Pilot Reviews Westworld

Westworld 1×01 – The Original

"I realized winning doesn't mean anything unless someone else loses."

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There’s a lot riding on Westworld. Game of Thrones is nearing the finish line, and HBO is on a desperate hunt for the next big pop culture phenomenon. Have they found it in this ambitious and (tremendously) controversial show? It’s too soon to tell, but there’s definite potential here for something great.

Westworld‘s concept is pretty high-premise: high paying clients travel to a fictional theme park populated by androids to satisfy their most demented fantasies. If that sounds familiar, it’s because the series is based on a 1973 film of the same name, not to mention the fact that Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse debuted with practically the same concept way back in 2009. So although I wasn’t exactly blown away by the show’s originality, I still found myself captivated by its ethical and moral dilemmas. Human beings are exceptionally sick creatures, and Westworld showcases these perversions to maximum effect as androids are subjected to the same heinous acts on a daily basis before their memories are wiped. Yup, it’s pretty icky stuff.

The cast is pretty solid across the board. I feel like the heart of the show probably belongs to Evan Rachel Wood as the android Doloris, but a number of performers deliver exceptional work, Anthony Hopkins is predictably absorbing as Westworld’s creator, while Louis Herthum adds a great deal of gravitas and heart as Doloris’ father.  I found Sidse Knudsen’s performance as Therasa (the park’s operations manger) to be a bit off at first, but she slowly grew on me with her forceful demeanor.

Robotic Bits

– Haunting opening credits. Very atmospheric.

– Loved the reversal in the show’s opening act. You assume James Marsden and Evan Rachel Wood are our core protagonists, only for Ed Harris to swoop in, kill the former, and drag the latter to be raped. Chilling.

– Great set design in the Westworld headquarters: the horses, the naked androids etc… But I still prefer the Dollhouse set.

– The employee stealing a kiss from the female android. Creepy!

– Cold storage. What a sight eh?

– So who is the girl in the picture of Times Square that Peter Abernathy finds?

– Creative instrumental use of “Paint It Black.” Very moody and effective during the robbery.

– I sure hope Thandie Newton gets a whole lot more to do going forward. She got one badass moment in the pilot: shooting the thug from behind and blowing his brain to pieces.

– The fact that the creepy couple take pictures with the dead bodies after putting an end to the heist? Sick!

– Interesting to note: the “deep and dreamless slumber” line always puts the hosts to sleep.

– So Dolores is the oldest android in the park. Interesting.

– What a powerhouse performance by Louis Herthum as he faces off with Anthony Hopkins and vows to exact revenge.

– So what did The Gunslinger (Ed Harris) see on the host’s scalp after carving it off?

– Although I loved the ending with Dolors killing the fly juxtaposed with the question (“would you ever kill a living thing”), this whole self awareness ending is too reminiscent of Dollhouse (and that show pulled those off on a weekly basis).

Dolores Digs

Teddy: Well, no offense, but… I’d rather earn a woman’s affection than pay for it.
Maeve: You’re always paying for it, darling. The difference is our costs are fixed and posted right there on the door.

Woman: A hooker with hidden depths? Every man’s dream.

Theresa: In the meantime, there’s so much as an unscripted sneeze, I want to know about it.

Theresa: You’re smart enough to guess there’s a bigger picture, but not smart enough to see what it is.

Conclusion
It’s not as groundbreaking as I was expecting, but there’s definite hope for this show to become must-see television. This is certainly a terrific pilot!

Nad Rating
A-

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