A cerebral puzzle box that masterfully recreates the original 1973 film in impressive fashion, Westworld is a well paced show that just gets better as the episodes roll by. There are times where Westworld feels over-confident in its delivery but its mystery and intrigue hold until its shocking finale. Its slow, methodical pace isn’t for everyone but when it gets going, you can’t help but find yourself enthralled and swept along for the ride.
This Sci-Fi inspired Western produced by Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan takes place in a massive Wild West theme park created by Dr Anthony Ford (Anthony Hopkins) with life-like androids and boasting the ability to live out your every dream and desire with no consequences. The show follows several characters, including Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) who plays a key part in the show’s narrative, the mysterious “man in black” (Ed Harris) and fellow android Maeve (Thandie Newton). Part mystery, part drama, the show flirts across genres and keeps you guessing right up until its final, shocking moment.
Too often in shows the shocks feel contrived or simply there to break up the monotony but the really good shocks leave a chill down your spine and turn your blood cold. Westworld feels like this at times. There are so many twists and turns in its masterfully crafted script that regardless of how much meticulous analysis you might conduct whilst watching, its hard to see them coming and its this, coupled with endearing characters and a great setting, that make Westworld such a fine show.
Anthony Hopkins is a scene stealer here though with an incredible performance as the cold, calculated creator, Dr Ford. His delusional grandeur grows with each episode and his inclusion elevates Westworld to a completely different level. The rest of the cast are good too but aside from Hopkins and to an extent Newton, the rest are simply okay compared to the sublime performances of these actors.
Most mystery shows work with giving very little away while keeping the intrigue running with clues. Westworld turns this formula on its head somewhat by actually answering some of the questions it asks but in doing so, opens up a whole new box full of questions. Its a really interesting way of approaching a mystery and its many questions are, for the most part, answered by the show’s end. With a second season penned for 2018, its hard to see how they’ll be able to emulate or even beat this incredible season though.
Whether it be the mind-bending pilot or the intricate layers of mystery reveleaed as the show runs on, Westworld is one of the finest pieces of television made in a very long time. Anthony Hopkins elevates the show with a breathtaking performance as Dr Ford and right up until the finale, the show manages to keep a decent pace going. Along with a well crafted script, its hard to find faults here in one of the finest new sci-fi shows in a long time.
Verdict - 10/10