Westworld Season Two, Episodes Six & Seven

westw7c.jpgIllness precluded me from watching episode six of Westworld last week, so today here’s a double-review following a catch-up session alongside episode seven last night…

There I go. moaning about the show missing God (Anthony Hopkin’s brilliant genius, Robert Ford) and boom, here he is, back from the dead. And there I go moaning about the disparate timelines being annoying and boom,  there they go getting all tied up as season two finally begins to, if not make sense, then at least coalesce into a single story-line and build towards a (hopefully) satisfying conclusion. While it’d be wrong to suggest that season two has been a terrible mess and that these two episodes finally start to save the day, its certainly no stretch to say that they are a step in the right direction after a messy, frustrating season so far.

Not everything works though. I’ve always been a bit concerned that the series seems as hazy about geography as it is about time (just where does it take place – an Island has been hinted at- and just how bloody big are the theme parks?). Maeve has left the central Mesa, wandered across the Western landscape and taken a sojourn in Shogun-World and then after popping back underground comes back up in the West where her old original story-line takes place. She finds her old homestead and, at last, her daughter, but immediately some Ghost Nation warriors turn up and attack, the old scenario from decades ago repeating as if on a whim. We see a host that has taken Maeve’s place in the old story-line but to what end is that story-line being played out, without a human visitor to entertain? It seems too convenient, as is the sudden appearance of MIB William and his sudden ability to apparently soak up bullets and still crawl off like some unkillable bastard. It all feels too simple and sudden and convenient, even unearned.There is, after all, no emotional connect between Maeve and her daughter. And after all her adventures this season, Maeve is ultimately stretchered off back to where she began the season , back at the Mesa, only this time crippled from gunshot her wounds (and didn’t that rescue team just appear out of nowhere?). It rather negates her whole arc this season and feels forced and unsatisfying. Unless, of course, it all leads somewhere next week.

Likewise, one has to wonder what was the point of that whole b-story in Shogun World, fun that it was while it lasted, it seems to have been signed-off without really impacting the whole series. And are really meant to believe MIB WIlliam could just rustle up all his posse and leave without disturbing his sleeping daughter in the camp?

westw7bAlso, the Cradle is a fascinating concept and seemed to offer all sorts of virtual possibilities but no sooner is it revealed than boom that’s suddenly gone, it feels something of a waste. What if it had been suggested that some of the events we’ve seen in the past two seasons were inside the Cradle, i.e. never REALLY happened at all? A lost opportunity I fear.

More successful though is the arc with Bernard meeting his maker, Ford, with Anthony Hopkins proving, again, to be the center of the show. Some of the banter and the asides to the episodes referring to James Delos’ failed bid for immortality are delicious. The hints regards what Delos has really been up to (the whole theme park biz is just a cover for their real experiment) will confirm many viewer’s suspicions/theories, vindicating quite a few of my own that I have written about in previous posts. That said, the ‘reveal’ at the start of episode six, when we realise that Delores has been testing Bernard during all their interview flashbacks rather than the other way around, was wonderful and keyed into those earlier James Delos episodes brilliantly: “a fidelity test” indeed.

You have to love a show that can pull off stunts like that, and I remain hopeful that the final three episodes can bring about a satisfying conclusion. At its best, Westworld is fascinating science fiction and a thought-provoking examination of identity and memory and what is human. Its almost like watching an alternate Blade Runner, so clearly are some of the themes shared.

I also, quite surprisingly, loved seeing what the show did with the new, reprogrammed, thoroughly Terminator-like Teddy. Even Delores seemed surprised by what he got up to.

Its just a pity that it all seems so, well, messy. But art can be like that, and I suppose we should be thankful that this series does, at its best, seem to be performing the same trick as its two big-screen Blade Runner cousins- arthouse masquerading as entertainment.

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “Westworld Season Two, Episodes Six & Seven

  1. That’s a good question that, for some reason, didn’t even cross my mind: where exactly are Maeve-replacement and her daughter living relative to the rest of the park? It’s somewhere so remote that real-Maeve & co have had to go on a massive trek to get there, and also that has gone untouched by the host rebellion for, what, a week? Ten days? Would any human guests even come across a place so cut-off from the rest of the park? With this show, you never know if these apparently-inexplicable things are all in aid of a Big Twist, or if they just haven’t thought it through…

    I also thought the Cradle and its virtual reality was going to have a massive role going forward, but then nope, all gone. That said, if Person of Interest is anything to go by, Jonathan Nolan isn’t above introducing a concept, immediately destroying it, then revealing another version of it exists.

    1. One of the irritations of the show is that the vagueness seems to support laziness- I’m not expecting to ever see a map explaining where places are, distances etc, but its clear that liberties are being taken to progress the story-lines. Maeve spends several episodes trekking to her destination and its just a short journey by jeep all the way back to the central base? Regards that, Lee suddenly gets a phone out of his pocket (did he show that before? I can’t recall) and calls for reinforcements and they turn up bloody quickly, all things considered. It feels like nit-picking sometimes, but the show is so well constructed much of the time, that it becomes doubly infuriating when it seems to be taking liberties (as in when MIB WIlliam conveniently ditches his daughter and then suddenly appears at Maeve’s old homestead- I mean, why? Why did he even go there?

      I only get to see each episode once and really look forward to watching it again on disc so am fully aware I might be missing stuff, but often I wonder if I’ve missed something or the show is just taking liberties with logic etc and being dismissive of plot holes.

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