Westworld: Crisis Theory
May 4, 2020 11:23 AM - Season 3, Episode 8 - Subscribe

Time to face the music.

It's the end of a world.
posted by jquinby (55 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Went ahead and put this up so that I could ask about a confusing bit: Caleb was 30 seconds away from uploading Solomon's strategy which, according to Serac and Rehoboam, showed inevitable species extinction...and shortly thereafter, Dolores is explaining to Maeve that she "chooses to see the beauty?" And that Caleb was 'selected' because he would make a choice?

It sure seems like the predicted Armageddon from the strategy was avoided by the pure chance of Caleb getting caught. Or is that still to come, now that Rehoboam has been wiped? And does nobody keep backups in the future? And why is there an admin console to the machine that runs the world in the lobby of the main office building?

Anyway, nits aside - we thought the ending and post-credit scenes were terrific. Poor Stubbs.
posted by jquinby at 11:29 AM on May 4, 2020 [2 favorites]

I was pretty hopeful when this season started, but the cliches piled on and the story moved towards high school-level treatments about free will and choice. I also had a hard time with some of the other writing — an evil company built around cradle-to-grave surveillance lets Aaron Paul through the door with a key card; or the exposition in the opening, which violates the basic "show-don't-tell" tenet taught in film school. It was almost as bad as that one cut of Blade Runner that Ridley Scott was forced to release.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 11:37 AM on May 4, 2020 [9 favorites]

Though I do like that William's storyline ended, to be replaced with a full-on Man in Black role. He'd essentially be the conscience-free, mirror image of Hale/Dolores' Teddy.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 11:41 AM on May 4, 2020 [1 favorite]

Season one was so good, so many hooks and character building. Season two was a bit weaker, but had some powerful eps (Kiksuya and Akane no Mai). Season three has been a mess for me. Caleb is standout in free will just because... he doesn't rape? Bernard has just been fumbling around the whole season just to keep the suspense of him holding the key till the very end? No backups? Bad security? Serac being a puppet was a nice surprise but it still doesn't hold up to all the other glaring plot holes and weak points this entire way through.
posted by xtine at 11:44 AM on May 4, 2020 [8 favorites]

Man, never had an episode (I guess its more like the last three) so bad that it made me feel guilty for enjoying anything that had happened before :-(

But yeah, seems like this entire season could have been distilled to just about 5 mins of Bernard stuff from during the season plus the post credit scenes. Everything else that happened was confusing and ultimate pointless: Hale/Dolores made it out. William was already uploaded somewhere at the end of Season 2 (they really never explained how we got from post credits Season 2 to his season 3 stuff. The real world at end of Season 2 was just "things are fucked, but rich people are still around", and that's pretty much what we have now.

Seems like they could have added on about 10 mins to the beginning of whatever they are going to do for Season 4 to explain why Hale/Dolores don't like each other in the 50 years that will past (or however long it took Bernard to get all that dust in that motel on Sierra Hwy in Santa Clarita, I grew up a few miles away from the location they filmed the exterior at), and how/why Bernard was able to dial into the sublime for half a century or whatever.

Hell, unless there is real reason to have Maeve on Team Dolores, you don't even need Hale to fall out with Dolores, just have Maeve/RoboWilliam team up and you don't need to change anything from end of Season 2.

Anyway, the "gas station" where William shoots Stubs, the road Caleb rides his motorcycle on, and the motel Stubb/Bernard go to are all less than a mile from each other in real life. Seeing the SFPD truck pull up made me tell my wife "HAH, they are bout 350 miles outside their jurisdiction!!!" before I realized that William was supposed to be in a mental hospital in the Bay Area somewhere, since I don't think they ever made that clear.

Hell, wasn't Caleb also in the same place at on point, and that was supposed to be the Sonora Desert?

Anyway, gonna stop typing because I keep thinking of more things that made Season 3 just totally stupid.
posted by sideshow at 12:16 PM on May 4, 2020 [3 favorites]

I liked Bernard's visit with Lauren, Arnold's widow, and their discussion about memory, love, loss and grief. It's nice that Bernard gets to talk to someone who understands, very specifically, his feelings of loss about Charlie, the son that he never had. It's also poignant when Lauren addresses Bernard as "Arnold," and he just goes with it.
posted by carmicha at 2:03 PM on May 4, 2020 [5 favorites]

They really shouldn't have gone the action/fighting route if every fight was going to be one person with small gun kills many people with armor and big guns who can't hit a person standing directly in front of them. It takes a person out of the story to see that kind of nonsense again and again.
posted by kokaku at 2:52 PM on May 4, 2020 [11 favorites]

And wow, that Dark Side of the Moon ending feels so unearned, like they could pave it all over with a nice pop-culture reference.
posted by kokaku at 3:41 PM on May 4, 2020 [9 favorites]

Am I wrong or did Bernard and Stubbs have nothing to do with the whole rest of the season's plot? You could have removed all their scenes and nothing would have changed.
posted by octothorpe at 3:43 PM on May 4, 2020 [10 favorites]

This episode was a big mess. I felt like they were trying to build all this narrative tension up to this faceoff all season. Then D&M meet twice and it’s so anticlimactic. Plus the riot scenes look really small and cheap, which is saying something given the budget. And Serac is taking all his orders from Rehoboam? And Bernard and Stubbs just do their totally pointless thing over there, extraneous to any actual plot development. And didn’t we get shown that William was a host last season?

So yeah when I heard Dark Side of the Moon and realized it was the original, it took me right out of the scene. Like, mmmmmm they must’ve paid a lot for the rights to that track.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 6:35 PM on May 4, 2020 [1 favorite]

Those riot scenes had no emotion to them at all. I think the episode went off the rails earlier, just about when Hale shows up for no reason in that weird vision.

They really should have spent more time explaining what the difference between hosts and humans are. I mean Stubbs could have simply been reprogrammed not to feel pain, right?

For all the money they spent on this show, you'd think they could have spent an extra week writing all the plot holes out of it.
posted by Catblack at 6:44 PM on May 4, 2020 [1 favorite]

This season felt a lot like Shadowrun without any of the stuff that makes Shadowrun fun.

Don’t put a fucking robot dragon in your near-future Street corporate crime story and not give me Shadowrun, you fucks.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 7:00 PM on May 4, 2020 [6 favorites]

Return of the Jedi but Serac is the Emperor, Maeve is Darth Vader and the Ewoks are protesters. Then Delores is Jesus because why not.
posted by condour75 at 8:12 PM on May 4, 2020

Rehoboam as the Death Star?
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 9:42 PM on May 4, 2020 [1 favorite]

Was anyone else hoping to see this happen to dusty Bernard at the end?
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 10:47 PM on May 4, 2020

Has there ever been a riot scene in a movie that didn't feel totally contrived? We started referring to this as “the PTA has disbanded” ever since that bit in episode-whatever where everyone gets the text message that turns them into FiDi looters.
posted by migurski at 10:49 PM on May 4, 2020 [1 favorite]

the riot scenes look really small and cheap

ha ha, I was literally turning to my wife to say how strongly the riot scenes captured my visual experience of being in some of the WTO confrontations twenty years ago when MARRRRSHAWWN grabbed a teargas canister inbound. I completely lost it with joyful laughter.
posted by mwhybark at 11:32 PM on May 4, 2020 [6 favorites]

So many fucking holes man.
-Why were the buildings blowing up at the end? What did that have to do with freeing humanity?
-Why did maeve turn, still not sold on that? We never really got a good explanation for why she helped Serac except for her daughter. The whole scene in the field with Delores could have happened much earlier in the season but used to explain why Maeve wants to help Serac.
-Delores's brain looks like early 90's operating programs? What were all the blue tubes for? Her brains can be sucked out through tubes I guess? Why did we never see anything like that in Westworld? There was so much technology that is totally new and inexplicable and didn't really fit with what we've seen from the show.
-What did bernard and stubbs have to do with anything? William just runs off during the fight with S&B, then turns up to ask for a bunch of shit from some advisor/assistant and what happens with that?
-And we find out where who another Delores is and then...nothing. That Delores's purpose is to show up and save Bernard. Its like a chain reaction of uselessness.
-How did William get into the lab after HE SHOT A GUY IN THE HEAD IN THE LOBBY?????

So many questions. It's like they just threw a bunch of shit at the wall and instead of seeing what stuck they kept all of it. I was so confused by alot of the Bernanrd and Stubbs and William stuff from the last few episodes that I was for sure thinking there was some kind of time twist.

This show started out so magnificent and then devolved into a joke. I have like almost no hope for the 4th season, but I'll watch just to finish the thing out. I would like to see what someone else could have done after season 1. Season 2 was also good but kind of set the show going in a certain direction.
posted by LizBoBiz at 12:46 AM on May 5, 2020 [2 favorites]

I'm not as disappointed with the show, so much as with the people who were given a massive budget, who tapped into awesome global architectural and CGI resources, and who apparently decided to put so very little effort into story.

It seemed like a waste, to have been able to tell interesting stories that explore our humanity, and to squander that on such transparent spectacle.

I think some reviewer called this show the anti-GoT, having seen a few episodes — but it might only be the same thing in the opposite polarity, if that makes any sense — with the same shortcomings, as a narrative.

Ah well, we're in a century of mediocrity. So it goes.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 1:06 AM on May 5, 2020

So the riot control barriers were just blow molded plastic that one person can knock down? They had riot control robots, they didn't seem very useful.

"Soylent Green" had better riot control.

William walks in, shoots the receptionist, and they have no security response. They could at least had some the machine gun toting guards shoot and not hit anything
posted by Marky at 1:13 AM on May 5, 2020

Why were the buildings blowing up at the end? What did that have to do with freeing humanity?

This question made it all fall into place for me. The season was conceived of as whole lot of cool images (shirt with words that light up, riot control robot, futuristic motorcycles and cars, etc). And oh yeah, we need to have a reason to show those images so come up with something that lets us do that. Make sense? Oh hell no... just get those images up there!
posted by kokaku at 1:27 AM on May 5, 2020 [3 favorites]

In retrospect, the early scene where Maeve crashes the simulation by asking for the square root of -1 was a pretty good indication of how superficially this season would end up engaging with any of the ideas it brushes up against.
posted by Pyry at 3:31 AM on May 5, 2020 [8 favorites]

This season clearly suffered from a cool premise that valued spectacle over story; lead writers who were likely distracted by newer and more exciting projects; rushed production; overreaction to the faults of Season 2; abruptly lower budget; and perhaps a lack of clarity about whether the series would be renewed for S4.

But it's mostly the poor writing. Someone made this comparison:

Season 1: "Humans fancy that there's something special about the way we perceive the world, and yet we live in loops as tight and as closed as the hosts do, seldom questioning our choices, content, for the most part, to be told what to do next. No, my friend, you're not missing anything at all"

Season 3: "Russian Civil War. There was nothing civil about it."
posted by adrianhon at 3:50 AM on May 5, 2020 [4 favorites]

I enjoyed watching S3, but won't be back for S4 unless I hear that it is brilliant & can't miss and even so there are a lot of brilliant & can't miss shows that I haven't got to yet. I like shows that have an ending, not ones where characters run around in circles until it gets cancelled.

Best part: Maeve.

Worst part: Any time the characters stood around making speeches about free will like a bunch of students smoking something they bought in the park.
posted by betweenthebars at 6:01 AM on May 5, 2020 [1 favorite]

Wow, harsh crowd. I liked it just fine. Maybe my expectations are lower ?
posted by Pendragon at 6:46 AM on May 5, 2020 [8 favorites]

The thing that bothered me most was the damned supercomputer that was straight out of 60's and 70's sci fi. I could see a company like Incite or Delos putting a giant evil sphere in their lobby and calling it their AI. But that would just be a set piece to impress the rubes. The real Rehoboam would be in boring looking rackmounted blades spread out over hundreds or thousands of generic racks in dozens or hundreds of datacenters across the globe. With many redundant code backups stuffed away in safe locations and bunkers around the world.

No self-respecting evil overlord AI is going to leave their eggs in a basket where just one cruise missile or just one EMP ends it all. Any data-based 2020 corporation wouldn't think of doing such a thing. Speaking of 70's dystopian sci-fi, even Rollerball (1975) had the good sense to place multiple evil AI's in multiple locations around the world. Even HAL had multiple CPUs which had to be individually brought offline in a time consuming process to fully shut the local instance down.

And that might have redeemed the series ending. They blow up evil glowing sphere. Serac confuses everyone by laughing. The lights go out. And then come back on. A voice goes: "Node 1 of 2048 is offline. System Capacity now 99.96% Reconstructing Node 1. ETA: 22 seconds.... Now complete. All systems nominal. Congratulations rebel humans and robots: you have accomplished absolutely nothing."

A nice hopeless ending that puts all the plans and "free will" blather in its rightful place. And would have given some additional import to the post-credits ending. Season 4: War of the Backups.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 6:59 AM on May 5, 2020 [10 favorites]

The thing that bothered me most was the damned supercomputer that was straight out of 60's and 70's sci fi.

In the making-of segment after the episode, Nolan mentioned Shalmaneser from Stand on Zanzibar as an influence.
posted by octothorpe at 8:35 AM on May 5, 2020 [1 favorite]

I liked the first part of this season and thought that the central idea that the real world was as scripted as West World was an interesting premise but they really follow through with that. It was a short season and they wasted at least 1/3 of the time on Bernard and William neither of whom really advanced the plot at all. I wish that they had concentrated on Delores and Maeve and explained their conflict better; we never really had a good idea of what motivated Maeve so her actions seemed kind of pointless.
posted by octothorpe at 1:37 PM on May 5, 2020 [2 favorites]

I have a lot of potential I Wish ideas, but I think I need a detail answered first?
Where is The Sublime (where all the other Host um, minds uploaded to by running off the cliff) located? Not philosophically; I mean they were beamed out of their Pearls and onto some other repository, right? There's a set we didn't see, another room full of blinkenlights? A piece of physical infrastructure where the data that is Maeve's daughter is hosted. Bernard put on that halo headset and uploaded himself there.
Is 'there' an orbital satellite? A distributed network? A cave in Svalbard?
Or did I misunderstand that whole story element?
posted by bartleby at 5:24 PM on May 5, 2020 [1 favorite]

I liked the callback to the bicameral mind theory of consciousness.

In S1 Ford notes that robot hosts hear Ford as the “voice of god” and that’s the beginning of consciousness, whereas in S3 Serac, the human’s “voice of god” was rehoboam - the robot.

everything else?


cringey exposition dialog? check?
nonsensical physics and systems and structures? check.
let’s burn motherhood and apple pie.yay. oh wait, let’s not. it’s all beauty and free will MAAAAAAN. CHECK

THIS WAS Game of thrones S8-level bad writing. AWFUL.

i really wish people could spend 10% as much on writing as they did on special effects.

In summary the ending shouldn’t have been Dark Side of the Moon
it should have been Grantchester Meadows, the bit where the goose honks, on loop, for 10 mins.
posted by lalochezia at 7:08 PM on May 5, 2020 [4 favorites]

Wow, what a damp squib of a season.
I was hoping that it was going to turn out we were watching multiple timelines again - that Caleb’s story was a simulation, being run by Delores for (reasons - to see if he’d choose or something?).
posted by coriolisdave at 11:37 PM on May 5, 2020

"Hey everybody, we have millions left in the budget at the end of the season and have to spend it quickly. Let's play some random Pink Floyd we liked back in high school."
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 11:59 PM on May 5, 2020 [1 favorite]

bartleby: Where is The Sublime located?

Dolores beamed it to a secure server somewhere in outer space, presumably a satellite or moonbase or such. I imagine we'll learn more about this in S4.
posted by adrianhon at 5:59 AM on May 6, 2020 [1 favorite]

The show has done such a great job with its player piano remakes of pop songs and it was weird to just play the Pink Floyd version of Brain Damage.
posted by octothorpe at 8:32 AM on May 6, 2020 [2 favorites]

S3 has had some excellent/fun moments but overall was a pretty muddy weird sequel to Person of Interest. Maeve was a delight, as always.
posted by rmd1023 at 10:27 AM on May 6, 2020 [1 favorite]

I'm glad I stuck with this season to the end just to see that Jeffrey Wright/Gina Torres scene. That and Aaron Paul's perfect feathery bleached balding 80s cyberpunk haircut were my standouts for S3.
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 5:04 PM on May 6, 2020 [3 favorites]

In the after comments one of the producers made a faux profound allusion to Einstein's theories that were tied into the psychology. It was just so throwaway ignorant about the intersection of science and some political theory muddle. There's really a problem post-Lost where there is a need to be both visually and intellectually amazing but not really giving the writers the time or the flexibility to come up with a plot or theme that makes any sense at all so a clever twist is buried under visual and sequencing obfuscations. Just enough to be cool and make it seem like there is something behind the curtain. But it's a cgi curtain, no curtain, no spoon, no idea.
posted by sammyo at 6:13 AM on May 7, 2020 [7 favorites]

There's really a problem post-Lost where there is a need to be both visually and intellectually amazing but not really giving the writers the time or the flexibility to come up with a plot or theme that makes any sense at all so a clever twist is buried under visual and sequencing obfuscations.

And the thing is, Lost also flailed on the whole "We have secrets, huge profound secrets, that we'll reveal Real Soon Now", thing.

And I think the problem is the writers and producers are actually really behind the times. As stated above, we had a producer quoting "Stand on Zanzibar", a novel written 52 years ago. It's no wonder they had a bad faintest computer that liked like an upgrade of something Kirk and Spock might phaser. It's no wonder the producers said "Hey, we need a cutting-edge neurology guide to back season one - I know! Well use Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind!" in just surprised they didn't use Polywater or the Killer Ape hypothesis.

After Lost, Battlestar Galactica, Stranger Things and the others, I'm seriously thinking at this point that any SF show that starts off promising huge mysterious revelations is basically full of shit. Odds are the writers really don't know what they're doing, and they're going to try to cover it up with impressive special effects and directorial tricks.
posted by happyroach at 8:28 PM on May 8, 2020 [2 favorites]

The show really suffers when it drops recurring characters, notably Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins) and Felix (Leonardo Nam).
posted by Brocktoon at 1:55 AM on May 9, 2020 [3 favorites]

I liked the bicameral mind choice from S1. Sure, it's not cutting edge stuff, but it's not overused, having the voice of god be the hosts' creator worked well on screen, and it gave a useful way to clue in the audience to which hosts were waking up without having that process be too sudden. Seemed like a solid, dramatic, choice to me. Unlike pretty much anything in S3.
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 10:56 AM on May 9, 2020 [3 favorites]

Caleb and William were copies, at the moment they save Dolores. Felix saves Maeve. Felix saves mechanical birds — does he think of hosts as more than that? Where did Felix go? What made Caleb's and William's stories split, to lead Dolores to team up with Caleb and put William into an institution? Narratively, a lot could have been done to make those shades of grey into interesting storytelling.

After Lost, Battlestar Galactica, Stranger Things and the others, I'm seriously thinking at this point that any SF show that starts off promising huge mysterious revelations is basically full of shit. Odds are the writers really don't know what they're doing, and they're going to try to cover it up with impressive special effects and directorial tricks.

They don't know if they have new seasons ordered, so perhaps they have to sacrifice longer arcs for what they can tell within the bounds of a seasonal contract. Was a fourth season of Westworld in doubt?
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 2:13 PM on May 9, 2020 [1 favorite]

Mostly I think this stuff didn't work because the characters didn't have clear goals. Why doesn't Delores use Bernard's sweet SF pad to make a bunch of copies of herself, find some way to integrate herself into the real world?

I mean, that makes more sense, right? There are still nukes in this existence, and if civilization falls apart, then nukes will probably start flying, and that would poison the beauty that Delores treasures.

If you had Delores hunted, Caleb hunted, maybe some of this stuff would be okay. I mean a lot of the fight scenes were cool.

But honestly, Serac was not a good villain. His boxing of outliers, sorry if this makes me an asshole, is just not horrifying. Maybe this doesn't work because you can't really have the trauma visited upon the hosts visited upon real people, can you. So we have the bad shit that happens to the hosts in Season 1 and to a lesser extent in Season 2, but you don't have anything equivalent to that in the human world.

It might also be a problem of the time: look, if there were a Serac who were say, willing to box Trump to prevent 100K people dying and economic devastation, I would give him a big thumbs up.

They also needed to give Maeve something to fight for, aside from a daughter, who is not really a daughter, to whom she said goodbye.

Some of these things could have been more easily fixed than others; I think that the Maeve storyline could have easily been made better with some changes (maybe she thinks her daughter is in the Sublime and in danger and has to get to her for some reason). But others? Once you make Delores decide she's going to do things that make the nice psychiatrist hang herself, it's like, why the fuck am I watching this?
posted by angrycat at 12:14 AM on May 10, 2020 [8 favorites]

My problem with monday morning quarterbacking S03 is that I think most of it is setup for S04, where the real conflict occurs. S03 was worldbuilding the setting for the rest of the series, however I would offer that the outside world has been part of the story since S01, and that Ford's plan was never just about the hosts in the park, but rather -- as he removed the limits from the host -- his plan is to remove the limits on EVERYONE.

So, I'm going to wait until we see if S03 works in the context of the broader narrative.
posted by mikelieman at 3:38 AM on May 10, 2020

I'm sure they could have done that in a way that wasn't utter nonsense and a waste of good characters
posted by kokaku at 6:13 AM on May 10, 2020 [13 favorites]

Dolores beamed it to a secure server somewhere in outer space, presumably a satellite or moonbase or such.
Oh! The Dark Side of the Moon? See, for me, that could justify a lot of the cyberpunk nonsense. Even Neuromancer had cool space stations.
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 6:34 AM on May 10, 2020

The blah of this season makes me go back and rethink Season One, because I was so impressed by it at the time and it holds up on rewatch but there are some glaring errors when you think about it--like the the sequence of Pa Abernathy finding the photo and going bonkers and Delores leaving and finding Young William when, at the time of Pa going off the deep end, the William she'd have met is the Old William.

I don't know, this show feels like it got high on its own supply and it forgot about the importance of basic writing shit and focused on shiny cool things like Chekov's Voltron, and that makes me mad. Oh well, a lot of people got paid to do creative work, that's nice.
posted by angrycat at 1:52 PM on May 10, 2020 [6 favorites]

I wonder if how much I actually hate this season and how much its grim, dystopian story of regular people being treated like expendable pawns was just exquisitely badly timed for the world mood.

I think probably some of both.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:12 AM on May 11, 2020 [4 favorites]

I spent so much of this episode yelling some variation on "How the fuck does Delores know this?" and "WHY DOESN'T DELORES JUST SAY WHERE THEY ARE GOING INSTEAD OF SAYING SUCH OBTUSE BULLSHIT?"
posted by mynameisluka at 3:24 PM on May 11, 2020


My god what an exponential decline it's been since season 1. If season 4 could continue that trajectory I would actually watch it out of existential curiosity, but as Kurzweil has taught us, all exciting exponential curves end in mediocre sigmoids. I guess this show enters the box of great single-season narratives like Watchmen or Legion.
posted by chortly at 9:06 PM on May 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

I watched the finale today, I was behind all season long. Any time I'm able to generally miss spoilers without trying it's usually a bad sign....

From the discussion above I don't have anything to add directly about the show, but the idea that this was simply a bridge season to build the "out of park" world up enough to support season 4 is interesting. It mostly makes me curious if anyone knows if there is a minimum number of episodes needed to justify production? This was only 8.5. If they only had enough real story or ideas for 4, could they have spun up the whole apparatus to create 4 really tight, exciting episodes that left everyone desperate for season 4? In the age of streaming series it's not like they have to talk NBC into giving them 4 nights over the course of a month. Go Nextflix style and dump the entire mini season at once, or go HBO and do it over the course of a month. Whatever. But maybe none of that makes financial sense, for the effort needed to create 4 episodes? I dunno, that's more than a movie, in terms of screen time. I guess all I'm saying is that if a cool show gets through 2 seasons then realizes it needs more time to figure out where it's going, or needs to allow a lot of time or space to pass before season 3 proper, then just give us a season 2.5 that gets us excited and leaves us wanting more, instead of this season 3 that leaves us asking why bother watch season 4?
posted by jermsplan at 12:23 PM on May 20, 2020

Or you do the GoT thing and take another like year to release the season and _still_ flub it.
posted by Kyol at 12:57 PM on May 20, 2020

Well I made it to the end. What a shame. I mean I was entertained all along, and the production was great. The story was terrible. It was bad in the same way the second season was bad, in that it was confusing and hard to follow. But also it was bad because the parts I could follow were cliche and stupid. The end result has all the profundity of a college sophomore's Philosophy 101 essay on free will. Which is too bad, because it started off with such a strong premise and first episode.

Jeffrey Wright isn't dumb, he's quite a smart actor from the interviews I've seen. I wonder what he thought when he read the script. "You're making me do this? Why am I even in this season? Oh, it turns out the MacGuffin is in my head all along? But no one else knows? Um... ok."

Evan Rachel Wood isn't dumb either and it looks like she got to be the star of a whole season, then get herself written out of the show entirely. At least I think they finally gave Dolores the trutru death here? The showrunners were cagey when asked; apparently Dolores is really dead, but that doesn't mean they don't have a role for Evan Rachel Wood. Poor woman. It's not quite as bad as being trapped Under the Dome, at least the show has a prestige budget, but I'd sure like to see her doing something new right about now.

I think Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy are high on the smell of their own farts. They were awfully cheeky in Season 1 with the two-timelines gimmick. It confused a lot of people but ultimately made for a satisfying show. Then in Season 2 they confused even more fans with very opaque writing, me included, but at least it was kind of going somewhere? It was very arrogant writing. Season 3 is where it went and it was not good. All those great characters, the solid production design and built world, and then a story that had no pleasure in it. I mean they've even got me loathing Aaron Paul, and that's saying a lot.
posted by Nelson at 7:25 AM on May 21, 2020 [5 favorites]

"Russian Civil War. There was nothing civil about it." When Caleb said this, it reminded me of the first time I heard that phrase, like 25 years ago in a Guns n Roses song. Even as a teen I recognized it as r/iamverysmart material.

And enough with this idea that S3 was just a bridge for the good stuff in S4. When did we all decide it was okay to build giant crappy entertainments that were justifiably crappy because they were the setups for the good stuff? It reminds me of Avengers Infinity War which was 2.5 hours of the first act of a 3 act film. So so dumb. If you can't tell a story in a movie or in a season, maybe that's an indication that it's not a good story...
posted by nushustu at 7:55 PM on September 14, 2020 [2 favorites]

Serious question... (Cynical, but serious.) Does anyone believe this show is going to come back and turn it around?

I haven't seen any indication they've even started shooting yet. And should they do so, do folks have faith they'll manage something more like the peaks of seasons one and two, or has it dialed down permanently to the levels of season three?
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:01 AM on May 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

I just checked the HBO website and it says "Renewed for Season 4," but that's about it.

I hope they can recapture some of the mind-bending of S1 and S2 somehow. Maybe Damon Lindelof can tag along for some of the story brainstorming.
posted by jquinby at 8:21 AM on May 26, 2021

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