Westworld has been some of the most outstanding and enjoyable TV I can remember seeing. Season 1 blew me away, twisty and mind bending, mixing the Western with hard sci-fi. Season 2 tried to one up everything – more outstanding performances, more tricks with time lines, more high-tech theme parks, and just more wow. To be honest, in deciding to rewatch the middle season ahead of starting the latest, I was a bit less of a fan than the first series. Season 1 I could watch again and again, spotting all the little clues and subtleties, whereas once I knew what happened in 2 I actually found it a little harder to stay focused through a rerun. I’m still glad I did it, but it did hold me up from starting on the newest episodes.
The writers might well have taken similar views from other fans to heart, as series 3 plays a little more straightforwardly – well, on one level, at least 😉 But the big change here is the move from the park, and the Western vibe, out into the real world. What kind of society produces the folk who were so keen on shooting’n’looting (and worse!) in good old Westworld? And far more to the point: what havoc will the Hosts wreak, unfettered and unknown… and in a world run by technology?
I don’t want to give too much away, obviously, but… wow. I’d heard a fair few folk feel the less twisty storytelling was a disappointment, but for me there was still enough mystery to keep me glued to my screen. I also absolutely adored the futuristic cityscapes, such a difference from the remarkably-realised Old West and even the dark, closed spaces of the facilities running it.
There are still some un-reality spaces going on here, though, so it’s a nice mix. And as well as our Host’s goals, we find out that there are other systems and other players in the real world, causing extra friction between them all. The addition of Aaron Paul and Vincent Cassel as two new characters works very well. I remain in awe of the actors playing different versions of their characters, taking on other characteristics and still adding that air of being deceived – in the best possible way.
I do see why some people were a little less enamoured of the change in – well, setting more than tone. It’s still dark and twisty and just that bit nasty. However, I loved the whole widening of the story, especially as it kept the same themes, often in unexpected ways. But the thought-provoking nature of the show, be that underlying questions or just trying to figure out what’s really real, is what makes this such a joy.
Roll on season 4!
First broadcast: September 2020
Series: 3 (to date)
Episodes: 8 @ ~60 mins each
My rating: 9/10