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Westworld Season 2 Episode 2 screenshotIn season two of HBO's Westworld, the devil's in the data collection. That's made this show more relevant than ever.
Two episodes in, there's been no shortage of the robot revenge fantasy promised in season one's finale, as humans have to reckon with both the technological evolution of artificially intelligent androids and the moral culpability they bear for their behavior toward the robots back when Westworld was just a game. But along with more details about the mysterious Delos Corporation backing the park, a new sort of parable about humans and technology is also emerging, one that dovetails ominously with our current stage of information-era concerns.
We first got a hint of this in last week's season premiere, when Bernard (Jeffrey Wright)—who has taken shelter from the robot rampage with Delos board member Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson) in a bunker lab—discovers one of the company's drone robots extracting what looks like blood from one of the park's characters. "Are we logging records of guests' experiences and their DNA?" he asks Charlotte. But she simply tells him "we're not having that conversation, Bernard."
The second episode offered up more information about what Delos is really doing in the park. Having now unseated his brother-in-law as heir apparent to the company, William (Jimmi Simpson) must convince his father-in-law Jim Delos (Peter Mullan) to continue the company's investment in the park. Jim sees his son's enthusiasm for AI as foolish, and he tells William he's not interested in schemes with decades-out payoffs.
This is when William reveals that he has more in mind for the Westworld robots, or "hosts," than simply serving as playthings for park guests with Old West fantasies. What they are really nurturing, he says, is a world where people feel like they can do whatever they want while remaining free of judgment, and where they will reveal things about themselves that they would never actually tell to researchers. But while guests think no one is watching, Delos will be taking it all in.
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