“Where do bad folks go when they die?
They don’t go to heaven where the angels fly
They go down to the lake of fire and fry
Won’t see ’em again till the fourth of July.”
The spirit of grunge is alive and well in the second season of HBO’s Westworld.
At first glance, the two worlds — science fiction and rock and roll — might seem distant. But, if this season’s trailer, set to a haunting cover of Nirvana’s “Heart-Shaped Box,” was any indication: the show cherishes its revolutionary plot and a signature stop-start format that enables creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy to infuse dozens of dialogue-driven expository scenes with action sequences that left viewers wondering in October 2016 whether they had discovered the next Game of Thrones.
The mood from last season’s finale remains intact the season premiere “Journey into Night,” amplified to an almost uncomfortable degree.
Who are the primary culprits for carrying this anguished misery into a beautiful, high-tech amusement park? The characters — or android “hosts” — who have been there since the beginning: Evan Rachel Wood’s Dolores and Thandie Newton’s Maeve.
Much like the first season, “Journey into Night” focuses on its female characters leading the way towards robot sentience. But what does this freedom look like beyond the walls of this faux Wild West frontier? And, who will be standing in their way?
Certainly, Dolores’ uprising will be met with more violence by the Delos, Inc. corporate army, something Nolan and Joy don’t hesitate intensifying in the premiere. But that leaves the audience wondering: What will happen once all the blood has been shed? Where do the bad people go? Is there room for coexistence?
The show has always had a weird relationship with its own violence (see: “These violent delights have violent ends.”). Unfortunately, in its latest installment, Westworld doesn’t seem to be willing — at least not yet — to distance itself from the melancholy of its previous season.
While “Journey into Night” had the opportunity to present us the world outside of Westworld, Samurai World, and the entire Delos universe, the episode felt largely like a playback of everything we had already seen. Even the opening scene mimics the first scene from the show’s pilot.
With that type of repetition, the audience is left in a state of complete loneliness — no different than when the hosts began their rebellion.
However, the robots are getting a chance to fight back. Hopefully, there’s enough change to go around.
Editor’s note: Steve Coulter is the managing editor of The Ridgefield Press. This weekend he attended the Tribeca Film Festival where he caught an advanced screening of the”Westworld” Season 2 premiere. The show returns to all viewers at 9 p.m. Sunday, April 22 on HBO.