Westworld Finale Leaves Me Wanting ‘Less Is More’
Hi guys, great season of podcasts and a pretty good show. A show that has great potential that has yet to be achieved. I loved the finale (most of it anyway) and am looking forward with optimism to its future. There has been some sloppy writing for sure with inconsistencies and bleeding incongruities. I would like to explore some of what didn’t work for me and see how you feel about it. I should preference this email with a my personal bias. I am an architect by training and see writing, good writing anyway, analogous with good design. Design is a reductive medium where excess is taken away to reveal the simplest and most elegant final product. Also in art, as in sculpting a marble figure is simply chipping away what doesn’t belong. Writing too is about what needn’t be there as much as what is there.
One of the most quoted concepts in screen writing is that of Chekhov’s Gun. You have used it I am sure, and it is simply defined: a dramatic principle that requires every element in a narrative to be irreplaceable, with anything else removed. And most often stated, If a gun is produced in the first act it needs to by fired by the third act. In the episode where Theresa is killed there is a Host being built in the background. There were many theories raised about this scene. I heard on another Podcast (Yes I listen to more than just yours, but only to reaffirm my opinion that yours is superior) that Lisa Joy said the images of the Host being built was just to add a creepy ambiance. By the end of this season there is no mention of who that unfinished Host was and I find that to be, too cute. If, as a designer, I placed a staircase that elegantly wound it’s way through the space and stopped at a wall with no egress because It looks cool the client would call Bullshit and have me fired.
For what purpose was an image of the maze tattooed inside the scalp of Kissy? The image, I understand, is to trigger memories or conscious thought within the Hosts. But how many of them where cutting off scalps to find this? One might excuse this with the knowledge that production of Westworld was shutdown for a long time in which, perhaps, a seismic shift in the direction of the show was made. If that where the case and the scalp belonged to the discarded storyline then that scene should have never made the final cut.
Two of my favorite shows in recent past are Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul. In numerous interviews Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould, show runners and lead writers, have said that they delight in writing themselves into corners and then writing themselves out. They do so brilliantly. There’s a show where writing is precise and economical and the narrative is always moving you forward.
On the other hand there was once a show that received years of critical acclaim, was, as still is, loved by fans around the world. A show that lead us down one mysterious path after another, developed intriguing stories, memorable and relatable characters and after , what 7 or 8 years, completely fucked up the ending, left a myriad of questions unanswered and left many of us, Lost for words. I am feeling some of that vibe seeping through the cracks of Westworld. You?
Oh my gosh, I just had a thought! Crackpot theory. Lee Sizemore is an homage to the writers of that show. Creates a grand and soaring narrative, but can never finish it.
Well guys, time to wrap this up as it has gone on too long already. There are more examples I could explore, Where is Stubbs? Is Elsie still alive and if so why leave us hanging? All of these questions could certainly be part of a cliff hanger to be answered next season. It seems like, however, that they really don’t know where they’re going so they just whisked a few characters away, put them in cold storage, and may or may not revive them as needed.
Thanks again for a great season of rants and raves and speculations. Looking forward to 2018 and whatever you do next.
James in Colorado
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