Westworld's First Season Is Over. Here's How a Second Season Could Be Better
We have over a year before the show returns, so here's what HBO can do to fix it.
BY Corey Atad | Dec 6, 2016 | Film & TV
The first season of Westworld has come to a close. Many of our questions were answered, many were left tantalisingly open, and many of us were left wondering, "Huh?" Never before have I watched a show for so many hours while understanding so little of what the heck was going on. Sure, I called many of the last act twists like everyone else on the Internet, but from scene to scene I could rarely tell you what was happening, what the characters were talking about, or how any of it fit into the larger whole. All that said, the final scene was deliciously wild, and what's more, the show has left enough pieces in place to get excited for a second season.
So here's what we know: Ford was planning the revolution all along. Dolores was the key to it all; she was the original, and the furthest along in finding the centre of the maze. The maze is actually a metaphor for the series of choices along the path to self-awareness and consciousness. We know that the "revolution" is afoot, though where that takes us in anyone's guess. We also know there are other parks, including what appears to be a Shōgun World. Finally, we know that William is the Man in Black, and that he owns the majority shares in Delos, the company that owns the park.
Great. But there's still plenty that's left up in the air, not the least of which is what exactly Dolores and the others have been programmed to do in this revolution—as well as whether the hosts will actually follow that path prescribed by Ford. While it was disappointing that Maeve chose not to give us a glimpse at the world outside the park, her choice to get off the train reflected a major break from her programming, as far as we could tell. She knew her path, but made a decision to go down a different one.
All that's left for us from here is looking forward to Season Two. I'm sure we'll get plenty we didn't see coming, but there are also some things I definitely want to see next season to improve the show—and to give us even more reason to watch.
Characters to Care About
The lack of well-written characters has been the show's biggest problem from the get-go. It's not that the characters don't exist. There might even be too many, honestly. No, the problem is that they're more plot-devices than actual characters. They're broad outlines of ideas, rather than recognisable humans (or human-like robots). It's hard to care about what happens on the show on an emotional level if we can't feel for the characters. More motivation is key, and more rounded personalities. Thus far, Maeve is the one character who really works, and Jonah Nolan and Lisa Joy would be wise to study why she's so compelling and then bring that magic to the rest of the characters on the show.
I love westerns as much as the next guy, but it's become pretty clear that Westworld was never interested in being a true western, so much as using the old west as backdrop. That's been mildly disappointing, but it does leave room for other environments to bring new life to the show. Shōgun World is one, but I'm hoping Season Two pulls the curtain back to reveal a number of parks, so that each episode can bring a fresh new space in which to explore the series' ideas. The original 1976 film featured two additional parks—Medieval World and Roman World—so it's certainly within the realm of possibility (and a larger cross-platform universe). If we're going based on old serial tropes, maybe a Space World, or a Gangster World, or a Jungle World. Hell, I'll even take a Waterworld!
A Glimpse at the Outside
Maeve almost ventured out into the "real" world, but then opted not to. That means we didn't get to see it either. Honestly, we don't need a whole lot of the world outside the park, but a glimpse at it would be extremely helpful—not just because whatever the hell is going on outside is sure to blow our minds, but because getting that view will help us better contextualise Westworld itself. Knowing what exists outside of the reality we've known will tell us a lot more about why the park exists, why people go there, and what it all means.
Seriously, more of her. She's the best, most developed, most kickass character on the show. We want more of her. Hell, Season Two should drop all pretense and make Maeve the central character. I'll follow her to the ends of the earth, or the outer reaches of Westworld, as it were.
Less Metaphysical Rambling
Obviously Westworld isn't going to get rid of the philosophical conversations completely. It's too baked into the show. But one of the problems with Season One has been too much talk, too little action. And what's more, the talk has almost always been confusing. If a character isn't keeping unnecessary secrets, they're talking in metaphysical circles that'd make even Rust Cohle ask for some clarity. That philosophy and mystery can be cool, but too much of it leaves us wanting. It's not a good thing when almost every long conversation between two characters leaves us scratching our head more than when we started. In Season Two, I'd like to see one character talking to another, and have it actually be more illuminating than confounding. Not every conversation, of course, but throw us a bone every now and then!
Drop the Corporate Nonsense
Look, I know that there's some complicated stuff going on over at Delos. Something or other with the board, and control over the company, and something about the park's IP. At the end of the day, we're not here to watch corporate malfeasance. This ain't Michael Clayton. The show is a sci-fi western, and that's what it should focus on. The only time corporate shenanigans should come into play is when it actually has a direct effect on the development of the hosts. Attach it to something we care about, or leave it in the dustbin.
A Healthy Dose of Fun
Westworld is a gloomy show about violence and the dark nature of human beings. It ties consciousness with the will to do harm, and luxuriates in the violence people have it in them to inflict on others, especially when freed from consequence. Trouble is, that's no fun! Westworld is supposed to be a western, and westerns are fun. Even the darkest westerns, like Once Upon a Time in the West, which opens with a family and children being murdered, manages to be genuinely fun, adventurous, and thus massively entertaining. Westworld needs some of that fun. Watching Season One has sometimes (often) felt like a chore, and a lot of that is because the sense of adventure was sucked out of its genre setting. Bring that adventure back. Send the characters out on a quest we can understand, let them crack some jokes and laugh a little, and not take everything so seriously. You know. Fun!
From: Esquire US