A science fiction drama with nudity, violence, and thrills, in a western setting written by a Nolan brother and produced by J.J. Abrams, is a combination that is not likely to fail. That’s like throwing a 80 mph fastball to an Adderall enhanced Barry Bonds; anything short of a homerun would be disappointing. Westworld, the newest successful HBO show has taken over pop culture and is receiving praise from everyone, including movie critics and the simple minded Marvel movie watchers alike. It really is impossible to not enjoy this show, unless nudity and gore isn’t your thing, then you definitely won’t like Westworld.
Ever since the first episode aired on October 2nd 2016 every media medium that I inhabit has discussed the show. I would have eventually watched Westworld as I enjoy almost everything HBO produces but I normally like to wait for a at least a few seasons of a series to be released before diving in. To avoid being spoiled and to keep up with the cool kids, I decided to finally watch the first season (the second season isn’t expected to be released until 2018).
My experience of watching Westworld was similar to when I watched Lost as a young teenager. A great concept that forces the characters to interact with each other and the plot is told in an intricate manner that leaves the viewer asking a lot of questions and developing theories. Those questions and theories keep the hype of the show alive and brings people back to watch the next episode. After I finished the last episode I began texting my few friends demanding them to watch the series as I wanted to talk to someone about it. Unlike Lost, Westworld had a clear definitive direction and answered all of the questions it created.
Except for Ed Harris (The Truman Show, Apollo 13, Radio, Gravity), Jeffrey Wright (Casino Royale, W., Quantum of Solace, Broken City), Jimi Simpson (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia), James Mardsen (lame Toyota commercials), and of course Anthony Hopkins (The Edge, The Wolfman) all of the other actors were new faces to me. The entire show was well acted with Hopkins and Wright having the most memorable performances. Evan Rachel Wood, other than being beautiful was great in her role as well. The other actresses including Thandie Newton and Sidse Babett Knudson were also impressive in their acting while being extremely attractive.
The plot for the show is based on the Michael Crichton directed movie that went by the same name Westworld, released in 1973 (he wrote the novels and screenplay for Jurassic Park). The less you know about this show before watching with enhance your viewing experience, so I am going to describe the basis for the series in the vaguest of terms. Robotic and artificial intelligence has evolved to a point to where a human robot could be created to be so life like that it is nearly impossible to tell the difference between them and human beings. After developing this technology the two founders created a theme park called Westworld where the lifelike robots inhabit a massive landscape of an old western setting. People can pay loads of money to live in this park among the robots where essentially no laws exists. They can kill, rape, steal without worry as the robots are designed to react like real humans but they cannot kill the guests. This is the perfect setting for an HBO show as the guests kill and fuck pretty much everything they see which allows HBO to show gore and boobs without limitations.
You should go watch this show now before reading much further as I am going to discuss a few things that will spoil major plot points. Overhype and high expectations will probably be a factor in your viewing experience as this is a remarkable show, but it is only the 4th or 5th best show HBO has made.
The main spoiler that I want to discuss takes place in the last episode. As Maeve and her crew are making their way through the facility killing security guards during their escape, they encounter different floors that have robot testing facilities in them. One of the floors has ancient Asian guys (I think they were Japanese) fighting each other with swords implying that there are other parks other than Westworld. That is fucking exciting. This allows the show to explore other time periods that several movies and shows have attempted to do in the past, but have always been hampered with time traveling paradoxes. I hope season 2 is called something like Eastworld where it explores a different era and culture while exposing more of the back story of the main players involved in the park.
Also in the final episode when Maeve talks to Felix for the last time in the elevator, the line of the show was delivered. Felix who assisted in Maeve making her escape, asked her one last time if she will be alright outside of the facility. Maeve smiles and says “you are an awful human being.” This line was perfect, it completely described the entire 10 episodes in just a few words. Then it was ruined with Maeve’s follow up line “I mean that as a compliment.” I fucking hate it when subtle ambiguous lines are ruined like that. Over explaining eliminates the impact of the line by destroying the subtly. We all knew what she meant.
The plot twists in this show did surprise me, but they didn’t leave me with my jaw on the ground like some of the events in Game of Thrones, The Wire, or Breaking Bad. I wouldn’t call them predictable as I didn’t see them coming but I think they could have been presented in a more “holy shit!” manner. The reveal of Bernard being a robot version of Arnold is an example of that. As soon as he said he didn’t see the door to Ford’s secret lab, I knew what he was as the robots are designed not to see things that make them conscious of their robotic being. The other huge reveal of William’s storyline being a flash back was done in a similar non exciting fashion. As the Black Suited Man talked to Dolores in the graveyard he slowly revealed his past and how he became the man he currently was. These are subjective criticisms as I am becoming increasingly numb to great TV shows and their plot twists. I just thought the reveals could have been done in a more intriguing dramatic manner.
Westworld is superb and will always be remembered by me as the last thing I watched on my plasma TV. I bought my 50” Samsung plasma back in November of 2010, the first purchase I made for the apartment that I moved into at 20 years old (the first place I lived outside of my childhood home). I have spent more time with that TV than anything else in this world and I generated a love for movies and TV shows in the past 6 years plus because of that energy inefficient TV. Several dead pixels formed in vertical lines on the TV (a common issue with Samsung plasmas) and grew to a size that hampered everything I watched.
Now I say goodbye to a loved piece of furniture and the first season of Westworld.