Staff Reactions to the Westworld Finale, and What Season 2 May Hold

Westworld Poster

Westworld was a huge gamble for HBO. After years of production, re-shoots and delays, the show finally premiered in October. Since then the mysterious Western themed sci-fi drama has been debuted, it has garnered its fair share of love and criticisms. The staff of Pop-Break got together after the finale on Sunday to talk about the Season One Finale and give their thoughts on what they want to see for Season 2. Check out the episode review here.

Daniel Cohen: Did I like the finale? I hate to be that guy and completely cop out on this answer, but if I’m being honest, I don’t know yet. Westworld is a very confusing and ridiculous show, but that’s why I love it. I almost act like a Host as I start to flip out and mumble when I think too hard about it. Let’s boil this down to simpler terms – Was I entertained? Oh, hell yeah. This was a riveting 90+ minutes of television. Like I said, I need to watch this entire series again, but for the most part, I got a satisfying season finale.

Some of the reveals were easy to predict. Yeah, yeah, William was the Man in Black. Dolores was actually Wyatt. Those were lay-ups. Dolores’ whole story arc is still a big pile of confusion for me. I’m struggling with how she actually figured out the maze. Or did she? I understand the concept of her now hearing her own voice, but how did she get there? Was it Arnold’s doing? Was it Ford’s? Was it a hybrid of both? This character was intriguing, but also a mess. I need to follow her track very closely when I re-watch the season.

Ford to me was the most satisfying end. He was an uncomfortable character played only as he could have been by Mr. Anthony Hopkins. I’m assuming his demise and everything that happened was his master plan all along, but I guess we’ll never know for sure. It would make sense. This is a guy who always detested humanity, and for him to basically give his corporate overlords the ultimate middle finger as he slaughters them on his way out is one hell of a final statement.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about Maeve for a bit. Sigh. I get it. It makes sense that the memories of her daughter would ultimately keep her in Westworld. It’s just frustrating. An entire season of her wanting to escape, but at the last minute, she bails. For the love of Abernathy.

James Marsden and Evan Rachel Wood in WestWorld
Photo Credit: HBO

DJ Chapman: I must say that I particularly enjoyed the Westworld season finale, for me it might be my favorite episode of the season. I felt all of the reveals were done the best way they could be. Previous episodes of Westworld felt like a slow pulling back of the curtain to reveal to us things we already probably deduced — while this episode still had some of that it was not so offensive that it hurt the finale. The William/Man In Black reveal could have been much more long and drawn out but having The Man In Black narrate what happened after William and Dolores were separated thirty years ago was a good way to bring us into the present and show his complete transformation. The Maeve storyline could have been a bit shorter. Personally, it is hard for me to deal with her storyline when there seems to be these inconsistencies of: How did she get into cold storage when we saw Bernard in an earlier episode need voice clearance to get down there? How do these tablets give you administrator level access the Delos’ security when you are just a technician? How is a top level security team this inept at taking down three hosts and a technician, and only two of the hosts have guns? Regardless, for me Maeve’s storyline just felt too predictable because she appeared to be unbeatable. The ending still has me reeling, that was the one part that really caught me by surprise, and I did not realize there was going to be a mass murder until Sizemore came upon the empty cold storage. I did think it was the perfect ending for the season finale to “close that little loop” as Ford would put it.

I am still wondering what happened with Ashley Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth) and Ghost Nation from Episode 9. I realize that he’s probably dead but I would have liked some sort of follow up. I thought there may have been some kind “rogue Ghost Nation” plot point but that seemed to be mostly forgotten, maybe it will be picked up on in Season 2. I also wondering who programmed Maeve to conduct her escape. Ford seems like the most likely candidate, but it is possible there is another arm moving pieces that will be revealed in Season 2. These are fairly minor in the grand scheme of the finale, especially now that everything has been turned upside down. I do find Ford’s motive interesting, besides taking a much more severe scheme from the Arnold playbook, he decided to commit mass murder because the board decided to force Ford to retire. I appreciate how similar it was to the first “Wyatt” aka Dolores attack, it was also an interesting juxtaposition that Dolores was both the beginning and ending of the Westworld season, and how everything for these Hosts happens in a loop.

Photo Credit: HBO
Photo Credit: HBO

Taylor Bowne: The finale for Westworld was a great encapsulation of all the best and worst aspects of the show. The fantastic acting, the beautiful vistas and cinematography, and the existential themes of awakening and free will were all present in the final 90 minutes of season one. Sadly so were the show’s tendency for exposition dumps, clunky dialog and dragging their feet on answering certain mysteries. Thankfully those issues didn’t stop it from be a surprising and overall satisfying ending to the first season

To the showrunner’s credit, I think they did a good job overall wrapping up this season’s main narrative and any dangling mysteries all while setting up Season 2. They had a good amount of ground they needed to cover in this episode but weren’t able to wrap everything up in the most subtle or elegant way unfortunately. The chief example of this would be the way the The Man in Black’s identity was revealed. The “revelation” was so dragged out and so riddled with heavy-handed dialog that it lost all impact to me. For a reveal they spent a whole season building up to (unnecessarily in my opinion) they really fumbled it in the end. The true meaning of The Maze, while satisfying, didn’t seem like so much of a reveal as it did a long winded clarification for the viewer. This was another instance of getting a satisfying answer in a clunky, expository kind of way. For a show that seemed to dislike holding the audience by the hand, this episode seems hellbent on ensuring that no viewer got left behind.

All that aside, the season ends in an exciting way that leaves a lot of possibility for Season 2. Where we find Delores, Maeve, The Man in Black, Teddy and all the humans in the park at the end of the episode is a very different place than where we first met them. The reveal of Ford’s final narrative isn’t very bombastic but still provides some surprises and promises a very different environment for Season 2. It’s just a shame we’ll have to wait until 2018 to see what the new incarnation of Westworld looks like.

Photo Credit: HBO
Photo Credit: HBO

Ryan DeMarco: In short, Season 1 of WestWorld goes down in history as an amazing achievement. It is a show that has captured the spirit and imagination of fans all over the world in just 10 episodes. What I find admirable about this show is that they’re not afraid to hold off juicy character moments or plot points until they find the perfect moment to deliver it. Every character is utilized masterfully, thanks in part to both the smart writing and talented ensemble cast.

The finale concluded a very strong season with a simple message that this is only just the beginning. We had some nice character moments with Delores sort of unlocking her full potential, Maeve’s mission to find her daughter (a nice set up for next season), Arnold/Bernard experiencing his dilemmas with the park world and tinkering with Teddy and Delores timeline and of course Ford on his final moments unleashing his new narrative and setting the rogue hosts free. I liked that the big Man in Black/William twist was settled rather quickly instead of keeping that for the last “gotcha” moment.

Matthew Kelly: It was fine. It didn’t hold much back, which was refreshing. I still don’t have a clue what any of the rules for the robots are. And I don’t think Jonathan Nolan does either. I was really not a fan of the whole “Maeve’s decisions are all predetermined” angle. Not only was it unsatisfying narratively, but it implies that someone has a level of foresight and control that can NOT exist in this world, given what we’ve seen so far. I can’t wait until the writers forget about that when it becomes inconvenient next season.

All things considered, if Anthony Hopkins was doing anything else on Sundays at 9, I would be watching that instead. Alas, I’m stuck with Westworld.

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Founded in September 2009, The Pop Break is a digital pop culture magazine that covers film, music, television, video games, books and comics books and professional wrestling.