Sunday, December 25, 2016

I Saw This!! What I Have Been Watching (PT D.3)

Pt. ABCD.1, D.2 can be found there.

I Saw This (double exclamation point) is our feature wherein Graig or David attempt to write about a bunch of stuff they watched some time ago and meant to write about but just never got around to doing so. But we can't not write cuz that would be bad, very bad.  Y'know, red horny demon possession, bad.

Just to round out the pile, I am going to shoe horn in a show I am currently watching. So, this edition, we get a completed season (and series), a dropped show (but likely to be binge watched) and a nearly done season.

Meh; four (series) seasons completed.

Westworld, 2016, HBO -- download

Speaking of technology rampant, the best thing on TV this year was Westworld, a remake of the 70s movie. If Person of Interest can question how can an autonomous AI come about, and how we should react to it, then this show can question whether it really matters or not. Westworld does its best, at its core, to question whether we can really even ask the question without questioning our own existence. What is intelligence? What is sentience? What is free will? Heavy stuff.

So, the brief is a theme park has been designed, in what must be a distant future, and set in America's Old West. It is populated by autonomous AI robots, so incredibly smart that we cannot differentiate the people (guests) from the robots (hosts). That is the point of the park; you just never know. OK, not really, the point is that we can so easily fool ourselves, we will get lost in the fantasy. In today's era of Japanese Otaku wanting to marry imaginary characters (or their pillows), it's not a thin stretch to believes people would become throughly immersed in this park's residents.

Gah, you cannot start talking about this show without skipping past the plot(s) and right into the meat of the matter. This is because the characters and plots are really just a vehicle for the questions and vague attempts at answers. Anthony Hopkins is the park's aging designer, one obsessed with keeping his toy to himself as well as pushing the boundaries of the narrative. Ed Harris is The Man in Black, a guest of the park who is always playing The Bad Guy. You know, Black Hats vs White Hats? Evan Rachel Wood is Dolores, a host who is often the subject of his Bad Guy routine. Jeffrey Right is Bernard, a tech who is constantly noticing that the hosts are thinking a bit more than they are designed to. Jimmi Simpson is Billy, an investor on his first trip to the park, a man who questions the moral implications of people letting themselves go entirely when they come to the park. Thandie Newton, easily the most compelling character in the whole season, is Maeve a host who has nightmares she is not supposed to be programmed to have. And the cast goes on, from hosts to staff to guests.

It's no surprise this show is all about questions -- it's Jonathan Nolan again, who was behind Person of Interest. I guess he has a theme he wants to explore and doesn't let a series ending interrupt that. Maybe he should have been given the reigns of Ghost in the Shell.

There is a mystery built into the show, a series of events and questions around those events, that are almost built to tease the Internet based viewer. Discussion, speculation, theory and predictions became the reaction to each and every episode. Some were telegraphed, some were tenuous and some were incredibly way out there. Boy, could you easily get wrapped up in that, but the show was smart enough to not capitalize on it, like The Walking Dead has -- there was no after-show, there was no discussion round table. Any such would have led to answering too many questions, which should be left up to the viewer just like the greatest moral questions of the show were.

Go see it.