[Yes, this one contains some spoilers]
Since I made some early guesses about Westworld, and have finally had time to wrap up watching the first series, thought I owed it a follow-up. Particularly so because the show managed to do something unusual: it surprised me.
There is, of course, lots of sex, nudity, and violence. But, I’m happy (?) to say, there is a purpose to it all in this case, unlike so many HBO shows. There are still some challenges with the story: issues that could have been avoided; aspects of society that were avoided; procedural aspects that seem dumb to be missing; and corporate weirdness that is plausible, but a stretch in its execution.
However, the main thing about this series is the beauty of its construction and the utter misdirection it manages to both maintain and to pay off. Much like Amy Adam’s timeline in Arrival, Westworld plays with how we see Dolores’ experience of reality. Her lack of a chronology when memory is perfect and indistinguishable from present is an amazing piece of writing. Nolan may have out-Inceptioned himself with this given how long it stretches out.
In order to pull it all apart, you’d have to go back to the beginning and try to find the current time line to identify where all the flashbacks are. Also like Arrival, there are clues (clothing, wounds, etc) so it isn’t unfair, just very dense given the multiple Host POVs. And since we don’t know about Bernard until near the end, we have no way to understand the complexity of the plot until the last couple episodes.
Sometimes you just like looking at a jewel because it sparkles, even if you don’t like the cut or color. Westworld isn’t a show I think I could watch again for enjoyment. It is too bleak and violent, regardless of its purpose. However, I can truly appreciate its craft and design. I’m glad I came back and trusted it through to the end. I can’t see a second season being nearly as intriguing. A second series isn’t even necessary. But, should it return, I’d give it a chance.