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Thread: Westworld (Season 1)

  1. #26
    - - - - - Irish's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Gittes (view post)
    The robot uprising could manifest in at least two ways (we may see one or the other, or both). The destruction of the park and some kind of comeuppance for key figures in the upper echelon of the organization seems inevitable. Something on a much larger scale is also possible. Although, this would require some interesting creative maneuvering and, probably, time jumps. In that case, the show would reverse the balance: humans would be outnumbered by AI and certain figures from both sides would continue to elicit our interest and sympathy, albeit in different ways. I'm partly persuaded by this idea because of something I came across in an interview — something about the writers being interested in really changing things up from season to season.
    Well, writers always say stuff like that in interviews. It makes the show sound more interesting. I'd take stuff like that with a grain of salt, though, especially in this instance. These are the same people who went deep into production on a show that cost $6-10 million per episode and shut down midway to finish their scripts.

    I don't think it will play out because, again, conservative medium. If you deviate too far from what the audience expects they will abandon you.

    If you resolve a central plot point, they still might abandon you.

    Cf: Moonlighting, Twin Peaks, Battlestar Galactica (both versions), Lost, The Killing, etc.

    I don't think this claim is borne out by characters like Ford, Dolores, and Dolores' father. The script provides key moments for us to consider the particular interest of these characters, and, in each case, the performances are adding other dimensions.
    Well, it helps that the actors are actually human.

    I found them to be playing toward the premise and not toward character. They aren't much in the way of characters (outside very broad Western tropes) because the pilot doesn't provide any greater context for them.

    While premise is good, a good premise isn't the same thing as a good story.

    It's not just Siri-esque automatism.
    In the context of the show, that's the character though. She's limited by her script. She can only respond to things her creators thought of. It's a clever illusion of humanity, cf: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technolog...assistant.html

  2. #27
    Quote Quoting Irish (view post)
    I found them to be playing toward the premise
    I sort of see where you're coming from here, but your earlier point about them putting no faith whatsoever in character doesn't quite square with a lot of what I found compelling about the premiere, particularly with regards to the three characters I mentioned. The premise is interesting, but they were careful to situate it vis-a-vis some vividly presented characters and relationships. Given the context of a single hour, I think they achieved a fair bit: they successfully elicited sympathy for the robots, and made a strong claim that the characterizations will gain new layers in the weeks to come.

    Quote Quoting Irish (view post)
    They aren't much in the way of characters (outside very broad Western tropes) because the pilot doesn't provide any greater context for them.
    I think some of your points — and some of my own, of course — are a bit hasty given that we're talking about the first episode. There's some solid groundwork being laid out here. I mean, some might dismiss the scripted relations between the robots that we were shown, but I suspect all of that is going to matter a great deal in future episodes. Dolores' bond with her father and her affection for Teddy (Marsden) are obviously just written scenarios. But this data will continue to inform these characters in more meaningful ways as their autonomy and self-awareness increases. Her father seemed to recognize that his familial bonds were manufactured, but it's irrelevant — those bonds are now more keenly felt by him than ever before. This is not just because of a presumed accumulation of memories — they've spent lots of time together, fulfilling predetermined roles — but also because their proximity to one another means that they've recognized, and are now starting to remember, each other's pain (i.e., the emphasis on Teddy's eye as Dolores is dragged away by Ed Harris' character).

    So, I imagine we'll be seeing all of these forced narrative connections become bona fide bonds. I agree that more is needed to increase the complexity and dimensions of the characters, but this is the pilot, and I do think the work toward richer characterizations has already begun.

    Quote Quoting Irish (view post)
    She's limited by her script.
    What I'm saying is that the show seems to be designed so that we need to attend to the difference between script and spontaneity. In the case of Dolores, we see this in the nonverbal signs, which suggest more than scripted dithering. So, I don't understand drawing a comparison between Siri's scripted responses and Dolores' glints of discomfort — I don't think the latter is necessarily the same as the former. The subtle unease doesn't maintain the intended illusion (i.e., the scripted behaviour); it's an example of that illusion going off the rails and veering toward some nascent form of self-awareness. In other words, those moments that I mentioned seem to be something other than just well-designed mimesis. The episode emphasizes the new update and its various ramifications for a reason, and all of this ought to inform our understanding of why certain aspects of Dolores' body language are significant.

    We're already seeing more than straightforward ventriloquism — there's wiggle room for something like actual self expression amidst the assigned behaviour. In the case of the fly swatting, we see an even more more pronounced defiance of the script.
    Last edited by Gittes; 10-04-2016 at 02:48 PM.

  3. #28
    Quote Quoting Dukefrukem (view post)
    I haven't seen the movie, should I?
    Just watched it last night for the first time. It is eminently skippable. It takes an interesting premise and basically goes nowhere with it; it halfway begins building a world (with a lot of half-arsed explanations that don't really make sense) and then just jettisons everything for a one-on-one chase through random sets.
    Last edited by transmogrifier; 10-04-2016 at 12:16 AM.
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  4. #29
    Administrator Ezee E's Avatar
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    Ha. On the Westworld site, you can chat with a host.

    I found out that if you gamble in Sweetwater, whatever you win, you can use throughout. Gonna need that money if it's $40k a day!

    The Man in Black won't be revealed, but sneak that he is a "VIP."

    No "outside weapons" are allowed.

    ASK THE HOST WHERE IT WAS BORN.

    https://www.discoverwestworld.com/

    ALSO, type TEST in the top right.

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  5. #30
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    There is an article in rottentomatoes about 11 rules in Westworld, assembled from interviews with showrunners and actors, and one of them is about the bullets used will feel like a sting to the guests, and blow the hosts away. Pretty good, informative, spoiler-free article that clarify some things.
    Midnight Run (1988) - 9
    The Smiling Lieutenant (1931) - 8.5
    The Adventures of Robinhood (1938) - 8
    Sisters (1973) - 6.5
    Shin Godzilla (2016) - 7.5

  6. #31
    Winston* Classic Winston*'s Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Spinal (view post)
    The only thing I would add is that this show sorely needs a sense of humor. Everything was so deadly serious and the show felt stilted because of it. I'd like to see the actors relax into the characters a little bit more, as opposed to everything being slavishly in service of communicating the premise. It feels that they are in danger of falling into the trap of exploring artificial life and forgetting what actual humanity looks like.
    Definitely agree with this. Found its humourlessness especially noticeable because I've been re-watching Deadwood lately, which has multiple laugh out loud moments per episode. In this I couldn't even see an attempt at a joke.

    The premise of the show strikes me as absurd in about 15 different ways. But I'm willing to give the writers the benefit of the doubt that they have considered the parameters of the world they've created at least as much as I have after watching one episode four beers in on a Tuesday night. Interested to see what the world's like outside of the simulation.

  7. #32
    Winston* Classic Winston*'s Avatar
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    Quote Quoting number8 (view post)
    Talk about meta: apparently the writers refer to the park management characters as "the showrunner level."
    The show seems to be heavily influenced by Cabin in the Woods.
    Last edited by Winston*; 10-04-2016 at 09:58 AM.

  8. #33
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    I agree that I'd love to see more humor, but I disagree that there was no attempt at all. I think they were just overly dry, and also isolated. The entire scene with Rodrigo Santoro's bandit character was clearly meant to be very tongue-in-cheek. When he picks up Thandie Newton and moves her out of the way of the falling safe, that's damn near slapstick. I also chuckled when the wife of the guy who shot the bandit got really excited over the Hosts' death twitches, and when the bad guy Host blowing kisses gets his face blown off. Those are jokes.

    What it does need is some levity in the characters themselves when they're trotting out the exposition.
    Quote Quoting Donald Glover
    I was actually just reading about Matt Damon and he’s like, ‘There’s a culture of outrage.’ I’m like, ‘Well, they have a reason to be outraged.’ I think it’s a lot of dudes just being scared. They’re like, ‘What if I did something and I didn’t realize it?’ I’m like, ‘Deal with it.’
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  9. #34
    Administrator Ezee E's Avatar
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    There's also the joke about the monologue not happening. Maybe next time.

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  10. #35
    Winston* Classic Winston*'s Avatar
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    You're right. It didn't make me laugh, but that end to the shootout is a comedic beat.

    The arrogant writer character seems like an obvious choice to inject some humour into the thing, but the actor plays it pretty straight. We'll see.

  11. #36
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    One thing that bothered me was the rape of Evan Rachel Wood at the beginning of the show. Like they couldn't wait 10 minutes to have it happen to their female protagonist?

    Deadwood went through three seasons of gritty westernery and I can't remember once instance, though haven't seen the later seasons in a while.

  12. #37
    Administrator Ezee E's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Winston* (view post)
    One thing that bothered me was the rape of Evan Rachel Wood at the beginning of the show. Like they couldn't wait 10 minutes to have it happen to their female protagonist?

    Deadwood went through three seasons of gritty westernery and I can't remember once instance, though haven't seen the later seasons in a while.
    Maybe no rape, because all the women were basically prostitutes or gimps in Deadwood?

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  13. #38
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    If you include extras I suppose. Only one of the prominent female characters was a prostitute in Deadwood and she's not by season 2 of I remember right.

  14. #39
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    I talked about that a little bit at the end of this piece i wrote yesterday. I found that what set it apart from the usual use of that trope is that because it occurs so early, it's shock value being used as a statement, rather than emotional manipulation (as is the case with having it happen to a well-established character).
    Quote Quoting Donald Glover
    I was actually just reading about Matt Damon and he’s like, ‘There’s a culture of outrage.’ I’m like, ‘Well, they have a reason to be outraged.’ I think it’s a lot of dudes just being scared. They’re like, ‘What if I did something and I didn’t realize it?’ I’m like, ‘Deal with it.’
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  15. #40
    That reminded me of something that crossed my mind during the premiere. It's interesting how the Reverie update is demonstrated to us by having the robots run their fingers against their lips. That's an apt gesture to choose not just because it conveys rumination, but also because, cinematically, it's already closely associated with the idea of imitation. In Breathless, Belmondo's character, Michel, does the same thing. In that case, he's consciously mimicking Bogart in The Maltese Falcon. As has been noted and argued by others, its effects are paradoxical in Godard's film: it's an imitation of a fictional character by a fictional character, but also a signpost directing us to Belmondo's performance and the fact that what we're seeing is artifice made by alert, conscious, improvisational minds.

    I'm just starting to unpack this thought now, so who knows if there's anything like insight actually here, but...

    Michel and the robots are obviously all fictional characters, but the added wrinkle in Westworld is that the robots are considered fictional even within the narrative itself (so, the fictitiousness is twofold). This distinction is important, but we can still detect an intriguing connection between the two examples. Like Belmondo/Michel, we see the robots reaching beyond the parameters of their fictitious existence, and out into an external reality (they must be mimicking something they've seen — it's osmosis). In Breathless, the fourth wall is broken and an actual audience recognizes it, whereas in Westworld, the wall is broken within the narrative world itself. So, it's sort of like the guests and the staff are in the position of an audience in 1960 witnessing an illusion that refuses to be just an illusion.

    The French New Wave was all about movies self-reflexively shattering the immersive illusion of fiction in this way. Those movies acknowledged the audience, the real world within which the audience is encompassed, and the fact of their own fictitiousness. So, Westworld's quotation of this particular gesture is apt because the writers are dealing with similar ideas. It suggests an analogy — the notion that the robots are enacting their own kind of French New Wave-esque transgression. The contexts are different, but the resulting messages are not entirely dissimilar: "I am more than just a character; this is all a big ruse and I know it; I see you."
    Last edited by Gittes; 10-05-2016 at 10:02 PM.

  16. #41
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    Nice.
    Quote Quoting Donald Glover
    I was actually just reading about Matt Damon and he’s like, ‘There’s a culture of outrage.’ I’m like, ‘Well, they have a reason to be outraged.’ I think it’s a lot of dudes just being scared. They’re like, ‘What if I did something and I didn’t realize it?’ I’m like, ‘Deal with it.’
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  17. #42
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    Pseudo random remarks:

    - Because prostitutes can't be raped?

    - Have we swung so far to the left that any representation of sexual assault is objectionable, in any context? I wonder. The crix at TCA made a big deal out of that scene and when I saw it I was left scratching my head. (Is there a threshold that must be met, across networks, before before we object? If so, I'm pretty sure Game of Thrones passed it earlier this year.)

    - It isn't just that the event happens early in the character's appearance. The show cuts away from real violence and that abstracts it away. They made a conscious choice to soften the impact.

    - I don't think you can claim that brushing your lips with your fingers conveys rumination based on one film. Further, only a single female robot is depicted as making this gesture. (My understanding was that the reveries were specific to individual hosts.) In the real world, brushing your lips can also mean something different depending on the gender of the person performing that action. If you're gonna parse its meaning, you gotta go all the way.

    - I dunno if you can break the fourth wall if all parties involved--character and audience--aren't aware that wall is being broken. The robots in Westworld are only aware of their scripts. The humans are ignorant of the robots' potential for growth. This will probably change, and when it does it still won't be all that meaningful unless the in-show narratives are made to be meaningful. Either way, I don't see how that impacts the audience directly. (This is aside from the fact that the entire idea of characters being aware they are characters is a very, very old--to the point where I'd say it isn't particularly interesting in an of itself.)

    - I'm no subject matter expert on the New Wave, but it always struck me as British kitchen sink mixed with American genre and given a decidedly French spin. I don't think movies like 400 Blows or Shoot the Piano Player or Claire's Knee shatter any illusion between the audience and the medium, for instance. I also think if you're gonna approach it based on something like Breathless, you gotta nod toward Godard's very impish sense of humor.

    - I read a handful of comments about how Westworld has the potential to be a comment on how we watch movies, or entertainment in general. But I think that's ancillary to the show's purpose. It's more a side effect of the material, not a conscious, driven choice on the part of the showrunners. (I like J Nolan, but I don't believe him capable of that kind of sophistication.)
    Last edited by Irish; 10-05-2016 at 09:10 PM.

  18. #43
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    Quote Quoting number8 (view post)
    I talked about that a little bit at the end of this piece i wrote yesterday. I found that what set it apart from the usual use of that trope is that because it occurs so early, it's shock value being used as a statement, rather than emotional manipulation (as is the case with having it happen to a well-established character).
    I think this is well written. But I don't feel that is a weighty enough theme to justify as you say "crudely trafficking in that tired trope for dramatic purposes". If a show is seriously looking at it as subject in and of itself, I don't inherently have a problem with it.

    Also, personally, if I'm sitting down after work to watch a show about cowboy robots I just don't particularly want to watch a woman dragged by her hair into a barn to be raped.

  19. #44
    Note: After Irish and I conclude this particular discussion, I promise to take a break from this thread and thereby avoid the risk of (further?) annoying others by filling these pages with too many of my walls of text. And, actually, I'll also go ahead and hide my post via spoiler tags because I just scrolled through it and I can see how that could be irksome. I've also included a more concise summation for those who care but don't have the time for this long-winded stuff. For greater detail and the addressing of other points, feel free to check the spoiler section.

    [
    ]

    Long story...less long:
    1) The gesture that we see in Westworld is linked to rumination by the show itself. I thought the gesture was intriguing and I think it has a kind of intertextual resonance, so I hazarded an attempt at working out my ideas about it (in the hope of illuminating an interesting detail from the pilot).
    2) It's true that this gesture may not constitute major fourth wall breaking in and of itself, but it's linked to the Reverie update and, therefore, to the disruptive endgame of self-actualization. Given its representative and formative role, I think it's fair to draw associations between the gesture and the disruptions in the intended illusions of the Westworld park (those already seen in this episode and those to come — I'm assuming the Reverie update will continue to serve as an important catalyst).
    3) The gesture signals a discernible crack in the wall, then, but not an all-out, immediately recognizable rupture. I overstated the diegetic awareness of this cracking by the characters. It might have been better to talk about the gesture/update as a kind of starting point, which means it will be in some way associated with the bigger breaks to come (which will surely unfold over many episodes or seasons). The update and the gestures were actually deliberately engineered by Ford (so my "osmosis" remark was wrong), but he has opened up a can of worms. It's the first sign of trouble.
    4) One more thing about the characters' awareness of this gesture as a sign of a transgression, or a burgeoning transgression. Throughout the episode, the staff are shown to gain a greater, but not yet full, understanding of the implications of the update (and, again, the show finds a legible emblem for the update — and a starting point for the trouble it engenders — via the gesture and the thinking it entails).
    5) The analogy I'm trying to develop here is about storytelling rules (as the robots' personalities are works of fiction) being disrupted through stuff like greater self-awareness and other violations (i.e., dollops of something more "real" and legitimately unpredictable). Westworld patrons and staff want convincing illusions, but they want those illusions to play by certain rules. Given this, and that gestural similarity, I detected a link between the robots' "violations" and the disruptive gambits of the French New Wave.
    Last edited by Gittes; 10-06-2016 at 07:41 AM.

  20. #45
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    Gonna tap out, but I enjoyed reading your thoughts, Gittes.

  21. #46
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    The big hoopla about it at TCA was about the frequency of HBO using the trope, because the critics were screened the first episodes of Westworld and The Night Of back to back, and they both kicked off that way. They pressed the network president about why HBO uses it so prominently, and he was caught off guard by those questions, as if it didn't even occur to him that his network's two new shiny dramas are doing it. The piling he received was fair game.
    Quote Quoting Donald Glover
    I was actually just reading about Matt Damon and he’s like, ‘There’s a culture of outrage.’ I’m like, ‘Well, they have a reason to be outraged.’ I think it’s a lot of dudes just being scared. They’re like, ‘What if I did something and I didn’t realize it?’ I’m like, ‘Deal with it.’
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  22. #47
    Quote Quoting Irish (view post)
    Gonna tap out, but I enjoyed reading your thoughts, Gittes.
    This is kind of a hilarious outcome, given the amount of stamina and effort expended for that post, lol. No worries, though. I typed way too much, even with my meagre attempt at providing a concise version, so I can understand not having the time or energy or whatever. Burrowing into stuff like this is irresistible sometimes, and there's the bonus of it providing a good distraction from the doldrums of certain days. I just thought my ideas might be worth defending/exploring, and that a few of your points seemed inapplicable, or at least suspect — the quibble about "rumination," your apparent downplaying of the French New Wave's self-reflexive tendencies, etc. As always, it was nice to have the opportunity to think through something a little bit more and clarify my thoughts. Thanks, then, for thoughtfully engaging with my ideas at all, as it did encourage me to fine-tune my point and address some of the awkwardness of the analogy.

    Anyway, as per my earlier comment, I'm going to make a concerted effort to pare down my verbose contributions (for a little while). I'm really not trying to overwhelm by sheer word count, but I'm worried that might be the unintended result. I'm also concerned about the degree to which I may be annoying others and/or eliciting many an eye-roll.

    Looking forward to the next episode and what others will have to say.
    Last edited by Gittes; 10-06-2016 at 06:49 PM.

  23. #48
    Administrator Ezee E's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Irish (view post)
    Pseudo random remarks:

    - Because prostitutes can't be raped?
    I guess I could've expanded on this more.

    I'd have to reference it again, but the prostitutes in Deadwood were basically slaves, objects, and had been doing it from childhood. Outside of Trixie (?), there weren't any that were explored. Prostitution scenes were mostly off-camera, or Al monologuing. It was kind of a Stockholm Syndrome? I'm sure if it was explored, it could've been like a certain episode of The Sopranos where they focused on a prostitute that was killed, and the true nature of the mafia that used her. It was critically acclaimed, and also one of the most hated episodes of the series.

    And now that I've typed that, there is an episode where this happens. The second season, Walcott goes on a murderous rampage, taking a few out at one of the bordellos (?), only for a few others to be snuck out at the very end.

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  24. #49
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    Loved the pilot. It reminded me of the good ole' days of LOST when each week is full of new questions and theories. This is lost in binge-watching. I'd rather wait a week and let the episode digest rather than gorge myself on it all at once.

    It's so good to have Ed Harris back in a prominent role. His face was made to be under a cowboy hat.
    Sure why not?

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  25. #50
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    HBO has released Episode 2 on all of its platforms, including HBO Now, HBO GO and HBO On Demand. If you're an HBO subscriber, the episode is available right now to stream.
    http://www.indiewire.com/2016/10/wes...ch-1201734464/

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