Thandie Muthafudgin' Newton as Maeve. I'll probably say this whenever I mention 'Westworld'. It's so difficult to keep saying she's a scene-stealer when the cast is so brilliant, and every little part was cast exceptionally. It's what made 'Westworld' so enthralling, from the tiny trinkets to the cowboy draw of the gun, but Newton was just on another level.
There were some great plot twists, and then there was some!
For all the fans who've honestly been itching to see this and have been over-the-moon by it: I'm so happy for you. What a feast for all the senses.
Ramin Djawadi's scores are so good that I genuinely think that he can pick and choose what he wants to compose for and it turns out to be so darn brilliant that Mr. Djawadi just needs his own livetweet hour.
For every ten awesome plot twists there was a little average one. Elsie wandering, alone, in the dark, wasn't exactly the best thing to do. I was nearly facepalming, until Bernard's reveal pretty much reconciled it. A twist concealed behind a deception. Damn.
As much as I love the show and want it to live a healthy five seasons or so, I almost in a way want it to be wrapped up with a sturdy three, leaving us an agonising amount of land unexplored.
If I'm truly honest I am slightly disappointed with the Man in Black. His intrigue simmered down, and it was lucky Maeve stole the show under our noses like that. But all in all--the acting was glorious.
‘Westworld’ had hooked us from the beginning, and left us with a sweeping mystery and heavy anticipation for the next season!
There aren’t many shows that come along and instantly grip you from the beginning. Full of intrigue, a maze of a plot, and the typical Nolan ‘Inception’ style. It was clever, brilliantly acted and every episode gave just enough to keep you waiting for the next episode. Gorgeous cinematography and an equally beautiful score to boot, ‘Westworld’ boasted, in each every episode, what most shows couldn’t. The ability to leave you hanging on the edge of your seat.
Also, it boasted a heavy ‘shove-off’ to the binge craze sweeping through the television world as we know it, and a sturdy stomp to the weekly crave for some more of a truly excellent first season. If Netflix launched its ‘Stranger Things’ rocket, HBO shot right up there with ‘Westworld’.
Theories stemming from the show are already sprouting. It’s a huge round of applause for executive producers Jonah Nolan and Lisa Joy. Together they have created something beyond words. What. A. Season.
Here’s why we love it.
The cast list was already stunning, and they did not fail to deliver.
Everyone was on top-form during the series. Evan Rachel Wood as Dolores was unravelling her own maze, or mystery, and it kept us guessing until the very end. James Marsden was Dolores’ white knight and saviour in this story, transformed into the Man in Black’s reluctant and conflicted killer. Separated from Dolores, it was Jimmi Simpson’s William who kept her company. Tender and ethical, he was the stark opposite of Ben Barnes’ near-manic dictator.
William: “How did you do that?”
Dolores: “You said…people come here to change the story of their lives. I imagined a story where I didn’t have to be the damsel.”
Most stunning were perhaps Jeffrey Wright, Anthony Hopkins and Thandie Newton. It’s not easy to pick standout performances with a cast like that. But did you feel pain when Wright’s Bernard realised he was a host? When all his memories flooded back to him; he was a puppet, essentially, for Anthony Hopkins’ Dr. Ford. Quietly sinister, Ford manipulated his closest ally and host to do his dirty work.
However, it was Thandie Newton who captured the viewers. As Maeve, a host, she cranked up the cleverness and it was time for Maeve to just kick ass. She was aware of her past. She was aware of the story. Newton’s performance as the gritty, vengeful Maeve was fantastic. It left us chanting ‘Yes Maeve! GO MAEVE!’
The Man in Black was tracking the trail of the maze, just as we are wandering and theorising our own maze: the plot.
It’s taken a while to write this up because every attempt there’s a second guess. And we can’t quite grasp the memories of our last reboot. This is perhaps deception and foggy mystery at its finest. There were scenes—much-mentioned and of much controversy—to be talked of, early on in the season. It looked as if HBO were to trip up on its own two legs before ‘Westworld’ even took off. Like any big-hyped show, there’ll be people—rightly, as we are to our own opinions—to jump on the ‘overrated’ bandwagon.
We’re still not quite there yet. ‘Westworld’ hit the road running and never really steadied to a careen. The pace wasn’t always kicking but the show never stopped moving. Not once. Via flashbacks or brief glimpses we were shown possibilities; tiny windows; brushes, teases of answers. We were never gifted them. That’d be too easy, and that wouldn’t be in Nolan’s style.
What makes a human?
This is the real kicker. Surely there’s no hiding from Nolan’s vision, with his recently-finished and thought-provoking CBS drama ‘Person of Interest’. Similarly, ‘Person of Interest’ examined the limits of artificial intelligence and what would happen if it came to fruition. The ethical dilemmas. Here, in ‘Westworld’, artificial intelligence isn’t the ethical dilemma plaguing our humans. It’s rather backwards in that the ethical dilemma lays in the fundamentality of what makes a human?
It’s a simple question. For the complexity of the show and characters, it’s a simple question none of them can seemingly answer. After all—can you?
What does it mean to build a life? To kill? To love? It means nothing in ‘Westworld’, but everything on the outside. If the hosts were just machines, it would mean nothing to them, but it absolutely does—evidenced by Maeve and Dolores in particular. One could argue they are hosts with a story to fulfil. Firstly: tell that to Maeve. Secondly: when they deviate, yet are still hosts…what then?
Where are the limits? Are there any? Is Ford a genius, or is he just a really good scientist? Is William naive or just well-intentioned? Should there be a differentiation between hosts and humans—and who has the audacity to decide that?
Inconsequential is the outcome of ‘Westworld’. So upon entering, you should leave unscathed. But William, for example—would he really? And what does it say of humanity in essence, if someone can leave ‘Westworld’ and the atrocities they’ve committed truly behind?
Final Verdict: It’s so tempting to call it faultless. Perhaps no piece of media is, but ‘Westworld’ may be the closest thing to it as of this year.
So we have a cracking plot, some exceptional acting, and truly beautiful scenes matched with an epic score. Sounds like a recipe for some ruddy good television, and boy, it really was. There’ll be no doubt and absolute fairness to its critics. ‘Westworld’ will not be perfect for many, but when presenting a world without limitations, perhaps ‘Westworld’ opened television up to be as scepticism-bound as you may be sceptic. As entertaining as you may want it to be entertaining.
There’s really valid criticism of the show, and that’s perfectly fine. There is never going to be a television series that nips 10/10 in every single critic’s score. The scene between the Man in Black and Dolores is still relevant talk, because it should never go off-the-record as irrelevant. But to void an entire show because of it is a sad concept. It’s understandable, but there’s a lot of ground to be covered and a lot of questions to be asked.
‘Westworld’ was a long wait, and when it arrived, it was a freight train of ambition and adrenaline. Paying members of the public went to ‘Westworld’ and usually got what they wanted. So did you delve into ‘Westworld’ and get what you wanted?
How’s a second season for that?
Questions and Comments.
- I was fully expecting someone honourable like William or Teddy to turn out to be Wyatt in some twist but maybe that was a stretch too far…
- It’s Dolores, right? Dolores is Wyatt, and William is the Man in Black…? Let me get my head around this.
- The premise, looking at it now, with Dolores as the story’s damsel in distress and how that evolved so brilliantly is even better when you follow it through a second time.
- Anthony Hopkins is so sinister in the way Ford appears approachable—but in the eyes of many, is a monster.
- Tweet us at @TVAfterDark – what was your biggest shock moment of the show?
- Mine is still that Bernard was a host. I feel like this was probably obvious (or more obvious) in the broader community, but man, my jaw was on the floor.
- Thandie Newton’s Maeve wasn’t a big shock, but that’s just because she’s Thandie Newton. She can take biggest badass, though. By miles.
- Where do you think season two will take us? What do you want to see?
- Mind you, if I took a shot for every time someone’s skimmish critique is ‘overrated’…I’m carrying a liver pump.
- There’s a very harsh contrast between the bleak steel of the labs to the roaring country and beauty of the frontier. Truly, the camera-work and direction was exceptional.
WESTWORLD seized the challenge of crafting the best television freshman season and quite like Dr. Ford's creation, it was perfection to a tee..
There had been a huge weight of expectation on Jonah Nolan and Lisa Joy’s shoulders, and an even heavier weight when their pilot first aired. The competition’s stiff—with ‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘Stranger Things’ as current front-running contenders. But the mind-bending storyline in addition to the blistering beauty of Dr. Ford’s carefully manufactured world lived up to its hype. We just couldn’t be sceptical about this one.
Season One Verdict: ‘Westworld’ [HBO]