And end. At least for a time. ‘Westworld’ says goodbye to its fans with an intense season finale that promised to be the most exciting and epic episode of season 3, with a length of feature film (one hour and sixteen minutes!). Unfortunately, the outcome leaves a bittersweet flavor.
I already mentioned last week that I celebrate HBO’s decision to renew the series despite not being very satisfied with the direction it was taking this season. Seen the eighth and last episode, with a couple of cliffhangers inserted after the credits, it seems clear where they are going to continue and I only hope that they can redirect the story and get more out of the characters and the exciting world created so far.
The best and worst of ‘Westworld’ summed up in season 3 finale
We have previously talked about the evolution of ‘Westworld’ and how, after the drop in audience, this third season was challenged to recover the success of the first, and become again one of the great hooks of HBO to attract subscribers in the (increasingly competitive) streaming war. In episode 3×08, titled ‘Crisis Theory’, the deviation is noticeably noticed.
There is a lot of action in these last 76 minutes. Even another duel between Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) and Maeve (Thandie Newton) who no longer has the emotion of the previous one. There is absolutely no downside to turning Westworld into a festival of gunshots, fights, chases, or simple violence; on the contrary, it is linked to the concept of the brutal park where the machines rebel against the humans who have been using them for their morbid fun.
The problem is the staging, how the action is narrated. For much of the episode it is conventional, repetitive, and boring, devoid of imagination or surprise. You know what’s going to happen, and you just wait for it to end so the plot progresses. It does not matter if the characters talk about great threats, impossible obstacles or numerous enemies; you know they will get to the goal.
No matter what disadvantaged situation they are in or how many times they are shot, everything is so predictable that you don’t feel the risk and you disconnect. This is particularly serious when we follow Caleb (Aaron Paul), forced to rise as leader of the revolt, a character without charisma. The development of the street riots, the entry into and the flight after fulfilling the plan, seem to be procedures to reach the tragic death for which we will remember this ending and turn the page, until season 4.
On the other hand, the script is too explanatory. Characters do not stop verbalizing their occurrences, intentions, or motivations, trying to convince others or themselves of their ideas, or demonstrating the clarity, depth, or brilliance of their ideas. It ends up being ridiculous. We already know what each one is after, the underlining is not necessary, nor is it so obvious. When this is mixed with the filler action, we have the worst of ‘Westworld’.
In this sense, it is disappointing how Serac (Vincent Cassel) ends, up to this much more intriguing and clever episode. Suddenly, his inspiration runs out and he’s just one of those villains with no other choice but to scream, despair, and order the heroes to be killed, stumbling on almost every decision. And that despite having the voice of the artificial God that he created with his brother.
Of course, not everything is wrong in this episode. ‘Westworld’ has a fascinating world, the possibility of creating powerful images, an exhilarating cast that catches the eye and plot twists that leave your mouth open. All this we continue to find, fortunately, although in lesser doses than expected for the great season finale.
The way in which the season has closed, with strange decisions regarding the appearance and disappearance of characters or the unexpected death of one of the great protagonists reserved as an additional scene of post-credits, leaves the feeling that those responsible for ‘Westworld ‘They have not been adept at finishing off everything they had open or perhaps they had come up with something too ambitious for what HBO could do.
Still, for a genre buff, the scales tip to the positive, and I’m confident that season four will once again provide enough joys to continue hooked on this fiction. The alliances formed at the last minute and the consequences of the strategy carried out by Dolores, leave a still promising scenario … as long as the scheme of this irregular season 3 is not repeated.