Westworld 3, the Lost Season, Bites the Dust

 DATELINE:  Cliff-hung!

As Westworld wound down on its third season, it was clear that Jonathan Nolan was meandering without any sense of direction to his creation. The series had nowhere to go—and went there with empty shoot-out and fight scenes.

A coda after credits turns out to be the most interesting part of the show, which some could have missed: we see William confront himself as Man in Black, and we see decommissioned Bernard, covered in dust, likely years later. So, that is the teaser for season 4.

Two, not one, major karate fights between Maeve and Dolores (Miss Delos) seemed to end with their deaths: except no one in this series is ever truly dead.

The fights seem now to recur with all the regularity of Ali and Frazier.

William also seems to be trying to reform himself, sort of, to save humanity, in the same destructive way that Dolores wants to save automatons. It’s pointless as the world outside Westworld devolves into anarchy.

Some odd details seem to indicate that everyone has forgotten where they came from:  Lawrence, (Clifton Collins, jr.), shows up in haggard form to save his “friend” Bernard. But. His friend for all season two was William (Ed Harris) who runs off without seeing him. This may be a loose end for season 4, if we stick around.

As for a litany of loose ends, you are left with tatters of William, Bernard, Dolores, and whoever Aaron Paul is supposed to be:  presumably the new star of the series.

With everyone professing to save humanity, one wonders why the simple acts of kindness Dolores recalls are meant to save us all.

Whatever the series will become next season, or in its subsequent years, will not be the Westworld  of the movies, or of the first two seasons. This third season has truly been a lost season, meandering blindly for some purpose.

Dolores’s war on humanity comes to a fitting non-conclusion at the end of season three, especially since there are now three more seasons on the HBO docket. We can sleep at night knowing these talented actors, writers, and directors, will be gainfully employed for a few more years.

 

 

 

 

 

  Westworld 3 Turns into Person of Interest

DATELINE: Persons of Westworld Interest

  Enrico Colatoni Returns.

It seems almost logical that creator Jonathan Nolan, mastermind of the Grand Computer of Person of Interest (not Finch), has also created the same AI for Westworld.

Now with the grand finale on the horizon for season three, we find ourselves in a strangely familiar place. There, locked away in a giant warehouse, is the computer from Person of Interest. As if to confirm this, the second banana from that earlier series, Enrico Colatoni, shows up here as a guest star in essentially the same role.

We are also given several intriguing finale confrontations: it now seems that William (Ed Harris) will save the world by destroying the creation of AI from Person of Interest. There is also the big bash between Maeva and Dolores (Newton and Wood). Their fight scenes are, of course, reminiscent of death fights with men in generations past of movies.

Now with a series of women directors and creative powers on Westworld III, we are seeing the past come alive with women in the same roles.

If you expect Jim Cavaiezel to make a guest appearance, it might not happen for another season. After all, this week HBO announced that Westworld will be renewed and will finish out six seasons.

We were most amused to find the AI of the earlier series still prisoner and now obsolete, trying still to save people as it did in the earlier show with Finch and Reese.

We presume that to continue for three more seasons the entire cast must find themselves back in their familiar roles at Westworld as the TV series roots three seasons ago. Whatever the robot revolution was meant to be, it is hardly about to come to an end.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  Westworld 3.6, Serac, See Rac Run

DATELINE: Breaking with Pinky 

 Williams 1 & 2

We doubt the series can recover its equilibrium now that it is on a path where everyone is a host and no one is a guest. Robots, Robots, everywhere, and not a human to be entertained.

Jonathan Nolan’s Futureworld took a couple of steps deeper into the abyss of bleakness, and it ain’t pretty, no matter how clean the future streets are looking. That in itself is a tip-off that what’s real may not be what you see.

This episode is called “Decoherence,” which apparently indicates the series is now a step away from incoherence.

If there is redemption in this episode, it can be found in the group therapy session of William (Ed Harris). Now committed to a mental institution, his hallucinogenic therapy includes a hilarious session with all aspects of his past self: boy, young man, man in black, business tycoon, and mental patient.

This allows Jimmi Simpson to return for one bravura recap as his character of William. It leads to cynical villain William realizing he is indeed the hero of his own life.

As far as Ed Harris is concerned, he is not happy with the role and its turn of events. He signed on to play the Man in Black—and he may bail on the series if it continues. He was so unhappy that he broke Jimmi Simpson’s finger in their big fight scene.

The other major development that may turn into an interesting plot maneuver is the alteration of Tessa Thompson’s Charlotte who had begun to identify with the human side more than ever. Once crossed, and crossing that threshold, she may become a woman scorned: truly more dangerous than Maeve.

What may be converging here is a means to save Westworld from sure destruction on several sides. What it ultimately changes into could set us up for another season, or a neat ending to the proceedings.

Genre, the Drug-Addled Westworld 3.5

DATELINE: Our Least Favorite Episode in 3 Seasons! 

 Aaron Paul & Evan Rachel Wood.

The show Westworld  is now literally out of its world, out of its mind, and officially should have a new title. Going back decades, we loved the original Yul Brynner movie and even the not so good Peter Fonda sequel. We loved Jonathan Nolan’s first two clever and sharp seasons. We loved his Person of Interest.

Something has gone awry. This week’s episode was chaotic junk, with high speed car chases and drug-addled characters killing each other. We were not impressed to find Mr. Nolan slumming his Westworld to a dismal futuristic, misanthropic world where AI will eliminate real humans.

Apart from all else, it was so distasteful. And, the cast was so limited that we missed so many of the great characters who showed up for cameos a few weeks ago. Perhaps Nolan plans to have a grand finale in which all appear like in those Faulkner novels where all his favorite characters show up for a final bow.

It does seem to be the end of this series. Maybe Nolan and his partner Lisa Joy have run out of interest and ideas. We hope another project will return to the roots that Jim Cavaziel gave us in Person of Interest. There is no person of interest in this new season.

This new leading man, Aaron Paul, is an intense actor playing a rather dull character. No, there is no love interest with Dolores who is all business, and her job is chair of Murder, Inc.

There are three more episodes, came one reminder. Whether we shall be able to stomach any or all of them only the weeks ahead shall prove. We are most disappointed, having anticipated this show for a year.

 

Westworld’s Version/Vision of Hell

DATELINE: Robby the Robot Need Not Apply!

 Ed Harris Looks for a Cut Throat.

Number Four of Westworld III  is a lulu. Perhaps the highpoint of the night is a fight between Evan Rachel Wood and muscleman Luke Hemsworth. It seems in our new age, a good fight among equals includes some give and take between the sexes as a little later Thandie Newton enjoys a good roust.

As for the series, in its mercurial way, remains cryptic beyond even its usual standards. In the fourth episode, we finally see the ravaged leftovers of Ed Harris, or William, who had been obsessed with Dolores from the start. Whether he is done for, or will come back, only four episodes left will tell.

Now, he is being played by other parties, haunted by the ghost of his dead daughter (or is she another robotic version sent to drive him all the way to the mental hospital?)

It seems a little early for everyone to receive his come-uppance, and whatever secrets Dolores is harboring, using all who enter her realm, there are several spearhead opponents—Maeve, Bernard, and possibly William. You can never count anyone out in this show where apparent death to robots means you’ll be back next week.

We are now so far afield from the original setting that it is hard to know where this vapid, wealthy future shall lead. We are not sure the series has anywhere else to go as we rush head-long into a robot apocalypse.

Jonathan Nolan has surprised us before, but he may well have overreached his play with this season of his intellectual treatise on the meaning of life and AI.

 

Westworld 3.3, Even Robots Get the Blues!

DATELINE: AI Goes Bananas

One of the Hemsworths.

 We are back to mad robotic Dolores and her plan to take over the human world. She has found an ally in human Caleb, who apparently is taking the place of James Marsden who died last season (if robots die forever).

This week is cryptically called “Absence of Field.”  Its absence will not make you nostalgic for previous seasons.

In the Tessa Thompson subplot, we have the robotic charade version of Charlotte Hale now running Delos Corporation. Alas, she is informed that some version of a Howard Hughes billionaire, the richest in the world, is buying up their stock.

This is the employer of robotic Maeve who is being groomed to do battle with Dolores to put the automatons back in Westworld where they belong. This week Thandie Newton and Jeffrey Wright are off on their subplots, likely to return next time.

We miss Luke Hemsworth who has bulked up over the past year and now is a little muscle robot.

If you are lost and confused, this is part of the chess match Jonathan Nolan plays with Lisa Joy to show you that dumb viewers are watching mindless sit-coms on another network.

In the meantime, robot Charlotte is having stress pangs—perhaps controlled the spirit of her dead human counterpart. Charlotte’s six-year-old son senses this is nothis mother.

This child-parent motivation has now gripped several characters: notably Maeve and now Charlotte, as impostor robots seem to feel actual biological ties. And, thrown in for good measure, we also have a mother-son relationship with the real person of Caleb who seems to have an inordinate amount of machine in him.

Whether these turn out to be red herrings, or plot keys, you know only that Dolores holds the key everyone seeks.

 

 

 

Westworld 3.2 Shows Nazi-world

DATELINE: Episode Two of WWIII 

You can’t keep track of the androids without a scorecard. They are everywhere, and we might even call them Replicants, but that’s another movie called Blade Runner. Same idea, different off-world rebels. This show is called Westworld III, and you may be lost in the escape from robotic Centerville. They don’t want to call it world of Nazi, so it’s Warworld. No, we didn’t see a Trump lookalike cavorting there, either as a host or a guest.

We’ve been a bit confused (who isn’t?) when normal humans are taking on dangerous roles as bodyguards, etc. Why are the robots not here in spirit?

Since everyone seems to have a duplicate robot version, powered by a dirty powerball, everyone should theoretically be back for another season. However, the man behind the curtain is the wizard of Westworld, named Jonathan Nolan, and he decides if you go over the rainbow, or are simply deleted.

So, don’t grow despondent if your previous favorite character is nowhere to be seen—like Thandie Newton. The actress now shows up as an incongruous black woman in Naziworld. Who knew?

All journeys end up back at Westworld—where we find Maeve, Bernard, and a couple of humans. One surprise is that one of our favorite humans turns out to be another robotic programmed automaton. Who knew?

Somebody knows that Maeve is an agent of rebellion because they are trying to entice her with her former human friends to tell them what Dolores is up to. Failing that, she seems to be the robot recruit of the month to lead opposing forces to stop Evan Rachel Wood’s mad automaton attack on human existence.

In case you are wondering why the robots are looking older, we figured out that most of the cast is in their 40s, and unique robots, they cannot hold back time. However, stars like Thandie look marvelous for the given age.

So this is the set up for the shortened season three.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Parce Domine,or Sing a Song of Sixpense

DATELINE: Joy in Nolan’s World

  Out into the World!

The most literary TV series of recent memory has returned for season three under the creative control of Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan. Nolan, of course, gave us the extraordinary Person of Interest, but nothing came close to this artistic juggernaut.

Welcome to Westworld III. It’s almost like World War III.

Now, with robots amok, we begin with a Latin Gregorian chant phrase, so typical of an overeducated TV production in an age of under-educated audiences.

Many stars return for the new season—but many notable names are omitted (at least officially so far). Dolores, the head robot rebel, is about to lead Armageddon on the human race by the hosts of Westworld.

Evan Rachel Wood now wears designer gowns after two seasons of a western petticoat. She is stunning in spike heels to say the least as a homicidal android.

Her first stop is a fifteen-minute visit to the billionaire world of the man who owned all the robotic worlds of androids. She is about to take his money and run. It’s quite an android future, based on the lifestyle of the superrich in 2060, or whatever future it is.

New character Caleb is introduced as what appears to be a second-rate criminal and war veteran. He must be presented in parallel to Dolores’s ruthless involvement with the powerbrokers of Westworld and the virtual world.

Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) is on the run as responsible for the murder of Westworld’s Board of Directors.

Mostly, the world outside the robotic paradise is stunning visually: with most of the location shooting in Singapore and Spain. As far as Dolores is concerned, she is out to take over the human world for revenge (we presume).

This is a sumptuous production.

 

 

 

 

 

Do You Trust This Computer?

DATELINE: Person of Interest?

Nolan Auteur Jonathan Nolan!

It’s a loaded question, perhaps more nefarious than asking whether you still belittle women in the ERA of #Metooism! (jk omitted in earlier version).

A documentary on the doomsday likelihood that artificial intelligence is already here may be a self-fulfilling prophecy. It does not stop the filmmaker from stacking the deck.

Do You Trust This Computer features a couple of the brainiest culture commentators—and a gaggle of AI experts from Sanford and MIT.

Elon Musk (of Mars colonization fame) and Jonathan Nolan (creator of Person of Interest and Westworld, two of the most intelligent computers on the tube) offer extraordinary insights.

Nolan is so handsome that it almost seems unfair that he is brilliant too.

If you need villains, you can find them on your devices: Facebook and Google, both of whom are working on super intelligent computers that may endanger humankind.

As one observer notes, psychometrics means that computer are already able to tell your intelligence, religion, sexual orientation, and politics, from facial recognition. In the hands of dictators, or even a Trump, this could prove frightful.

An expert notes that artificial intelligence is the true psychopath: no conscience or morality to stop it from fulfilling every mission.

Autonomous robots are already out there in killer drones. If you are the target, you are dead meat. War will make AI public enemy #1. Medical robots may decide who lives and dies, as humans begin to lose all skills that have been usurped by artificially intelligent creatures.

As people come to rely on these monsters, they will have fewer skills to combat the AI abuses. They are already winning at Jeopardy, chess, and other games, years ahead of schedule.

Androids will soon look like us and have no foibles.

Do you trust your computer? It’s already too late to be suspicious if we are to believe this documentary.

Westworld Grand Finale, Season 2

DATELINE:  Who knows?

 ben barnes.JPG

 Back in the Saddle Again!

If you expect us to save your sorry series Westworld, you are barking up the wrong portal.

The Mighty Jonathan Nolan has struck out, and there is no joy in Westworld 2.

Anyone who can explain what happened is a false prophet.

The season finale ran about ninety minutes, an epic of sorts in which Westworld turned into John Wayne’s Alamo. Yes, we might conclude that everyone died at the end. However, HBO has signed up for Season 3,  which may be ready in a couple of years, and by then we expect that loose ends will mean that more than a few cast members will cut loose.

Those who have long-term contracts may be back. Alas, your favorite’s fate may rest on the volume of fan mail that demands a return.

We thought for a moment we were returning to prequel-land where Ben Barnes as Logan, now an android, runs Westworld. However, there were more endings on this series finale than you might find in a Steven Spielberg movie.

No writer or producer wanted to end this thing.

William, aka Billy, turns out to be Billy Pilgrim. Yes, we expect that madman Ed Harris’s character will make a full recovery, and we expect that technicians will selectively pick from among the hosts all your favorite characters for re-programming.

We think too that in the chaotic confusion that a few other characters revealed themselves to be hosts, not human guests.

Of course, you can never be sure on this loony-tune series that what you saw is what actually happened.

Beware of those who tell you what really happened. Only Jonathan Nolan knows, and he isn’t telling.

 

Westworld 2.9 Penultimate Bullet-in

DATELINE: Heads Rolling

simpson Jimmi Simpson, Android?

We are rapidly coming to a climax, or anti-climax, or post-climax of  season 2. Since HBO has ordered a Westworld third season (coming not soon to your cable stream), we know that cliffhanging will be fashionable next week as we try to discern which of our favorite hosts and guests will be around.

As we move to the all-cast shoot-out beyond the pale riders, this next to end-it-all episode features Ford on the Brain.

Yes, everyone from host to guest has Anthony Hopkins telling them what to do. Forget that he’s dead since last season. Is it any wonder that half the cast puts a bullet into their skulls to stop that computer chip from functioning?

You can’t tell who’s mad and who’s a robot as we come crashing toward the end of the season. Actually all the robots are loony. Then, again, so are the crypto-Nazi humans.

You can rest on the fact that no one is ever ever really dead in a Jonathan Nolan flashback series.

We did enjoy seeing Jimmi Simpson and Ben Barnes together briefly again. We did not enjoy watching Ed Harris, or some immortal coil of him, unable to tell whether people are real or robotic, including himself.

When did he shuffle off that mortal coil?

If we wanted to spoil everything for next week’s extravaganza, we’d find ourselves unable to do so: it looked like everyone in the cast was back and in fine fettle. Of course, that could be a flashback, flashforward, or prequel to the old movies.

Perhaps the most telling moment in the current 2,9 show was to find Ed Harris (Sweet William) and his program card stashed in a copy of Slaughterhouse Five, the old space/time continuum novel by Kurt Vonnegut.

When we have time during the week, we may peruse it to learn how the season will end next week. So it goes.

 

 

 

Westworld 2.8 Ghostly Nation

 DATELINE: Thrilling Days of Yesteryear

IMG_3076-1

If you’re not in Oz, and not in Delos’s Westworld 2, you must be in Ford’s Ghost Nation where you live in some kind of digital memory bank.

We’re heading down the homestretch of conundrum, east of chaos and southwest of confusion. Our GPS coordinates on the series are sending us down one-way streets that are closed to thru-traffic.

Those Indians in black and white war-paint may seem like a throwback to old TV westerns. In fact, we are in one old Western in particular. Welcome to the Lone Ranger.

Hiyo, Silver horse, running through the dreams of the Noble Savage, Tonto, or in this case, Ake.

Yes, we re-live Tonto saving the Lone Ranger at least three times in this episode. He saves Ben Barnes, left for dead in the desert last season. He saves Ed Harris, left for dead like the last ranger, this season. And he may even save Thandie Newton.

Two of the scenes are right out of the original production of the Lone Ranger-Tonto playbook. Our last surviving member of his tribe comes across a massacre and makes a ghost who walks for revenge.

It seems the Noble Savage is another bad robot, spreading his discontent, looking for a door to escape being an automaton. A touchstone with one key backstory motivates them to a better world.

And, now it seems that Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins) has been all for it. We are moving toward truth, as all the characters seem to be realizing. We stand in awe of Jonathan Nolan pulling this three-ring circus together in the final episodes of the season.

 

 

Westworld 2.7, Ford Your Stream of Consciousness

 DATELINE: Impossible to Spoil

back again  Return to Oz 

Once upon a time in Westworld, you needed a scorecard to know what’s then and what’s now, and who’s really dead and when are we headed to the Last Roundup.

Sergio Leone is spinning in his spaghetti western. Nolan gives us a lasagna western. Too many layers of cheese and sauce.

If you are hypnotized by the cobra, you are no mongoose.

We are still not sure who’s dead and who’s not. We are happy to see Anthony Hopkins alive and well, as long as he stays in his own little world, or is he merely the best part of Arnold. As he tells us, outside he would turn to dust. At least that’s what happened to those who lived in Shangri-La, but that’s another story.

Arnold, apparently, is created out of Ford and Dolores’s memories. Oh, wait, that’s Bernard.

We must give Jonathan Nolan credit. It’s not every TV producer who can go back to the drawing board in the middle of his show’s episode and start all over.

If you don’t like a plot-line, just go back to the delete button. As Ford tells us, we are humans who are the last vestige of analog in a digital world.

You have to love it when you can’t tell a good guy from a bad robot production. If we were to tell you everyone who seems dead after episode seven, we’d not spoil a thing. We are sure you will meet them again, just don’t know where and just don’t know when.

The last roundup, or the gunfight at the OK Corral of Westworld is yonder, in yesteryear. Everyone is headed to the Valley Beyond, which lies just over the hill of episodes eight and nine. It’s sort of a Lost Horizon.

In the final show of Westworld 2, we predict that Nolan will pull a Fellini and have everyone join hands and dance around the center ring of the circus tent.

Bang, the audience is dead.

Westworld 2.6 Goes to Hell

DATELINE:  Westworld 2.6

  who's Arnold? Who’s real?

You have now entered Robot Hell in Westworld’s Season 2.

The dirty little coward Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins) has shot the Jesse James Western story into a moldering grave. You can’t tell the guests from the hosts without a scorecard, and staff may be just as confused as the audience.

We may be wondering after 2.6 just who the true villains are. Those who were rotten for the entire series show too much heart as we come to a climax. And, those Dopplegangers from Shogun World are gone, thank heavens. However, we are seeing William (Ed Harris), head honcho of the Westworld operation having a change of heart.

Since no one ever really dies in a Jonathan Nolan series, we know everyone will return in some shape or form. You can probably expect that there are host versions of everyone, and you can’t tell them apart without one of those fancy tablets Elsie (Shannon Woodward) plays like a Chopin nocturne.

If there is a theme here, it is that pursuing a dream is the stuff tragedy is made of. Bernard, or is that Arnold, dreams of returning to the past, or is it the present?

The more the storylines change, the more they remain the same. We know that guests and hosts are converging on the Pearly Gates of the grande finale of season 2.  What we don’t know is how hell-bent they are to have a Last Supper.

In this episode we see one robot “crucified” with spikes by uncaring humans in an effort to learn what is truth. Good centurion Luke Helmsworth stands by in growing horror, as Nolan unravels his gospel according to a Person of Interest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Westworld 2.5: Crichton Bites Nolan

Michigan J. Frog That’s Show Biz!

Michael Crichton’s Futureworld’s troubles come back to Nolan’s Westworld 2.5.

Has Westworld begun to self-destruct? Season 2.5 is beginning to look like it’s a parody of itself, at worst. We half expect James Brolin and Peter Fonda, from the original two movies, to show up.

Creative genius Jonathan Nolan and his partner Lisa Joy seem to be giving the fans exactly what they want, but not exactly the way they want it. We have been treated to two worlds that were never in the Michael Critchon original:  Raj World and now Shogun World. It seems much ado about nothing much.

The series has become a satire on TV writers, as the one character who allegedly has written all the programmed dialogue of the robots complains that it was too much work trying to keep with up 300 story-lines.

So, he cheated. The characters of Westworld are now in Japan, and the idea of meeting your double who speaks exactly the same words, but this time in Japanese, has an unsettling effect on the robots.

You’d think a multi-billion dollar operation like Westworld would have hired more writers. Heaven knows we find the Internet is filled with them, all giving Jonathan Nolan more exegesis of his plots than at a symposium on Moby Dick.

The latest episode seems almost as if Toshiro Mifune is giving Yul Brynner pointers on the Magnificent Samurai Seven.

We feel as if there is far less going on this season, and we are already half-way to the end. What kind of cliff-hanger is in the offing?

We know that some humans are trying to restore the park(s) and save Delos Corporation some money by saving any “hosts” worthy of the name.

If there was a revelation here, we suppose it was the sex lives of robots are not much different than real people as Evan Rachel Wood and James Marsden, perpetually virginal in their robot roles, doff the union suits.

Yes, Mr. Nolan, 300 story-lines are too much for one writer.