Westworld Season 2 review: we’re not in the maze anymore

Here’s our review of the thrilling second season of Westworld

After a slow and frustrating first half of Season 2, Westworld has seriously picked up the pace in the last few episodes, leading to a finale filled with indiscriminate slaughter, more answers than you ever thought the show would give us, and a couple of massive brand new questions – because this is Westworld, after all.

The Season 2 finale marks the end of Westworld as we know it. If the park ever manages to reopen, it’ll take a while for them to re-staff it (most of the staff are dead) and to build new hosts (they’re all dead). The story of the park has more or less been wrapped up.

Maeve has finished her quest, having safely seen her daughter to safety, via the digital host heaven that Bernard repeatedly forgot he was building (oh, Bernard). Rather than escaping into the world, she chose to give her life to save her daughter, and her friends joined her in her sacrifice, include Lee Sizemore, becoming the first human character to give their life to save a host (and getting a pretty bad-ass death, although we can’t help but think he could have just talked his way out of that one). He probably won’t be back, but we can expect Sylvester and Felix to bring back Maeve in season three – although where she goes from here is anyone’s guess, because her storyline is essentially done. If it is the end of the character, then it’s a good exit. Thandie Newton has done great work with her, although why some bullets to the chest were enough to finish off super-bot Maeve when Delores can shrug them off is anyone’s guess.

She’s not the only one whose story seems to be neatly wrapped up. Ford is finally deleted and gone, Elsie is dead (poor Elsie, killed for being too nice), and all of those who made it to host heaven, including Akecheta, possibly the stand-out star of Season 2, may well never be seen again. They’re also probably safe from Dolores’ increasingly irrational vengeance, now that she’s sent Teddy to rest in peace with them.

Which brings us to the storylines that are very much not finished. The finale belonged to Bernard, who finally unscrambled his brain and remembered the big secret he’s been hiding all along: he killed Dolores and put her CPU in a replica of Charlotte Hale, who Dolores Hale promptly killed and replaced. And yes, we do now have an urge to go through the whole season and spot which moments were Charlotte Hale and which were Dolores Hale.

The season ends with Dolores Hale leaving Westworld with a bag of CPUs (but whose?), after having one cryptic conversation with Stubbs that implies that he, too, may have been a self-aware host all along, or at least was privy to an awful lot more than he ever let on. The idea of Dolores essentially being recast as Tessa Thompson was thrilling, and the sort of casting flip that only shows about AI, Doctor Who and American soap operas can get away with. But she soon rebuilt her own body, as well as rebuilding Bernard. They’re both now out and about in the real world, Dolores trying to tear down the human race, and Bernard seeking peaceful coexistence. Dolores Hale is still around too, but it remains to be seen if she’s still Delores, or if someone else’s CPU is in her head now. Whoever she is, Thompson will be great. This season has really come alive whenever she’s on screen.

That’s probably enough, but we also have the Man in Black surviving in the present day (despite having at least four bullet wounds and half a hand missing), and, in the lengthy post-credits coda (WATCH IT NOW IF YOU MISSED IT), we meet the host version of him in the distant future, being tested by ‘Emily’ for fidelity. Westworld Season 3 is going to have a heck of a timeline to play around with.

The finale gives us the no-holds-barred bloodbath the season has been promising, and takes a massive, brave leap into the unknown. The hosts are out of the maze Ford built for them and in the real world, and if it has the balls the show could move completely away from Westworld, abandoning characters like Maeve and Stubbs. But with some of the parks still unidentified, it’s unlikely that the show will completely abandon that thread just yet.

Oh, and the finale also snuck in a massive sentient AI that’s bigger than anything the hosts can do, in the form of The System. This, ladies and gents, is the singularity, and it was buried in the middle of an episode about robots punching each other. Let’s see where Westworld chooses to take it next.