TelevisionTV ReviewsWestworld Season 1 Episode 3: The Stray Review

Guest WriterOctober 17, 2016

It’s fair to say the Westworld has grown stale from its mysterious and exciting first episode. While I think this is a promising show, it isn’t holding my attention like I thought it would. I think the biggest problem is a lack of progress. Each week seems to be the same; a random host is malfunctioning and others continue to remember more and more from their past. I’m not saying this isn’t necessary for the story, but you can only keep the audience in suspense for so long before they start to get bored, especially when we already know what the story is leading to. Through its first three episodes, Westworld has followed the same narrative, just adding little twists along the way.

For example, this week we see the same story involving Dolores and the attack on her house.  What makes this week’s version different, though, is Dolores was able to fight back, something she didn’t realize she could do. Early in the episode, we saw Teddy take Dolores shooting but she wasn’t able to pull the trigger. When she felt threatened during the attack on her home, though, she was able to pull the trigger and kill the host who was about to do the same to her. The show has been persistent in showing us Dolores isn’t like most of the hosts in the park. Something about her is making her both conscious of what’s going on and giving her the ability to react.

The frustrating part of Dolores’s story, though, is that we already know what’s coming. Sure, we might not know the details, but the mere fact that she is the primary host character in the show tells us she will play a role when the show gets to its main premise. They were able to subtly hint at this in the first episode when she killed the fly crawling across her face, but anymore it’s just becoming predictable.

The other major storyline from this week involved Elsie and Stubbs and their quest to capture a rogue host. (surprise, surprise) I know what you’re saying, “this is the whole point of the show”, and I realize that. But again, there hasn’t been any progress. Yes, the host fought back against the humans (kind of), and sure it was cool to see the robot kill itself with a giant boulder, but ultimately it was still just another host malfunction. It was an important scene because it hinted at what’s to come but we know this. We already know the “what”. The show needs to start giving us the “why” and “when” to really start making progress.

After all this, it probably sounds like I hate this show, but that’s not true. In fact, one could argue that I like it so much I just can’t wait for more! Either way, though, this episode took a few important steps forward. The biggest reveal this week came from Anthony Hopkins’ character Dr. Robert Ford. As we know he was the creator of the park, but turns out he also had a partner who died in the park. He tells an interesting piece of backstory to Bernard relating to questions raised by some of the host’s behaviors. His partner, Arnold, was obsessed with the idea of a bicameral mind. This is the idea that one part of the brain is speaking while another part is listening and reacting. Arnold wanted to make the robots conscious by making their script seem like the voice of God in their heads. This may be the source of some of the problems we’ve seen with the hosts.

This was by far my favorite part of the episode. Not only did it provide some very important information on the world we are following, but it also showed a major difference between Ford and Bernard and how they view the hosts. To Ford, the hosts are just machines incapable of feeling anything. In his mind, there is no need to care for their well-being because they can’t remember anything. Bernard, on the other hand, has shown to form emotional connections with the hosts, especially Dolores. In this episode, he is seen reading with her, just like he used to do with his son. Some of this is his way of grieving his deceased son, but it shows a fundamental and important difference between the two characters. Bernard’s attitude towards the hosts closely resembles Arnolds. Out of all the characters, and there are a lot, Bernard and Ford are the most intriguing. It will be interesting to see how their relationship evolves the rest of the way.

Even though Westworld struggles to hold my interest at times, I still have high hopes for the season. Much of the story has been repetitive and predictable, but in the parts where it has progressed, the show has shined. It’s hard to make a show interesting when the audience has a good idea about what’s going to happen. As long as the audience feels like they are frequently uncovering new information the show should be able to avoid a major stall.

Other Observations:

  • Teddy received a new narrative and backstory from Ford. I can only assume this will play a significant role in events later on.
  • William and Lawrence’s (Clifton Collins Jr.) time in the park isn’t all that interesting so far. I know it will become important, but why even introduce them yet?
  • There was no sign of The Man in Black this week and his quest for a mysterious maze. I wonder why?

Score: 7.5/10


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