The Violent Ends of the Binge: 50 Lukewarm Takes on HBO's 'Westworld'

If you've made it this far without watching HBO's Westworld and haven't had anything spoiled for you yet, godspeed. You're blessed. 

That said, when the hell are you going to watch it? Do it. All of it. Now. Or save it for this weekend. It's not hard. It's only 10 or so hours of your life. I did it this past weekend. 

Sure, it was hard, but it was better than watching The Santa Clause for the 11th time or The Polar Express (Tom Hanks is too creepy to watch that more than once every [other] Christmas). 

But before we get into these cold takes, let's consider a few things that people have overreacted to:

The Verge went a little crazy after the 9th episode saying the show wasn't more than a few tricks, citing an imbalance between Jonathon Nolan's (yes, Christopher Nolan's brother) affinity for sleight-of-hand narrative ploys outweighing true discovery. 

In the lengthy overreaction they went after Memento

Yeah, that movie that you might have thought was a mindf*ck when you were 15, but then you took a film class, the professor said, "Look, there's nothing compelling except for the way in which the story is told," and then went on to worship Christopher Nolan (possibly the wrong Nolan) for The Dark Knight every day until you die. 

On the big reveal in episode 9 (Ford and Bernard's entire gun-to-the-head interaction): 

"This messy confrontation is the show’s pinnacle moment of mystery over substance. The scene answers a number of the biggest questions raised by fans, but manages to say nothing compelling about the show’s core concepts of artificial intelligence or dangerous human ambition... What was initially a complicated intellectual exploration of the complexities of artificial life has devolved into a big hunt-the-herring game about the quirks of idiosyncratic storytelling."

Hopefully they watched the end of the season because then (again, hopefully), they didn't feel so betrayed by a show going at great lengths to insist that, "Yeah guys, we're really only interested in the story telling you about the power of storytelling." 

Hence the literal change in narrative. Hence the deflating idea that Thandie Newton's entire journey out of the park was scripted. Hence the maze being the most in-your-face metaphor for the collective unconscious/hero's journey you'll ever see. Hence the shameless love affair with archetype and contrivance. 

Michael Crichton, creator of the original Westworld, might have been interested in these other core concepts (as well as the dangers of corporate greed), but you give this idea to a Nolan and its scope goes beyond the boundaries of character development. 


This was not a Nolan trying his hand at Phillip K. Dick, and thank God. We don't and didn't need that. Where The Verge is most confused is pretending the show's core concepts were all that unique to begin with.

Even in this iteration, an adaptation itself, the idea itself was not wholly original. Telling it this way, though—that's where the show succeeded. 

Let's face it: we care about shows that make us think more than the ones that explode all over our faces. The Walking Dead is a weekly gorefest. It's basically like watching Saw every goddamn week. It's been a while since we had a show that made us ask and talk about what a show means. 

One of our editors pointed that out to me Monday morning saying we probably hadn't had a show like this since Lost that essentially laid the groundwork of internet fan theory. The last real puzzle before that was probably the ending to HBO's The Sopranos, and even then, that was the end of the series. 

The essential question though, is after all of this, can we actually get a second season? A second season exploring the dangers of human ambition (yawn) or the complexities of artificial life (AMC is trying that unsuccessfully. It's called Humans. It's not very good. Why? Because it's nothing new)? 

Sure, take us to another part of the park, but still, pass. 

A second season exploring these same narrative nuances? Meh, probably not possible. And after bingeing the show, I'm completely fine with that. 

According to ScreenCrush, season 2 will explore the park from the guests' point of view. Great. Cool. Didn't think we could go any deeper into that apart from the boring details of the logistical world-building of the park. 

1. Maaaan Anthony Hopkins is dope. 

I hope he banishes someone from Westworld.

2. Episode 5 is really bad.

3. What he fuck was that dude thinking?

I don't remember what this was in reference to, but it's safe to assume I had the question more than once. 

4. This music


6. Evan Rachel Wood's career

Forever creeped out by Thirteen, and I absolutely hate Across the Universe. But she took a guest vocal spot at a Local Natives show at Terminal 5, and then there's this, and her winning an award. Good. Now I have better associations. 

7. This is a lot like Groundhog Day

8. James Marsden

Is he overrated or nah? I'm going to say he's overlooked, but I'm not sure what that says about how we rate him. 

9. Can we get a ruling on whether or not HBO should branch out beyond piano music in the opening credits of their prestige dramas?

10. I really hate Pariah


12. Bernard looks like Jordan Peele as a scientist

Speaking of Peele... have you seen this shit yet?



"Who should we cast as the hero?"

"IDK, what was your least favorite part about Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter?"


"No, his name is... William."

"So... Billy—"

"Don't call him that!"

14. What the f*ck is going on?


15. Wyatt! 

But not Kurt Russell Wyatt. Or Ben Wyatt.

16. Elsie... girl, we know you not on leave!

17. Such a pretty show.


18. Why Westworld though? 

Like, can we just make it Jurassic Park?!

19. Why is so much of this hinged on these two butcher f*cks?

I really hate useless characters, and if there's any creative team that seems to have those types locked into their wheelhouse, it's Christopher and Jonathon Nolan. 

20. Is it confusing or convoluted?

I don't even know what I need answers to but I don't seem to have a problem with it?

21. What year is it IRL?!

22. Ghost nation!!!

23. I miss Abernathy. The real Abernathy.

24. Bernie has a weird character arc. 

How does he go from poisoning the well to believably trying to save the day?

25. Yo, these narratives suck. 

26. Bernie's definitely a robot, right?

27. For an HBO drama with a whorehouse as a set piece, there's a refreshing lack of on-screen rape in this. 

Definitely a good move. 


29. Where's Arnie? 

Say where's Arnie!

30. Why would you increase her strength? 

How fucking dumb do you have to be?!

31. They seem to pick and choose the times they want to pick up these Hosts. 

Like, how is Dolores still on the move? Like, I get that she's with a guest, but how are they not tracking these improvisations.


32. The idea of the reveries is still dope.

33. I hope Logan dies.

34. Hector!

That's my duuuude! And he's love actually Karl from Love Actually

35. Dude sounds EXACTLY like McSteamy

36. Bernie getting the shaft sounds like the DNC all over again.

37. $40k a day? 

How long do people stay in Westworld? Do you get a discount for monthly packages or nah?

38. Is Logan wearing the Hand of the King pin thing?

39. Of course Bernie is a fucking host

40. Damn William...

41. Lawrence? THAT DUDE?!

42. Poor Theresa.




46. FELIX!