Westworld Review: The Original

When Westworld was announced I was all in. I mean, they had me at Jonathan – The Dark Knight, Memento, The Prestige – Nolan. I will give anything he is involved in a try. But there was more. JJ Abrams was Executive Producer, Ramin Djawadi the composer and the cast would consist of the likes of Anthony Hopkins, Ed Harris and more. Short before the season one premiere and after two tantalizing trailers I found out that Michelle Maclaren (Breaking Bad) and Neil Marshall (Game of Thrones) were among the directors of Westworld and my excitement levels reached a new high. This show already had so much going for it before they even started production and HBO and the showrunners kept on adding more and more good things to it. But, where there is great anticipation there can also be great disappointment.

In Game of Thrones HBO has a worldwide hit unlike it has ever seen before. It’s beloved among both critics and fans alike and even in its sixth season the ratings are still climbing. But, the premium cable network hasn’t had any hit since the battle for the Iron Throne started. So along with all the major names involved in Westworld, all eyes are on the show to become the next big thing. So, will it? If the series premiere is any indication I would say yes and no. Yes because they delivered. The Original is a series premiere unlike anything that came before it. The cast is great, it looks gorgeous and Ramin Djawadi also delivers on the score. No because despite the quality of this show, it’s also quite dark. And it also might be a little slow and boring for people. The ones who are only watching Game of Thrones for tits and dragons will not enjoy Westworld very much. That being said, I did very much enjoy the series premier of Jonathan Nolan’s next homerun and I can’t wait to see where this goes next.

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What happened

After about 10% of the androids in the theme park receive an update some of them start to malfunction. Bernard tries to figure out what it causing the androids to behave strangely and he is under pressure from Theresa, who wants to pull out all the androids that received the update before things start to go more wrong. After investigation and more androids malfunctioning they determine that it is the update on all the affected androids are put into cold storage.

Peter, one of the hosts also malfunctions and tries to warn his daughter Dolores about the true nature of Westworld. When Dolores is also examined it is determined that nothing is wrong with here and she is allowed back into the park where she gets a new father. At the end Dolores kills a fly which hosts should not be able to do.

While this all happened one of the guests of the park goes around killing hosts and is seemingly on a mission of his own.

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What I liked

Holy shit! This was such a great series premiere. I must admit. Halfway through the episode I wasn’t sure that I was going to love it, which would have been a major disappointment. But the final third of the episode really brought it home for me. The premise is extremely interesting. But it could have easily turned into a rise of the machines type thing. It didn’t. There are multiple things going on and the hosts potentially becoming sentient is just one of them.

I loved Jeffrey Wright as Bernard. He is one of the best actors of his generation and this role is perfect for him. He is almost as fascinated with what is happening with the hosts as Ford is. Ford himself is no less intriguing and is well portrayed by Anthony Hopkins. For me there were two pleasant surprises. Dolores and Peter. Louis Herthum’s performance was masterful and I know it’s way too early in the game but he should receive an Emmy nomination for this at least. Evan Rachel Wood was the second surprise for me. I love how she portrays Dolores. Throughout the episode I didn’t think her character that interesting per se but the final part of the episode catapulted her right into the most interesting character on the show and maybe even on television right now.

I feel like I am not doing this stellar episode justice because there was so much more to like. The way the Newcomers are portrayed really rang through for me. The fascination and wonder they have for the theme park and their hosts but also the depravity of some of their desires. That moment when one of the Newcomers abruptly ends the shootout taking place by killing the bandits was hilarious. The episode wasn’t perfect but it came reasonably close.

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What I didn’t like

The one thing that didn’t really gel was the Man in Black. Ed Harris is a very good actor but the scenes felt a little off. Or, they seemed sort of disconnected from the rest of the story, I should say. Otherwise no real complaints.

 What I’m looking forward to

Wow. Where do I start? I can’t wait to see more of Bernard, Dolores, Ford and Maeve. I don’t find the corporate intrigue that interesting but that can change. I can’t wait to find out what is happening with the hosts exactly and where it will lead. And also, I can’t wait to see more of Thandie Newton because we didn’t see much of her yet.

 4.5/5

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Observations

I can’t say it often enough. Jeffrey Wright is great!

Evan Rachel Wood wasn’t really on my radar and I haven’t seen her in much since Thirteen. Maybe in the Ides of March. But man, she blew me away!

Again, that scene with Peter was bone-chillingly good. It’s already one of the best scenes of the season. Great acting.

Speaking of Peter. We all know that something is going to go terribly wrong with that cold-storage right?

What do you think of Westworld and will it be the hot HBO is hoping for?

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