Yes, I am invoking the infamous Britney sympathizer video from 2007.
I vastly enjoyed the first season of Westworld — I was all in. I listened to hours of podcasts on my commute, went regrettably down the Reddit wormhole, and read a minimum of seven recaps (including all comments, gotta get that flavor) each week. I found the story lines, acting, direction and music all totally up my ally.
A modern Western with a dystopian twist shot on film for $10 million per episode with a wish list cast? Mmmmhmm, yes please!
And it was clear from the pilot that the season was going to be built on mystery and reveals. The two timelines started to become apparent, poor Bernard wasn’t as human as he thought he was, and we all knew (come on, you knew!) that William was turning black hat by the end. I also loved that each week made us members of either a Maeve or Dolores 1970’s style consciousness raising club, sometimes both.
Overall, I thought the philosophy, aesthetic, and scope was majorly impressive, even for an HBO series.
So following the 90 minute finale on Sunday, I was a bit surprised at some of the vitriol from critics and viewers who seem to think that the finale was going to resolve every single thing that they had theorized about over the past 10 weeks. They wanted twists on twists on twists meshed with reveals upon reveals all tied into a neat, perfect resolution bow.
Look William is the Man in Black, OK? Dolores is Wyatt! Ford was secretly planning to self actualize the hosts and have them take over the entire time! That is some GOOD SHIT when it comes to twists and reveals! WHAT MORE DO YOU PEOPLE WANT?
I personally don’t have an issue with theorizing — I think it can be an incredibly fun intellectual exercise, and one of the reasons I read and listened to so much on Westworld each week. But at the end of the day, the fans don’t write the show. When the scripts were written over a year ago, the writers were not aware of the crazy places the fan community was going to take the show. So getting mad at a season of TV for not fulfilling the storylines you created in your head seems like a really illogical emotional response to something you had enjoyed immensely up until that point.
People might respond to this with, “but if they had stuck the landing, we wouldn’t be mad!” And use the example of Breaking Bad. I get it, you all love Breaking Bad and it’s a perfect piece of postmodern meth art. BUT HOW QUICKLY WE FORGET. I saw SO MUCH criticism from reviewers and recappers over exactly how neat the end of that story was was the finale first aired. People wanted LESS closure and MORE twists instead of definitive answers with Walter and the gang. You’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
LET’S ALL REMEMBER: it’s really, really hard to create a unique world, characters, and tone in ten and a half hours of TV. The writers and showrunners didn’t have a series of exhaustively detailed books (in and of themselves their own challenge!) to work from, like Game of Thrones. They created this stuff. From scratch, basically, with a really weirdly paced movie from the 1970’s being their only touchpoint in terms of source material.
And of course, you shouldn’t stop theorizing, weighing in, and debating the relative merits of the choices the showrunners, writers, directors, editors and actors make. But keep in mind the tremendous amount of work and brainpower involved in breaking those tenand a half hours of story. It might not be exactly as you envisioned it in your head, but does that mean you can’t appreciate season one of Westworld for what it turned out to be?
What’s more important — a story turning out how you predicted, or being taken on a journey OUTSIDE of what you can possibly imagine?
Have we had SO much peak TV at this point that we can’t enjoy something that is very, very good?
Let those among us who have produced a first season of an epic Western/sci-fi drama for $100 million without sin throw the first stone, mmkay?
PS — the first season soundtrack dropped and it. is. so. good. HARD recommend.