TV Shows: Westworld Season 1: Full Season Recap & Review

Sunday, February 12, 2017

In an attempt to satiate the fans of Game of Thrones, HBO created a series that matches it in quality and shock factor, and boy, did they deliver. Admittedly, when I started the series, I found it to be original, but moderately tiresome. But, it was only the first two episodes that elicited this negative opinion. 

WARNING: Spoilers ahead!

The highlighted text is the synopsis of the entitled episode and the regular text is my opinion of said episode.
The first episode sets the stage for the rest of the season, as first episodes usually do. But by the end the episode, I didn't quite know what the series was even about (I had read a vague overview of the series ahead of time, but like I said, it was vague). or how everything was going to go from this episode.

Teddy and Dolores, two romantically-linked robotic hosts of theme park Westworld, are attacked by the Man in Black, a mysterious human guest who is searching for a maze. When the hosts begin behaving strangely, Bernard traces the problem to errors in Dr. Ford's reverie code. Cullen orders Hector and Armistice's attack on the town brought forward to cover for the removal of all the affected hosts. Dolores' father Peter finds a photograph that a newcomer left behind and malfunctions. When Dr. Ford interrogates him, Peter quotes Shakespeare and vows revenge upon his creator. Peter is retired from service. Dolores is interrogated and found to be functioning normally. She is wiped and relives her day with a new father, but unknown to management breaks her programming to casually kill a fly.
Logan and William arrive at Westworld as guests; but William is reluctant to indulge, finally developing feelings with Dolores. Though Bernard secretly questions Dolores to make sure nobody has tampered with her, her contact with procuring madame host Maeve results in her malfunction as well. Maeve is taken in for maintenance but unexpectedly awakes and witnesses damaged hosts, including Teddy, being cleaned. She is rendered unconscious and taken away before she can attract any attention. Dolores finds a pistol outside the house. The Man in Black abducts outlaw host Lawrence from his execution, demanding that he tell him the location of the maze. Lawrence's daughter gives the Man in Black his next clue after he kills her mother. Ford vetoes Sizemore's new narrative calling it cheap titillation that underestimates the guests. Ford tells Bernard, who is revealed to be involved with Theresa, his alternate narrative involving a church.

I hated Ben Barnes's characters Logan right off the bat. I had no choice really, Logan is unlikable, boastful, and doesn't quite have William's best interest at heart. On the end of the spectrum is Maeve, whom I absolutely loved. When she awoke in the lab, I knew right then she was going to be revolutionary character. In fact, I enjoyed her scenes more than I did Dolores's.
William drags Logan off on a bounty hunt. Dolores asks Teddy to teach her to shoot, but her programming prevents her from firing a gun. Ford changes Teddy's backstory for his new narrative, in which he is pitted against rogue outlaw Wyatt. Ford also tells Bernard about his old partner Arnold who died in Westworld after trying to make the hosts conscious. Bernard is worried about the effect their conversations have had on Dolores but she promises to keep quiet and follow her loop. Elsie and Stubbs are sent to capture a stray host. They find him trapped in a ravine and when Stubbs tries to retrieve his head, he wakes up and attacks them before smashing his own head in with a rock. Dolores is attacked by bandits at the homestead, one of whom drags her into the barn to rape her. She steals his gun but is unable to shoot him until she sees him as the Man in Black. Dolores escapes, stumbles into William and Logan's campsite and collapses in William's arms.

I distinctly remember that by the end of this episode, I was singularly frustrated with the ominous and mysterious Man in Black. I didn't quite know what to make of him. I kept asking myself- is he host or a guest? I mean. he couldn't be killed by any of the other hosts, but that didn't rule out the possibility that he was a host himself. And he always said things that were unhost-like and his lines didn't sound rehearsed, but the same could be said about *cough* who turned out to be *cough*.

Logan wants to finish the bounty hunt and mocks William for bringing Dolores along. Meanwhile, the Man in Black is hunting snakes and finds Armistice with her snake tattoo. He breaks Hector out of prison for her, and she tells him that the tattoo represents all the men she has killed in revenge for the massacre of her village, and that the last piece will be for Wyatt. The Man in Black sets off after Wyatt, rescuing a tortured Teddy. Theresa takes over the investigation into the stray, not trusting Elsie and Bernard. She meets Ford about his new narrative, but he flaunts his power over Westworld and warns her not to interfere. Maeve is having visions of wiped memories, and during Hector and Armistice's attack on the town she finds a bullet in her unscarred belly with Hector's assistance, proving that her visions are real. They kiss passionately as the sheriff's men open fire through the door.

Maeve's adventures were getting more exciting by the episode, while Dolores seemed to be going nowhere. Ford, the co-founder of the park, is scary. Whenever someone else in a position of power, in this episode's case- Theresa threatens to revoke his status at the park, he lets them know that their threats are unfounded and don't frighten him at all. He also always seems to have a secret that he won't let anybody in on, a secret that will destroy everybody.
Elsie discovers that the stray has been transmitting information outside of the park to an unknown party. On his journey to find Wyatt, the Man in Black kills Lawrence. He is then confronted by Dr. Ford, who assures him that he will not stop his efforts to find the maze. Dolores, William, and Logan travel to the town of Pariah, where they meet criminal gang leader El Lazo, a.k.a. Lawrence, who tasks them with stealing a wagon of high explosives from the army, a mission they complete successfully. Dolores realizes El Lazo intends to keep the explosives for himself rather than to sell them. The ex-Confederates realize this, and apprehend Logan while William and Dolores flee. Maeve awakens in the control center and tells a technician that she wants to talk.

Logan got what was coming for him, finally. The Man in Black is as confusing as ever, for one, what is the significance of that freaking maze? Secondly, how can he talk to Ford the way he does? Third, who is this Wyatt figure? As if the show wasn't confusing enough to begin with, they bombard us with new unknown characters. 
The Man in Black and Teddy continue their journey to find Wyatt. At a Union Army outpost, the soldiers recognize Teddy as an accomplice in Wyatt's massacre of his unit. Teddy escapes by killing all of the Union soldiers. Lee, distraught over Ford rejecting his narrative, drunkenly disrupts park operations by urinating in the control room. He is interrupted by Theresa, who introduces him to Charlotte Hale, a Board representative sent to observe park operations. Theresa breaks off her relationship with Bernard. Bernard finds out that Ford has secretly been keeping a family of hosts. Elsie continues to investigate the glitches and warns Bernard that Theresa has been smuggling data out of Westworld, and that the first generation hosts have been re-programmed by someone calling themselves Arnold. However, she is abducted by an unknown assailant. A child host kills his dog, telling Ford that Arnold told him to. Maeve threatens and bends Felix and Sylvester to her will and convinces them to change her programming. The duo set her awareness rating to its maximum limit.

The Man in Black. Wyatt. And now Arnold. Great. I hoped that whoever kidnapped Elsie didn't intend to do any permanent damage, because I like her. I guessed it was whoever this Arnold fellow was.
It is revealed that Theresa and Charlotte are both secretly stealing Dr. Ford and Bernard's research for the board so that they can oust Dr. Ford from the park without fear of him destroying his work in retribution. They engineer an event to demonstrate that Dr. Ford's updates make the hosts violent and uncontrollable in their narratives. Bernard is blamed for the update of untested faulty code and is fired as result. William and Dolores grow closer; he realizes that the park is not meant to cater to a person's base desires, but to reveal their true character. The train is then attacked by the Confederados, forcing William, Dolores, and Lawrence to flee. They are saved when the Confederados are ambushed by the Ghost Nation. They reach a canyon and part ways with Lawrence. Meanwhile super-intelligent Maeve finds Clementine retired by the staff. Maeve decides to use the two technicians and escape the park. Bernard takes Theresa to Sector 17; inside a hidden lab she finds design plans that reveal Bernard is a host. Dr. Ford appears, reiterates to Theresa that he has complete control over the park, regardless of what the board thinks, and instructs Bernard to murder Theresa.

"Trompe L'Oeil" blew my mind. I didn't know what to think after watching. Everything I'd known to be true prior to watching this episode blew up spectacularly in my face. Bernard was essentially, one of the handful of people I was secure about in my idea of him. 
Dr. Ford has Bernard stage Theresa's death to look like an accident. With Theresa dead, Charlotte recruits Lee to help her smuggle data out of Westworld. Maeve convinces Felix to give her the ability to control other hosts, and slits Sylvester's throat as punishment for trying to kill her before having Felix save him. Maeve then suffers more visions of her past life with her daughter and reflexively kills another host, prompting the park staff to retrieve her for a diagnostic. William and Dolores finally reach their destination, where Dolores has more disturbing visions and realizes that Arnold wants her to remember something before they are captured by a band of Confederados led by Logan. Teddy receives a flashback of the Man in Black attacking Dolores and interrogates him. The Man in Black explains he came to Westworld to find purpose before he and Teddy are captured by Wyatt's cultists.

As interesting as Maeve as a character turned out to be, I confess myself disappointed in how-even with all of the traits that work to her advantage set to maximum-she isn't very much in control of every situation she's in. 
Maeve reveals to Bernard that he is a host and convinces him to let her back into the park, where she meets Hector and convinces him to help her escape the park. Bernard confronts Ford and forces him to restore all of his memories, and discovers he is based on Arnold. Logan cuts open Dolores' belly to show William she is not real, and she cuts Logan in the face in response. She manages to escape and run away, finding that the cut Logan made is suddenly gone. Logan makes amends with William, but then awakes to find that William has slaughtered all of the Confederados; William threatens Logan into helping him find Dolores. Teddy has a flashback of himself killing Angela before Angela kills him. Charlotte meets the Man in Black and tries to gain his assistance in removing Ford. Ashley investigates suspicious activity in the park and is ambushed by Ghost Nation warriors. Dolores returns to the abandoned town and has a vision where she realizes she killed Arnold. She then encounters the Man in Black. Bernard attempts to rebel against Ford, but Ford uses a backdoor in Bernard's code to force him to commit suicide.

This episode was just one shock after another. You'd think that I'd be accustomed to such revelations seeing as I watch Game of Thrones, but no. That's not the case. 

The Man in Black presses Dolores about Wyatt’s whereabouts and the center of the maze, and reveals he is actually an aged William. Dolores then remembers Arnold’s order to kill him and destroy the park, and that she is actually Wyatt. She attempts fighting back, Teddy rescues her, and they flee to a distant beach. Dolores dies in Teddy's arms, though that is revealed to be part of Ford's narrative. During her escape from Westworld, Maeve—aided by Hector and Armistice—finds Bernard's corpse, and Felix repairs him. Bernard warns Maeve that her desire to escape was programmed into her. Although Maeve—now alone—initially continues her escape, she has second thoughts and exits the imminently departing train to find her daughter. Back at Westworld, Ford tells Dolores and Bernard that he regretted his role in Arnold's death, came to desire to free the hosts as well, and has spent the last 35 years preparing them to fight back. He then gives a speech in front of Charlotte, the Man in Black, and other guests, criticizing their handling of the park. Dolores then shoots and kills Ford while an army of reactivated hosts emerge from a nearby forest.

Typically, finales disclose the majority, if not all of the answers to the questions viewers had throughout the season. The last episode of Westworld's first season didn't do that. As it happens, I was left with more unanswered questions than answered ones. Initially, I had qualms about starting this series mostly because I didn't like cowboy-esque films and shows. Then I remembered watching a show called Hatfields and McCoys which was based on one of the most expansive family feuds in American history. It was a western-themed show, but I enjoyed very much, so I decided to give Westworld a chance. That and Thandie Newton starred in it, so I eventually gave in. Overall, I give Westworld's first season 4.85 stars, because despite its somewhat slow start, I really loved it and cannot wait until 2018 when the second season airs.

What did you guys think of Season 1 of Westworld?

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