John P. Johnson/HBO
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May 06, 2018 at 09:58 PM EDT

Westworld

type
TV Show
genre
Sci-fi
run date
09/25/16
performer
Evan Rachel Wood, Jeffrey Wright, Thandie Newton, Anthony Hopkins
Producer
Jonathan Nolan, Lisa Joy, J.J. Abrams
broadcaster
HBO
seasons
2
Current Status
In Season

Westworld opened with yet another big surprise this week. We’ve all been expecting to see much-teased Shogun World. Instead, the third episode of the second season, “Virtù e Fortuna,” plunged us into an exotic new Delos park that we’ve never even heard of before. After that, we got a relatively straightforward hour that dialed back on the confusing time jumps to, as Dr. Ford might say, advance the narrative of Delores getting her revolution in gear.

But let’s start with…

The Raj. I’m not making that name up, The Raj is officially what this new world is called. Not Raj World, but The Raj. If you hurry, you can be the first to post a Big Bang Theory/Westworld meme on Reddit.

Showrunners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy want each park to have their own distinct cinematic feel. The lush Raj looks like it’s from an entirely different show about 1930s colonial India. So when the QA team found that dead tiger that strayed from “Park 6” last week, this is the land they were talking about.

Almost immediately, we get yet another surprise, this one on the soundtrack. The use of a sitar can’t hide one of the most distinct bass lines in rock history: The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army.” This song would have been a crazily perfect choice if only Delos had built seven parks instead of six. (And really, the producers should have made it seven — Seven Kingdoms, if you will — it’s just a better number to throw around in mythic fantasy tales).   

Anyway, we now meet our sassy smart heroine. Her name is Grace (at least, that’s what she was originally announced as). And what follows is a classic story of boy meets girl, girl shoots boy to make sure he’s not a robot, girl has sex with boy, boy gets killed by marauding androids, girl gets chased by a killer mechanical tiger. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Grace first takes her suspiciously handsome hunk back to her room where she wants to shoot him to make sure he’s not a host. It’s unclear why she’s at a Delos park yet is so concerned about this. Perhaps she gave up robot sex for Lent? Grace fires her gun at the guy as he starts to object. He inadvertently passes her test, and they fool around. Consent on Westworld is weird.

Now, there’s been some confusion about how the guns work in the parks. A popular question on Twitter during the season premiere was “who gave the hosts real bullets?” The pistols in Westworld are very high tech and only look like antiques. If aimed at a human, the gun will fire its projectile at a slower and non-lethal speed. Ford changed it so everybody, humans included, are identified by the weapons as hosts and therefore get hit by projectiles at lethal high speeds. So their hookup must have taken place right before Ford flipped the switch.

The duo go for a safari adventure and discover the hosts are now rebelling. Loverboy gets shot for real. Grace flees, being chased by locals and a tiger. In a rather thrilling shot, she shoots the tiger as it leaps at her, both going over a high cliff above a lake. This is — quite literally in this sequence that’s a homage to 1930s movie serials — a cliffhanger. Later, we see Grace crawling out of the lake into Park 1, Westworld, where she’s promptly captured by the Ghost Nation.

Who is Grace, anyway? All I can say is she’s an important character and we’ll be seeing her again. Frankly, I would have been down for a whole episode in The Raj following the adventures of Indiana Joan.

(Btw: I’m sure there will be insta-outrage essays penned about how India under British rule should not be a place of theme park entertainment on this show — there’s already some upset tweets — and there probably will be some about how feudal Japan shouldn’t be one of the parks when we get to Shogun World. Ironically, sticking with the original 1973 Westworld film’s white Euro-centric Medieval World and Roman World would get the Westworld producers less grief online but would also tell a story that was far less interesting, certainly less diverse and definitely less realistic for a futuristic theme park targeting a global audience. Not to mention: Delos and their parks aren’t exactly the heroes here). 

(Recap continues on next page)

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