There’s no denying that Westworld’s second season got off to a rocky start. The first few episodes were a confusing mess, though the same could easily be said for the show’s first season. The bigger problem (at least in my opinion) is that the acting in season 2 just isn’t up to par. Anthony Hopkins was missing in action after his character Robert Ford took a bullet to the brain in the season 1 finale, and Jeffrey Wright (Bernard/Arnold) has been too busy glitching out on the floor to do much acting either. Thankfully, it looks like that’s about to change.
Warning: Spoilers from Westworld Season 2 episode 6 follow.
If you watched the most recent episode, you know that Westworld founder and season 1 villain Ford is back. Even better, so is Sir Anthony Hopkins. The last shot of episode 6 reveals Ford casually playing the piano in a simulated version of Westworld that’s hosted inside the park’s backup server (aka The Cradle aka CR4-DLE). As for how he got there, it seems pretty clear that before dying, Ford ordered Bernard to take his duplicated consciousness in the form of one of those red brain balls, and dump it into The Cradle.
Don’t try to understand the science or technology behind how this actually works. This is Westworld. Facts don’t matter. The only thing that matters is Anthony Hopkins, and he’s back.
That means we’re due for a few more weeks of great acting before season 2 wraps up.
What makes Anthony Hopkins So Great?
It’s easy to just say that Hopkins is a great actor and Robert Ford is a great villain (think Hannibal Lecter but really into robots instead of cannibalism), but it’s a lot tougher to pin down exactly what makes his Westworld performance so great. Thankfully, YouTube channel Nerdwriter1 already did the hard work for us, breaking down how the actor works in a specific scene from season 1.
In what should be a simple conversation between Hopkins and Sidse Babett Knudsen (playing Theresa Cullen, basically Ford’s boss), we get a master class in acting. Using just a few lines of dialogue and a ton of facial expression, Hopkins runs through a wide range of emotions.
In plenty of other scenes throughout season 1 we saw Hopkins achieve the same results with what could have been pretty bland dialogue in another actor’s hands. The scene where he reveals that Bernard is a Host and orders him to kill Theresa stands out, but pretty much any moment where Ford is on screen works to prove the same point: the best reason to watch Westworld is Anthony Hopkins.
This doesn’t come naturally either. In an earlier interview, Hopkins revealed that he typically reads each script hundreds of times before performing so he can ““let the part play though you [him].”
What it means for the plot of Westworld season 2
Beyond the simple pleasure of seeing Hopkins on-screen, Ford’s return opens up a ton of new possibilities for the second half of this season.
If Ford’s consciousness can be transferred directly into The Cradle, can the same thing be done to other characters? Did Delos finally figure out how to successfully copy a person’s entire personality into one of those red balls? (Probably, especially if the Man in Black is already a Host, which he clearly is.)
And if Ford has been a ghost in the Westworld’s system all along, does that mean he’s still pulling all the strings? Are the hosts really free, or are they just following a new narrative created and overseen by Ford? (Maybe, this one is a bit of a stretch.)
Regardless of whether those theories pan out, Anthony Hopkins’s return means huge changes are coming to the next few episodes of Westworld. Robert Ford was Westworld, and up to this point season 2 has been an exploration of what happens to the park (and the company) when he disappears. Now, that we learned he never left, things are about to get interesting.
Westworld airs Sundays at 9 p.m. Eastern on HBO