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 2049: Nothing is safe from reboots

A film that is being lauded as “the best sci-fi film of the decade” (painfully ignoring the genius, original, unsettling Ex Machina), is a 2 hour and 40 minute return to the Blade Runner universe of 1982. I have fairly strong feelings about the original, so it was only fair that I expected to have fairly strong feelings about its sequel – but, spoiler alert, I don’t? This film made me feel dead inside.

Don’t get me wrong. This film is stunningly shot, with juxtapositions, minimalism, and wide shots that always get me going. The music was incredible, bringing back the futuristic sci-fi noir jazz that the first used so successfully. And, of course, all of the acting was flawless. Absolutely flawless.

But visual and musical success doth not a film masterpiece make in mine eyes.

Despite its unfortunate levels of sexism, the original film had very clear cut concerns and criticisms with society. Themes of anti-capitalism and body autonomy are obvious. It doesn’t try too hard to deal with too many themes at once, and that is very much to its benefit.

2049, however, doesn’t seem to know exactly what its angle is, and therefore dances around its themes. It could easily be anti-capitalist like the first. 30 years on and we are only deeper into the rabbit hole of capitalism and classism. And yet, the films Sony affiliations have forced the narrative to only flirt with the idea of capitalisms faults – but it never goes to second base.

It could also easily follow the narrative of body autonomy. And yes, it’s difficult to have a robot/AI narrative without touching on issues of autonomy and individuality, and yet somehow the film still seems to fall short, never seeming to come to a conclusion on the issue.

It could very easily have shown themes of racism. Replicants are born to be slaves to humans in order to create more wealth. We even see Ryan Gosling’s character, K, called “skinner” and “skinhead”, and experience similar interactions to what ethnic minorities often do (and I don’t think I have to explain what “skinner” rhymes with). And yet, K’s played by a white guy, and there feature even fewer people of colour than the original. So that theme falls short. Way, way, way short.

There was even a moment when I wondered if it was a feminist film. It almost – for a second – seemed as though it was attempting to discuss the ways in which society works to bolster male egos at all costs, often at the expense of females. But with the extreme views of skyscraper sized naked women in sexual poses constantly framing the film, the gruesome and drawn out deaths of all but one female (very reminiscently of the first film), and the extremely archetypal role each female played (lover, whore, monster, mother, virgin, mentor) it became clear this wasn’t the case. If you have to wonder if a film is feminist or sexist… Well, you shouldn’t have to wonder.

So what does it discuss? I found this very hard to figure out, and I’m still not entirely sure. Whilst the first film very strongly utilizes lighting to emphasise themes, the second film seems to ignore this concept completely. I could find almost no correlation between lighting themes or patterns – except for Wallace industries copying the Tyrell corps extreme yellow lighting.

Mis-en-scene didn’t work to hard to emphasise any further ideas on capitalism that the previous film hadn’t already done. Costume design seemed to do very little in the way of indicating theme. Hell, even the one motif throughout the film – a horse – didn’t give me much in the way of knowing what the fuck this film was trying to say. Like, really say.

So in the end, all it seemed to come down to was “what does it mean to be human?” “what does it mean to be living?”. And yes, these are important questions that sci-fi often grapples with, but often so much more successfully. Using AI as a device to discuss humanity, autonomy, and what it takes to become human is far from new. We’ve been seeing this since the dawn of sci-fi (literally, the first sci-fi media was Frankenstein and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out those themes). It’s also not uncommon, we have Humans, Westworld, Ex Machina, and Her to name a recent few.

So what the fuck guys? If we’re going to give a sequel to Blade Runner 30 years later, we better make it fucking worth it. We better give it a profoundly deep thematic narrative. We better lay it on thick. And we better have something to fucking say about it.

So why don’t we? Why did I not walk away from this long ass film feeling as though I could analyse it for days?

But maybe I’m too far gone from film school to recognise it. And I bet there’s a film teacher out there RIGHT NOW writing their whole syllabus around this film. But to me, if the theme isn’t at least strong and meaningful for me in the first go, then it’s not worth it. There’s no point trying to say something profound unless some people can hear you. And if I can’t hear you then it’s not fucking worth the disrespectful shit women and people of colour go through with this franchise.

So, Hollywood. Any other sexist sci-fi’s you want to reboot? You know, I think Dune has been untouched so far? Go right fucking ahead honestly I’m just exhausted anyway.