Westworld Season 3: Slow burn that’s slowly freezing over
Following a high-concept sci-fi mystery thriller like Westworld is giving me all sorts of flashbacks to my bewildering viewing experience of Lost, which ran from 2004 to 2010.
Both tackle heavy, existential themes, with mind-bending twists and turns, and thrive on non-linear timelines, multiple intersecting storylines and a massive cast of characters.
Both are far from easy, casual viewing, requiring one to be in a specific headspace and be prepared to work for the payoff.
Westworld and Lost are examples of brave, boundary-pushing and well-made television, especially in their early seasons.
But both, quite inevitably, also could not avoid losing their way - and along with it, fan loyalty.
Season 2 unleashed some satisfying, jaw-dropping reveals amid the robot uprising and memorable standalone episodes like Akane No Mai (episode 5) and Kiksuya (episode 8). So even though it confounded and confused me to no end, I appreciated the big ideas and was willing to bring myself back online.
Season 3 kicks off with Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) infiltrating the real world and living among humans.
But now that we are out of the theme park most of the time, I find myself yearning to get back to its nightmarish dystopian elements and fascinating killer androids.
Currently, the show's setting and storyline are painfully pedestrian and familiar, cribbed from clones and codes of sci-fi movies that came before.
Wood finally gets to swop her prairie wardrobe for sexy minis and slinky gowns, but her performance is getting frustratingly robotic.
And now that she has turned into an unstoppable Terminatrix channelling Game Of Thrones' Daenerys "Mad Queen" Targaryen, my feelings for her are all but gone.
I am also not buying Dolores' new sidekick and potential love interest Caleb (Aaron Paul), her very own Jon Snow and a convenient (and lesser) replacement for James Marsden's cowboy Teddy.
Another talking point about Season 3 is how it was partially filmed in Singapore, and I am impressed by the sheer number of locations featured prominently as stand-ins for a futuristic Los Angeles, like Orchard Road, Esplanade Park, Marina One, Oasia Hotel Downtown, Atlas Bar and Helix Bridge. Yet, ironically, those very scenes lose their novelty and impact because the places are so instantly recognisable to us.
I remain curious as to how the games of Westworld will play out. But if the upcoming episodes don't deliver any surprising new narratives, I may have to hit the kill switch. -2.5 Ticks
TV SERIES: Westworld 3
STARRING: Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton, Jeffrey Wright, Tessa Thompson, Aaron Paul, Ed Harris, Vincent Cassel
CREATORS: Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy
THE SKINNY: Taking residence in a future neo-Los Angeles after escaping Westworld, sentient android Dolores (Wood) takes human ally Caleb (Paul) under her wing and plans a revolution against new antagonist Serac (Cassel) and his Rehoboam system.
SHOWING: HBO Go and HBO (StarHub TV Ch 601/Singtel TV Ch 420), Mondays at 9am and 10pm