HBO has consistently produced some of the best, most engrossing shows to ever grace the small screen. They make great choices in the programs they decide to invest in and when they do decide to produce a show they don’t cut corners. So when they announced Westworld as their next big series, I didn’t need any convincing that it’d be something I was going to check out. Game of Thrones already proved what they could accomplish with a high-budget, adult oriented, genre series.
…I didn’t need any convincing that it’d be something I was going to check out. Game of Thrones already proved what they could accomplish with a high-budget, adult oriented, genre series.
The basic set up for Westworld is that sometime in the not too distant future we figure out how to make androids that are indistinguishable from humans. And what do they do with this world changing breakthrough? They make an amusement park/resort of course; but not like Six Flags or Disneyland, but an entire world set in the wild west where guests can pay lots of money to live out there wildest (and darkest) fantasies all at the expense of the androids aka “hosts.” Like any good sci-fi robot film or show, things start to go awry.
The story itself isn’t anything terribly new for this type of topic and it’s actually a remake of the little known Westworld film from the 70’s. By the time I was done watching the first episode I already knew where things would eventually lead, but they do a good job of still keeping the proceedings interesting. There’s a ton of mystery and twists that make the buildup to the eventual outcome an intense ride. It’s a well developed story that unfortunately loses some of it’s luster with some giant leaps of logic towards the end. Where they really succeed, is at picking at the larger existential themes of what it is that makes us human and what determines being ‘alive.’ These themes are at the heart of the show and are the driving forces for everything that happens throughout the season.
Where they really succeed, is at picking at the larger existential themes of what it is that makes us human and what determines being ‘alive.’ These themes are at the heart of the show and are the driving forces for everything that happens throughout the season.
The production on the show is some of the best I’ve ever seen. So good that it could stand against almost any big budget feature length movie. They really put their money where their mouths are and it really paid dividends into building one of the most engrossing worlds on television. Just as the characters went into painstaking detail into making the park believable for their guests, the developers did the same for the show. The world building done here is really top notch and had me fully invested in what’s at stake.
Anthony Hopkins is fucking Anthony Hopkins and he gets to play the role he was essentially born to play…He just possesses a level of simmering intensity lying just below the surface that’s unmatched.
A story and world are only as good as the characters that fill them however, and again they knocked this out of the park. Anthony Hopkins is fucking Anthony Hopkins and he gets to play the role he was essentially born to play. A highly intelligent, methodical character with some sadistic ways. He just possesses a level of simmering intensity lying just below the surface that’s unmatched. Evan Rachel Wood plays the main “protagonist” of the show, Dolores, and the range she displays is fantastic. Thandie Newton as Maeve, Jeffrey Wright as Bernard, and Ed Harris as the Man In Black all give highly impressive performances and bring real depth to the world and their characters. Jeffrey Wright in particular being the breakout role of the show for me. It’s a world chock full of fascinating characters that are all well acted, no matter their amount of screen time. They do a really good job of playing these characters in the grey area, making it hard to outright root one way or the other.
* SPOILERS *
Dolores is Wyatt. He was a character that was being built up as the big baddie for a long time on the show, but they never revealed who he was. So I knew it had to have been a pre-existing character. My money was on Ford, I thought he’d turn the hosts into his own personal army to wipe out the board and retain control of the park. I thought he would be the outright villain of Season 2.
I did not see the twist coming that Ford was ultimately sympathetic and on the side of the hosts. He did a good job throughout the season hiding his sentiments. He explained that suffering was the key to them gaining their consciousness and he essentially became a martyr for their uprising.
After Bernard was revealed to be a host himself (which I didn’t see coming either), it became obvious that he was modeled after Arnold. But seeing all the little hints they left from the beginning of the season really made it special, even though you knew it was coming. Like not being able to see the picture or the door, joking that he’s practicing interacting with humans with Theresa, his name being an anagram for Arnold, and more.
They did a good job of this all season long, as they again revealed William was in fact the Man In Black. Most people already came to this assumption but it still felt satisfying when they did ultimately reveal the secret.
Felix is my one big problem with the show. It’s impossible to believe that anybody would go this far to help Maeve escape and murder countless people on the way. Dumb.
The maze being a red herring was also kind of a lot down, albeit a reasonable one.
There were a lot of leaps of faith and perfect coincidences that occurred at the end, even Ford wouldn’t be able to perfectly control and predict that many variables.
Maeve seemed to achieve true consciousness and free will when she decided to head back to the park to find her daughter.
What happened to Stubbs?
They confirmed there’s more than one park and I can’t wait to see where they head next season. Samurai World? Shogun World? Either way, fucking awesome.
There’s a lot that needs to be answered next season. Like who’s left from the board because we don’t actually see the Man In Black or any other significant board members die. And was that really Ford or a host? Because he was building a body in his private workshop when Bernard killed Theresa. Please let there be a robot Ford next season! I won’t get my hopes up though, as he did appear to hand over control to Bernard before he gave his big speech.
I didn’t think about it at the time, but those hosts who were Wyatts’ men were already essentially “awoken” because they told Teddy that he wasn’t ready yet, meaning he couldn’t yet see the truth of the world as they have.
Have you seen Season 1 of Westworld? What’d you think about it? Who were some of your favorite performances? Did you like the story? Let me know in the comments below and be sure to leave your rating for Season 1.
Season 1 Reaction
Season 1 of Westworld was as engrossing an opening season as I've ever seen. The production was movie worthy, the acting was superb, and the world building was spectacular. It was a thoughtful season that presented large existential themes and a world where everything resided in the far more interesting and far more realistic grey area. Some of the twists and outcomes may have been telegraphed, but it was one hell of a ride to the end. Simply amazing.