So… I’m Not Watching Season 2 of Westworld
Change my Mind.
I found the first season of Westworld exhausting. Watching each episode felt like I was cramming for an exam being set by a sadistic professor, who expected their students to have analyzed every line of text and memorized all the footnotes. That, and I fell asleep during several of the later episodes and had to force myself to catch up the next day, so I wouldn’t be out of the loop on the discussions. When the season ended, I felt profound relief.
I admire the ambition of Westworld, and I think that’s why I stuck with season 1 until the end even though it was such hard going for me. The show has a strong point of view and is discussing ethical themes that are beginning to loom large in our society. As we slowly make our way down the path of relying on machines that can think, what are our duties towards them? Are there any?
I quite like Westerns and enjoyed the setting of the theme park and watching the familiar tropes being played out from the more clinical point of view of the park employees. And I found the creeping sense of apprehension as the hosts began to malfunction deeply unsettling. You could feel the horror building in the background. The tension couldn’t be sustained, though, because the flashbacks kicked the legs out from under it and made the story more convoluted than was necessary. Actually, I don’t even know if the story was convoluted or if I just didn’t care enough to pay attention.
Dolores and Maeve’s journeys towards realising their sentience was fascinating. As was the catalyst: the notion of the reveries — haunting déjà vu — remnants of deleted memories that persisted and began to form a mosaic of lives that had been created for entertainment then destroyed. The cruelty of it came through, and it offended me.
The robot army in the basement also chilled to the bone.
There were so many wonderful elements waiting to be woven together, and I could see the potential. I kept waiting for it all to even out and begin a smooth canter towards the denouement. But that never happened. So much of the show was disjointed, muddled, and purposely opaque. But the unforgivable thing about Westworld is how boring (yet overwrought) they managed to make sentient robots going on killing sprees. The central role of a Shakespeare quote (“These violent delights have violent ends”) to the plot was one of the early tells things might not go to plan. High-mindedness is the enemy of good action. If they’d leaned harder on the horror elements and paced the episodes accordingly, the show would have been more engaging. Instead, they made impressive but dull award show bait.
I appreciate the craftsmanship it takes to put together a show like Westworld, and the performances of the actors are outstanding, but that’s not a good enough reason for me to fight through sleep and bored confusion to watch another full season. So, yeah… I’m skipping it.
Change my mind!