Well, it worked for Marvel’s Infinity War, so why not trot out this handy trope? Doctor Strange looks into possible futures (14,000,605 possible future to be exact), and finds ONE in which they defeat Thanos. Long odds indeed. So what does Bernard do in episode three of the current season of Westworld? Exactly.
Look, there’s nothing wrong with cribbing from other sources (see Shakespeare, W.), and Westworld cribbed (delightfully, easter-egg-edly) from its original source material, and, during its first season, improved on that source. But now?
Not so much.
One of the joys of the first season was that it engaged the power of narrative, repetition, and error to evolve consciousness. It played with those big ideas because its characters –from Ford to Felix—were driven by those ideas. We watched as William evolved (or devolved, if you feel that way about him) as he chose a loop-driven path even as he attempted to navigate the maze. Did the show deliver violence and naked bodies (the epitome of HBO’s violent delights)? Yes, and it managed to call both the violence and the delights into question. Pretty cheeky.
However, after the first season’s climax, the subsequent seasons have just regurgitated the characters and ideas from the first season (we are all trapped in loops; men are really, really awful) and added a few old chestnuts (Dystopia! Greed! Information Anxiety! Eat the Rich!). It seems more and more like the writers stumbled over a powerful and generative idea and got lucky in season one because nothing has come close to that burst of intelligence (and coherence). Whip-smart has become crude flagellation.
And now, borrowing—okay, admit it, stealing—from the Avengers. And for what? Bernard Agonistes? I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall in that writers’ meeting. Get it? If you have watched any of this season, you will. Is this just going to be a retread of Lord of the Flies, sacrificing Piggy, Simon, and humanity to make a grim point while offering fan service along the way? I’m waiting for the stick sharpened at both ends and the delirium that will let the pig’s head talk, but maybe that’s just what happened.