Westworld – Episode Four: Dissonance Theory

❉ We continue with our reviews of HBO’s new series ‘Westworld’, inspired by the 1973 film of the same title written by Michael Crichton.


There’s nothing to spoil: it’s more of the same.  I’m bored now.


A couple of people with whom I work are aware that I’m reviewing this series.  Both of them told me that they’ve already stopped watching (one after episode two, the other after three) and asked me what there was I could find to write about.  “Nothing’s happening,” one of them said, far more succinctly than a review can put it.  She was right, though – nothing’s happening, or at least nothing that’s not already happened several times already.  I realise that when you’re developing a TV series it’s quite important to pace your plots carefully and not overplay your hand too soon, but when that series is based on a film there’s already a certain amount of expectation from viewers.  For one thing, that you’re actually adapting the film.  We’re four hours into this now and so far we’ve covered pretty much the first ten minutes of the film.  I know things have to be maintained for ten episodes, but surely not to this level?  Nothing happened in this episode that hadn’t already happened repeatedly in the three previous episodes.  The robots are starting to question their existence.  Anthony Hopkins is developing a new narrative for the theme park.  Ed Harris is looking for a way in which he can develop the game further.  (I can’t say I blame him – I’ve only been visiting Westworld now for a total of four hours and I’d like to see things develop further – Harris has been coming for thirty years.  He must be bored out of his mind.)

Nothing’s happening.  It’s dull.  The viewers are stuck in as much of a loop as the robots.  Pretty soon we’ll be developing flashbacks too, although in our case it won’t be traumatic it’ll just be tedium.  I say pretty soon, but in all honesty I’m already there.  This is dull.  It’s watchable thanks to the cast and the direction, but it’s still dull.  The concept is interesting enough that I still have some vague interest in seeing how it all plays out, but I have a horrible feeling that it’s going to be another four episodes of this before something actually happens that seems fresh.


I’d wonder how many more ways there are we can see the robots start to question the reality of their world, but I have a sinking feeling that it’s lots.  I’d wonder too how much more violence we’re going to be exposed to before one of the characters puts their foot down and demands an end to it, but again I have a sinking feeling that it’s quite a lot more (amusingly, one of the guests – we’ve only really seen three so far, so it’s not as if we’re getting the full Westworld experience either – turns to his friend and demands “Can you please stop trying to kill or fuck everything?”  I know how he feels).

If I wanted scenes of existential angst I’d rather watch something by Bergman.  If I wanted to see a Western I’d stick on a Leone film.  And if I wanted to watch robots going mad and killing people I’d watch the original Westworld.  Which is disappointing, because that’s exactly what I thought I was getting.

❉ ‘Westworld’ airs on Sunday nights in the US on HBO, and on Tuesdays in the UK on Sky Atlantic.

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