Well, that kinda sucked.
My reaction to prestige HBO series’ final seasons keeps being “Why did that have to get packed into one season?”, which bothers me for a number of reasons. First, do I really want more Game of Thrones, if the Game of Thrones I got made me so miserable? Why would I trust someone who made me watch Westworld Season 3 to instead make me watch Westworld seasons 3a, 3b, and 3c? Short answer, because I’m a masochist. Second, why can’t I just say that a season is bad, instead of trying to imagine a world where it was better?
Also, yes, this was the final season of Westworld, because I’m done watching it. As should you be.
Let’s try to recap this series in 3 sentences.
- Season 1: Dolores is conscious, and Old William is Young William is the owner of the park.
- Season 2: The park existed to recreate human consciousness, but that project never worked, and now Dolores has escaped with the resulting data to destroy the human world.
- Season 3: The world was run by a new omniscient AI, Rehoboam, but it could only predict humans, so Dolores could destroy it because she’s not a human, and she did but she needed help from a human who was Jesse Pinkman, and now humanity is going to destroy itself, and Hale-Dolores is making new hosts to take over the world which is still going to be destroyed, and also Jesse Pinkman is in charge of some “revolution” which has already ended, I guess? and everyone in the world knows what their future will… ok I think I’ve made my point here.
Instead, let me try to list all of the atomic plot concepts that were introduced and then discarded in this season:
- Hosts set loose in the human world
- Copies of Dolores interacting with each other and with their new bodies
- Hosts body-snatching real humans
- Omniscient predictive AI
- Ownership of said AI being its engineers or their capitalist funders
- Crime for hire
- Humans’ awareness of high-likelihood predictions of their future
- Reprogramming humans with false memories
- Icing thousands of non-compliant humans
- Certain human-generated apocalypse in ~200 years.
I got to ten massive ideas without even trying, and without discussing any of the relationships between pairs or sets of those ideas, like the hosts’ decisions about their morality with respect to these various actors. Can’t you imagine spending a compelling season of television on just one or two of those ideas? How about the first two: Westworld season 3 is about Dolores getting her footing in the human world, and her selves deciding who or what they are. Doesn’t that sound better than what we got? It’s crazy to realize that we actually… skipped that. By the time we see Dolores in season 3 she already knows that there’s an omniscient AI that rules human affairs and has decided to destroy it. Hale-Dolores has her subplot about self-harming into discovering love for her family, but all the other Doloreis are… fine. Wouldn’t it have been worthwhile to follow her/them in those discoveries and decisions?
One reason why I think I take this critical approach is that it lets me skip so much else – characterization, cinematography, soundtrack…
Some of those might have been good, some were definitely bad, but you can just look at a storyboard for this season—not even a storyboard, a bulleted outline—and realize that it could not possibly work inside 10 hour-long episodes, no matter how good or bad those executional choices ended up being.
As I said: that kinda sucked.