[Ed. notice: Spoilers forward for Westworld seasons 1 and a couple of.]

Again when Sport of Thrones was nonetheless on, I watched the primary handful of seasons via fully. However because the collection moved previous what George R. R. Martin had already written, I began dropping curiosity. The story didn’t appear as strong, and the character motivations began getting wobbly. Watching the present become paying consideration when my favourite characters had been on, and in any other case zoning out. Finally, that half-watching become scanning the credit for the names of my favourite actors. No signal of Aidan Gillen? I’d skip the episode totally. I absolutely settle for that it is a unhealthy means of watching something, however I’ve been watching Westworld this fashion, too.

I really like Ed Harris, regardless that I’m additionally intensely terrified of him. (Or possibly due to that?) I really like how extremely weathered his face is, his gravelly voice, and the truth that he appears to be like completely unapproachable. In order my funding in Westworld waned — it feels too gamified, and character improvement was being placed on the again burner in favor of an increasing number of twists — I dropped again to simply watching the Ed Harris scenes. It’s not that I love his character — the Man in Black is a heartless killer — however I do admire his efficiency. Even in one thing like Nationwide Treasure: E-book of Secrets and techniques (which is, to be clear, a terrific film), he could make a one-dimensional character really feel absolutely human, just by how severely he appears to take his work.

Take a look at him!
Picture: John P. Johnson/HBO

You don’t have to have watched any reveals this strategy to know that cherry-picking scenes means not getting a full image of what’s taking place on a present. By way of particular storylines, I’ve been instructed I missed a detour to Shogun World, in addition to a lot of the self-contained episode “Kiksuya.” And broadly talking, I can inform I’m lacking a lot of the philosophizing about synthetic intelligence and the character of free will that’s imagined to make up Westworld’s spine. The bits and items of it that creep into the Man in Black’s storyline could be complicated consequently. However that doesn’t make my Ed Harris bingeing any much less pleasurable.

The “all Ed Harris” model of Westworld is a narrative about legacy. The collection’ predominant themes — the concept of loops and repeating habits, the query of what’s actual and what isn’t, and robots breaking free from the individuals who made them — are nonetheless current, and type the springboard for the Man in Black’s storyline. Chunks are lacking within the type of the scenes with Jimmi Simpson, who performs William, Harris’ youthful self. However the story remains to be clear, and the large first-season twist remains to be tragic: the younger man Dolores (the present’s lead character, a robotic performed by Evan Rachel Wooden) fell in love with aged into her tormentor.

The present’s second season turns into a lot richer, because it doesn’t should cope with hiding the Man in Black’s id and extends to his life outdoors of the Westworld park. Although the majority of his scenes nonetheless happen in Westworld, essentially the most affecting ones are these that concentrate on his household life, both in flashbacks set within the “actual” world, or as his daughter tracks him all the way down to free him from his obsession with this man-made world. These private particulars are what make the present fascinating to me; the shoot-’em-up motion is only a perk.

Ed … how I really like him.
Picture: John P. Johnson/HBO

The Ed Harris Solely method to watching Westworld doesn’t essentially make the present any higher or worse. I’m undoubtedly not watching it because it’s meant to be watched, which renders any criticism I may need on the collection irrelevant. And this technique nonetheless hasn’t freed me from the present’s fondness for gotcha reveals and florid monologues. However watching this fashion highlights a microcosm of the present that sheds some mild on what Westworld does greatest.

Questioning the character of existence and free will is most fascinating when it’s tied to characters who’ve been absolutely fleshed-out, individuals we are able to relate to in a method or one other. None of us have been within the Man in Black’s actual sneakers, provided that we don’t dwell in a world stuffed with completely human-looking robots. However the sense of getting to placed on a masks with a purpose to be extra relatable, having hassle speaking with family members, or turning into obsessive about seemingly unimaginable issues aren’t alien experiences to us.

My behavior of basically creating TV supercuts of my favourite actors is certainly a symptom of how a lot media there’s to eat, and the way little time we have now to eat it in. It’s not how I’d ever dream of recommending watching a film or present to a buddy. (After I truly admit I do that, I usually body it as a joke or a bit, not one thing to be taken severely.) However it’s my means of gaming how Westworld has turned itself right into a sport. As an entire, it’s not a present I take pleasure in unconditionally, so I’ve discovered the strategy of watching it that works for me. Now that the third season of the present has begun, I’m planning on maintaining the identical means… as soon as Ed Harris lastly reveals up once more.