5 predictions for Westworld season 2: AKA me making stuff up

*Semi-spoilers but no major plot points of events from the first episode are discussed, just certain themes that appeared as well as the opening credits

Firstly, let me just say, WHAT A FIRST EPISODE. I feel like they did a pretty good job of getting people back up to speed with what happened in season 1, as well as giving us the play by play of what happened after that massive first season ending – without making it seem like they were trying to cover too much in one go. I feel like season openings can often feel like cramming before a big test, with too many topics covered, and too many reminders of the previous season.

I really appreciated the jumping timeline, as well as the focus characters – truly our core-three at this point; Dolores, Maeve, and Bernard. I also really liked that the first episode set up the seasons pace. With so many shows these days ­– especially HBO and Netflix ones – it seems like there’s this competition to be bigger and better than your last season, which can be hard when the storylines are as complex as Westworld.

Last season raised a lot of questions and explored a lot of topics common in speculative fiction, and this second season allows the show to go even deeper than most sci-fi does, so I have a few predictions on what we’ll see this season!

They’re all undoubtedly going to be 100% wrong, because I’ve never been good at this shit in my life, but hey, I thought it’d be fun, and it’s been a hot minute since you guys heard from me!

#1. Fertility/babies/maternal affection is going to be a big undercurrent theme for the season

westworld maeveI’m mainly basing this off the new opening credits, where a mother and baby are recurring. It would make sense for a next step in a new society to be exploring fertility and procreation. Obviously, this is closely linked with Maeve’s storyline, so she’ll be the main catalyst for this I imagine, although Bernard has his own fake-son situation to deal with and Dolores is a woman so like… Male writers… you know the drill…

What constitutes a family? A maternal link? What makes a real mother? Can the hosts procreate? Is it in their future and the next step for their survival? Fertility is a deeply sci-fi conversation, and it would be an interesting spin on the conversation around what it means to be “human” and “real”.

#2. The start of a new civilisationWestworld-dolores

I know Dolores is focussed on destroying humans (you do you, boo), but I have a feeling there’s still going to be exploration into this new civilisation. This goes further than fertility, and stems into philosophy, politics, economics, and community. This community needs each other to survive, but they’re also fundamentally different to our civilisation, so I’m excited to see how differently they create their world and society!

#3. Consciousness vs. conscience

Now that these hosts have consciousness – or some do? Maybe? – they’re soon going to have to grapple with what comes next. A conscience. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m here for a human bloodbath 100%. But soon enough, Dolores is going to start questioning morality. What does she hope to achieve? Is it enough to have consciousness, or must a conscience soon follow? Does a lack of conscience make you superior, or is it a useful tool? Does being alive, mean also caring for others? Of course, cold blooded killers live amongst humans (obviously a major point made in the first season) but I don’t believe that’s who Dolores is. As she said, she’s been forced to play the lovely ranchers daughter, and the murderous Wyatt, but her greatest role yet is that of herself. I don’t believe she’s wholly evil, which means we’re definitely going to find out about the growing moral compass amongst conscious hosts.

#4. What is reality anyway?

Westworld-doloresLast season we truly delved into the age-old sci-fi question of “what is free will”, but this season I predict we’re going to look more into “what even is reality?”. Now that Dolores and Maeve have discovered free will, what it is, and how to harness it, the question now for the hosts (and humans) is – what is reality anyway? This was what I gained from the conversations between Dolores and Arnold, as well as Bernard’s experiences throughout episode one. Reality is confusing. Just because something is “real”, doesn’t mean it’s a “reality”. Are our dreams just as important as reality? How do we know what’s really happening? I think they’ll really play this one out through dream sequences and timeline jumps but again – I really don’t know what the fuck I’m talking about.

#5. The true price of data

zuckerberg facebookObviously, user-data is a massive conversation right now with the whole Zucc/Facebook situation, and I think that puts Westworld in a fantastic position to explore this topic. Westworld is, of course, privy to far more data that Facebook ever could be, but it is a close analogy. People act in a way on the internet, far differently than they would in “public” or the “real world”, and Facebook does store that data. Delos is obviously doing the same thing – what are they using it for? Probably advertising lesbereal. What are the moral implications? The legal implications? What does this mean for the users? What is the true price and value of data in this day and age? It’s a topic close to my heart, what with my social media advertising business, so I’m really excited to see where they go with it!

So, those are my thematic predictions! Note how I never made actual predictions on specific events – I ain’t that bold.

What do you think will be discussed this season? What do you hope you’ll see? Let me know! Let’s talk Westworld (please) (I’m begging you) (someone talk to me about this damn show)

The Last Jedi: A review for which I can’t think of a good name for

The Last Jedi – something I needed to immediately review after going to a midnight screening. God I’m trash for this franchise.

Obviously this will be 100% packed with spoilers – you have been warned.

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SO.

FIRST OF ALL.

I just wanna say, WHY THE FUCK AM I NOW A REYLO SHIPPER????

I expected a lot of things to come from The Last Jedi, but a complete 180 on my extreme hate of Reylo these past 2 years was not one of them!

Bitch I’m mad. Mostly at myself.

Outwardly I vilify media that glorifies, romanticises, and sexualises the male psychopath/villain. It’s an overdone trope, and ultimately harmful to our conceptions of violent and abusive men/relationships.

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And yet inwardly, they give me this dark, brooding fellow who has a connection with Rey and stands so close to her and I’m like – “colour me a fuckin moron cus my hormones have done did it again!”.

I’m a heterosexual piece of shit. Reylo is trash and therefore so am I.

On the topic of relationships in this film – what’s up with the weak-but-present attempt at a love triangle between Rose-Finn-Rey? Not here for that. Not here for anybody’s love triangles.

And while I loved Finn and Rose, I’ll be a FinnxPoe for life.

OKAY. ENOUGH ABOUT ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIPS.

What did I actually think about The Last Jedi?

In an overarching and simplified run-on sentence, I would say: I really, thoroughly enjoyed the visuals of the film, as well as the new characters introduced, however I found the storyline to be somewhat lacking for the length of the film, and many of the new aliens to be a weird fit within the universe aesthetic.

If you were looking for a TL;DR then that was it, but as ever, I have more to say!

 

In terms of storyline, all I really have to say is that for 2 and a half hours, nothing very important seemed to happen? Of course, there were branch off storylines of significance, but the core of this entire film seemed to revolve around the Rebel ship running out of fuel and being unable to outrun the Star Destroyer. I mean, important, but not necessarily the plot accelerator I expect from the second film of a trio, nor the lengthiest instalment from the franchise.

And yes, when I reviewed The Force Awakens, I mentioned that it was essentially A New Hope, and we can see that once again in The Last Jedi as well.

Love triangles, Rebel bases on white, barren planets with AT-T upgrades, riding on tauntaun shaped creatures, a Lando-moment, and a face-off with the bad-guy and the good-guy – pretty similar to Empire Strikes Back, no?

BUT, it didn’t follow the script – albeit half to its demise, as at least a lot happens in The Empire Strikes Back – and half to its merit, if only for it not being a carbon copy like The Force Awakens was.

Visually, however, it was stunning. The camera work on this film was advanced, with a number of tracking shots and those wide-angle landscape shots I do love so much. The beauty of this film was a happy medium between classic Star Wars, and the visual success of Rogue One – even if the aliens and buildings sometimes verged on the prequels.

But what about representation? In my Force Awakens blog post, I stressed the importance of this, and how impressed I was by the inclusivity of the new series – however I knew there was a long way to go. It’s a sad, sad day when you can look at all the characters in a near-50 year franchise and say that all 4 of the female characters are white, brunette, and very, very similar looking.

And in this film, hazzuh! Rose arrived! She was fantastic, I loved her bold passion, her understanding of right or wrong and moral obligations. She was loud, brave, and not afraid to call people out – I loved it! Did I think they did her character justice? No, there are quite a few characters floating around this series now, that I almost felt they did no one justice in terms of arcs and storylines – but nonetheless she was an appreciated inclusion!

In fact, we had 4 whole female characters in ONE movie who played a significant part in the plot!! 5 or 6 if you include Billie Lourde’s character and Phasma (I don’t. Sorry, I love them, but in terms of plot they weren’t that important)!! Amazing – that’s a near smorgasboard of female representation!!!  *light sarcasm, as there were truly only 6 male characters who played a significant part in the plot *

I think in terms of plot, what they did really well was not take themselves too seriously. In fact, this film was hilarious! It knew that the force is a bit weird and magical, so that moment between Rey and Luke where he gets her to “reach out” and then tricks her – hilarious! The film was also heavily self-aware of how childish Kylo is, so when he was mocked for being an emo teenage boy I was in tears!

It also – thankfully – revealed Rey’s parentage, and I can’t express how happy I am that her parents are nobodies! Unlike the OG Reylo shippers, who were desperate for their ship not to be related (however foolish they are for shipping characters in the Star Wars universe before knowing parentage), I was desperate for someone in the fucking galaxy to not be related to the original characters. Praise – she’s nobody! Nobody from Jakku!

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A few final points that I’ll put in bullets because who the fuck is still reading:

  • Why did they make Luke such a Kenobi-esque-traditionalist? My boy wanted to recreate the new Jedi order to reflect both the dark and light within us, and acknowledge the Jedi’s emotional needs – so what the fuck was up with him doing a 180 on that with Rey?
  • There was a character who stutters! Albeit, he was a traitorous bad guy so not altogether “positive” representation, but I’m convinced he’ll have an arc in the next film
  • Leia using the force was fuckin dope. No more needed to say on that.
  • Going to midnight screenings is fucking great! Two people recreated the Vine from Force Awakens where a guy has his flash on filming the opening credits and someone goes “turn off the flash you fucking moron!”. Also when I needed to go pee halfway through I was running down the corridor and there was a guy running up it and we laughed at each other – it was great.
  • Ummmmm… that end scene? Fuckin sucked dude. Why did we end on that one kid looking into the stars with his Rebel ring? I get it, future generations, new hopes, yadda yadda yadda, but every time we hype up a young white boy to be a jedi well… Ain’t gone so great so far. Is he supposed to be an Anakin lookalike? I ain’t vibing with this.

OK I’M DONE! I regurgitated it all out, I can move on and patiently wait for the shit-show that will be the Han Solo standalone. Colour me terrified guys.

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Blade Runner: First we discuss the original

If you’ve ever mentioned 80’s sci-fi to me – even in passing – there is a 100% possibility that I then brought up Blade Runner – and not in a good way. The original Blade Runner is the kind of film I hate to love, and love to hate.

It’s beautifully shot, it’s packed meaning into every interaction, every lighting detail, and the entirety of the mis-en-scene. That’s that shit I love in sci-fi. It’s anti-capitalist, anti-fascist, and contemplative of body autonomy and what it means to be human.

But it also does that shit sci-fi so often does. You know the thing.

Sexism.

The original film is so deeply sexist, but like – totally accidentally. Which is almost the worst kind of sexist. A sub-conscious sexism that says “this is the way things are and it’s totally normal”.

The most basic, and unsurprising of its sexism, is the way it represents women. Firstly, there are no human women (bar the Asian lady who speaks to Deckard from her shop for like, 0.5 seconds). All women worthy of interaction and screentime are, in Blade Runners eyes, obviously Replicants. And this is problematic in and of itself.

The idea that women have less body autonomy and unique thought than men is not exactly new. It’s an idea that pervades the majority of our media. And yet a film that so very much wants to explore what it means to be autonomous, barely brushes on the fact that this is very much a minority and female experience.

But OK, whatever. This concept could simply be a lame attempt at discussing womens roles in society, and comparing the Replicants to the female experience. So we’ll brush past it.

But then there’s what role it gives its females within the narrative. There are but 3 women Pris, Zhora, and Rachel.

Pris and Zhora are part of the rebel group who have returned to Earth to extend their lifespans. Pris, is a “pleasure” model Replicant, therefore it is almost no surprise to us that she is barely dressed in a single scene.

Zhora however, is a military model Replicant – highly skilled and trained in combat – so tell me why the fuck when she returned to Earth, her first move was to join a strip club where she “takes the pleasure from the snake”? This is disturbing, disrespectful, and just honestly, fucking gross.

But, this is still just the tip of the iceberg. Death is where things get really sticky. You see, this film also dabbles in discussions of what it is to die, and what it is to live. So tell me why the male Replicants die quickly, with minimal blood, but Pris and Zhora both flail on the ground for about a minute each, covered in blood and almost ZERO clothing? We afford respectable, and almost noble deaths for men, but the women die in gruesome, drawn out, and sexualised ways. No bueno boyz.

And yet – these are still not the most sexist aspects of the film. The one scene which absolutely, one hundred percent is unforgivable in my eyes, is the rape scene.

Wait, what rape scene? There is no rape scene?

That’s what everyone tells me – at least until I get them to rewatch the Deckard and Rachel sex scene without their sexy jazz music rose tinted glasses on.

It doesn’t look like a sex scene to most, because I firmly believe Ridley Scott did not intend it to be one. Why else would he overlay it with the sexy jazz music?

And yet it is a rape scene.

Rachel, only a day into finding out she is not body autonomous, and is in fact a Replicant, is crying and trying to escape Deckard’s apartment. As she goes to the door to leave he slams it shut and she gets thrown back. She’s cowering and crying. He makes advances on her to kiss her and she very clearly pulls back.

And then Deckard feeds her lines.

“Say ‘kiss me’”

Rachel hesitates – “kiss me”

And so ensues our sexy jazz music.

Except – this isn’t sexy, this isn’t romantic, and this sure as heck isn’t consensual.

This is terrifying.

Rachel is very much displaying the distress of someone fighting for their individuality and freedom, and here is another man feeding her lines and emotions. What’s a robot gal to do?

The fact that this is rape is not the most disturbing thing to me. What is most disturbing is that this is intended NOT to read like rape. This is intended to be romantic.

Which is why Rachel and Deckard are supposedly such a beautiful couple.

I think not.

And yet, I can’t help enjoying this film – and I hate myself for it.

The film is shot stunningly, and it grapples with the Reagan era it was created in, as well as capitalism, multi-nationalism, and classism.

It does this in both obvious and subtle ways, but its strongest motif is very much lighting.

In Blade Runner’s world, light is a sign of wealth and a show of power. Unless you have money in this film, your apartment is completely devoid of light. The only time Deckard or his peers get light within their homes, is when surveillance spotlights are searching through their blinds, or when giant screen billboards flash a new purchase opportunity.

This is a stark difference to Tyrell’s quarters, which are bathed in artificial and warm light. A bright gold – like money.

Ridley might be absolutely tone deaf when it comes to women, but the man sure as hell understands that wealth and power often have a lot more benefits than just nice clothes or homes. Wealth and power is as undeniable as being able to turn on a switch.

So, how does the new film compare? That’s a loaded question – which is why I split this into two blogs! Soz if you thought I was done, BR pt2 coming soon…