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Third-episode verdict: Westworld (US: HBO; UK: Sky Atlantic)

Posted on October 18, 2016 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

BarrometerWestworld.jpgA Barrometer rating of 1

In the US: Sundays, 9pm, HBO
In the UK: Tuesdays, 9pm, Sky Atlantic

I think I've shot my bolt on Westworld. It is, of course, really, really easy to be scathing about something. You can pick at the acting, direction, writing, music, and more. 

But when something's really good, it's surprisingly hard to say much except "That's good. And so's that. And yes, that is, too."

So it is with Westworld, HBO's new adaptation of Michael Crichton's movie of the same name. Pretty much all I needed to say about it I said when I reviewed the first episode. Okay, episode two was a bit of a time-waster that didn't advance the show's plot much at all and which felt like it had mysteriously dropped into the series from the movie. But episode three brought everything back on track to being just really, really good.

What I would perhaps add is that as well as looking at questions such as "What is it to be conscious?", "How different does a consciousness have to be from ours and still be a consciousness?", "How is consciousness created?" and "If something seems human but we know it isn't human, how should we treat it?", the show has now added some new, equally fascinating questions.

One of its hallmarks is now scenes in which the creators of the androids and gynoids in this futuristic theme park sit down and talk with their creations' deepest levels of consciousness. These started out as simply plot devices to explore the characters and to hint that bad things are happening at the park. But now they have become something more - conversations between creator and created that have almost religious overtones, almost as if God wanted to know what it was like to be mortal and drew some of His creations out of the universe to interview them and find out.

There is a snake in this Garden of Eden, however, and that's Arnold. Arnold has the potential to destroy Westworld, turning a fascinating musing on the nature of free will, empathy, thought and emotion into a simple clash between Good and Evil. I do hope that's not where the show is going.

But at this stage, Westworld is getting a double thumbs up from me. It's smart, poignant, well acted, beautifully made and just a top piece of television.

Barrometer rating: 1
Would it be better with a female lead? N/A
TMINE's prediction: It's a limited series so a one-off, but given its ratings, it could well come back for a second season

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