The following is part of my weekly Westworld reviews for Culture Fly
‘The Well-Tempered Clavier’ creates a new type of Westworld. A Westworld that forgoes mystery and starts giving answers. The themes are abandoned to set up the endgame. Sadly, the revelations highlight the problems Westworld has suffered from all season.
The show starts to answer its questions, but this really boils down to confirming fan theories. This is a problem. The revelations give the show it’s needed character and plot development, but it does so at the expense of surprise. If fans can guess as many plot developments as they have, then it suggests your show is obvious and Westworld is derivative.
Anyone who is a little bit versed in science fiction, Frankenstein stories or Jonathan Nolan’s career will not be surprised by what is going on. ‘The Well-Tempered Clavier’ doesn’t do anything interesting. It’s just becoming convoluted for convoluted’s sake. Luckily, that doesn’t stop the plot “twists” from being fun.
Any episode that features multiple timelines, a robot revolution and robot sex in a burning tent is the definition of fun. The weirdness is back in Westworld. But, the episode struggles to make the “twists” feel authentic. A twist should feel natural to the narrative and nothing about these “twists” feels natural. The show is trying too hard. The writing mistakes teasing for storytelling and fails at clarifying how everything is connected. The explosion of information in ‘The Well-Tempered Clavier’ is laughable. There’s nothing wrong with having a head-scratching story but the writers land more on “WTF” than “OMG”.
So, thank the actors for being game. As an ensemble, they are committed to the story. Evan Rachel Wood seems to know what is going on even though it doesn’t make sense. Ben Barnes and Jimmi Simpson get Logan and Billy’s relationship across effectively but it’s hard to tell if Barnes is overacting or if the writing makes Logan so loathsome. Whatever it is, he plays arsehole well. Then, there’s Thandie Newton.
Newton is giving an acting masterclass. Her first scenes involve her playing a high-functioning robot pretending to be a low-functioning robot who then reveals she’s a high-functioning robot. Newton has to flip many switches and she does this as easy as it is to breathe. Oh, and when she finishes sassing the humans, she has sex in a tent whilst that tent is on FIRE.
It’s absurd but watchable. This is the weird thing about Westworld. It is terrible but entertaining. It’s like watching a house burn down: painful but gripping. You can’t not watch it. Westworld is the ultimate hate watch that confirms Thandie Newton is a goddess.