10:15am PT by Josh Wigler
'Westworld': What the New Opening Credits Sequence Reveals About Season 2
[This story contains spoilers through the season two premiere of HBO's Westworld.]
Westworld creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy have discussed their view of each season as its own separate entity: part of a larger whole, but unique in its own identity.
The idea of seasonal individuality was on full display right away during the Westworld season two premiere, as the newest episode introduced something completely different and unexpected: a brand new opening credits sequence. While the score from Ramin Djawadi (who also composes Game of Thrones for HBO) remains firmly intact, the new opening has done away with much of the familiar elements from season one's sequence.
• No more horsing around: In season one, the opening credits sequence built toward a host riding atop a horse, emblematic of how the show blended the western and sci-fi genres into one uniform story. For season two, a different animal has replaced the horse: a bull, built up and charging forward. Among the many ideas represented in the bull, the image of a wild animal unleashed from its chains feels particularly poignant.
• No more cowboys: Beyond losing the horseback riding host, there's a distinct lack of cowboy imagery within the new credits sequence. It mirrors what Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) says in the premiere about finding her own identity, free from the stories that were built for her. This is still Westworld, but in this western landscape, Dolores and the other hosts are creating their own narrative, with no obligatory ties to any one genre.
• OK, one cowboy: The black hat, so iconically associated with the western genre and with Westworld specifically, drifts and floats throughout the sequence. The Man in Black's favorite fashion item represents so much of the ill will committed by humans in the series, and its descent toward darkness signals a power shift between man and robot. Even more specifically, does it reflect a softening of the Man in Black himself? "It begins where it ends and ends where it began," is what the little boy version of Robert Ford says to William about "the game." Does that clue, paired with the fall of the black hat, suggest a return to William's kinder roots in season two? Probably not, but a little optimism never hurt anyone — not counting all the times the eternally optimistic Teddy Flood (James Marsden) has died, of course.
• Maeve and Dolores, represented: The two most powerful hosts in the series, not to mention the two top-billed actors, are both well and accounted for in the opening credits' litany of images. The mother and her baby are evocative of Maeve (Thandie Newton) and the search for her daughter, while a mechanical comb rakes through hair that's immediately identifiable as belonging to Dolores. As if it wasn't already clear, the opening credits emphasize these two powerful women as the most important players in the game.
• The music remains: It's one of few images that remains consistent from season one's opening credits sequence and the one seen in season two: mechanical fingers tickling piano keys, pulling away once the keys are capable of tickling themselves. (So, that's a weird sentence.) Heed the final words of Robert Ford: "Mozart, Beethoven and Chopin never died. They simply became music." The founder of the park has joined those great artists, with his music still coursing throughout the park(s). It's a quick way of visually expressing an important reality in the context of the series: Ford is dead, yes, but his work remains everlasting ... which means Ford himself is still alive, if only in a manner of speaking. (The worms swimming within the hole in his head make a strong argument that Ford isn't literally alive, but with this show? You simply never know.)
What do you make of the new title sequence? Sound off in the comments below and keep checking in at THR.com/Westworld for more coverage.