Violent delights

I started watching West World after a recommendation from a colleague. The last time this happened, Mr C and I became totally and thoroughly obsessed with The Big Bang Theory and this time looked set to be no different.

We both sat down to watch it and loved it. The intriguing concept, glossy visuals, great cast, musical puzzles, twisting narrative and never-ending feeling of wondering where it was all going, these all added up to a great viewing experience. Even the occasional overly violent scene was an acceptable compromise for the greatness of everything else.

I was eagerly looking forward to the second series, but it’s been such a let-down. For the first few episodes, I was hoping things would pick up, the story would develop, and we would get more than just Dolores marching about being vague and mysterious. Even the glimpses of different worlds weren’t enough to keep my interest.

The fourth episode almost revived my hopes. It was a wonderful slow burn of an episode with a time-travel style central plot, some fabulous ethical questions raised, topped off with a great couple of reveals at the end. Then the next episode was the exact opposite, introducing new characters we were supposed to instantly care about, ramping up the violence to horrifying levels and moving the plot forward only an inch.

We called it a day there and then.

Upon seeing this review headline for the very next episode, we felt vindicated in our decision.

I think the problems can be narrowed down to two very simple things:

  • You’re asking people to care about robots. That works, to a degree. We anthropomorphise everything and I do care about the nice ones. The ethical questions are undeniable. But when there’s episode after episode following a robot searching for a child that doesn’t exist, it’s really hard to jump on board. I don’t know if the inevitable conclusion that the robo-child in question doesn’t recognise or care has happened yet, but those feelings certainly hit us quite quickly.
  • The first series didn’t suffer so badly from walk-itis, but that’s all the second series was. It’s a running joke in our, and many other, households that the Lord of the Rings trilogy is boring because it’s just people walking. Series 2 of West World is exactly that. A handful of separate groups of people walking through the western outback, searching for things that are either dull or not clear at all.

It’s a shame because I love a good high-concept TV show. But unlike LOST, we’re not sticking this one out to the bitter end but jumping ship before the disappointment levels get too high.