The first season of Jonathan Nolan’s Westworld for HBO was as much a masterclass in misdirection as it was an examination of what it is to be human or robot. The second season built on those ideas, but its multiple timelines and skewed chronology were less effective this time around… the ‘surprise’ factor of realising you’re seeing events out of order rather than in parallel, often making audiences scratching their heads as they attempted to sift through the regular shifting sands of a giant infodump.
So one of the questions for Westworld: Season Three is whether it will once again shake up its remit and whether it will be easier to follow. The answers seem to be ‘yes‘ and ‘we’ll have to see‘. The new trailer, presented at SDCC, certainly suggests a plethora of new ideas and situations. While we’re now – as indicated at the end of the last season – out in the ‘real’ world alongside several robots who have now evolved their programming to pass as humans, there also appear to be various scenarios and scenes that are definitely not futuristic. There are the scenes seemingly set in a World War II-esque situations, with ‘We’ll Meet Again‘ as their soundtrack, as well as the underlying threat/promise for the teaser.
There’s almost a Blade Runner feel to the tone, even if the visuals remain striking in a very different way. It’s clear that – once again – a considerable amount of time and effort has been put into all the visual aspects and style of the show and a lot of its critical success will come down to whether the accompanying story is accessible enough for anyone other than die-hard fans of the show to date. Evan Rachel Ward (as Dolores), Thandie Newton (as Maeve) and Tessa Thompson (as Charlotte) return to play key but shifting roles in the fate of their existence and civilisation itself, with Aaron Paul joining the cast as ‘Caleb’, the kind of person who could never have afforded to go to Westworld to begin with.
Westworld is, if nothing else beautiful and ambitious… and we’ll be able to judge whether its programming is fully operational when it returns to HBO next year.