Transformation of Genre
Throughout this season, we’ve watched Westworld transform from an intellectual mind-bending show packed full of philosophy and existential concepts to a full-on sci-fi tech fest. Some people like the concept, while others believe the showrunners should have remained faithful to the original format. I believe what we are seeing is deeper: the show has made a full transition from the classic “western” to “southern”. In case you’re not familiar with the tropes, a western isn’t just about the “old west”, but about an outsider (or group of outsiders) usually dictated by revenge or some action from his or her past carrying the protagonist through a journey into a new atmosphere, imposing justice where it is vacant. An eastern, by contrast, is when the system is corrupt and someone within fixes it while remaining part of the system (think crooked FBI agent, or…the film Eraser with Arnold Schwarzenegger). A “northern” is where the system in place works in the end without outside interference (any crime drama on TV). Finally, a “southern” is when the entire system is corrupt from it’s very core and must be reformed from outside the structure itself.
Prior to season 3, Westworld took place in a world of lawlessness where things just happened without anyone to act as the police, and our protagonists were on their own personal missions (Dolores against William, Maeve to find her daughter, and William to find the maze, etc) while surrounded by miles of lawlessness and an “anything goes, no rules” mentality. Since season 3 started, the narrative has shifted more and more to the “southern” genre. There is a plethora of law and order, but the system itself is viewed as corrupt and a “protagonist” (hero) from outside must enter and fix the system itself.
The move from one genre to the other in the direct middle of the series is risky to say the least, and one that has most people scratching their heads. The swap was most likely necessary because they needed to show that the outside world did have an established set of rules and wasn’t the lawless west of the theme parks. HOWEVER, now that Dolores has taken the blinders off the public, I would expect the show to revert to it’s Western roots once again, perhaps with Caleb, Bernard, or even Maeve acting as the protagonist moving forward through this new lawless world.
I’m expecting a full on change going forward, reverting back to the roots of the lawless western. My advice would be to stick with the show, as it really can’t go anywhere else but west.
Derek Fuckin’ English
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