Before you read my Westworld Season 3 Episode 1 review, why not check out my Westworld Season 2 review? And follow me on twitter @AthemovieZ
It’s been nearly two years since Westworld was last on our screens, and it seems that since the end of Game of Thrones, everyone has been looking for a show to fill the void, HBO included. Finally, the much anticipated third season hit our screens this Sunday (15/03/20), and it has much to live up to. After the incredible first season captivated audiences through its storytelling and its imagination, season 2 was not able to live up to those standards. Luckily, the general consensus is that the third season of Westworld is one that is determined to be on a path of redemption as is clear with the season being dubbed: ‘The New World’. I really hope it finds it, because Westworld’s peak is something I have seen few television shows reciprocate, so when I heard of a third season I knew I had to review each episode. I will spare you a synopsis of the episode purely because I assume as I continue to review each episode, adding a synopsis of each episode will be a nightmare as I will have to try and formulate my understanding of the episode into words, an understanding I merely persuaded myself I understood.
As is the custom with the majority of season premieres of returning television shows, Westworld season 3 kicks off with a bang, setting the scene for the rest of the season by setting up plot-threads that will come into fruition later on and giving character development to new characters and characters of old that never had much development. However, what makes this season premiere so special, is that it manages to rejuvenate itself, feeling like an entirely new show by exploring the human world but it also has the feel of the first two seasons of Westworld as we follow Dolores on her quest to conquer the world(?) as well as following the other ‘hosts’. The season premiere is fresh, whilst still enticing to fans of the first two seasons as they successfully bridge the concept of a ‘new world’ into the fold of the show. One of the problems I had with season 2 of Westworld was that it all got a bit too messy (which I will get into), and it also never bridged from the first season well enough, Jonathan Nolan definitely learned from that as the season premiere manages to bridge everything together perfectly. As I said, the season was dubbed to be ‘The New World’, and coming into the episode, I almost expected it to be an episode based around Aaron Paul’s new character and the new world but instead the show chose to correct a mistake from the second season and have the series have a continuous timeline.
As I said, the second season of Westworld got very messy, and the premiere of the third season does such a good job on just stripping away everything and focusing on the abstract features at the core of the show, promising to build on those as the season continues. The introduction of a human character in Caleb (Aaron Paul) allows the show to explore a whole new region of that world’s society, someone who doesn’t want technology in the world. Having the character have so much depth, and showing how lost Caleb truly is, only to find (in essence) his anti-being in Dolores waiting for him is something I expect to be a pillar of the season as Dolores is a machine that is insistent it doesn’t need humans, and Caleb is painted to be a lost soul who feels as though the world will be better without machines. Choosing to pair the two up is a stroke of genius because the creators have essentially found an upgrade for James Marsden’s character (whatever his name may be). Aaron Paul is fantastic as Caleb, an ex-army vet that has his own demons that the show can have fun in exploring as he grows – with my favourite part of the episode being the conversation Caleb has on the phone in which he is told even though the game is rigged, he is still must play. My fear, however, is that as he has been paired up with Dolores we won’t get to see as much character development from him. Which included an exploration of the world which was something that could’ve been focused on for an entire episode itself as we got a look at the world ‘the guests’ were trying to escape from for the very first time.
Three months have passed since events of the end of the second season and like I said, surprisingly the episode give us a glimpse at all of the robots, Dolores finds herself running around the ‘new world’ chasing answers, Arnold is trying to keep a low profile as he is being hunted for the massacre that endured at the end of the second season, Charlotte has been positioned as the head of Westworld and we only get a brief glimpse of Maeve in what appears to be a WWII version of Westworld. What this episode excels in is character development for Dolores, as although she wants to kill all the humans, and (well), as a human not wanting to see her succeed. Having seen her struggle in the previous seasons, I understand her logic – even though I didn’t in the second season. There is no denying it, Dolores is a villain, she wants to take over the world, yet she still wants justice where justice is due, choosing not to kill unless prompted, as is seen in the opening scene. Evan Rachel Wood is exceptional in the first episode, portraying the character perfectly, and really allowing the two sides of Dolores to come out. Although there wasn’t much of Jeffrey Wright as Arnold, he brings his A-game in every scene he is in – especially the ones in which he switches between his conscience and his A.I. Arnold will be vital as he is the only character that can foil Dolores’ plan, that being said, looking ahead at the trailer in the upcoming weeks, I really like how the show has positioned itself to end on a Dolores versus Maeve battle. I think the final battle will be between the two of them, as the creators have set seeds of a battle between the two of them since the very beginning, shown in even the choices the two make being so different. Both have escaped Westworld, yet one returned and the other took it upon herself to go to war.
Which leads me nicely into the action pieces that were in the episode, surprisingly, we got more than I had expected. Being a season premiere, I expected a story that set up the rest of the season, not two amazing action pieces. My favourite was Arnold’s fight with the two men, because we get to see just how great an actor Jeffrey Wright is as he switches off his conscience and turns into a whole different person. Boy am I excited for him in The Batman. It wouldn’t be Westworld if I didn’t have questions and, boy do I! As I knew I would review this season I took some time to go over the first two seasons. And, I mean, (although they have already answered it in the trailer – I don’t feel as though saying ‘because he has a role to play’ suffices) why did Dolores resurrect Arnold if he is literally the only one that poses a threat to her master plan?