What Made “Westworld” Season Two So Unwatchable?

Matthew Loffhagen
HBO
(Photo: HBO)

“Westworld” season two has finally finished, and I can’t help but feel that there’s a lot more apathy in the air than there was at the end of season one.

The show pulled out all the stops. The spectacle this time around was bigger and grander and more complex. So why did this second season of the show fail to live up to the original?

It’s not hard to see the problem in all this. In an attempt to up the ante this time around, the showrunners have inadvertently taken “Westworld” over the edge.

Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey

The first season of “Westworld” hinges on a bit plot twist.

Spoilers, by the way, but only vague ones.

It isn’t initially revealed (although some fans managed to guess) that some of the disparate characters of the show exist in different parts of the same timeline. Events that are presented as happening concurrently actually take place years in the past (or future, depending on your perspective).

But once this cat is out of the bag, it’s hard to pull the same surprise again. The audience is waiting for a bit plot twist.

At this point, the writers are stuck. If there is a plot twist, everyone will see it coming, but if there isn’t one, then everyone will be disappointed.

The “Westworld” solution to this is to double down on the time-hopping. Season two features various different time periods and settings, all intertwined so that the big twists and turns of the narrative are kept hidden until the last second.

Theoretically, it means that the plot can stay a secret, as nobody can guess what’s going to happen next.

Functionally, it makes the show difficult to follow to the point of becoming a chore to watch.

Attention Required

This isn’t to say that nobody can keep up with the show. Plenty of people have watched it and loved it.

But the general audience who might casually sit in for an episode or two are left completely in the dust. It’s not possibly to passively take in this show as it requires a certain amount of consistent attention to keep track of what’s going on.

It’s not enough to watch the show. You have to think about it as well.

Perhaps that’s no bad thing. I’m in favor of entertainment that doesn’t talk down to its audience.

Man in Black Westworld
Source: HBO

That said, I can understand why many people have struggled to invest in “Westworld” season two. This isn’t the typical television formula, and the attempt to make the plot more suspenseful ultimately leads to a more convoluted and difficult viewing experience.

Personally, I’m interested to see what happens next.

If the writers are still wanting to push things further and one-up their own previous storylines, then season three is going to be nuts.