Oh yes, it is a true joy to see an underdog win. Despite all the odds, and all the early and presumptuous prognostications, sometimes those that society has deemed down and out can end up on top. Granted, this usually refers to something as innocuous as the Philadelphia Eagles beating the New England Patriots (better luck next time with deflating the balls, Tom!). Yet other times, it can refer to homicidal androids bent on world domination via cybernetic revolution. It really just depends.
But be that as it may, the Westworld Season 2 Super Bowl trailer is here, and it is fabulous. All synthetic steers and humanoid blood spilling, HBO teased plenty in its mere 90 seconds, not least of which is its April 22 release date. But as we look forward to the gunplay and real game for William inside of Arnold’s maze, there are plenty of actual hints of the violent delights to come. So put on your preferred white and/or black hat and saddle up, pilgrim.
Watch it here if you missed it…
And now, on to our breakdown…
The most striking aspect of the early moments in the trailer come with the confirmation that the Native Americans of Arnold and Dr. Ford’s Westworld shall play a larger role in season 2.
Despite the Ghost Nation being name-dropped an awful lot in season 1, these warrior people are merely hinted at throughout the year, and the emphasis of initial images in the Super Bowl TV spot confirms they shall play a larger role in season 2. Speaking of which…
While it is unclear whether these masked fellows belong to the robot revolution of Arnold or the seemingly sentient androids on the periphery (or whether they’re one on the same?), we suspect the grimly garbed fellows are not entirely human. In fact, there’s a good chance they belong to the robots who have gone completely AWOL, independent of Dr. Ford’s “retired” army of troublesome models going the full Spartacus in the Westworld basement.
We were previously warned by Talulah Riley’s host (now named “Angela” in season 2) that there were robots on the outskirts of Westworld ready for war. This may be harbingers of such doom for humanity.
And yet, perhaps they belong to this contingent? We personally suspect this lineup are not all robots… at least not of the host variety. If we had to wager a guess, like the Clanton Gang come to Tombstone, Arizona, here is a merciless group of bushwhackers sent in to bring order to Westworld. Intriguingly, Bernard is party to this group. It would not be surprising if Bernard is still subservient to humans, as he only became re-aware of his robotic nature in the season 1 finale. If we are allowed a speculation, much of season 2 might revolve around Bernard coming to grips with abandoning the meaty morsels he is programmed to protect and obey as they round up other cybernetic folk in the park.
And whether these folks are human or synthetic, I”ll go out on a limb and predict they’re the Westworld equivalent of Blade Runners.
Meanwhile, war is still imminent.
The first season revealed there were hosts in both blue and gray playing war games for the more regimented guests visiting the park. In season 2, it is not hard to imagine that as these armies become genuinely sentient, they play different roles in the chess moves of higher intellects, be they warrior poets like a gun-toting Dolores (and her for-now obedient Teddy) or even William / the Man in Black…
Speaking of the old devil, here is Ed Harris as the Man in Black.
This is a more somber image of him in the rain than what we have glimpsed previously, but based on his sincere joy at the prospect of a game with actual stakes in the season 1 finale—which concluded with him suffering a real flesh wound from a bullet to the shoulder—we imagine he is as happy as a pig in shit for much of season 2. Further, if the armies are going to be obeying their new commanders, perhaps William will carve out his own block of Westworld? It’s amusing to imagine that Westworld becomes a lot like Australia in a Mad Max movie, with large swaths of territory coming to resemble different areas of warlord ownership. And who would be more possessive in this environment than a man who gleefully chooses the black hat?
Not that we won’t have flashbacks—or narrative divergences—into the past. It wouldn’t be a Jonathan Nolan story if there wasn’t some timey-wimey bending, right? Here is a shot of what appears to be a return to the past where Ben Barnes’ Logan is at a Westworld gala, surrounded by hosts.
It’s clear from season 1 that William’s way becomes the dominant force in the unnamed corporation that buys out the Westworld park (he married into it, whereas Logan was born into it). However, we never had resolution as to what happened to Logan in this power struggle. This image suggests we’ll find out.
But enough about the past. What about the future? This snapshot suggests that the morning after Dolores put a gun to Ford’s head did not go well for guests. It’s a vision of carnage and white cloth tables left in disarray.
On that note, here are some of the signature images of the Super Bowl spot. Maeve leads a herd of not-entirely-convincing CGI steers into the heart of Westworld’s development center. Hopefully the digital effects are more impressive when the season airs, yet either way it’s clear Maeve will be focused on cleaning up all traces of authority who could stop her.
This makes sense given that, unlike Dolores, she has had enough time to grasp and analyze the comings-and-goings of Westworld personnel in the actual maintenance section of the park. Further, as much fun as it is in seeing her sic live bulls on park security, one wonders if she will also team up with the Samurai hosts of Samuraiworld? After all, she has seen what they have to offer, and they have to be easier to convince in wreaking havoc than some literally mechanical bulls…
Yet not everything is as clear as bullish Samurai. In this image, Bernard is clearly about to be attacked by an in-development-host. There is something disquietingly I, Robot–esque about this image.
However, it also suggests that sentient A.I. need not be determined by humanistic characteristics. Showrunners Nolan and Lisa Joy have previously mused how limiting it will be for the first real artificial intelligence to be confined to a humanoid shape. While this host that attacks Bernard is still “in development,” it suggests that we are going to get away from all revolutionary hosts looking like, well, us.
It is also just nice to have confirmation here that Angela Sarafyan’s Clementine will have a role in season 2 after her bleak, depowering end in 2016.
If I’m not mistaken, this is Louis Hertham as Peter Abernathy, the robot host who most convincingly portrayed Dolores’ father in 2016’s series premiere. He is also the first to teasingly promise violent delights and their violent ends. In this sequence, he appears to be enduring torture at the hands of humans (or at least human-serving robots).
This also better informs the above image of milky robot attacking Bernard, for I believe that those torturing / interrogating Abernathy in this moment are also the same figures we saw striking quite the silhouette with Bernard on a clifftop earlier.
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow. In this image, I do believe we see Maeve and other androids experiencing snow for the first time. If memory serves, there is no snow in the park in season 1, so this is probably a genuine weather phenomenon they’re all discovering in a blissful moment.
It would also then dispel theories that the Westworld park is located on the moon or another planet… at least unless this is actually part of the mountainous terrain found in Samuraiworld, that is….
“We 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.” These chilling reflections are compliments of Dolores Abernathy, aka Evan Rachel Wood’s revolutionary robot. She was the first robot in Ford and Arnold’s maze, and she is the first one to develop genuine independent thought, which culminated in the (perhaps inception-ed) choice to put a bullet in the back of Ford’s head.
Yet this is Ford and Arnold’s true dream. Humans are cruel, violent, selfish, and temporary. But their heirs are robots who could, theoretically, be the beginning of a new race of immortal and eternal “gods.” Dolores cryptically pondered as much to William / the Man in Black in the season 1 finale. (It’s an open question whether the black gowned Dolores is part of a William and Logan flashback, or enjoying a chat with her human enemies below deck). And these new gods can rule this world after turning we ape-ish folk into the next Neanderthal… or dinosaur.
Dolores promises to build a new and better world free from our mistakes in this latest trailer. A misanthrope like Arnold might view that as a bitter solace. But an optimist, such as Ford, would probably say it is “life finding a way.”
We’ll find out how Westworld Season 2 finds its way on screens when it premieres on April 22.