In my previous reviews of season 1 and season 2, I borrowed the pyramid structure of the Bicameral Mind concept in the show and used it to build my review. The contents that formed the pyramid (though they were broken apart in season 2) can no longer be utilized to discuss this show. This is not because they aren’t present anymore. They are dispersed. All those three have been buried under the huge statue of style.
This has now turned into a show which is all about presentation with some complimentary content (a futile attempt in reiterating that it is indeed Westworld) and forced vaunting of Maeve (Thandie Newton).
A show driven by a single intelligent character (Dolores) and a charismatic performance by that actor (Evan Rachel Wood) with Maeve forced as an unworthy and unintelligible (in terms of motive) adversary.
A show that has become a conventional dystopian thriller which would have been worse if not for the strongly built characters with twenty hours of storytelling behind them and a wasted portion of those twenty hours shoved into the foray. Yes, I am talking about Maeve.
As you can see from the above para, the show has changed. Despite the change, the one abysmal blot that remains constant is Maeve. She was unnecessarily assigned a role of such significance that it has drowned the quality of the show regarding whatever semblance of a story it has. Her character was written with utmost laziness. To top this all, the last episode with events and decisions that did not make any sense at all entirely ruined the story aspect of the show.
This show starts its premiere episode with Dolores being the unbeatable hero. Off the bat, we are informed that this will be a stylish show spearheaded by the allure of her devilish flamboyance we cannot get enough of. Maybe because she rips apart her enemies so much that to push her to the receiving end, the contrived elements were necessary. She is not alone in the spotlight (coz she is beyond the concept of the spotlight). Within two episodes, all the hosts from the previous have a solo fight. This exposes the actor’s combat capabilities and the choreography too. Some actors fight better than the other and so it happens, Maeve isn’t included in the team better.
Dolores orchestrates everything so much and the focus of both the content and style is on her that those other scenes involving all the other surviving hosts seemed more like fan service than anything else. Moreover, none of them except her seem to have any knowledge of the scenario. So after a while, you just want to see Dolores along with all the cool tech displayed. Because everything else they throw at us pales in comparison with the above.
I wrote about twists in this show at length in my previous two posts. They have exhibited their fair share of awe and amateurish surprises. This season, the creators (Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy) wanted to take the show through a conventional pathway without toying with timelines and non-linear gimmicks. So each episode has some sort of surprise. The screenplay is in a suggestive manner. There are a few minutes allotted to scenes suggesting the opposite of the said surprise. Between that scene and the actual surprise, you mostly have Dolores with her inimitable flamboyance, Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) filling the screen because the actor has time left in his contract along with Ashley Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth). After all, two can make a better fan service, Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson) with some sentimentality no one asked for, Maeve with… absolutely nothing to contribute and finally the only character this season of any value to be mentioned despite having a low standard for a Westworld character; Engerrund Serac ( Vincent Cassel). He is clouded in mystery with a suspicious amount of influence. More than him being interesting, the machine he has built is what adds to his resume.
You have got to get through all of this to reach the surprise. These all will be meanderings retroactively. This method paid off until the last episode. This modus operandi was continued in the last episode but this time turning most of the storyline into a suggestion. This is an example of what happens when you try to falsify without proper support. Twist through falsification is another way of surprising and it would take you aback when used properly. But this fails to exhibit the intended effect. Rather than fleshing out all of it better, it was more of a feeble excuse to make that decision (spoiler!) the writers made a justifiable one.
Maeve. Up until now, I had mentioned her numerous times and all of them in a negative context. This repeated disapproval of the character has a valid frustration behind it. I do strongly believe that at any given point in this show if you pluck her out without any explanation whatsoever, it would have caused a zero impact in the story. Her first episode is an interesting one. It is a throwback to the Nolan quirks from the movies where Jonathan Nolan worked with his brother Christopher Nolan. A mind-bender of an episode that was fairly straightforward despite being quite enjoyable. Here I want to notify you. The episode was more like a one-off. In and of itself it was great. Any other Host could have replaced her character, and nothing would have changed. So I enjoyed the episode but was skeptical of her continuance.
After that episode, the show along with her started to plummet in terms of narrative. Another notification here. When I vent about the degrading quality of the storytelling, I am comparing them with previous seasons. Westworld has always been about deeply layered characters and richly complex storylines intersecting with one another.
It was as if the writers wanted to put her out there and pray that the audience understands her motives and drives. This is rather somewhat unexpected. The problem appeared from last season with this character. But at least in the preceding season, it was the case of unnecessary additional scenes which made sense in and of itself. This time, everything depended on her more than ever. And all of them crashed because none of her actions made any sense. The writers gave a convivial company to the viewers by being in the dark about her relationship with Serac. More than all of this, what this did is diminished the effect of the ending that should have been akin to the euphoria felt in season 1. Yes, the lack of emotions, in the end, cannot be blamed exclusively on Maeve’s arc. But it is undeniable that in the end, the ultimate reveal hinged on her character and especially her non-existent motives.
Another mild mishap of this season is a new character who also happens to have a deterministic role; Caleb Nichols ( Aaron Paul). You cannot make a character deep, flawed, and layered by subliminal footages of the past and repetition of the same scenes with a couple of frames of new information added every time. If you want a reference for an abysmally layered character, look no further than your own; Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins). Not a single scene of his mysterious background. But he was able to intimidate everyone with his omnipotent knowledge and an air of moral obscurity throughout. All of this could very well be credited to the caliber of the actor who played the role. Even if that is the case, the character of William or Akecheta, the Ghost Nation tribe leader would have served as a better model. Ironically, he was modeled after Maeve with her own repetitive flashbacks. Again, in relation to the standards set by the show, he is the blandest character in all three seasons. There is nothing wrong with his motives or drives. It is just all the characters in the show have their attributes laid out by their actions and choices rather than some maddening repetitions.
This is a dystopian Dolores fan fiction. Dolores smashes those who stand in her way with her cool toys in a world filled with cool tech. She is helped by the other constant of this show regarding quality; Ramin Djawadi, the composer. Many original songs were utilized this season. So his scope was narrowed by a note. Still, the atmosphere of this new world and a reminder that apart from the sturdy base provided from all the characters evolved over two seasons, this is an entirely new show that is constantly produced with his music. Unless you like Dolores, this season offers nothing to bring yourself back online.
Originally published at http://thevicariousview.wordpress.com on May 8, 2020.