These are my notes for The Stray, episode three, season one, of Westworld. As with all these “notes” posts: Serious Series Spoilers! Do not read unless you’ve seen season one!
The first two episodes (The Original and Chestnut) introduced the main characters — the Delos park personnel (led by Ford), various hosts (most importantly Dolores and Maeve), and a few key guests (the Man in Black and William White-hat). Those episodes also introduced the idea that something weird is happening with the hosts, as well as the idea that Delos is up to something more than just an entertainment park.
Now, on that foundation, the story starts to take off…
Here are my notes for Chestnut, episode two, season one, of Westworld. As with the previous notes, these are longer posts than I usually allow, but they’re intended as something useful for me, so they are what they are.
The first episode was linear, seeming to cover five days while it introduced the idea of the host loops, the main Delos people, and the Man in Black. The second episode (along with those after) isn’t linear at all — yet it is deliberately constructed to appear linear (especially at key points). This episode also introduces a key idea: that of suffering.
Note that in all these posts: Serious Series Spoilers!
To prepare for season two of HBO’s Westworld (by husband and wife team Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy), I’m very thoroughly watching the first season again… and taking careful notes!
By “thoroughly” I mean that I plan to watch each episode multiple times. I’ve just watched the first episode three times (twice in a row last night, once the night before), and I plan to watch it again so my buddy can see how absolutely stunning it looks on my new LG 65″ OLED TV in 4K HDR off the Blu-Rays I bought. (And it is truly stunning that way! I gasped when I first started watching.)
I’m transcribing my notes from last night here, in part, because my handwriting is so bad I just have to type them up, but also to share them for whatever they may be worth. Obviously: Serious Series Spoilers!
The previous posts avoided spoilers and talked about HBO’s Westworld in general terms of its themes and characters — stuff that is apparent just from the trailers and basic setup. This post isn’t like that! Do not read this post unless you’ve seen all of season one!
Or unless you really like spoilers or just don’t care about the series. But if you do, you should trust me on this: You do not want this spoiled! It may even be all the better if you avoid any interweb discussion … the fans really did figure out some of the secrets before their big reveal. (On the other hand, the show’s creators have made it clear the truth was always in plain view. And so it was.)
Here are my questions and observations about the last episode and the season as a whole. I think we all have a few questions…
In the previous post I wrote about some of the general themes I saw in HBO’s Westworld. Such big picture topics are inherent in the basic description of the series — intelligent robots used as playthings — and don’t require spoiling plot points or character revelations. Everything I wrote about in the last post is part of the general context of the show.
In this post I want to look more closely at things that struck me in particular, but it requires exposing certain aspects of character or implementation that could count as spoilers if one is very strictly trying to avoid knowing anything about the show.
But if you have some idea about what’s going on, maybe just from trailers, this post shouldn’t spoil anything for you. I won’t give away any of the big secrets or reveals.
Way back in 1958, science fiction author and critic Theodore Sturgeon coined the term Sturgeon’s Revelation. Which is that “90% of film, literature, consumer goods, etc. is crap.” This became known as Sturgeon’s Law while Theodore’s actual law (from a 1956 story) — that “nothing is always absolutely so” — is forgotten. (Philosopher Daniel Dennett expanded the Law to say that 90% of everything is crap!)
I’ve always found this applies especially to science fiction TV. And in this Anno Stella Bella era, there is a lot of SF TV, so naturally there is a lot of crap. (Honestly, I don’t even pay attention to the SyFy channel anymore.)
Happily: HBO’s Westworld … not crap! In fact, it’s a gem that offers many facets worthy of (non-spoiler) thought and discussion…
As I’ve said many times, when it comes to storytelling: Take me someplace new! Last night I watched a rather unregarded movie, Bunraku (2010), and it delighted me by doing exactly that.
Now when I say “rather unregarded” what I mean is that both critics and audiences haven’t reacted at all well to it. It has a dismal 19% (critics) / 48% (audiences) rating on Rotten Tomatoes and only a 28 (out of 100) on Metacritic. That’s pretty unregarded. But I’m not sure they judged the movie on its own merits so much as against their own expectations.
It’s possible I’ve mellowed in my old age, but as far as I can tell, I’m still the same old highly critical SOB I’ve always been!