whole by the new Dolores who is relentless in her brutal mowing down of every human she comes across. Thandie Newton as the sharp-witted Maeve Millay stole the show whenever she showed up on screen. Her crude wit and heartfelt tenacity will undoubtedly make her one of season two’s best characters.

Nevertheless, in the wake of all of the hype, mind-scrambling “Westworld”-isms, and return of Dolores and Maeve, Bernard Lowe (played by Jeffrey Wright) was and will continue to be the center of most of the season’s intrigue. Just when fans thought that they had this android figured out, season two proves them horribly wrong. Wright’s brilliance in portraying the polite and unsuspecting Bernard only adds to the possibility of horror surrounding this artificial intelligence. With secrets slowly but surely unraveling before our very eyes, Bernard’s actions and mindset depicted in episode one prove that his level of unpredictability, combined with his ability to do some terrifying things, makes him someone fans and characters should keep a smart eye on.

Despite the slow buildup, episode one of “Westworld: Season Two” will leave fans craving for more puzzle pieces to fill in the spaces of the new and deadly game Nolan and Joy have laid out for us. This episode’s best parts include its subtle implication of Bernard’s dark personality and the series’ commitment to delving deeper into the psyche of the other evolving hosts. If you have not watched HBO’s most enigmatic series yet, you should not be reading this review. Take your time watching “Westworld’s” mind-blowing season one, and then catch up with the big leagues watching season two.

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