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TV Review: Westworld, Season 1, Episode 2: "Chestnut"

10.09.2016

This recap/review of Westworld is written with the expectation that everyone who reads this and comments below will have seen the episode already. Thus, if you've yet to see the episode in question, DO NOT GO ANY FURTHER. SPOILERS!

EPISODE: Season 1, Episode 2: Chestnut

PLOT: Two new visitors (Jimmi Simpson & Ben Barnes) get acquainted with the park, while new programming awakens long-repressed glimpses into the past for Maeve (Thandie Newton), Westworld’s madam.

REVIEW: Last week’s premiere of “Westworld” proved something important. No matter how troubled a show’s production history may be, it doesn’t mean doom and gloom for the finished product. With stories of the ‘Westworld” budget being out of control and production delays and retooling a-plenty, everyone assumed the show would be a disaster. Then people actually got to see the show and realized that maybe the re-tooling actually worked and that whatever the production delays might have been due to, its quality is - in fact - top notch.

After the premiere, some viewers took to Twitter complaining that none of the characters were personable, and that the robots were in-fact more human than the actual human leads. Obviously, this is the point, but the introduction of Simpson and Barnes is important for the show, as it’s strongly hinted that their story-line will parallel the ones played-out by Richard Benjamin and James Brolin in the original film.

Barnes, who’s still most famous for his turn in the NARNIA films, plays a louche bachelor, keen on screwing and killing his way through the park. His buddy, played by Simpson, seems to be the more important of the two, with him avoiding any temptation (at first) and, importantly, picking a white hat rather than a black from wardrobe, something that sets him apart from the other tourists. For those not up on their western mythos, the white hat is generally the apparel of the hero. Clearly, Simpson is being set-up to be the kind of personable hero that will give those viewers the pilot didn’t really win over entree into the show.

Many of us figured the ambitious pilot would be a replay of “Vinyl”, where it seemed like most of the budget was blown early and the rest of the show was more modest. That seems to be the opposite here, with episode two being even more ambitious than the first. While the action scenes aren’t as epic as the grand guignol finale from last week, Ed Harris is more prominent this week as the amoral man in black, and his showdown with Clifton Collins Jr.’s bandito cousins is pretty dynamic. We also get more insight into the operation behind “Westworld”, although whether or not there are other fantasy parks hasn’t been revealed yet. The people behind the park also get some more development, with Jeffrey Wright’s programmer and Sidse Babett Knudsen’s characters being shown to be lovers, and more time spent with Anthony Hopkins’s Dr. Ford, who, I’m thinking, may in-fact be behind the robots (or rather - the hosts) growing self-awareness.

As important as last week was for Evan Rachel Wood’s Dolores, this week shows Thandie Newton’s Maeve beginning to remember the sadistic scenarios she was a part of, including one where she was given a daughter who was killed in front of her by Harris. The next one to get wise to his predicament seems primed to be Marsden’s nice guy gunslinger - but we’ll see,

Overall, this was another great episode, although my one complaint is that the old west piano variations on modern songs is becoming a distraction, as I wasn’t able to guess the one that played during Newton’s story and it bugged me the rest of the episode. Still, that’s pretty minor, and “Westworld” is really shaping up to be something special.

Source: JoBlo.com

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8:52AM on 10/11/2016
I really like it. The story lines feel like they are headed somewhere. I am most interested in Dolores as she is captivating. Episode 2 had little of Dolores but it kept me interested. The whole corporate sub story is the actual meat of the plot. With Maeve waking up in surgery well that was excellent.
I really like it. The story lines feel like they are headed somewhere. I am most interested in Dolores as she is captivating. Episode 2 had little of Dolores but it kept me interested. The whole corporate sub story is the actual meat of the plot. With Maeve waking up in surgery well that was excellent.
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4:33PM on 10/10/2016
I like Westworld so far, but have to admit it feels a little all over the place and disjointed.
I like Westworld so far, but have to admit it feels a little all over the place and disjointed.
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11:49AM on 10/10/2016

Looks like I am in the minority

Try as I might, I found this episode more ponderous than the first and switched off before the end.
Ed Harris was the only saving grace for me, but even his antics began to grate.
Try as I might, I found this episode more ponderous than the first and switched off before the end.
Ed Harris was the only saving grace for me, but even his antics began to grate.
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1:31AM on 10/10/2016
Absolutely fantastic so far and I think we're in for a hell of a ride.
Absolutely fantastic so far and I think we're in for a hell of a ride.
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1:10AM on 10/10/2016
The song was, "No Surprises" by Radiohead.
The song was, "No Surprises" by Radiohead.
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9:47PM on 10/09/2016
I, too, was very distracted by the score. The piano apparently was a Radiohead song, but the other instrumental commonly played throughout...is it still continuing with "Paint it Black"?
I, too, was very distracted by the score. The piano apparently was a Radiohead song, but the other instrumental commonly played throughout...is it still continuing with "Paint it Black"?
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