Sunday, March 15, 2020

HBO's Westworld Season 3 Is Sleeker But Still An Intriguing Reboot

"A new narrative awaits" teases one of the social media promotional tagline for HBO's WESTWORLD Season 3, and after watching screeners of 4 episodes for this review, Red Dot Diva agrees that the show feels like a reboot.

In the new season, creators and writers Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy (they are also the show's executive producers) have taken viewers out of the dystopian theme park into the real world, where android Dolores Abernathy (Evan Rachel Wood) has escaped to, after a bloody revolution in Season 2. Within the setting of future Los Angeles, with its glistening tall buildings, iconic palm trees and modernised ghettos, the show's storyline is less convoluted, has fewer time jumps, and is also more focused on corporations vs mankind.

This show of corporate greed and control is embodied in a new villain Serac (Vincent Cassel), a trillionaire all ready to pounce on and use the data collected by Delos through the Westworld theme park. His plans are constantly foiled by Dolores, who has an agenda of her own, and so, Serac asks the intelligent android Maeve (Thandie Newton) to find and kill her fellow theme park mate.

In fact, one of the early episodes that focused on Maeve's storyline is Red Dot Diva's favourite. Thandie Newton is a deft actor, and beautifully chews up her scenes depicting both human emotion and robotic efficiency.

By taking the viewers into an urban setting, WESTWORLD is eager to highlight the class divide that exists in the real world. Through the eyes of down-and-out construction worker Caleb (Aaron Paul), viewers begin to realise that the real world does not seem to be very different from the world Dolores came from. Both humans and androids are caged by a set directive, controlled by an intelligent system that has been collecting big data analytics, and using algorithms to map out each individual's life path.  “I thought your world would be so different from mine. There isn’t any difference at all,” Dolores said to Caleb.

Fans of the show will most probably miss wandering in the intricate psychological maze relating to how the androids deal with waking up to their consciousness and existential crisis in previous seasons. However, there are still interesting questions about identity to be explored, and mysteries to decipher.

Like, what is Dolores real endgame? Who is actually in Charlotte Hale's (Tessa Thompson) body now? Other than Bernard (Jeffrey Wright), who were the other 4 pearls that Dolores took with her when she left Westworld? What are Bernard's current intentions, after what he did in Season 2?

As a show set in the future, Red Dot Diva loved how the creators have lovingly captured our island's unique architecture and buildings in the various Los Angeles scenes. Thanks to Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, the scenes looks absolutely stunning. Finally, someone who knows how to maximise the beauty of our landscape, rather than having it massively destroyed by an alien invasion, or used merely as a sidenote, like in some other movies.

What's really captivating about WESTWORLD's new season, is the way the series gets us to envision - for better or for worse - what our world might look like in the near future, about 40 years from now. The technology and systems used in the series are familiar, albeit more powerful and deeply integrated in everyday life. It kind of makes you doubt your smart devices even more. Better keep a close eye on your Roomba!


WESTWORLD Season 3 premieres on 16 March at 9 AM, same time as the U.S. telecast. The season has 8 episodes, and can be watched exclusively on HBO GO and HBO Asia on Starhub and Singtel TV.

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