Westworld is everyone’s favourite show, but does anyone really get it?

Published: August 22, 2018

The show has already been renewed for a third season by HBO, so it’s only likelier to get even more incoherent than it is at the moment. PHOTO: IMDB

It might sound a tad bit clichéd, but I don’t usually judge people for their choices in life. No matter how bizarre, absurd or quirky these personal preferences are, you wouldn’t find yours truly judging them. However, there is one major exception to this golden rule of mine.

I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you like or want. If you are looking for an opinion from an industry oldie, I can tell you I am not your man. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills. Skills I have acquired over a very long career of watching thousands of movies and series. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let any discussions over cinema not veer off into the territory of favourites, then that will be the end of it – I will not look for you, I will not judge you. But if you are caught citing a “favourite” movie or a TV show, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will judge you.

Westworld is one these aforementioned series that I have a really strong opinion about. If you tell me this American science fiction TV show is something you find extremely absorbing, rest assured I will judge you for being a faux cinephile.

Don’t get me wrong, Westworld is not a bad show; but it’s not even remotely close to being substandard. The plot centres on a futuristic ‘amusement’ park, where humans get to enjoy controlling the robots that inhabit the land. The robots seem human, but actually follow narratives assigned to them and are under human control. The first season of the show highlights the journey of ‘enlightenment’ within the robots, as they come to the realisation that they keep reliving the same events and are not in control of their own destiny.

It has great production values, unique characters, and a very compelling premise, but ultimately the whole philosophically themed narrative wrapped inside a science fiction package is, in my humble opinion, plainly pretentious. And if you happen to be someone who thinks highly of it, be ready for me to judge you as someone who is a pseudo-cineholic.

And mind you, at the moment we are strictly talking about the first season of Jonathan Nolan’s creation. Don’t even get me started on Westworld’s second season, which somehow manages to be all over the place.

The plot questions posed by the show in the second season were either extremely confusing or simply went unanswered. Multiple timelines and a plethora of different worlds add to the already saturated plot-chaos. The writers were so busy plotting the events in the past, present and future timelines, they completely forgot to notice that nothing was happening at all to drive the story forward.

Or perhaps that really was the production team’s grand plan after all? To confuse the viewers by bombarding them with such a structurally complex narrative, that the audience fails to realise that beneath the glossy exterior of a truly wonderful production design comprising of fantastic sets and impeccable wardrobe, nothing much is happening at the subsurface level.

I’ll give it that; the final two episodes of the second season might have been able to salvage something from the wreck, but you will have to go through an arduous journey, consisting of eight boringly long episodes, in order to get there.

However, if you are stubborn enough to still embark on this tiring trek, the second season, subtitled The Door, picks up where the first season ends. The robotic hosts are revolting against their cruel overlords in order to take over the park, and then proceed to exact revenge for their previous cruel behaviour.

But then it all goes haywire, with the show fragmenting into different subplots and multiple worlds (the British Raj and the Shogun World), and then there are these oh-so-boring technology versus humanity, existential debates that are as never-ending as they seem.

Trigger-happy Maeve (Thandie Newton) is on the same hunt to find her “daughter” from last season. Pretty-face-turned-ruthless-revolutionary Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) and Teddy (James Marsden) are closing in on the “Valley Beyond” to score a weapon. William (Ed Harris) is still on his own little adventure, while Bernard’s (Jeffrey Wright) shocking secret is still a hush-hush matter for everyone else.

The show has already been renewed for a third season by HBO, so it’s only likelier to get even more incoherent than it is at the moment.

At one point during the finale, Dolores complains to Bernard,

“You haven’t understood at all.”

I would be the first one to unashamedly admit that I really didn’t understand this show or its hype at all. But I am still smart enough to understand that Westworld is one place I won’t be frequenting any longer. And if you plan on not being judged too harshly by me, neither should you.

All photos: IMDb


Hassan Sardar

Hassan Sardar

The author is an aspiring filmmaker and a diehard Liverpool fan. He also teaches Screenwriting and Cinematography, and loves tattoos and flip-flops. He tweets as @CineSardar (twitter.com/CineSardar)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Farhat Udani

    Philosophy is not for everyone, definitely not for someone who is addicted to the loops of life thrown at him.. west world is definitely not a show for people who are reflected in the show as hosts (yes I do think the shows philosophical angle is deeper and broader than most people think it is). the show would generally appeal more to the intellectual and thinking type, most people would not fall into the category who would be expected to understand or have any clue of the deep abstract philosophy in the show however they would pretend that they so. Oh no, did I just judge someone for not liking WW??Recommend

  • Nomad1412

    Hassan, love to read your reviews here from across the border. But in the case of WestWorld (or should I call it WorstWorld), don’t overthink so much that your brain hurts. If you understood Season 1, it means that you can readily understand a complex narrative. Season 2 on the other hand was apparently supposed to be an amusement park ride where you switched a part of your brain off. It now seems the show has morphed into something where you experience WestWorld through the eyes of your favorite character, much of which I can only assume was due to hankering by fans pre-Season 2 who especially wanted to experience the other worlds. Now there being similar expectation of a more detailed storyline with RajWorld in Season 3, WestWorld seems to be going the same way as “Snakes on a Plane”.Recommend

  • Syed Azmat Ali

    I love the show. I like the droning kind of shows, with extended monologues on our existential dilemmas. Consider Melancholia as an example. Very, very few people can sit through that… or so I am told. But i loved it. A director took the time and effort to portray what he wanted to, without consideration for mass-scale “likes”. That’s the kind of movie / show that works on many, many levels. I am still going through the second season, and yes, it does drone a bit and is not easy going, that’s why i keep it for myself when i am in an introspective mood. So go ahead and judge me!Recommend

  • Muhammad Khan

    This is about as pretentious a review of a show as I’ve ever read.Recommend

  • Abdulrafey Asim

    Westworld is not a show for everyone, well clearly not for you. Its slow paced and keeps jumping between timelines but that is the beauty of it. What the producers want is that people contemplate about the show, and that is something the fans love to do. Season 1 is about human nature and our affinity to commit violence, it also looks into AI and its journey to gain sentience like we already possess. Season 2 is faster paced and it gives a reality check that humans can’t think outside their natural set of responses because our society has programmed us this way (Look into fidelity tests), which is debatable but that is the whole point of the show. All this while having an intriguing story makes for a very well time spent.Recommend

  • Talha Asad

    The author seems like someone who has opinion about the show that no one really cares about and he somehow had to get it off his chest. Most shows don’t care about all that, they only want people to follow them and create a controversy which they certianly have here. It doesn’t matter weather the plot thickens or gets super multi directed. In the end it’s all but a show. Stop believing in your opinions as religion.Recommend