I know it's bleak out there, but that didn't stop people from tuning into HBO to catch the season 3 premiere of Westworld. In fact, it probably helped a few more people tune in – because let's face it, playing checkers against your cat is only so fun for so long.
If you've been tuned into any of the hype leading up to the show's return, you know that Delos is out and Incite is in. What exactly does this mean? Well, now seems like a good time to mention that there are an incredible amount of "MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!" in this article, so if you haven't seen the new episode or heaven forbid, you're not caught up through the end of last season, then you should probably do that before proceeding at your own risk.
Now, with that caveat out of the way, let's dive into this world, shall we?
Dolores is of course and without question back and totally "The Big Bad" (duh).
At the end of season 2, we saw the hosts completely break free of the park and their human creators/captors and enter the real world to take over that after wiping out the park. Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) also murdered Teddy (James Marsden), her faithful beau and sidekick. In this episode though, we see her with the memory hard drive pearls of a handful of other hosts, with the implication that she's looking to create more hosts here in the real world to help her in her cause.
Speaking of the real world, we are now officially out of the park and into the future; the series is set in 2058 or something like that does a fantastic job of playing into the sleek, modern look what we currently think the future will be like. It's very Blade Runner 2049 and I'm here for it.
Fans of previous seasons and past iterations of Westworld have speculated on if we'd see any other of the parks outside of the Western themed one since the beginning of the show (and the ones shown in season 2); one of the original parks was Futureworld (also the name and setting of the 1976 sequel film) – which raises a few eyebrows at the futuristic trappings and setting of this season.
Aesthetics aside, the story is fascinating and compelling, especially Caleb (Aaron Paul), a soldier trying to re-integrate into the civilian world and wrap his head around his Mother's failing health while still grappling with PTSD.
Which leads directly to the next great thing about this depiction of the future: the tech. Yes, I know – technology in a super cool and tech savy future world being awesome isn't new at all; but we haven't really seen this scope of it before. More specifically, Rico: the "task rabbit" app for criminal activity. It fills a need in society where tech has seeped into every little crevice of life and taken over – for ill and for gain.
Also cool and worth mentioning is the "AI therapy tool" where Caleb talks to a program simulating his war buddy who didn't make it out. It plays on current methods used to cope with trauma and loss by extrapolating them to incorporate technology. It's brilliant and we could perhaps learn a thing or two from the depictions of the future we see in Westworld.
And one last thing – I am absolutely over the moon that this season we not only get Paul, but we also get the amazing silver fox of a man, Tommy Flanagan. I was absolutely worried they'd kill him off in the first episode, but having him back in host form and a sleeper agent for Dolores' AI revolution is the perfect twist that was the cherry on top of an already amazing episode.
The start to this season's Westworld feels like a natural progression of the real world that contains the Delos parks. Of course, whether you're on the side of the humans or the hosts, it will be interesting to say the least to see how this season unfolds. Prepare for the battle of the real world.
Oh, and of course Bernard (Jeffery Wright) is here, trying to keep his head down and go un-noticed in the wake of being Delos' scapegoat for the whole massacre. Good luck staying out of it, bud – but we all know you'll be in the thick of it before too long.
As for "future Google on steroids" company Incite – well, somebody has to pick up where Delos left off in terms of data collection and tech experimentation. Were you really surprised?
Speaking of one last surprise – WTF was with Maeve (Thandie Newton) in Nazi Germany? She either found a time machine or entered an incredibly messed up Delos park that should not exist, because wow. I'm just hoping that she goes on another journey like last season and we get some amazing scenes like the ending of Inglorious Basterds – because Nazis are very, very bad, and should not exist (in real or AI form), okay, kids? Let's not forget that.
Now here's a look at the weeks ahead on HBO's Westworld: