The first season of Westworld is an attempt by HBO to create a new show in the vein of Game of Thrones. There are intriguing characters, big budget action scenes and large grandiose vistas on display. More importantly, Westworld goes to great lengths to provide twists, turns and surprises whenever possible. This is a show that is asking to be analysed.
The problem with the large amount of twists, turns and surprises featured in Westworld is that as a viewer, I was constantly confused and trying to work out the answers or results. Sadly, once the season came to an end, there was only really one major twist that I didn’t see coming and many of the answers provided were a bit unsatisfying.
Westworld is also probably the greatest video game adaptation ever made. However, Westworld isn’t based on a specific video game. It achieves something no other video game adaptation has done, it manages to adapt the experience of playing a video game. The guests visiting Westworld are stand-ins for video game players. The show presents a fictitious, open world full of possibilities and it leaves the gamer/guest to do whatever they please. Many games are subtly referenced throughout its run, including Red Dead Redemption, Bioshock and Grand Theft Auto.
The show isn’t just inspired by video games though. There are references to films such as Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Ex Machina, Jurassic Park and so on. This means that the show often follows similar beats to these great films and it fails to truly standout as its own thing at times.
The cast of Westworld is brilliant. I expect many of them to get some sort of award recognition come awards season. However, it must be said that while the cast is good, many of their characters are not. Many of them are steeped in mystery, making them feel a bit flat and underdeveloped, others simply don’t act realistically (there’s one human character who constantly does bad things with little explanation). Ultimately, there are about three characters who are genuinely compelling (all of whom are older people).
Westworld is a promising start to what I expect will be a short-lived TV show. I simply can’t see the story of this series being dragged out for multiple seasons. Especially when the budget for this season must’ve been incredibly high and for future seasons it would only grow. It’s filled with mysteries, twists and turns, but it often fails to provide satisfactory answers or surprises. I am looking forward to season 2 of the show, now that everything has been established and events have been put in motion, I want to see where the show goes.