HBO celebrated the premiere of Westworld season 2 across the country this past weekend in San Francisco, Philadelphia, and Boston with experiences that recreated the show in multiple ways. AiPT! was on hand in Boston to enjoy an early screening of season 2’s premiere, an actor Q&A, a personality assessment to acquire a white or black cowboy hat, and some Sweetwater inspired music, food and drink.
The event was open to lucky fans and press with a packed room that even required extra seats to be brought in. Taking place at the Revere Hotel Boston Common, entrants were first given a special ticket.
You were then ushered through a Delos-themed area and directed by Delos employees. It’s yet to be determined if they were robots or not.
In the screening room entrants could take a picture of the Vitruvian Man style robot that has graced many HBO commercials. He was great for selfies!
Once everyone was settled in the first episode aired on the big screen. Judging by the crowd’s response it was a huge hit. The episode was very good at creating new mysteries, timelines to explore, and plenty of reasons why this season will be an obsession for many as we all try to make sense of it. The production values are quite high — this show continues to be basically as well shot as any movie. The music was also striking as it was futuristic and quite atmospheric. It might have been a tad slow, but it made up for that with new questions to be answered and new dilemmas for the characters.
The screening was then followed up with a Q&A hosted by Boston Globe columnist Scott Kirsner, along with Simon Quarterman who plays Lee Sizemore and Shannon Woodward who plays Elsie Hughes on hand to talk about the show. Kirsner pointed out Boston was chosen due to the heavy development of robotics (with National Robotics Week just wrapping up); indeed, many professors in the field were in the audience to talk shop. Read what the actors had to say during the Q&A here.
After 30 or so minutes of questions, the audience was sent packing to get their personality assessments taken and to eat and drink the fine foods of Sweetwater. To avoid waiting in long lines I made a beeline to the assessment screens. This area was modeled like one might find at a Delos facility with lots of white and bookshelves with nicknacks accompanying books. There’s no word on whether the book titles are spoilers, but it was fun to think maybe some surprises were tucked onto the shelves.
Each assessment required entrants to answer 20 questions to determine whether you deserved a white hat or a black hat. Questions included, “Do you believe in a higher power?” and philosophical questions, like whether or not you’d halve the world’s population to end poverty. Once completed you’d get different categories which you would take to a Delos employee who would give you the appropriate hat.
Here are two of the assessments we got:
Later it turned out some folks truly were evil asking around to see which category got a black hat so they could cheat the system. The Man in Black would be proud.
With hats in hand, it was time to get some food and drink. In a connected room, entrants were given Sweetwater inspired food like chili, brisket, and blueberry pie. The room was designed much like one might see in a swanky saloon complete with wildflower arrangements, leather couches, and a piano player playing Western songs.
The drinks on hand included local beer, wine, and a special cocktail called Dr. Ford’s Sarsparilla Tonic. Dr. Ford apparently loved sweet drinks as the root beer syrup gave it a saccharine flavor that was delicious.
The night was punctuated with some photo ops, either with an old-timey photographer or in front of an HBO/Westworld photo screen.
Overall I was blown away by the event which definitely felt more like an experience than merely a screening. The event was a huge success that captured the appeal of the show, through dressing up, experiencing the sci-fi weirdness with psychological exams and sets, and enjoying a taste of Western food. HBO outdid themselves by not only letting fans hear from the actors and see the first episode early, but by allowing them to experience the luxury Westworld offered entrants in the show itself.