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Westworld Pilot Review

by on October 7, 2016
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westworld-pilot-review

With Game of Thrones about to end on its upcoming season, HBO is in dire need of a new hit.

Because of all the modern shows that we see, it’s quite rare to have a westernized setting when it comes to a TV series.

But Westworld takes it one step further.  But does it live up to the hype?

Let’s see in this spoiler-free Westworld’s Pilot Review.

What is Westworld?

Westworld is loosely adapted from the 1973 film of the same name. The show focuses on a theme park where guests called as the “newcomers” can roleplay in their western world fantasies in the Old West setting together with attractive androids called as the “hosts”.

The guests of Westworld pay a hefty amount to do what they want to do with the hosts.

Whatever it may be, no matter how violent things may get or even if things get a bit sexual.  After the tirade, the hosts are then sent for repairs, reprogramming, and then sent back to work in the theme park again.

With the drawback that Game of Thrones gained on its level of sexual violence directed towards women.  

It’s quite a surprise to see that our main female protagonist in Westworld is suddenly attacked and dragged away in one dark corner to be raped in the first fifteen minutes of the first episode.

Well, the show eventually reveals that this is actually a routine day to day ordeal that android host Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) has to deal with since she’s pre-programmed to do it.

westworld-dolores

Westworld stars Dolores, a young girl coming from the South who always sees the good in the people around her.

Every day we see her wake up in the morning in the same fashion. Going about the same routine until it becomes mundane, while unaware of what she’s going to experience until her “story” ends as to how it was programmed.

Pilot Episode Review

Because the story develops in such a way that the audience starts to care and show compassion for Dolores.  Westworld’s writers – Jonathan and Lisa Joy Nolan – try to ask some existential questions to the viewers, “Are robots capable of feeling pain?”

Do morals apply to these androids if they’re programmed to do a specific thing? Are androids capable of developing consciousness?” You can’t help but compare it to other sci-fi movies like I, Robot, Ex Machina, and Prometheus.

Yes, they’re quite the heavy questions, but they’re the type of questions in sci-fi shows like Westworld that give it the potential to make it great.

The unique thing about this adaptation of Westworld is how the main protagonists are the robots instead of humans. They’re treated as livestock while given the ability to act, look, and feel like humans do.

This then asks us whether or not they should be treated as living beings or as machines? The existential question of whether or not androids should be treated as people?

It really is a rarely touched subject in most TV shows and movies because of how difficult it is to pull off.

But it seems that Westworld doesn’t have a problem diving right into that story.

Will Westworld Last?

Westworld certainly has a lot of potential given its premise on artificial intelligence and robotic sentience while pulling audiences in with its Wild West setting that’s very rare nowadays. Add to that the compelling performance that Evan Rachel Wood gives.

The story just becomes real when it comes to seeing the world as black or white.  Asking morally complex questions regarding life, ethics, and scientific change.

On the other hand, the performance of the big corporate villains are just plain out contemptuous and a bit flat.

From the first episode, we are informed that the theme park hasn’t experienced a “critical failure in over 30 years”, but the story starts from its drastic change.

Aside from Dolores, we also meet other androids like her father, Peter (Louis Herthum).

Who all have experienced certain “glitches” – problems in their programming that create the thrillingly creepy moments as malfunctions become more apparent.

These glitches include reminiscing their “past” of their previous lives, all contained with horrific images.

Forcing some to rebel against their set programming protocols. 

The Man in Black

westworld-man-in-black

And then we meet one of the most interesting characters in the show.  An obviously insane guest that only goes by the name of the Man in Black (Ed Harris).  He lives out his fantasy of being the classic Wild West villain by leaving a macabre trail of dead bodies wherever he goes.  Hell-bent on accomplishing his mission to uncover the secrets that the theme park tries to hide.

This added character that falls in the line between black and white turns the story into a more complex piece of art since you don’t really know who to root for.

Especially since we have this deranged maniac that actually wants to expose Westworld’s dark secrets.

The Downsides

The action scenes are somewhat bland and generic in Westworld. As you’d expect, there are massive amounts of gun-slinging scenes in the Old West setting.  But after seeing a lot of action on other TV series, Westworld really needs to step up their game.

While the violence isn’t something new since Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead has probably desensitized people.

it’s not something to be excited about either.

 

Final Thoughts

The pilot episode kicks off with a great start, an awesome one at that!

We are introduced to characters that we grow fond of during the course of the compelling storytelling that Westworld’s writers give us.

Serious questions are also directed at the audience.  When we see Dolores’ experiences and people start to ask themselves if artificial beings do deserve moral treatment.  

Or, are they  just machines that don’t feel at all?

The execution of Westworld’s story in its pilot episode is complex, brutal, and outright captivating.  It captures the audience through its beautiful and smart visuals, its strong plot, and its characters that slowly grow on you.

It’s certainly a show that’s hard to love at first because of its seriousness.  But that weakness also serves as its strength.  It adds to the atmosphere and complexity of the show.

As the show progresses we believe it could be setting the stage for a potential award-winning show.

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