DATELINE: Where Have All the Robots Gone?
At the end of season one of Jonathan Nolan’s HBO series, Westworld, the computers cash in their chips.
We dare not predict who will be left standing for next season**, but there is a likely chance that few of the regulars from this season will return. Nolan himself in his closing teaser promises that next season will bring chaos.
The robots have discovered even their revolt is the masterwork of a programmer. The enslaved robots dream of violent pasts, and we learn that their life spans end in malfunction that we might call “insanity”.
The series has certainly enjoyed many moments of delight—from the motif of Debussy’s Reverie playing on everything from a player piano in a saloon, to a crank cylinder—to the image of Yul Brynner’s Gunslinger from the original movie shut away in the shadows of a backroom.
The series ended with considerable mumbo-jumbo, the sort of stuff that passes as philosophical insights in pop sci-fi, but that merely makes the experience more maddening.
Because the reveries of the damaged robots seem to flicker in and out of their consciousness, the last episode of the season either ended characters—or nothing ends. This was the hallmark of Jonathan Nolan’s other fascinating series, Person of Interest. Flashbacks meant dead characters returned to fulfill their past lives.
All this leaves us anticipating what may happen next year without having one of those cliff-hanging, manufactured endings.
Week after ten weeks, we have seen brazen, but throwaway, nudity among the robots as they are prepared—and abused by their caretakers. The violence and orgies no longer need to be suggested on cable television; there is no subtlety in the brave new world of Westworld. And, the brave new world of acting demands you better have a good-looking body because the script won’t allow for shy actors to overcome their modesty.
We had to wait a year for a few episodes of Downton Abbey—and now we will wait for the five-year** run of Westworld, one season at a time.
** Jonathan Nolan revealed that the second season will likely not air until 2018 at earliest. Yikes. We are not ageless, like robots.