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’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.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

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 2.2, Better Off Dead?

DATELINE:  Reunion, or Bring Yourself Back Online

Barnes & Simpson

Ben Barnes and Jimmi Simpson

The second episode should have been first. Westworld 2 was better the second time around.

If jumping across timeframes becomes easier with practice, we should have seen this coming first. Flashbacks highlight the episode to before the start of “Westworld” as a land of fantasy for rich players in which the prototype robots party in Contemporary World, our time.

We even see Ben Barnes again, killed by evil William at the end of the first season.

Everyone dead from last season is alive again through the miracle of backstory. We even see the young Anthony Hopkins flash by and hear his voice, warning the real Bernard/Arnold about his creations.

Ed Harris and his young self, Jimmi Simpson, seem far more explanatory this season and especially in this episode. We are even given the multiple level chess game of seeing flashbacks within flashbacks. It’s as if Joe Mankiewicz at his greatest Hollywood style had been reincarnated in android version Jonathan Nolan.

Yes, Westworld returned to the thrilling days of tantalizing its core viewers, as the ultimate tease mystery.

To see Dolores in modern times, given insights by her creators, lends understanding to the revolution of robots in Westworld.

A few stories even briefly cross before future episodes will give fans more insights: Thandie Newton and her beau automaton Rodrigo Sandoro meet the strong-willed Evan Rachel Wood and James Marsden.

Will they meet again? Don’t know where, don’t know when.

Jeffrey Wright’s real person (not his later robotic self) figures only in the opening. His future scenes of the previous episode remain inexplicable at this point.

Story arc of the first episode, less interesting, was completely missing this week—and the meat of the sadistic monster hosts dominated the proceedings. We may not fully understand where this is heading, or who will return again, but Nolan and his partner Lisa Joy have produced an intriguing series, season two

Brave New Westworld 2

DATELINE: Westworld Returns to TV

brave, new westworld? Re-programming Required on all Models!

Now for something completely borrowed.  It appears, as the second season of Westworld dawns, producer and creator Jonathan Nolan is returning to the roots of Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in the Westworld.

The robot revolt has resulted in more guest deaths than we could have suspected if they had assembled the entire cast from season one. Dead bodies, mostly rotting, are clearly human.  The recovery team traipsing around the park finds Robert Ford, shot by the show’s cowgirl, Dolores Delos (Evan Rachel Wood), with a gaping hole in his head. That likely ends the theory that dirty coward Ford (Anthony Hopkins) was a robot.

Bernard (Jeffrey Wright), a closet robot, now must hide his identity lest the humans simply shoot him in a fashion reminiscent of concentration camp purges by the human controllers. He needs an oil job before he terminates.

Maeve (Thandie Newton) has saved Westworld’s script writer who is a human most unpleasant as she seeks a fictional child to whom she has some maternal robot feelings (told these are not genuine has no effect). She also locates her hot, lanky boyfriend (Rodrigo Santoro).

The Man in Black, a major stockholder in Westworld, and last season’s young man (Jimmi Simpson) in a parallel storyline, returns as mean as ever. Ed Harris even removes the Robert Ford boyhood model to show his true spirit.

No one comes across here as remotely controlled for sympathy.

Between the bloodbath scenes of innocent humans being shot by sociopath monster robots, we are somehow meant to feel human compassion for a slave revolt.

Shades of Spartacus.

We have met the human Roman Nazis—and according to Jonathan Nolan’s cryptic script, they are us. Whereas Nolan’s Person of Interest production people populate the cast and crew, we are left without that show’s sense of dry wit.

Last season’s smartest show on TV has become dumb-witted.

Confusion and horror are not the best honey to attract the busy bees of cable sci-fi fans who have come to expect intrigue and humor. It’s a disappointing start to the second season.