TV Review: Westworld’s First Season

 

Two months ago, I reviewed the first episode of HBO’s new hit series, Westworld.  I loved the first episode and said I would let you know if Westworld would live up to the hype in four episodes.  With the finale dropping last Sunday night, I’m finally able to say yes –  Westworld measured up as a worthy successor series to Game of Thrones.

It took me more than four episodes to come to that conclusion.  Frankly, it took me the whole ten episodes.

Let’s get the bad out of the way first.  Westworld inherited the bad DNA from J.J Abrham’s Lost in that it often took four or five episodes to get at a story which could have been addressed in a fraction of the time.  The prime example was the whole William = Man in Black (MiB) storyline.  I thought it was obvious from about episode five onward that the story was taking place over multiple timelines and William would eventually become the MiB – but we got to draw out the story far longer than it needed.  This whole trend was seen across many of the story lines.  While every episode had a couple of standout scenes, I spent most of the middle episodes wondering if the story was stuck in neutral.

And then we got to see the last two episodes and all was forgiven.  Everything eventually paid off as I saw the design.

dolores-and-teddy-with-dr-ford-westworld-finale
Raise your hand if you want to see me eat their livers with Chianti and fava beans?

Yes, William and Delores’s story was probably the most boring on the show but having seen the finale, it made sense.   The MiB’s desire for a real game where the Hosts can fight back is a dark mirror to Robert Ford’s endgame with his final ‘narrative’ and we had to see how he got there.  I thought it obvious that Bernard was Ford’s constructed version of Arnold and they were dragging it out way too long – but the long build up made his awareness-death-reincarnation cycle more tragic when we got to eventually see Arnold’s suicide.  Arnold is stuck in a loop more tragic than Delores or Maeve because he was as much a prisoner as they – always to be snuffed out at the verge of awareness.  I still think there was some narrative dead weight in the respective stories, but they stuck the landing and I find it hard to complain too much after the finale.

Where do I think Season Two will take the story?  Here are some thoughts:

  • Robert Ford is dead so I think the intellectual and emotional center of the show is going to become Bernard.  Bernard knows he was modeled after Arnold – and I must believe he is going to take on Arnold’s mission to either nurture the consciousness of the Hosts, or try to shut the whole thing down as an obscenity.  I would be delighted because while Evan Rachel Wood does great work as Delores, I have consistently enjoyed and identified more with Jeffrey Wright’s story.
  • I wouldn’t be surprised the Host Rebellion turn ugly – as all Revolutions eventually do.  I expect the start of the second season will show the control center under siege, human beings in the park being hunted and abused by Hosts (I wouldn’t want to be a survivor of the finale massacre), and Delores and Bernard appalled at what has been wrought.
  • The MiB isn’t dead – I tend to think they would have showed his death rather than him getting clipped in the shoulder and smiling.  He finally got his wish and I fully expect him go live his dark fantasy.  He was smiling because things just got real and it would be a shame if they didn’t let him off the chain.
  • Maeve’s journey was consistently amazing and I expect her to be back in play.  I think she is going to eventually be the leader of the hard line element of the Hosts.  I see a confrontation with Bernard and Delores in the cards.

I was wrong on some of my earlier calls and right on many others so I don’t know if any of the points above will come to pass.  It will be alright though if I can see Hector and Armistice cleaning house again – that was my favorite moments of the finale and if I can see them going ape-shit crazy with automatic weapons again, preferably in ‘Samurai World’, then Season Two will live up to the hype.

One thought on “TV Review: Westworld’s First Season

  1. Pingback: Best of 2016: Television – Ray Guns and Rocket Ships

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