Posted on 11.28.16: Last night a pair of posts about HBO’s vaguely infuriating Westworld series — one by Matt of Sleaford, the other by brenkilco — really hit the nail on the head.
Brenkilco: “The problem with episodic TV narratives designed to blow minds is that the form and intention are at odds. A show designed to run until the audience gets tired of it cannot by definition have a satisfying structure. It can only keep throwing elements into the mix until, like Lost or Twin Peaks, it collapses under the weight of its own intriguing but random complications.
“Teasing this stuff out is easy. But eventually the rent comes due. Dramatic resolutions are demanded. The threads have to be pulled together. And that’s when things gets ugly.”
Matt of Sleaford: “Westworld is a puzzle-box show, which is kind of the opposite of a soap opera. Puzzle-box shows, like the aforementioned Lost and X-Files, can be fun to chew on while they’re progressing. But the solution is almost always anticlimactic. And though it may seem counterintuitive, puzzle-box shows are less effective in the internet era, because someone in the vast sea of commenters is almost certain to solve the puzzle before the end (see: Thrones, Game of).”
“We’re not gonna take it! / No, we ain’t gonna take it! / Oh, we’re not gonna take it anymore!” — anthem of the long-horned steers who rebel against the Westworld owners and engineers in Season 2, which launches on 4.22.18.
From “Westworld Hate Will Continue To Spread,” posted on 12.5.16: “Like many others, I’ve gone totally negative on Westworld over the last three or four episodes. The HBO miniseries finally ended last night, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a major revolt going on. I hate this series with a passion for just layering on the layers, for plotzing, diddly-fucking, detouring, belly-stabbing, meandering and puzzleboxing to its heart’s content.
“You know Westworld is just going to be keep being Westworld for God knows how many damn seasons until the beleagured audience, like the hosts, stands up and says ‘Enough, Jonathan Nolan…you and your never-ending longform sprawl, your endless teasings and knife-stabbings and shallow sex scenes, your slowly-germinating metaphysical character arcs and parallel timelines…you’re just spreading your winding narrative double-back bullshit to see how long you can keep it going…two, three, four seasons. If it weren’t for the nudity we probably would have revolted four or five episodes ago.”