Westworld—Season 1

westworld season 1 poster hbo episode guide
9.0 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 10/10
Visuals: 9/10

Great cast, great looking, good story

Problems with the basic working premise of Westworld

 
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Your adventure is as big as your wallet!

Westworld is an ideal.  Developed by Delos, it provides guests with an experience of living in the “Wild West”.  Populated by the “hosts”, the robots of Westworld are there to serve the people and provide storylines to follow.  While Dr. Ford (Anthony Hopkins) crafts stories, a coup is happening inside of Delos that could mean his time as a storymaker is coming to an end.  Bernard Lowe (Jeffrey Wright) finds something is happening with the robots of the park and that there appears to be someone altering the programming.  In the park, the story of Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) and his lover Teddy Flood (James Marsden) encounters a new wrinkle when Dolores meets an outsider named William (Jimmi Simpson) who could potentially change her life.  Meanwhile, the Man in Black (Ed Harris) searches for the key to the Maze, and Dolores could hold the answers.

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Some say it is hard to get kids to open up…you apparently just need the right words

Westworld—Season 1 ran from October 2, 2016 to December 4, 2016 on HBO.  The series loosely adapts the Michael Crichton 1973 movie and was released to critical acclaim.  The series received nominations for Golden Globes for Best Television Series—Drama, Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series—Drama (Evan Rachel Wood), and Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series, or Motion Picture made for Television (Thandie Newton).  It also received Primetime Emmys for Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Comedy or Drama Series (“The Bicameral Mind”), Outstanding Makeup for a Single-Camera Series (Non-Prosthetic) (“The Original”), Outstanding Hairstyling for a Single-Camera Series (“Contrapasso”), and Outstanding Visual Effects (“The Bicameral Mind”) with nominations for Outstanding Drama Series, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series (Anthony Hopkins), Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series (Evan Rachel Wood), Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series (Jeffrey Wright), Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (Thandie Newton), Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series (‘The Bicameral Mind”), Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series (“The Bicameral Mind”), Outstanding Main Title Design, Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music, Outstanding Production Design for a Narrative Contemporary or Fantasy Program (One Hour or More) (“The Bicameral Mind”, “The Original”), Outstanding Casting for a Drama Series, Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Drama Series (“The Bicameral Mind”), Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series (One Hour) (“The Original”), Outstanding Period/Fantasy Costumes for a Series, Limited Series or Movie (“The Original”), Outstanding Sound Editing for a Series, and Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup for a Series, Limited Series, Movie, or a Special (“The Original”).

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Who is the Man in Black and what is his plan?

I was excited to hear about Westworld when it was announced.  I always enjoyed the movie and felt like it was a little underappreciated.  Futureworld showed the potential of more stories evolving from Westworld and even the short lived Beyond Westworld TV series pointed to the idea that Westworld could be a franchise.  Despite this and multiple rumors of a relaunch, Westworld remained idle for years.  HBO always does things solid and an HBO series of Westworld seemed like a natural…and it is.

The series is loaded with fun twists and turns.  As a result, a ******spoiler alert******* is in effect for the rest of the review.  It often feels like Westworld is borrowing stories from the relaunch of Battlestar Galactica where multiple characters didn’t realize they were robots.  This happens a few times in the series, but the ultimate surprise comes when you learn William and Logan’s story is a flashback that has been occurring the whole series.  Key plot twists are almost a necessity in today’s TV with the short run series, and Westworld manages to keep them coming while telling a compelling story.

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Thandie…are you ok with a little nudity? Like maybe around 50% of your scenes

The only problem I do have with Westworld is the problem that I’ve always had with Westworld.  The park fundamentally doesn’t seem capable of operation.  There are too many randomized factors in the park and no matter how smart you make the robots…even if they can learn, the scripted stories that they adhere to would be extremely difficult to maintain.  The algorithms for simply having a person talk to a character, much less sleep with them, would be so complex and difficult.  Not only that, but if you go to the park and you want to be the “hero” do you have to pay extra for that “excursion”?  Wouldn’t there be multiple people wanting the same popular storylines?

The cast for the series is exceptional.  Evan Rachel Wood is a surprisingly strong lead.  She’s had some hits and misses in the past, but she nails her character here.  I hope that the Teddy character, who isn’t as strong of fighter against his programming gets more developed, but James Marsden is a realistic shiny, attractive robot to populate a world full of guests.  Anthony Hopkins always seems to be having fun in every role he takes and he’s always a wildcard in that sense.  The Ed Harris and Jimmi Simpson storyline could mean no more Jimmi, but I look forward to where it goes.  Jeffrey Wright also is consistently strong as the robot reincarnation of the park’s founder.  I also love Thandie Newton’s Maeve who might be the most interesting character and Thandie is probably the bravest actress in the show because of how often she has to literally bare all and not appear uncomfortable or phased by it while delivering a strong performance.

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It is what is inside that counts…

Visually the show is very stunning as well.  It utilizes the ideas of the West for the series and contrasts it with the cold scientific look of the labs and android creations.  The series really gets the view and understanding and offers hope for other “worlds” with some scenes later in the show.

Westworld is a series with a lot of potential.  In my opinion you kind of have to throw out logic to enjoy Westworld, but if you can do that, the series works.  The show sets up this odd “what’s real” idea that makes you question everything that is happening.  With that in mind, I worry that the show will ultimately just write off everything as fake or fantasy when it becomes inconvenient to write more mysteries surrounding the characters.  I don’t know where Westworld will go but I look forward to seeing where it attempts to voyage.

Westworld—Season 1 Complete Episode Guide:

westworld season 1 episode 1 the original dolores abernathy evan rachel wood

“The Original”

1.1       The Original Airdate:  10/02/16

Dolores Abernathy (Evan Rachel Wood) loves her world.  She has a father (Louis Herthum) who watches over her, a secret love named Teddy Flood (James Marsden), and spends her days painting wild horses…unfortunately, Dolores’s world is all manufactured.  Dolores is part of a high concept amusement park where “outsiders” get to mix with robots in a classic Western setting.  When a new update by the park’s creator Dr. Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins) begins to give the androids memories of past lives, breakdowns begin to occur, and it is up to the park’s head of operations Theresa Cullen (Sidse Babett Knudsen) and lead programmer Bernard Lowe (Jeffrey Wright) to keep the attraction going.  Meanwhile, a lone “outsider” (Ed Harris) has his own plans for the future.

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“Chestnut”

1.2       Chestnut Airdate:  10/09/16

William (Jimmi Simpson) has been brought to the park by Logan (Ben Barnes) but finds that he doesn’t necessarily want the freedom it permits.  Maeve Millay (Thandie Newton) suffers programming problems with memories of a slaughter and witnesses the true world she is part of.  The Man in Black hunts down Lawrence (Clifton Collins Jr.) and uses him to seek the maze.  Dr. Ford ventures into the park to work on his newest project and clashes with Lee Sizemore (Simon Quarterman) over his new “Odyssey on Red River” that he feels doesn’t fit the park.

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“The Stray”

1.3       The Stray Airdate:  10/16/16

William gets to experience the thrill of being a gunslinger and forces Logan to follow his lead.  Teddy finds himself with his new backstory installed and learns that his old enemy Wyatt has returned.  After Bernard’s tampering with Dolores, Dolores continues to have flashbacks of previous deaths…leading Bernard to worry that his child’s death could be influencing his own behavior.  Dr. Ford reveals a secret past to the park and a former partner named Arnold.  Elsie Hughes (Shannon Woodward) and Ashley Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth) set out to find a missing “host” and discover that something is ingrained in the hosts that they didn’t program.

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“Dissonance Theory”

1.4       Dissonance Theory Airdate:  10/23/16

Bernard continues to return Dolores despite aberrations in her programming and encourages her to find the center of the Maze.  Maeve has visions of the men working on her and realizes someone keeps resetting her past.  The Man in Black seeks out a woman named Armistice (Ingrid Bolsø Berdal) whose tattoo could prove key to his mission and its ties to Arnold.  Theresa worries about the stray who confronted Elsie and Ashley and realizes her department has to take greater control to stop the spreading glitches.  William and Logan continue their mission with Dolores in tow, and Logan decides to change the narrative when he gets a lead on a rare storyline.  The Man in Black seeks out Wyatt with Teddy as his source of information when he discovers him in the desert.  Hector Escaton (Rodrigo Santoro) is freed from prison and could help Maeve prove her theory.

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“Contrapasso”

1.5       Contrapasso Airdate:  10/30/16

Dr. Ford looks into Dolores and her ties to Arnold when he died.  Dolores, William, and Logan continue on the war storyline which leads them to El Lazo (Clifton Collins Jr.) and a mission to steal explosives…forcing William to do something he didn’t think he could.  Dolores finds herself breaking programming and seeks the Maze.  Elsie does her own research into the stray which almost killed her and uncovers a secret hidden in its body.  The Man in Black searches for Wyatt with Teddy as his prisoner and has a confrontation with Ford.  A technician named Felix Lutz (Leonardo Nam) works to understand the hosts programming and makes an unexpected discovery.

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“The Adversary”

1.6       The Adversary Airdate:  11/06/16

Maeve has now come to realize what she is and has enlisted Felix and his partner Sylvester (Ptolemy Slocum) into doing some improvements on her.  The Man in Black and Teddy make their way for Pariah but run into trouble when they encounter Union soldiers.  Lee tries to drink away his problems and meets a new guest (Tessa Thompson) in the resort.  Theresa realizes Ford’s knowledge of her affair with Bernard could cause problems, and Bernard finds Ford is keeping secrets himself in a cabin off the grid.  Elsie tracks down the source of the glitches and discovers that it could mean even bigger problems for the park and everyone there.

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“Trompe L’Oeil”

1.7       Trompe L’Oeil Airdate:  11/13/16

Charlotte has been called in due to the recent problems in the park, and Bernard and Ford find they are in a risky place with Theresa.  Maeve finds that Clementine (Angela Sarafyan) has been targeted for retiring and makes her own decision about her future.  William questions his relationship with Delores as they find themselves in Ghost Nation territory, and Dolores wonders if her dreams might be reality.  Bernard reveals Ford’s secret cabin to Theresa, but Theresa and Bernard make a shocking discovery there.

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“Trace Decay”

1.8       Trace Decay Airdate:  11/20/16

Theresa is dead at Bernard’s hands at Ford’s orders, and Bernard’s realization that his life is lie must be covered.  Charlotte goes to Lee for help with her project to steal the coding of Westworld and gives him an assignment.  Maeve takes control of her own life and begins to write her own stories, but Maeve’s past might return to haunt her.  William and Dolores reach the location of Dolores’ dreams but the return of Logan could alter William’s plans to return Dolores to Sweetwater.  The Man in Black tries to explain to Teddy his obsession with the park, but Teddy and the Man in Black could face new danger.

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“The Well-Tempered Clavier”

1.9       The Well-Tempered Clavier Airdate:  11/27/16

Maeve faces off against Bernard and reminds him of what he really is…leading to a showdown with Dr. Ford.  Teddy and the Man in Black find themselves prisoners of the cultists, and Teddy learns that the past he believed in isn’t real.  Charlotte heads into the park in an attempt to sway the board of directors to remove Ford.  Dolores and William are captured by Logan, but William tells Logan that the game has changed after Dolores escapes.  Ashley learns Elsie’s signal is in the park but finds himself walking into an ambush.  As Bernard looks into himself, Dolores learns the truth about her past with Arnold.

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“The Bicameral Mind”

1.10     The Bicameral Mind Airdate:  12/04/16

The Man in Black and Dolores reach the center of the maze, but Dolores learns that the truth of the maze and the Man in Black might be more horrifying than she ever thought.  The Board of Director has come to Delos, and Charlotte and Lee plot to oust Dr. Ford from the park.  Maeve leads an escape with Hector and Armistice, but Maeve learns escaping Westworld might not be what she needs.  Dolores is given the truth about her existence and learns who has been talking to her inside of her mind.  Dr. Ford prepares for his ultimate story “Journey into Night”…and nothing will be the same!

Related Links:

Westworld (1973)

Futureworld (1976)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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