Category Archives: TV

Westworld Throwback Thursday – Episode 4: Dissonance Theory & Episode 5: Contrapasso

I passed over re-sharing the “Westworld Interim Thoughts” post because it was midseason speculation from a show that has finished; but if you’re working your way through the show now or reading to catch up, it’s a good read! Onward then, for the recap of episodes 4 & 5!


Good day, everyone! My apologies for the delay in getting more Westworld thoughts to all of you. Jumping right in, we still have a great many mysteries left to explore in this wonderful show, so let us begin. I’ll explore a few main points from the last two episodes and leave you all with a few discussion questions to foster the growth of these topics as more episodes follow.

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Dolores and Maeve

 

For this one, I want to focus on the story arcs (whether briefly or in detail) of several characters in particular—Dolores, Maeve, William, the Man in Black, and the park employees as a group (including the programmers and Dr. Ford).

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Westworld Throwback Thursday – Episode 3: The Stray

Here’s the next Westworld recap from season 1! Things start going off the rails here…

Good day, everyone! It should go without saying at this point that this post contains spoilers for last week’s episode of Westworld entitled “The Stray.” From here on, I will do my best to offer some reminders and analysis of the previous episode to carry my readers into the next. Westworld is a complicated story, and a lot of mysteries are, as yet, not only unsolved, but also not fully developed. Let’s explore them together, shall we?

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Dolores waking up taken from hellogiggles.com

  • The episode begins with more interactions between Bernard and Dolores, with Bernard sharing a copy of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, in which he points out a specific passage meant to make Dolores question her identity. These scenes are put in a somewhat different light later in the episode as Bernard’s past trauma of losing his young son is revealed, casting his growing relationship with Dolores to be fatherly. Again the intersection of trauma and memory remain at the core of Westworld’s overall narrative as Bernard tells his (ex?)wife that the pain he carries of his son’s memory is all that he has left of him.
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Bernard and Dolores

  • Following this initial conversation with Bernard, Dolores is then shown rediscovering the revolver she discovered buried in her yard in a daze last episode, a sign of a mysterious benefactor separate from Bernard who is pulling her strings and pushing her toward some sort of awakening. Further meetings with Bernard later in the episode make it clear that Dolores is growing free to retain and regain memories, and that she is beginning to act outside of her programming.
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Dolores and the revolver

  • Further, Dr. Ford’s new narrative is beginning to insinuate itself into the park, beginning with a definitive backstory for the character of Teddy, Dolores’s love interest. After his normal interactions with Dolores, Teddy sets off into the hills with a posse to hunt down a horrendous (and apparently barely human) villain from his past, rather than meet his standard end attempting to save Dolores’s family. Later, Teddy is captured in this pursuit and Dolores, learning from past incidents and discovering the revolver she apparently hid for herself in her family’s barn, rides off into the hills herself to rescue him and find herself, an interesting reversal of gender roles in these types of stories. Later that night, she stumbles into the campsite of William and Logan, who are off hunting bounties (to Logan’s oversexed chagrin), and who will presumably aid Dolores in the next phase of her journey.
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Teddy teaches Dolores how to shoot a gun

  • Perhaps one of the most important events of this episode is the pursuit of a stray host by programmer Elsie and head of security Stubbs. The host, a simple woodcutter, contains in his backstory a love of carving animals out of scraps of wood. While this is expected, Elsie and Stubbs also discover that the host has begun to develop a fascination with the constellation Orion and that his disappearance may simply be a desire to see the stars, which is unsettling to the handlers. Once they discover and deactivate the host, the host reactivates himself, fights off Stubbs, grabs a giant rock, and kills himself by crushing his own skull with it—with self-destruction being the ultimate expression of free will, some might say.
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Elsie and Stubbs discover the companions (now stuck in a loop) of the stray woodcutter

  • One last note on something that stuck out to me—some of the scoundrel hosts, when cat-calling Dolores, make a vulgar comparison between her and a “freshwater clam,” a line and context that I recognized from the Clint Eastwood western Pale Rider, a film about a gunslinger returning from the dead to claim his vengeance on those who wronged him and to help others as he can. I honestly wonder at how this title—Pale Rider—may come to define Dolores in the episodes ahead, being as I believe the partially skeletal, black-clad rider atop the pale horse in the opening credits to be Dolores as she will eventually become when completely freed from her bonds.
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Clint Eastwood’s Pale Rider (1985) movie poster

What do you think? Do you think that Dolores will become some sort of Horseman of Death in the weeks ahead? Let me know in the comments below, and don’t forget to watch the next episode of Westworld tonight on HBO.

3 Things to Enjoy and Watch for in Westworld – Throwback Thursday

With Westworld season 2 coming up, and with Holly and David having recently watched the show, it’s time to start getting hype about this show again! Expect a Comparative Opinions on Westworld season 1 soon, but for now, it’s time to re-run Jeremy’s season 1 recap/reminder reviews! Here’s the first one, from after the first two episodes aired.


Caution! Potential spoilers for the first two episodes of Westworld follow.

Good day, everyone! I don’t know about any of you, but I’m already pretty taken with HBO’s new series Westworld, based on the 1973 film written by Michael Crichton. I watch several television shows pretty regularly, and this one looks like a good one to hold onto Game of Thrones’s slot in its off season. In fact, and as discussed in a recent Wired article, where Game of Thrones has offered a more grounded introduction to fantasy (limiting early magic use, keeping fantastic creatures under wraps for a time, etc.), Westworld may offer a similar introduction for mainstream audiences to science fiction. After all, and not to sound too tongue-in-cheek, but Westworld is rather “grounded” science fiction—there are no spaceships, no breathtaking otherworldly planetscapes, no unfamiliar aliens meant to make us look at ourselves and be ashamed. In fact, Westworld does quite well in its own right exploring this final theme, as I shall discuss below.

The Top Three Things I’m Enjoying and Looking Forward to in Westworld:

Foremost, the rise of artificial intelligence. This has been a popular topic in science fiction since at least as early as the days of Asimov. Westworld is an immersive resort designed by Dr. Robert Ford, played by Anthony Hopkins. The resort is filled with hundreds of “hosts,” robotic actors designed by Ford and constantly reprogrammed and upgraded by him over the course of 30 years. At this stage in their development, the hosts, foremost among them Dolores Abernathy (the stereotypical Old West maiden with iron in her spine, played by Evan Rachel Wood), her father (played by Louis Herthum), and Maeve Millay (the Old West madame implanted with memories of a traumatizing past, played by Thandie Newton), have begun exhibiting behaviors and retaining memories not in keeping with their programming. Indeed, trauma and memory run heavily throughout the story, as the hosts are repeatedly exploited, sexually abused, and even murdered by wealthy human guests who come to the largely lawless Westworld on vacation.

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Dolores Abernathy, played by Evan Rachel Wood

Next, the old trope of providing an example of humanity’s ugliness in something otherwise unfamiliar has been used in science fiction since before the original Star Trek. Here, however, that old paradigm is tossed on its head; humanity itself is the greedy villain, the monster (currently expressed best in Ed Harris’s Man in Black), and its robotic creations are its victims. (See this recent article on Tor.com that says a bit more about this in light of the original movie’s implicit themes). There’s a strong parallel with the reimagined Battlestar Galactica here, and if you enjoyed the ways in which evolving artificial intelligence were presented there, you’ll also enjoy Westworld. These machines also have the added bonus of actually being sympathetic, unlike the militant Cylons. I am eagerly awaiting to see how these two points play out across the life of the series, and I hope that it lasts longer than a single season.

Third, a lighthearted point—this show has some of the best opening credits I’ve seen in a long time. Check them out below. I’m curious to see how the symbolism in them plays out as the show’s story progresses.

As of the publication of this post, the first two episodes of Westworld should be widely available from HBO. From here on out, I plan on doing an episode-by-episode review each week, so be sure to stop back by. Thanks for reading!

A Second Year of Watching Star Trek (Sort Of)

Two years ago, I realized that if I watched an episode a day, I could get through all the many Star Trek series in two years, and decided to try it. Grad school and life continued to happen, so I didn’t get anywhere close to an episode a day, but in that first year I got through the whole original series, read a few things, went to a convention, and generally had a great time. I thought it would be reasonable to watch all of The Next Generation in 2017, and maybe do some more cons or events, but haaaaa, I didn’t. I got halfway through TNG season one and every month swore up and down that I’d get started again, and now it’s 2018 and I haven’t.

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Instead, I’ve been reading and playing games and watching documentaries and all kinds of other peripheral things. You can tell from the kinds of monthly posts I’ve been putting up:

 

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Look at this stinkin’ cute Q-Pop Spock

My favorite post from last year was Data, Spock, and Star Trek Emotions, and that also began as a response to a Trek-related nonfiction book. Plus I’ve been reading original-series cast memoirs and funny books (Star Trek Cats) and buying merch when I can. And, if I’m honest… I’ve still been generally having a great time. There are advantages to being in a huge fandom, and one is all the stuff you can do besides just watch the same thing over and over. I loved Trek novels when I was a kid, but it had probably been a decade since I’d read any, and this is the first time I’ve really branched out into the comic books.

 

I talked about my favorite comic books in the “Where can I get more episodes” and “comic book crossovers” posts above, and Killing Time is definitely a new favorite novel, but I also started Diane Duane’s Rihannsu series about the Romulans and am loving not only the Romulans (my favorite Trek race) but also the sense of strangeness and mundanity she gives to Starfleet. It’s like a more-realistic version of the original series and it’s great. Not to mention the Vulcan travel guide, which I reviewed on my book review blog and am still trying to convince other fans to read because it’s amazing.

Anyway, I’m happy to have read all the books I got through last year, but I miss the actual show and I still want to see everything. I’ve seen precious little of the later series, to be such a Trekkie. 2018 is, once again, the year of TNG! Wish me luck!

Verdict: Inhumans

Having recently finished the second and third episodes of the Inhumans figured it was time to write up the verdict post. I know we are already almost half way through the entire series, but still wanted to get my thoughts out there since the first episode is still available.

In general I have been enjoying some of the political intrigue of the show, and with some background knowledge of the characters I already had some investment going in. At the same time I can understand how if you had little to no knowledge of these characters that the dynamics might run a little flat. The show has not done enough to build up the background of who the Inhumans are and what they are doing on the moon. There does seem to be a level of expectation that you have knowledge of the characters already, which doesn’t really work.

At the same time the performance by Black Bolt, Maximus, and Medusa have been great, although some of the special effects have been lacking that is mostly dealt with by the end of the first episode. We are definitely going to finish watching this limited series, but so far nothing they have shown me makes me want more than just this limited run. (Spoilers for Inhumans after the jump.)

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