Zach’s Zany TV Binge Watchin’ Reviews: WESTWORLD SEASON 3 (& THE SERIES AS A WHOLE)(HBO)

What the fuck happened to WESTWORLD? This is easily another case of “oh how the mighty have fallen” indeed. I mean, Season 1 is near perfect. Perfect story. Perfect pace. Perfect acting. An incredibly creepy performance by the great Anthony Hopkins. We all wanted to go and have fun at that park. Then season 2 happened and instead of feeding us out of the same feeding tube, the same speed of flow, they put about two dozen extra feeding tubes on there and flipped the switch to overload. The sophomore slump was pretty much horrendous. Awful pacing, too many time switches and time line fuckery’s (even though I was easily able to keep up, about 90% of the audience couldn’t though). The acting was still there and the visuals were still crisp and clean, but everything else about it was absolutely convoluted. In the end we ended needed a break from the park. Well, SEASON 3 literally gave that to us, completely reinventing itself, hardly any time spent in a park, both narrative and visual wise, shorter and tighter episode count (8 instead of the other two seasons previous 10), and they even gave us Jesse Pinkman…errr, I mean Aron Paul (one of the seasons very few highlights). And while 1 to 2 episodes of the run were near perfect (in my opinion Episode 2 titled, “The Winter Line” and Episode 5 titled, “Genre.”) and the end to episode four titled “The Mother of Exiles” being very action packed, what the story led to, the other 5 episodes, the end game especially in the final episode titled “Crisis Theory” really led to nothing more than a bunch of meh. The story was supposed to be about fate and what we make for ourselves but in the end didn’t have any major or surprising revelations, I literally shrugged when it went to end credits, and it seemed that all that episode was for was a bridge to give its audience some very ho-hum after credits sequences that will likely build to another empty promise.

I’m still going to finish out the series however long it goes. It’s more interesting than The Walking Dead ever was a a whole (and I still watch that nonsense), but all of this convoluted storytelling makes me want to just go and watch the old short 95 minute movie that was written and directed by the great Michael Crichton. If you haven’t seen the old Westworld movie, please do, it is a real treat. Series showrunners Lisa Joy & Jonathan Nolan (yes, Christopher Nolan’s brother that co-wrote The Dark Knight wit him) say that this series is meant to last six seasons. I really want to know what is in there heads as to how. Even the end of Season 3, as shrug worthy as it was, felt like it could’ve been an ending if not for the couple of after credit only thinking about the future and not the present, ho-hum scenes. Now while all the critics and audiences’ thought it was bold for Westworld to go out of the parks, into the real world and in a new direction, we all agreed that after this season ended. We missed the parks indeed. My guess is that with supposedly three seasons left (I see the ratings completely dipping in Season 4 and that HBO tells them to wrap it up with a Season 5), the story will take us back to the parks that we fell in love with. Kind of like how Hunger Games went back to the arena in Catching Fire, but then Mockingjay book crashed and burned because there were no more fighting arenas. I know that sounds contrite and selfish, but if you can somehow manage to contain your story and keep it in motion with the environment the audience loves…why change the formula?

I would’ve agreed to the formula change if the narrative went somewhere I actually cared about. In the end, kind of spoiler alert, it’s all about Aaron Paul’s character, and his acting, along with Evan Rachel Wood (who’s a good actress but kind of too loud and brash on social media), and Thandie Newton, completely carry the season. They and the two masterful episodes I mentioned before are the only things that make Season 3 a tick above in quality to Season 2. The ONLY things. Especially the Genre episode. It’s the only episode of television to come as close to perfect as most of the episodes we saw in Season 5 of Better Call Saul. It’s action packed, challenges the mind, acted to perfection, and visually gorgeous. It sets up themes that you think will have surprising conclusions (but the final episode fails on that promise) and it is perfectly edited. I think you could watch that episode completely out of context and still enjoy it. If the conclusion to Season 3 had been as masterful as the set up, I would be completely into all of it and really excited for Season 4 (God knows when we’ll get that), but since the final episode was just a bunch of talking leading to a bunch of predictable and “who cares?” conclusions, when Season 4 ends up finally airing, I’m more than likely to be, “oh…Westworld is back, guess I could check that out again.” It’s just so disappointing because the potential is there, but they are having an extremely hard time unlocking it after they went successfully went in and out of Pandora’s Box in the wonderful first season.

I get that the story eventually had to get to “how can these robots and humans go exist together in life?” But there aren’t too many ethical questions the series brings up to try and have a good and lengthy debate about the ramifications of said questions. It only half-assed, “well, because it just can” kind of answers. The season also tries to play with fate and has a couple of giant computers that can predict the outcome of every individual on Earth’s life, and of course some of the story is “how can we expose or shut down this system and start letting the humans of Earth make their own choices without any predestined paths. Should we let human’s make their own choices? The conclusion to this train of thought, again, is a bit ho-hum and disappointing. It’s just matter of fact one sided answers. Maybe the true answers are in future seasons? But with the way things concluded this past Sunday, I’m thinking there may not be much more to discuss on the matter. We’ll see. You want to know my biggest problem with Westworld? With about 80%-90% of the actors being robots, no one really stays dead. If they do die, Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) can just use the Devos company technology to make a dozen more copies. WHICH FUCKING HAPPENS. I couldn’t keep track of how many Delores or Maeve’s there were this season. If death doesn’t really stick, why should the audience care? And one of the robot characters seem to have a definite conclusion, but since this actor/actress is one of the main stars of the show, I doubt he/she is done with it, which again, makes me beg the question, “why should we care if there aren’t really any true stakes?” Also, Jeffrey Wright’s character is extremely short changed this season…was he just not available where they had to write a really short story for when he was they could shoot it all quickly? Hopefully they bring him back with a vengeance next year. Westworld Season 3, and the series as a whole…has mastered the art and look of the artificial…but definitely not the intelligence.