May 18th: Westworld — S1 & S2

A yeehaw and a howdy to you.

One of the TV shows that I failed to mention on my last post was Westworld, a fantastic show that just wrapped up Season 3. Katy and I went back and have watched the first two season during our quarantine weekends, so here are some of my (and her) thoughts!

Minor Spoilers for Seasons 1–2*

It’s no surprise (to me at least) that the guy who wrote Jurassic Park is also responsible for another piece of media that has chaos unravel in a theme park. Instead of dinosaurs, Westworld is a park created for humans to explore. The park is populated by humanoid androids called hosts. Hosts are undistinguishable from humans, making the experience feel more real for the guests of the park.

The show delves into some deep concepts, like if the hosts are able to develop a conscience or memory, how the hosts are treated by the guests, and the big question being: is any of this real? The best example of this run of events is with William, our white knight who falls in love with a farm girl host, loses her, and finds her with her memory wiped and no recollection of who William is or the journey they shared. He eventually comes to terms with his actions, realizing that he “fell in love with a thing,” and decides to wreck havoc in the park he owns a majority stake of.

What I love the most about this show, especially in its first season, is the story construction and character development. Everything I just wrote about William happens over the course of many episodes, but it is entangled together with various other storylines that are happening either inside the park, or with the employees working to keep the park safe and running for the guests. While William’s story is unfolding, we meet the park’s creator, Robert Ford, and his interactions with his creation and the people who are trying to take it away from him. We meet Bernard, the seemingly stoic employee grappling with how the hosts retain their memories even after they are purged of them. Dolores is the first host who plays a farmgirl and acts as a welcoming presence for the park, Teddy is another host who’s drive to do what is right and good is only shadowed by his love for Dolores, Charlotte Hale is the big boss lady with a controlling stake in Westworld and wants to push Ford out, Maeve is a brassy brothel owning host who wants to write her own story, and the mysterious Man in Black who leaves dread in his wake. Each character develops in a way that is different from other shows because they all have their own sense of what is and is not real. The morality that each character holds varies between each of them, provoking conversation between us before the next episode begins. How real are the hosts? How real is your experience? What happens if the hosts decide they are done playing nice?

What’s “real” mean, anyway?

This show is far from your cowboy and indian story. The narrative that is told through the characters is the second reason why I believe this show is worth your time (and why I am hyped to start Season 3). The story is woven together with such care that the moments designed to take your breath away, don’t. They pull the friggin’ rug from under you. The twists are shocking, unbelievable moments grounded in a western/science fiction environment. Just when you think you have grappled with everything that Westworld throws at you, another element is introduced that is both unsettling and exciting all at once.

Season 1 is our favorite at this moment. Season 2 falters slightly with some of the storytelling, but still does a terrific job of developing our returning hosts and guests properly. All their choices make sense in the new reality introduced in Season 2, maintaining what made them so captivating while bringing in new elements that develop them further. Just like the viewers, the characters in the show are constantly questioning what’s real and what’s not. Or better yet, what the word “real” means in the world where hosts are crafted to think, feel, act, and be just like the guests?

Anyways, gotta run, we’re starting Season 3 tonight!

Thanks for reading!

I write things for fun about video games, television, and movies!