WRITTEN BY ARSH VOHRA
Symposia : 7.5/10
IMDb : 8.7/10
Metacritic : 72%
Rotten tomatoes : 87%
Westworld is a sci-fi, dystopia, action, thriller and mystery show run by Lisa Joy and Jonathon Nolan. It debuted in 2016 and since then has been renewed again and again, as of 2020 there are 3 seasons of this HBO original series. It is set in the near future, approximately during 2052 and follows a large cast of characters in a park called ‘Westworld’ (who would have guessed). Some are humans -the ones rich enough to pay 40,000 dollars per night- who have come to the park to experience the wild wild west without any of the threat. We also follow some robots who were designed to satisfy the humans who have paid to come to the park. This show is one of the most interesting and risk-taking shows I have ever watched, but I'm not sure if that's always a good thing.
As this is a series review, I’ll start by talking about S1 exclusively. After it’s much-awaited release, the show was received positively. Some critics couldn’t get behind the premise and creative choices made by the cast and crew but they were most definitely in the minority. I thought it was brilliant. The masterful execution on purely a technical level was mesmerising. The cinematography, direction, production design were all enchanting. The highlights were the performances by Anthony Hopkins (Robert Ford on the show) and Thandie Newton (Maeve Millay). The Westworld score is one of the best on modern television, Ramin Djawadi captures the essence of the show with his enthralling tracks. The thematic content discussed in the season is truly thought-provoking. For those who don’t care to seek the deeper meaning and just want a compulsively watchable, high quality, thrilling, show, this season ticks all of those boxes as well. The plot twists and cliff-hangers are executed to perfection. I don’t say this very often but season 1 of this show is one of the best seasons of television ever made.
Sadly S2 and S3 don’t live up to the first season. Don’t get me wrong the direction, score and performances are still noteworthy but everything else falls apart. As previously mentioned the showrunners took some pronounced risks in these seasons. S2 had a similar quality to ‘The Purge’ and S3 took on a cyberpunk aesthetic, both of which are considerably different compared to the first season. The show has always been known for how confusing and mind-bending it can be at times but S2 crossed the line from being complicated to convoluted. S2’s pacing was substandard. Some of the perspectives were rather boring compared to the well-executed preceding season. I enjoyed S3 a lot more but it still did not compare to the first. S3 was surprisingly simple to understand but it lacked the thought-provoking deeper layers of the previous seasons and the character work was inadequate.
I commend the show for its multi-faceted appeal. It wields multiple different ideas and genre-specific content expertly. It uses elements of science fiction and dystopia throughout the episodes. S3 delves into the dystopian aspect of the show a lot more but all the episodes consistently discuss and include many different content categories, increasing the mass attraction towards ‘Westworld’
I think that this show is extremely influential and hopefully the next seasons can redeem some of the missteps made by the showrunners. I would most definitely recommend the first season if none of the trigger warnings mentioned below makes you uncomfortable. The next two seasons are a major drop from the brilliance of the first season. If you lower your expectations and go into S2 wanting an entertaining and fun time, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. The dip after S1 brings up the question about whether this show should have just been left as a mini-series? If you have seen the show let us know what you think about this show via the comments.
Trigger Warnings: Nudity ( you could close your eyes during the explicit scenes, bath in holy water or watch a censored version online), drinking, smoking, sex, violence, some other adult ideas are explored implicitly.