I’ve been waiting for HBO’s Westworld to shift into a more exacting and aggressive mode. It’s almost starting to feel like a Gordian Knot thing. It’s not that I’m irked by the way it’s been threading and expanding and the way all the layers are accumulating and densifying, which is interesting as far as it goes. And I like that one of the tease threads (of which there are many) is flirting with the idea of Jeffrey Wright‘s Bernard being a host or, better yet, perhaps a “mole” version of Arnold (i.e., the allegedly deceased co-founder and former partner of Anthony Hopkins‘ Ford).
And yes, I respect the hard, herculean effort required to juggle 17 significant characters and give them all interesting things to say and do and shoot back at, and I love the great sets and scenery and whatnot. And I liked the Eyes Wide Shut-like orgy scene from a couple of weeks ago.
Westworld honcho Ford (Juggernaut-era Anthony Hopkins) and his dead father. Or maybe his deceased partner Arnold. You tell me.
Westworld has definitely been holding my interest. It’s a smart, well-organized effort from a lot of bright, talented people who want to shake the tree and sample exotic fruit. It’s not boring me. Every Sunday night I’ve said to myself, “Okay, great, here we go.”
But over the last couple of episodes (the sixth, “The Adversary”, premiered last night), I’ve been saying “okay, maybe this time something will finally start to happen.” Because so far it’s been all slow-mo buildup and atmospheric layering and tantalizing embroideries and diddly-doo plot wanking. Last night Hopkins and a little-kid droid came upon a dead rotting dog, and I suddenly said to myself, “The fuck? Why am I watching a dead dog?” Something snapped. I was suddenly tired of the bullshit.
I don’t want to even flirt with the idea of all these story lines taking place concurrently. Who gives a shit?
To me, Westworld is feeling more and more like a longform puzzler and head-scratcher for nerds. Intercut, yes, with ultra-violent, Wild Bunch-like shoot-outs and occasional nudity moments (not just Thandie Newton, Evan Rachel Wood and James Marsden but sagging grizzly guys with thimble-sized dicks) in the lab, but essentially it’s a puzzle maze for gamers and dweebs.
The fact that David Chen does a weekly Slashfilm podcast called “Decoding Westworld” tells you everything.
I didn’t expect that a ten-episode expansion of Michael Crichton‘s original 1973 film would be as simple or straightforward. Obviously. But I have been holding on to a belief that the 2016 Westworld (brought to us by Jonathan Nolan, Lisa Joy and producer J.J. Abrams) would ultimately be about, you know, a violent revolt of the hosts, and yet right now I feel like we’re watching a longform version of Kirk Douglas‘s Spartacus with the action still stuck inside Lucius Batiatus’s gladiator academy in Capua, and we just passed episode #6 in a ten-episode series.
All I can say is that the threads are sure taking their sweet-ass time as they coalesce and build to a supposed boil.