As has been the case with most of the rest of the episode of this season of Westworld, the quality of the installments have been a bit up and down. Sometimes, one episode of the HBO Max series is very good and is then unfortunately followed by a very bad one. Sometimes, as was the case with this week’s episode, there are parts that are interesting enough and parts that really aren’t that interesting at all.
One thing has become clear for the last few seasons. When Westworld is trying to confuse its audience, it usually seems to also confuse it’s writers. There are times when the program is simply trying to be too smart for its own good. And there are certainly times when the show feels like its gone back to the well a little too often when it comes to certain plot devices. In this particular episode of the show, there are some interesting spins on the old formula, but it still feels like the show was spending entirely too much time on the wrong plot. Especially when talking about the payoff.
These days, it’s a safe bet that any episode that doesn’t include a healthy dose of Ed Harris isn’t going to be as good as one that does. The man simply takes over the scenes he’s in when he appears on Westworld. Which might be why there have been a couple of episodes this year when he’s in it very little, or as was the case with Episode 6, is not in it at all. It’s not a big surprise that he didn’t appear in this episode, when the fact of the matter is that he might not be someone Hale can rely on at this point.
This episode of Westworld focuses on basically two settings with a few minutes elsewhere just to set the stage for what was going to come in the rest of the hour. Interestingly enough, Harris’ William isn’t the only one that doesn’t even make an appearance for a few seconds. Christina/Delores and Teddy are also nowhere to be seen. It’s not even that those characters are so compelling that the audience should miss their absence, but the time spent on a different story than those two wasn’t all that compelling and as the smoke cleared, it seems as though it might have been more interesting to see Christina continuing to come to terms with her role in this new world.
Instead, a great deal of the focus was on the rebels that are living just outside Hale’s city and who are among the last people on earth who still have their own free will. Of course, it turns out that one of the rebels no longer has their free will after all. After a trip into the city in order to get an “outlier.” However, it turns out that when they returned to camp, they brought a mole with them as one of the Hosts had replaced a member of the rebel alliance. After first blaming Bernard for being a mole, it turned out that it was someone else.
It felt like the mole hunt in this particular episode of Westworld could have been interesting enough. After all, one of the most interesting things about what the Hosts were doing almost from the very beginning was replacing real people and fooling their friends and family into thinking they weren’t hosts at all. It feels like half an episode dedicated to talking to different people in camp in order to suss out who was no longer on their side could have been good television. Instead, it felt like everything was more than a little rushed.
That’s especially true when the big reveal came, and then suddenly the mole hunt became extremely trite. There was the Host saying something that the real person would never say and then the scene that didn’t really fit the rest of the episode of Westworld showing just how the rebel got replaced. This was all the more maddening because it really did seem like the entire episode of Westworld could have dwelled on this particular story considering that the rest of the installment was simply not interesting enough to really hold down the fort for as long as it was trying to do so.
In fact, Aaron Paul’s Caleb storyline has more than run its course at this point, and it feels as if no time at all needs to be spent on it at this point. If the character does indeed need to still be a part of the show, then it feels like he could be nothing more than someone they check into from time to time. Granted, there was something interesting in this particular part of the story being similar to the Delos storyline from early in the series, but that was really all it had to be.
The whole aspect of Caleb trying to get out and supposedly get to his daughter would have actually been more interesting if it hadn’t gone all the way to the bitter end. The fact that he was running into other versions of himself was interesting as well, but when the big payoff wasn’t any kind of payoff at all, things got rather boring in a hurry. There’s also the very real question of why the writers needed to spend half an episode on Caleb’s escape attempts when there are only two more episodes left in the entire season of Westworld.
Even with the outside chance that everything that happened in this season is going to have some sort of payoff in the final two installments, this felt more like the show was in a massive holding pattern. That’s never not annoying when talking about a season that is as short as this one. Especially when there’s been such a long wait to finally get to see it. It’s also unfortunately not the first time that what was put on the screen left quite a bit to be desired.
New episodes of Westworld are airing every Sunday night on HBO Max.