Season 3 of Westworld is almost upon us with its first episode slated for release on 15 March. There are reasons aplenty to tune in, not least because significant portions of this eight-episode jaunt were filmed in Singapore. For viewers who have already watched the first two seasons of this critically acclaimed series, little convincing is needed. After all, Westworld is clearly poised to, in time, take its place on “best of” lists alongside legends like Breaking Bad and The Sopranos.
For those who haven’t started on the series, catching up now requires binge-watching two seasons of 10 one-hour episodes each. This doesn’t just represent a sizable investment of time, but also energy. Unlike sitcoms or reality TV, the show is cerebral and demands concentration. Without revealing any spoilers, suffice it to say that it takes effort to piece together seemingly disparate plot points. Figuring out the narrative, which isn’t presented linearly, is also a puzzle unto itself.
Those who are willing to put in the time and effort will find Westworld a rewarding watch. If you’re wondering whether to give it a go, our answer is a resounding yes. We’re fans, if you haven’t surmised. Here’s a quick rundown of the series, and our reasons for getting started if you haven’t already. Don’t worry, it’s all spoiler-free.
New takes on familiar themes
The eponymous Westworld is a technologically advanced theme park set in the future, with androids serving as hosts for human guests to indulge their every whim and fancy. The central plot revolves around the hosts’ development into sentient beings, and the ensuing fallout as they seek emancipation. It’s hardly a novel idea; works like the Matrix trilogies and the Terminator franchise have already explored this concept. Westworld’s take, however, is a lot more nuanced. It’s also arguably the most sophisticated take on these themes in a television series or film yet.
HBO’s Westworld was created by the husband-and-wife team of Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy. For the unacquainted, the former is the brother of director Christopher Nolan, with whom he has collaborated as screenwriter for works like Memento and the Dark Knight trilogy. Fantastic writing aside, Jonathan Nolan’s penchant for well-structured plots within larger story arcs also shines through in Westworld. It’s almost Shakespearen – each season is an act, and every episode within it is a scene around which the plot is organised. The similarities go further when you see that the plot is always advanced by either an action, or a decision. High school literature, anyone?
Westworld’s writing and directing is top notch and, more important, consistent in ways that contemporaries like The Mandalorian haven’t been. If you have already watched The Mandalorian, you’d recall that the pacing and cinematography changes between episodes depending on the director. Westworld hasn’t got this issue. Consequently, the performances by its actors have been nothing short of excellent. Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton, Jeffrey Wright and James Marsden have all turned in some career bests. Relative unknowns like Simon Quarterman have also displayed phenomenal performances.
The soundtrack of Westworld is scored by Ramin Djawadi, who has composed for over 100 soundtracks and film scores including Iron Man, Pacific Rim, and Game of Thrones. Beyond his original contributions, Djawadi also covered various songs for the show. Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails, Amy Winehouse, Soundgarden and Kanye West are just some artists whose hits have been reworked for the theme – sometimes into almost unrecognisable versions of themselves.
Unlike shows like Game of Thrones, which enjoyed higher production budgets after taking off in popularity, Westworld had excellent production value from the get go. The show’s consistent quality from season to season meant that worldbuilding was equally uniform, which definitely creates a more immersive viewing experience. Naturally, judging by the trailer that’s been released you can expect the same for Season 3.