This has the potential to be short since it doesn’t feel that I have that much to say, but I did want to record a few thoughts. I have neither rant nor rave — just some heavy disappointment in one case. In the other case, for me, it’s more a sense of, “Well, what did you expect from a time-travel movie? Time travel is utterly absurd and inherently contradictory.”
The post’s title may have clued you in. This post is about Tenet (2020), the most recent Christopher Nolan movie, plus the most recent effort by his brother, Jonathan Nolan (and wife Lisa Joy), Westworld, season three (also 2020). I’m a little late to the party seeing both of these, but I was so disappointed in season two of Westworld, that I didn’t much care about season three (and nothing I heard encouraged me).
Last night (and into this morning) I binged on all that Nolan.
Make no mistake here: I am still definitely a fan of HBO’s Westworld. I think it’s pretty darn good television science fiction, but I do recognize that it’s not great TV SF. It is a bit niche, both as SF and as a puzzle box, and this season seems to suffer some poor (or at least odd) thinking along with some apparent style-over-substance decisions.
But I’m still a fan; I’ll be back to watch season three. In 2020. If I’m even still alive. (I’m old enough for that not to be a given, although it never really is.) I’ve seen a lot more negative coverage this season (generally well-deserved, I think), and I’m hoping it is taken to heart and results in a better third season.
In this last Westworld post (for now) I offer some general reflections and observations of the series so far.
The more I reflect on the second season of HBO’s Westworld, the more I have some very serious questions about key aspects of the story. In the first season, I had serious questions about The Maze, which was central to the story. This season’s serious questions, equally story central, seem even more serious.
Primarily, there is the matter of the Peter Abernathy encryption key, which spans both seasons. Secondarily, there are the related matters of The Door and The Flood. And, finally, there is the matter of Ford’s Final Game for William.
I really can’t seem to find the logic behind any of them! They all give me a bad case of the Yeah, Buts!
The second season of the HBO show, Westworld, has answered many of the questions raised in season one. Of course, it’s also raised a whole crop of new questions! And, sadly, that crop seems to contain more WTF questions than last season.
The big WTF in the first season was The Maze, and there were some smaller ones, mostly to do with Ford’s astonishing foresight into what people would do. (Smacks a bit of Hari Seldon’s Psychohistory.) But this season has a number of choices that strike me as working backwards from a cool image or as style over substance.
More important are the actual questions raised, and hopefully there are far more of those. Let’s find out (serious spoilers, obviously)…
In a previous post I wrote a story about how the guns might work in the HBO show, Westworld. In this post I thought I’d take a stab at describing how the host brains might work — a much more challenging task!
As with the guns, as with any of us fans trying to understand any work of fiction we love, our guesswork depends on the facts we can observe in the show — the official canon, so to speak. Additional facts can come from the Word Of God (the show’s creators). Any creation of ours has to fit all these facts, and has to be logical and plausible within the context of the story.
So what do we know about host brains, and what might we guess about their operation, capabilities, and limits?
As a long-time fan of both science and science fiction, I expect the science in the fiction to be, at least, not mind-blowing stupid. Especially, I expect it to not be too magical, but a better way to put it is I expect it to not piss me off. Granted, the hardness of the SF determines how important this is. By the time you get to fantasy (completely soft SF), the science is magic!
And as a long-time Star Trek fan, I’m used to taking the ball and running with it, to imaging how, for instance, transporters and holodecks work. In fact, I call such flights of imagination “Star Trekkin’ it,” and I’ve been doing it since the 1960s!
The point is that I’ve decided how the guns work on the HBO show Westworld. And the best part is, it might even actually work!
The first time I posted about the HBO show Westworld was after the first season had completed. Back then I called it a “gem” with much that was “worthy” of “thought and discussion.” I saw it as some of the best science fiction available on TV or in film.
With the second season now over — the finale airing just last night — I am still a big fan, still consider it very worthy, very superior, SF TV, but some of the blush is off the rose. Just a tiny bit. I just wasn’t quite as impressed with season two, but that could be a matter of familiarity.
In any event, now that it’s over, and we know the whole story (so far), it’s time to start dissecting it!
I really thought the previous post was the last of this series of (13!) posts looking into the first season of Westworld. I thought I’d covered everything, but the more I thought about Arnold’s Maze, the more confused I became.
Either I’m missing something (which is certainly possible), or there’s something muddled about the whole thing. This could be a case of my over-analyzing things; fiction almost always has flaws, and apparently the show did alter course about halfway through the season (plus, the actor playing Kissy died). But since the name of the season is The Maze, I’m surprised how muddled the core idea of it seems (or maybe I just don’t get it).
In any event, here’s what’s bugging me (as always: Serious Series Spoilers)…
It turned out to be a lot more work than I expected, but I managed to take and write up notes for all ten episodes of Westworld, season one. And I’m really glad I did. Paying that much attention really cleared things up for me; I actually think I understand most of what happened. (Or, at least, I have an understanding! Might not actually jibe with Nolan & Joy.)
And these notes make a nice reference that I may tweak if I find errors or vagueness. Bonus, the notes generated a look into the script Dolores follows and also let me write the Westworld chronological timeline, so I don’t begrudge the work at all.
But now I have questions. As always: Serious Series Spoilers! You’ve been warned! (Repeatedly.)
It’s fun watching the fans try to guess what’s coming next in season two of Westworld. To their credit, they’ve gotten a number of key points right (like Bernard being Arnold), but some of the theories seem far-fetched (like Westworld being on the moon).
Along the lines of the latter, some fans think glimpses of the hosts in modern dress, and in modern city scenes, indicate a visit to “Futureworld” rather than, say, Delos using the hosts in the real world. (We see BernArnold in those scenes, so either they’re before Arnold died or after Ford made Bernard.) But it does look like they might be stealing a plot point from the Futureworld movie!
Anyway, back in season one, here is a go at a chronological account of Westworld starting back 35 years ago (Warning: Serious Series Spoilers)…