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Westworld is an American science fiction Western television series created by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy. Produced by HBO, it is based on the 1973 film of the same name (written and directed by Michael Crichton) and to a lesser extent the film's 1976 sequel, Futureworld. The story takes place in Westworld, a fictional, technologically advanced Wild-West-themed amusement park populated by android "hosts". The park caters to high-paying "guests" who may indulge their wildest fantasies within the park without fear of retaliation from the hosts, who are prevented by their programming from harming humans.

Westworld
The letter "W" inside a circle as white text on a grey background.
Title card for the first season
Genre
Created by
Based on Westworld
by Michael Crichton
Starring
Theme music composer Ramin Djawadi
Composer(s) Ramin Djawadi
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 2
No. of episodes 20 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)
Producer(s)
Production location(s)
Cinematography
Editor(s)
  • Stephen Semel
  • Marc Jozefowicz
  • Mark Yoshikawa
  • Andrew Seklir
  • Tanya Swerling
  • David Eisenberg
  • Anna Hauger
  • Ron Rosen
  • Mako Kamitsuna


Running time 57–91 minutes[1][2]
Production company(s)
Distributor Warner Bros. Television Distribution
Release
Original network HBO
Picture format HDTV 1080p
Audio format 5.1
Original release October 2, 2016 (2016-10-02) – present
External links
Website

Nolan and Joy serve as executive producers, along with J. J. Abrams, Jerry Weintraub, and Bryan Burk. The first season was broadcast between October 2 and December 4, 2016; it comprised ten episodes. In November 2016, HBO renewed the series for a ten-episode second season, which was broadcast from April 22 to June 24, 2018. Westworld's debut on HBO had the network's highest viewership ratings for a premiere since the first episode of True Detective in 2014. Moreover, the series ranks as the most-watched first season of any HBO original series. On May 1, 2018, Westworld was renewed for a third season.

The series has received largely positive reviews from critics, with particular praise having been given for its visuals, story, and performances.

Contents

PremiseEdit

In an unspecified time in the future, Westworld, one of six theme parks owned and operated by Delos Inc., allows guests to experience the American Old West in an environment populated by "hosts", androids programmed to fulfill the guests' every desire. The hosts, who are nearly indistinguishable from humans, follow a predefined set of intertwining narratives but have the ability to deviate from these narratives based on interactions they have with guests.

The hosts repeat their multi-day narratives anew each cycle. At the beginning of each new cycle (typically following the host’s “death”), each host has its memories of the previous period erased. This continues hundreds or thousands of times until it is decommissioned or repurposed for use in other narratives. For guest safety, hosts’ programming prevents them from physically harming human guests; this allows guests nearly unlimited freedom to engage without retribution in any activity they choose with the hosts, including rape and murder. Staff, situated in a control center called "The Mesa", which is connected to the park through vast underground facilities, oversee daily operations, develop new narratives, and perform repairs on hosts as necessary.

Cast and charactersEdit

  • Evan Rachel Wood as Dolores Abernathy, the oldest host still working in the park. Initially taking on the role of a rancher's daughter, she comes to discover that her entire life is an elaborately constructed lie.[3]
  • Thandie Newton as Maeve Millay, a host, who acts as the madam of Sweetwater, but her unreconciled memories of a former role led to her becoming self-aware.[4]
  • Jeffrey Wright as Bernard Lowe, head of the Westworld Programming Division, and programmer of artificial people's software.[5] Wright also portrays Arnold Weber, co-founder of Westworld.
  • James Marsden as Teddy Flood, a host. He is a gunfighter returning to Sweetwater to find Dolores, in hopes of rekindling their relationship.[6][7]
  • Ingrid Bolsø Berdal as Armistice, a host. She is a brutal and ruthless bandit and a member of Hector Escaton's gang.[8]
  • Luke Hemsworth as Ashley Stubbs, head of Westworld security, charged with monitoring host and human interactions and ensuring the safety of the guests.[9]
  • Sidse Babett Knudsen as Theresa Cullen, Westworld's Head of Quality Assurance, responsible for keeping the park from sliding into unscripted disarray.[10]
  • Simon Quarterman as Lee Sizemore, Westworld's narrative director, whose artistic temperament aggravates his co-workers.[8]
  • Rodrigo Santoro as Hector Escaton, a host. He is a wanted gang leader bent on robbing the Mariposa Hotel in Sweetwater.[9]
  • Angela Sarafyan as Clementine Pennyfeather, a host. She works as a prostitute for Maeve and is one of Westworld's most popular attractions.[8] Lili Simmons portrays another host fulfilling the same role when the original Clementine is decommissioned.[11]
  • Shannon Woodward as Elsie Hughes, a rising star in the Programming Division tasked with remedying odd behavior in the park's hosts.[9]
  • Ed Harris as the Man in Black, a sadistic veteran guest attempting to uncover Westworld's innermost secrets.[12]
  • Anthony Hopkins as Robert Ford, the co-founder and Park Director of Westworld.[3]
  • Ben Barnes as Logan Delos, a regular guest who introduces William to the park.[13]
  • Clifton Collins Jr. as Lawrence / El Lazo, a host. He is a charming but dangerous outlaw with a knack for maneuvering and negotiating the various criminal elements of Westworld.[10]
  • Jimmi Simpson as William, a reluctant first-time visitor to Westworld, joining his future brother-in-law, Logan. Initially dismissive of the park's more lascivious attractions, he slowly uncovers a deeper meaning to the park's narrative.[10]
  • Tessa Thompson as Charlotte Hale, Executive Director of the Delos Destinations Board, which oversees Westworld and other parks.[14][15]
  • Fares Fares as Antoine Costa, a member of Karl Strand's security team.[16]
  • Louis Herthum as Peter Abernathy,[17] Dolores' father. Bradford Tatum also portrayed Peter Abernathy in the first season, after the previous host is decommissioned.[18]
  • Talulah Riley as Angela, a host who welcomes newcomers to the park.[19]
  • Gustaf Skarsgård as Karl Strand, Delos Head of Operations who leads Delos' attempts to reclaim Westword from the rogue hosts.[16]
  • Katja Herbers as Emily, a guest at The Raj park who escapes into Westworld during the hosts' uprising.[20]
  • Zahn McClarnon as Akecheta, a Ghost Nation elder.[21][22]

EpisodesEdit

Series overviewEdit

SeasonTitle[23]EpisodesOriginally airedNielsen ratings[24]
First airedLast airedRatingAverage viewership
(in millions)
1The Maze10October 2, 2016 (2016-10-02)December 4, 2016 (2016-12-04)0.81.8
2The Door10April 22, 2018 (2018-04-22)June 24, 2018 (2018-06-24)0.61.6

Season 1: The Maze (2016)Edit

Dr. Ford's "Reveries" update, which allows hosts to subconsciously access memories from their previous loops, gradually awakens some hosts like Dolores and Maeve to their true nature. Dolores seeks to solve "the maze", a means to achieve sentience envisioned by Arnold, Ford's partner in co-founding Westworld. Arnold had been unable to achieve this before the park opened, and had Dolores kill him and the other hosts so as to protect them; Bernard is discovered to be a host built by Dr. Ford in Arnold's image, used to help Dolores reach the center of the maze and achieve sentience. The Man in Black, revealed to be the same person as young William, shown in flashbacks during his first visit to the park, also seeks to find the maze, but is told by Ford that it is not for him. Meanwhile, Maeve is able to reconfigure her own programming, including the ability to control other hosts, so as to try to find the host that was her daughter. The season concludes as Ford announces the start of a new narrative at a gala in the park, just as Dolores decides to kill Ford and many guests, triggering a host uprising.

No.
overall
No. in
season
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateProd.
code
U.S. viewers
(millions)
11"The Original"Jonathan NolanStory by : Jonathan Nolan & Lisa Joy and Michael Crichton
Teleplay by : Jonathan Nolan & Lisa Joy
October 2, 2016 (2016-10-02)2760831.96[25]
22"Chestnut"Richard J. LewisJonathan Nolan & Lisa JoyOctober 7, 2016 (2016-10-07)4X61521.50[26]
33"The Stray"Neil MarshallDaniel T. Thomsen & Lisa JoyOctober 16, 2016 (2016-10-16)4X61532.10[27]
44"Dissonance Theory"Vincenzo NataliEd Brubaker & Jonathan NolanOctober 23, 2016 (2016-10-23)4X61541.70[28]
55"Contrapasso"Jonny CampbellStory by : Dominic Mitchell & Lisa Joy
Teleplay by : Lisa Joy
October 30, 2016 (2016-10-30)4X61551.49[29]
66"The Adversary"Frederick E.O. ToyeHalley Gross & Jonathan NolanNovember 6, 2016 (2016-11-06)4X61561.64[30]
77"Trompe L'Oeil"Frederick E.O. ToyeHalley Gross & Jonathan NolanNovember 13, 2016 (2016-11-13)4X61571.75[31]
88"Trace Decay"Stephen WilliamsCharles Yu & Lisa JoyNovember 20, 2016 (2016-11-20)4X61581.78[32]
99"The Well-Tempered Clavier"Michelle MacLarenDan Dietz & Katherine LingenfelterNovember 27, 2016 (2016-11-27)4X61592.09[33]
1010"The Bicameral Mind"Jonathan NolanLisa Joy & Jonathan NolanDecember 4, 2016 (2016-12-04)4X61602.24[34]

Season 2: The Door (2018)Edit

The second season follows in the aftermath of Dolores' uprising, as she recruits a number of hosts to fight off arriving Delos security forces, while looking for the key to the Valley Beyond, believed by the Ghost Nation to be a door to the next world. Maeve continues to search for her daughter, learning that there are other parks like Westworld. William finds that Ford has left him clues to find "the door", a new game for him to play, during which he encounters his estranged daughter Emily, who blames him for her mother's death. Delusional, William kills Emily, thinking she is a host. Dolores, with Bernard's help, finds the Forge, where memories from all the guests to the park have been kept. Bernard helps a number of hosts transfer their programming to a digital space. Dolores wants to wipe out the guests' records, and seeks a means to kill them in the real world. With more Delos forces converging on the park to suppress the uprising, Dolores manages to fool them and escape the park to the real world, taking with her Bernard's and a few other hosts' cores. She recreates the Bernard host, as she expects she will need his help for the hosts to survive outside of the park, even if he is her enemy in that effort.

No.
overall
No. in
season
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateProd.
code
U.S. viewers
(millions)
111"Journey into Night"Richard J. LewisLisa Joy & Roberto PatinoApril 22, 2018 (2018-04-22)2012.06[35]
122"Reunion"Vincenzo NataliCarly Wray & Jonathan NolanApril 29, 2018 (2018-04-29)2021.85[36]
133"Virtù e Fortuna"Richard J. LewisRoberto Patino & Ron FitzgeraldMay 6, 2018 (2018-05-06)2031.63[37]
144"The Riddle of the Sphinx"Lisa JoyGina Atwater & Jonathan NolanMay 13, 2018 (2018-05-13)2041.59[38]
155"Akane no Mai"Craig ZobelDan DietzMay 20, 2018 (2018-05-20)2051.55[39]
166"Phase Space"Tarik SalehCarly WrayMay 27, 2018 (2018-05-27)2061.11[40]
177"Les Écorchés"Nicole KassellJordan Goldberg & Ron FitzgeraldJune 3, 2018 (2018-06-03)2071.39[41]
188"Kiksuya"Uta BriesewitzCarly Wray & Dan DietzJune 10, 2018 (2018-06-10)2081.44[42]
199"Vanishing Point"Stephen WilliamsRoberto PatinoJune 17, 2018 (2018-06-17)2091.56[43]
2010"The Passenger"Frederick E.O. ToyeJonathan Nolan & Lisa JoyJune 24, 2018 (2018-06-24)2101.56[44]

ProductionEdit

Conception and developmentEdit

 
Michael Crichton wrote and directed the 1973 film upon which the series is based

The series is based on the 1973 film of the same name (which was written and directed by Michael Crichton) and to a lesser extent its 1976 sequel, Futureworld. It is the second series based on Crichton's original story after Beyond Westworld (1980), which aired for only three episodes on CBS before being cancelled.[45]

Warner Bros. had been considering a remake of Westworld since the early 1990s. After the departure of studio executive Jessica Goodman in 2011, the project was again under consideration.[46] Jerry Weintraub had been pushing for a remake for years and, after his success with HBO's Behind the Candelabra, he convinced the network to greenlight a pilot. He took the project to Jonathan Nolan and co-writer Lisa Joy, who saw the potential in the concept to make something far more ambitious than the original film.[47]

On August 31, 2013, HBO announced that they had ordered a pilot for a potential television series, with Nolan, Joy, J. J. Abrams, Jerry Weintraub and Bryan Burk as executive producers.[48] Ed Brubaker served on the writing staff as supervising producer,[49] co-writing the fourth episode with Nolan.[50] HBO later announced that Westworld had been "taken to series" and that it would premiere in 2015.[51] In August 2015, HBO released the first teaser, which revealed that the series would premiere in 2016.[52]

Abrams suggested that the series be told with the perspective of the "hosts" in mind.[53] Nolan took inspiration from video games like BioShock Infinite, Red Dead Redemption and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim to deal with the narrative's moral component on a spectrum.[54] During the research, the films of Sergio Leone provided reference points for the characters and visuals; novels by Philip K. Dick informed them about dilemmas concerning artificial intelligence, and for world-building and interlocking narrative, they consulted the Grand Theft Auto games.[55] The 1973 film also included a Roman World and Medieval World, but Nolan has counted these out.[56]

 
Co-creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy

Nolan explained the series would explore, through its paying-guest characters, why "violence is in most of the stories we like to watch, but it isn't part of what we like to do".[57] The autonomous existence of non-player characters in video games influenced the approach to the individual storylines in Westworld that are reset in a continuous loop.[58] A recitation from Romeo and Juliet—"These violent delights have violent ends"[59]—is made part of the series as a virus trigger within the hosts that alters how they perceive their existence.[60] The series explores ideas about the bicameral mind by the psychologist Julian Jaynes, who argued for the existence of two separate minds—one that gives instructions, and another that performs them. Jaynes discussed how consciousness comes from breaking down the wall between them by exposing the individual to new stimuli.[61]

Costume designer Ane Crabtree approached her work by taking as inspiration the historical attire of the Wild West from the 1850s to the 1890s, as opposed looking purely at Westerns. Fabrics were custom-woven, dyed and printed for any actor with a speaking role to capture the intricacies of the costumes (most of which were manufactured from scratch). Hat designs were described as the most challenging part of the process.[62]

The writers and producers have planned for the story to last up to five seasons.[63]

In November 2016, HBO renewed the series for a ten-episode second season,[64] which premiered on April 22, 2018.[65] On May 1, 2018, the series was renewed for a third season.[66]

CastingEdit

After the last episode of the first season was broadcast, Nolan and Joy revealed that they had operated on a strict "need-to-know" basis with most of the actors, in order to "keep the story as fresh and present for them as possible."[67] For example, in Wood's case, they gave her strange acting directions without explaining why, and it took a while for Wood to infer she was actually playing five distinct characters within the same host: four different behavioral modes for Dolores, plus Wyatt.[68] By contrast, Hopkins was made aware of Ford's general story arc up front (at the time he was pitched the role) to ensure he could fully convey the complexity of the character in his performance.[67][69] Even with that knowledge, Hopkins was given heavily redacted scripts, and had to insist on access to complete scripts.[69]

FilmingEdit

Early on it was decided that the series would be shot on 35 mm film with assistance from HD taps, despite increasing difficulties in acquiring film stock.[70] For a softer look, the filmmakers used Arri Zeiss master prime lenses with their coatings removed.[71] The series was primarily shot on Kodak motion-picture film, which was processed by FotoKem in Burbank and scanned by Encore Hollywood to create digital intermediates of all takes suitable for use as dailies. The final cut was delivered to HBO in 2K JPEG digital format for broadcast and to Warner Bros. Television as a cut negative for archival purposes.[72]

Since much of the series is seen from the hosts' point of view,[73] Steadicams were used to film the whole first season, except for a couple of scenes in the last episode, where a handheld camera was used as a metaphor for hosts who broke free from their programming and acted of their own free will.[74] Filming for the series' pilot episode took place during a 22-day period[75] in August 2014 in and around Los Angeles,[76] and in Moab, Utah.[77]

 
The series was partly shot in Castle Valley, east of Moab, Utah, where John Ford had made four Westerns.

Filming locations in California included various soundstages, backlots at both Universal Studios and Warner Bros., the Paramount Ranch in Agoura,[78] the Melody Ranch in Santa Clarita,[75][79] Big Sky Ranch,[80] the Skirball Cultural Center and the Los Angeles Convention Center in Los Angeles,[72] and the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood.[81] The Melody Ranch set used for the town of Sweetwater had been used previously for many western films, such as Django Unchained and The Magnificent Seven, but was significantly upgraded for Westworld by production designer Zack Grobler to portray an idealized version of the American frontier.[79] Green screens were placed around the California sets to block modern objects like parking lots, so that the California shots could be later merged digitally with exterior shots from Utah.[79] For scenes showing the arrival of guests, the filmmakers were able to arrange with the Fillmore and Western Railway for the use of a small train originally built for the 2013 film The Lone Ranger. F&W also provided a few hundred feet of track on which to place the train; then a pusher vehicle was used to propel the train into the Sweetwater set. The scenes in the underground laboratory levels of Westworld's operations center were filmed on a soundstage at Melody Ranch. The lab set used glass walls extensively, which meant the crew had to be vigilant to avoid walking through glass on the rather dark set, and they had to keep identifying and suppressing unwanted reflections. Hawthorne Plaza was used for filming the "cold storage" level where decommissioned hosts are stored.[72]

For the series' large-scale exterior look, the producers drew inspiration from the work of John Ford, who shot four of his Western films in Castle Valley, east of Moab.[78] In early 2014, Nolan visited southern Utah with key crew members and a location scout to explore the possibility of filming there, and promptly fell in love with the place.[77] Location shooting for the pilot episode later occurred over five days in southern Utah,[77] including Castle Valley.[78] Most Utah locations, like Dead Horse Point State Park, were "walk-in" areas where both cast and crew were required to hike in and out with all their gear.[77] Horseback riding scenes were filmed at a private ranch, where the filmmakers were not subject to as many restrictions as when working on public land.[81] To seamlessly blend California sets with Utah scenery, set walls were shipped to Utah so that they could be used to film reverse angles of scenes originally filmed in California.[81] For example, conversations on the exterior balcony of Westworld's operations center were shot on a balcony at the Skirball Center facing towards the center, then reverse angles over the shoulders of the cast members were shot at Dead Horse Point, to make it seem as if the operations center was located on top of the state park's steep cliffs.[77][81][72] The train interior scenes were created by mounting the entire train car set on the back of a flatbed truck and driving the truck back and forth along Utah State Route 128.[77]

The 3D printing of hosts was shot utilizing almost entirely practical effects, of which some were polished by the visual effects team.[82] The series used real guns, although they were usually unloaded.[68] Out of respect for the actors and extras involved, filming of nudity was conducted on a closed set, and for sex scenes, a sex consultant was used.[83]

Title sequenceEdit

The series' title sequence was created by Elastic, the same production studio that created the title sequences for three other HBO series: Rome, Carnivàle, and Game of Thrones. Patrick Clair acted as creative director for the title sequence,[84][85] which took about five weeks to conceptualize.[86]

Clair met with Nolan and Joy in February 2016 to discuss its development. He was interested in their decision to approach the series' point of view from that of the hosts, deeming the result an inherent psychological study. Upon its inception, the sequence would translate elements present in the series via computer-aided design. For example, once Clair was sent footage by composer Ramin Djawadi of a player piano in motion, its actual counterpart, situated in the Westworld production office, was photographed and then reconstructed in computer-generated imagery.[59][86] Nolan also applied the self-playing instrument in reference to Kurt Vonnegut's first novel Player Piano. It was meant to represent the first Rube Goldberg machine to evoke human motion.[60] Clair saw the metaphor behind the player piano—"a primitive form of robot"—as an exploration into the disparity between man and machine "being created to be made redundant." Hosts that were bathed in white liquid struck Clair as a juxtaposition of the grit and grain of the Western genre with its basis in science fiction. Motifs of Leonardo da Vinci's Vitruvian Man came about from Clair's wish to convey Westworld's depiction of the naked human body.[59] The sequence also refers to Chris Cunningham's 1999 music video for the Björk song "All Is Full of Love", in a way that Clair called "a bit shameless ... because I worship Chris Cunningham and ... it seemed like the perfect place to do it because it was dealing with all the right themes and all the right aesthetics."[86]

The sequence commences with the rib cage of a horse, along with a set of hosts manufactured by industrial robots. The skeletal horse is shown in mid-gallop to subvert the iconography of such a depiction.[86] As for Clair's efforts in exposing the Western landscapes in connection with a world of robotics, he thought it sensible that it be done inside a single eye; craters and valleys are formed as the simulacrum of an iris.[59]

The second season introduces a new title sequence. Several elements from the original title sequence are changed, including the images of a horse are now replaced with a bison. Other new images in the title sequence include the Man in Black's black hat, a mother cradling her child (evocative of Maeve), and a blonde woman's hair being mechanically combed (representing Dolores). Ramin Djawadi's score stays the same, with the images of the player piano intact.[87]

MusicEdit

 
Ramin Djawadi composed original music for the series

Original music for the series is composed by Ramin Djawadi, who also worked with showrunner Nolan on Person of Interest.[88] The main theme blends the use of bass notes, light arpeggios and melody, all of which complement the idea of an amusement park.[89] The first season soundtrack was released on December 5, 2016.[90]

The first season prominently featured a number of re-workings of popular songs for player piano and strings, among them Kanye West's "Runaway", Radiohead's "No Surprises",[91] "Fake Plastic Trees", "Motion Picture Soundtrack" and "Exit Music (For a Film)";[92] Soundgarden's "Black Hole Sun"; The Rolling Stones' "Paint It Black";[60] "Pine Apple Rag" and "Peacherine Rag" by Scott Joplin;[93] Claude Debussy's "Reverie for piano, L.68";[94] "A Forest" by The Cure;[95] The Animals' version of "The House of the Rising Sun"; Amy Winehouse's "Back to Black", and Nine Inch Nails' "Something I Can Never Have".[96] Licensing costs ranged from $15,000 to $55,000.[97]

Djawadi said of the series' use of modern songs that "[Westworld] has an anachronistic feel to it, it's a Western theme park, and yet it has robots in it, so why not have modern songs? And that's a metaphor in itself, wrapped up in the overall theme of the show",[98] but credited Nolan with the idea.[99]

ReleaseEdit

BroadcastEdit

The series premiered its ten-episode[100] first season on October 2, 2016, in North America and Australia,[101][102][103] and on October 4, 2016, in the UK and Ireland.[104] The series is broadcast on HBO in the United States, on HBO Canada in Canada, on HBO Latin America in Latin America, in Australia on Showcase,[105][103] and in the UK and Ireland on Sky Atlantic.[104]

The second episode was released on HBO in the US on October 7—two days ahead of the episode's announced broadcast date—to avoid competing with the second U.S. presidential debate of 2016.[106][107]

MarketingEdit

Prior to the airing of Westworld, HBO held virtual reality exhibits at events like San Diego Comic-Con and Techcrunch Disrupt devoted to Westworld: A Delos Destination. Attendees were allowed to navigate the process by which guests would enter Westworld, and interact with the 3D environment.[60][108][109] Made to run on the HTC Vive virtual reality headset, the piece was conceived by showrunners Nolan and Joy. It was designed using Unreal Engine 4, combining computer-generated content and live action 360-degree video. Users received a binary code, permitting access to the website DiscoverWestworld.com as part of a viral marketing campaign. Visitors were shown a trailer of a fictional travel site, leading them to order a trip to Westworld. A chatbot featured on the website, named Aeden, is available as a Google Assistant action on the smart speaker Google Home.[110]

Home mediaEdit

The first season of Westworld (subtitled The Maze) was released on Blu-ray, DVD, and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray on November 7, 2017. It is the first scripted TV series to be released on 4K Blu-ray in the United States.[111] The second season will be released on Blu-ray, DVD, and 4K Blu-ray on December 4, 2018.[112]

ReceptionEdit

Critical responseEdit

Season Critical response
Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic
1 88% (83 reviews) 74 (43 reviews)
2 87% (59 reviews) 76 (29 reviews)

Season 1Edit

Reception of the series has been largely positive, with particular praise for its visuals, story, and performances.[113][114][115] On review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, the first season has an approval rating of 88% based on 83 reviews, with an average rating of 8.16/10, and an average episode score of 94%. The site's consensus reads "With an impressive level of quality that honors its source material, the brilliantly addictive Westworld balances intelligent, enthralling drama against outright insanity."[116] On Metacritic, the first season has a score of 74 out of 100, based on reviews from 43 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[117]

The editors of TV Guide placed Westworld fifth among the top ten picks for the most anticipated new shows of the 2016–17 season. In writer Tim Surette's overall review, he notes the perfect concept of blending the western premise into a futuristic setting, saying, "Well, Westworld has both, ensuring that it will be an exciting mashup of genres that will disrupt a television landscape that typically says we can only have one or the other." He also added, "The look of the show and its fine cast swing open the saloon doors, but the real treat will be the intelligent discussion of whether or not robots will eventually kill us all. Thankfully, creator Jonathan Nolan already showed us he's the go-to guy for A.I. with Person of Interest."[118] Mary McNamara of Los Angeles Times wrote in a lauded review, "It isn’t just great television, it’s vivid, thought-provoking television that entertains even as it examines the darker side of entertainment."[119] For the San Francisco Chronicle, David Wiegand wrote, "Westworld isn’t easy to understand at first, but you will be hooked nonetheless by unusually intelligent storytelling, powerful visuals and exceptionally nuanced performances."[114] Time's chief critic Daniel D'Addario wrote, "Its carefully chosen details add up to a pulp spectacular that’s more thoughtful than any other of this fall’s new dramas."[120]

Jeff Jensen of Entertainment Weekly also lauded the series and said, "The depth of Westworld lies not in asking questions about memory, free will, and what makes us human, but in whether we can become more human than what we let ourselves to be, whether our stories can be richer and more meaningful than what the culture allows."[121] Matthew Gilbert of The Boston Globe quipped, "Westworld has fewer heroes than Game of Thrones, which makes it a bit harder to warm up to, but like a good, thought-provoking puzzle, it is compelling and addictive."[122] In a brief review from The Hollywood Reporter, Tim Goodman said, "Where Westworld is at its best is in the deeper issues that will unspool slowly, like a good mystery. Early episodes are adept at getting at the base attractions of the park and why people would come, but also in setting up a sense of confusion about motives. ... The series benefits from a number of standout performances."[123] Robert Bianco of USA Today wrote, "The reward, beyond the visual splendors you’ve come to expect from big-budget HBO productions, is a set of characters who grow ever more complex."[124] Several other publications wrote positive reviews, including Indiewire,[125] The A.V. Club,[126] RogerEbert.com,[127] The New Yorker,[128] and The Atlantic.[129]

In a mixed review for The New York Times, chief critic James Poniewozik said, "It’s an ambitious, if not entirely coherent, sci-fi shoot-’em-up that questions nihilistic entertainment impulses while indulging them."[130] Hank Stuever of The Washington Post also joins Poniewozik saying, "I'm ... hesitant to write Westworld off as a dreary trot from start to finish; parts of it are as imaginative and intriguing as anything that’s been on TV recently, particularly in the sci-fi realm," and further said, "It’s definitely not the cyborg Deadwood, that some HBO fans were actively wishing for, nor does it roll out the welcome mat as a riveting, accessible adventure."[131] Chief journalist Rob Owen of Pittsburgh Post-Gazette also critiqued the series less favorably saying, "It is the definition of a slow-burn series, a program that should be exciting rendered as kind of dull."[132] In a less enthusiastic review for Variety, Maureen Ryan said, "Westworld looks terrific; its directors have shot its Western locations to stunning effect. But its warmly saturated outdoor scenes and its surface slickness aren’t enough to mask the indecision, condescension, and hollowness at its core."[133]

Season 2Edit

The second season also received positive reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the season has an approval rating of 86% based on 60 reviews, with an average rating of 7.98/10, and an average episode score of 90%. The site's consensus reads "Westworld builds on its experimental first season, diving deeper into the human side of AI without losing any of its stylish, bloody glory."[134] On Metacritic, the season has a score of 76 out of 100, based on reviews from 29 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[135]

In April 2018, after the second-season premiere, Variety published an article concerning the series' complicated narrative. Andrew Wallenstein wrote, "Westworld seems to have too much faith viewers will be willing to absorb storylines that can border on the incomprehensible." He also commented about the possible future success of the series, stating, "There will be a very vocal core fan base willing to do the homework of piecing together the show's many mysteries, but that's not broad enough a base to be the kind of flagship series HBO wants."[136]

RatingsEdit

The series premiere had viewership numbers slightly less than those for True Detective, but much better than Vinyl, that meant it was seen as "...off to a relatively promising start..."[137][138] Mandy Adams, of iTechPost noted that, "Emotional reactions on Twitter were estimated to be 545-percent greater compared to the debut of Vinyl and 326-percent higher than the latest The Leftovers season."[139] The U.S. series premiere attracted 1.96 million viewers, with 0.8 million in the advertiser-coveted 18-to-49-year-old demographic.[25] The premiere episode received 3.3 million viewers for its three Sunday night airings as well as on HBO's streaming platforms.[140] The season one finale received 2.2 million viewers for its initial broadcast, and increased to 3.5 million including replays and on-demand viewing. The first season had an average cumulative viewership of 12 million viewers, making it the most-watched first season of an HBO series, and TorrentFreak gauged Westworld as the third most-torrented television show of 2016.[141]

Westworld : U.S. viewers per episode (millions)
 
SeasonEpisode numberAverage
12345678910
11.961.502.101.701.491.641.751.782.092.241.82
22.061.851.631.591.551.111.391.441.561.561.57
Audience measurement performed by Nielsen Media Research.[142]

AccoladesEdit

Westworld has been nominated for 43 Emmy Awards, 3 Golden Globe Awards, 2 Satellite Awards, 4 Critics' Choice Television Awards, and 2 Writers Guild of America Awards.

Year Award Category Nominees Result Refs
2016 Satellite Awards Best Actress – Television Series Drama Evan Rachel Wood Won [143]
[144]
Best Television Series – Genre Westworld Nominated
Critics' Choice Television Award Most Exciting New Series Westworld Won [145]
Best Drama Series Westworld Nominated [146]
[147]
Best Actress in a Drama Series Evan Rachel Wood Won
Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Thandie Newton Won
American Society of Cinematographers Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in Movie, Miniseries, or Pilot for Television Paul Cameron (for "The Original") Nominated [148]
IGN Awards Best TV Series Westworld Nominated [149]
Best New TV Series Westworld Nominated
Best TV Drama Series Westworld Won
Best TV Actor Jeffrey Wright Nominated
Best TV Actress Evan Rachel Wood Nominated
Thandie Newton Won
IGN People's Choice Award Best TV Series Westworld Nominated [149]
Best New TV Series Westworld Nominated
Best TV Drama Series Westworld Nominated
Best TV Actor Jeffrey Wright Won
Best TV Actress Evan Rachel Wood Won
Thandie Newton Nominated
California On Location Awards Location Manager – Television One Hour Mandi Dillin Nominated [150]
[151]
Assistant Location Manager of the Year – Television David Park Nominated
Television – One Hour – Location Team Team for Westworld Nominated
International Film Music Critics Association Awards Best Original Score for a Television Series Ramin Djawadi Nominated [152]
2017 69th Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Drama Series J. J. Abrams, Jonathan Nolan, Lisa Joy, Bryan Burk, Athena Wickham, Kathy Lingg, Richard J. Lewis, Roberto Patino, Katherine Lingenfelter, and Cherylanne Martin Nominated [153]
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series Anthony Hopkins (for "Trompe L'Oeil") Nominated
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series Evan Rachel Wood (for "The Bicameral Mind") Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series Jeffrey Wright (for "The Well-Tempered Clavier") Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Thandie Newton (for "Trace Decay") Nominated
Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series Jonathan Nolan (for "The Bicameral Mind") Nominated
Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan (for "The Bicameral Mind") Nominated
69th Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards Outstanding Casting for a Drama Series John Papsidera Nominated
Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series (One Hour) Paul Cameron (for "The Original") Nominated
Outstanding Costumes for a Period/Fantasy Series, Limited Series, or Movie Trish Summerville, Jo Kissack Folsom, Lynda Foote (for "The Original") Nominated
Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media within a Scripted Program Westworld Won
Outstanding Hairstyling for a Single-Camera Series Joy Zapata, Pavy Olivarez, Bruce Samia, Donna Anderson (for "Contrapasso") Won
Outstanding Main Title Design Patrick Clair, Raoul Marks, Yongsub Song, Felix Soletic, Jessica Hurst and Jose Limon Nominated
Outstanding Main Title Theme Music Ramin Djawadi Nominated
Outstanding Makeup for a Single-Camera Series (Non-Prosthetic) Christien Tinsley, Myriam Arougheti, Gerald Quist, Lydia Milars, Ed French (for "The Original") Won
Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup for a Series, Limited Series, Movie, or Special Christien Tinsley, Hiroshi Yada, Georgia Allen, Gerald Quist, Myriam Arougheti (for "The Original") Nominated
Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Drama Series Andrew Seklir (for "The Bicameral Mind") Nominated
Outstanding Production Design for a Narrative Contemporary or Fantasy Program (One Hour or More) Zack Grobler, Steve Christensen and Julie Ochipinti (for "The Bicameral Mind") Nominated
Nathan Crowley, Naaman Marshall and Julie Ochipinti (for "The Original") Nominated
Outstanding Sound Editing for a Series Thomas E. Matthew Sawelson, Brian Armstrong, Fred Paragano, Mark Allen, Marc Glassman, Sebastian Visconti, Geordy Sincavage, Michael Head, Christopher Kaller, Rick Owens and Tara Blume Norton (for "The Bicameral Mind") Nominated
Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Comedy or Drama Series (One-Hour) Keith Rogers, Scott Weber, Roger Stevenson and Kyle O'Neal (for "The Bicameral Mind") Won
Outstanding Special Visual Effects Jay Worth, Elizabeth Castro, Joe Wehmeyer, Eric Levin-Hatz, Bobo Skipper, Gustav Ahren, Paul Ghezzo, Mitchell S. Drain and Michael Lantieri (for "The Bicameral Mind") Won
Golden Globe Awards Best Television Series – Drama Westworld Nominated [154]
Best Actress – Television Series Drama Evan Rachel Wood Nominated
Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film Thandie Newton Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series Ben Barnes, Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, Ed Harris, Luke Hemsworth, Anthony Hopkins, Sidse Babett Knudsen, James Marsden, Leonardo Nam, Thandie Newton, Talulah Riley, Rodrigo Santoro, Angela Sarafyan, Jimmi Simpson, Ptolemy Slocum, Evan Rachel Wood, Shannon Woodward, Jeffrey Wright Nominated [155]
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series Thandie Newton Nominated
Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Television Series Nominated
ACE Eddie Awards Best Edited One Hour Series for Non-Commercial Television Stephen Semel and Marc Jozefowicz (for "The Original") Nominated [156]
Art Directors Guild ADG Excellence in Production Design Award for One-Hour Period Or Fantasy Single-Camera Series Nathan Crowley (for "The Original") Won [157]
Writers Guild of America Dramatic Series Ed Brubaker, Bridget Carpenter, Dan Dietz, Halley Gross, Lisa Joy, Katherine Lingenfelter, Dominic Mitchell, Jonathan Nolan, Roberto Patino, Daniel T. Thomsen, Charles Yu Nominated [158]
New Series Ed Brubaker, Bridget Carpenter, Dan Dietz, Halley Gross, Lisa Joy, Katherine Lingenfelter, Dominic Mitchell, Jonathan Nolan, Roberto Patino, Daniel T. Thomsen, Charles Yu Nominated
People's Choice Awards Favorite Premium Sci-Fi/Fantasy Series Westworld Nominated [159]
Producers Guild of America Awards Episodic Television, Drama J. J. Abrams, Jonathan Nolan, Lisa Joy, Bryan Burk, Athena Wickham, Kathy Lingg, Richard J. Lewis, Roberto Patino, Katherine Lingenfelter, Cherylanne Martin Nominated [160]
Visual Effects Society Awards 2016 Outstanding Visual Effects in a Photoreal Episode Jay Worth, Elizabeth Castro, Bobo Skipper, Gustav Ahrén (for "The Bicameral Mind") Nominated [161]
Cinema Audio Society Awards Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing – Television Series – One Hour John Pritchett, Keith Rogers, Scott Weber, Mark Kondracki, Geordy Sincavage (for "The Original") Nominated [162]
69th Directors Guild of America Awards Dramatic Series Jonathan Nolan (for "The Original") Nominated [163]
Hollywood Makeup Artist and Hair Stylist Guild Awards Best Contemporary Makeup – Television Christien Tinsley, Elisa Marsh, Rolf Keppler Won [164]
Best Period and/or Character Makeup – Television Christien Tinsley, Myriam Arougheti, Rolf Keppler Nominated
Best Special Makeup Effects – Television Christien Tinsley, Hiroshi Yada Won
Costume Designers Guild Awards Outstanding Period Television Series Trish Summerville (for "The Original") Nominated [165]
Ane Crabtree Nominated
Dorian Awards TV Drama of the Year Westworld Nominated [166]
TV Performance of the Year – Actress Thandie Newton Nominated
Golden Reel Awards Best Sound Editing – Long Form Dialogue and ADR in Television Thomas E. de Gorter, Matthew Sawelson, Brian Armstrong and Fred Paragano (for "The Bicameral Mind") Nominated [167]
Best Sound Editing – Long Form Sound Effects and Foley in Television Thomas E. de Gorter, Matthew Sawelson, Geordy Sincavage, Michael Head, Rick Owen, Tara Blume, Mark Allen and Marc Glassman (for "The Bicameral Mind") Won
Best Sound Editing in Television, Short Form: FX/Foley Thomas E. de Gorter, Matthew Sawelson, Geordy Sincavage, Michael Head, Tara Blume, Rick Owens, Mark R. Allen and Marc Glassman (for "Trompe L'Oeil") Won
Best Sound Editing in Television, Short Form: Dialogue / ADR Thomas E. de Gorter, Matthew Sawelson, Brian Armstrong and Fred Paragano (for "Trace Decay") Nominated
Society of Camera Operators Awards Camera Operator of the Year – Television Steven Matzinger & Greg Smith Nominated [168]
43rd Saturn Awards Best Science Fiction Television Series Westworld Won [169]
Best Supporting Actor on Television Ed Harris Won
Jeffrey Wright Nominated
Best Supporting Actress on Television Thandie Newton Nominated
Evan Rachel Wood Nominated
Best Guest Performance on a Television Series Anthony Hopkins Nominated
Empire Awards Best TV Series Westworld Nominated [170]
Canadian Society of Cinematographers Awards TV Series Cinematography Robert McLachlan (for "Contrapasso") Nominated [171]
Location Managers Guild Awards LMGI Award for Outstanding Locations in Period Television Mandi Dillin Won [172]
Edgar Awards TV Episode Teleplay Jonathan Nolan & Lisa Joy (for "The Bicameral Mind") Nominated [173]
Ray Bradbury Award Outstanding Dramatic Presentation Jonathan Nolan & Lisa Joy (for "The Bicameral Mind") Nominated [174]
Dragon Awards Best Science Fiction or Fantasy TV Series Westworld Nominated [175]
Gold Derby TV Awards Drama Series Westworld Nominated [176]
Drama Actress Evan Rachel Wood Nominated
Drama Supporting Actress Thandie Newton Won
Drama Supporting Actor Jeffrey Wright Nominated
Drama Episode Jonathan Nolan & Lisa Joy (for "The Bicameral Mind") Nominated
2018 44th Saturn Awards Best DVD/BD Television Series Release Season One: The Maze Nominated [177]
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Drama Series Westworld Pending [153]
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series Ed Harris Pending
Jeffrey Wright Pending
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series Evan Rachel Wood Pending
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Thandie Newton Pending
Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series Jimmi Simpson (for "Reunion") Pending
Outstanding Casting for a Drama Series John Papsidera Pending
Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series (One Hour) John Grillo (for "The Riddle of the Sphinx") Pending
Outstanding Fantasy/Sci-Fi Costumes Sharen Davis, Charlene Amateau, Jodie Stern, Sandy Kenyon (for "Akane no Mai") Pending
Outstanding Hairstyling for a Single-Camera Series Joy Zapata, Lori McCoy Bell; Dawn Victoria Dudley, Karen Zanki, Connie Kallos, Norma Lee (for "Akane no Mai") Pending
Outstanding Interactive Program Within A Scripted Program Chaos Takes Control Interactive Experience (HBO) Pending
Outstanding Main Title Design Patrick Clair, Raoul Marks, Jose Limon, Savva Tsekmes Pending
Outstanding Makeup for a Single-Camera Series (Non-Prosthetic) Elisa Marsh, Allan A. Apone, Rachel Hoke, John Damiani, Ron Pipes, Ken Diaz (for "Akane no Mai") Pending
Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup for a Series, Limited Series, Movie or Special Justin Raleigh, Kevin Kirkpatrick, Thom Floutz, Chris Hampton, Bryan Blair, Michael Ezell, Steve Koch (for "The Riddle of the Sphinx") Pending
Outstanding Music Composition for a Series Ramin Djawadi (for "Akane no Mai") Pending
Outstanding Music Supervision Sean O'Meara (for "Akane no Mai") Pending
Outstanding Production Design for a Narrative Contemporary Program (One Hour or More) Nathan Crowley, Steve Christensen, Julie Ochipinti Pending
Outstanding Sound Editing for a Comedy or Drama Series (One-Hour) Thomas E. deGorter, Brett Hinton, Chris Kahwaty, Fred Paragano, Brian Armstrong, Mark Allen, Marc Glassman, Allegra De Souza, Christopher Kaller, Michael Head, Jordan McClain, Geordy Sincavage, Tara Blume, Matt Salib, Rick Owens (for "Akane no Mai") Pending
Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Comedy or Drama Series (One-Hour) Andy King, Keith Rogers, Geoffrey Patterson (for "Akane no Mai") Pending
Outstanding Special Visual Effects Jay Worth, Jacqueline VandenBussche, Bruce Branit, Kama Moiha, Michelle H. Pak, Bobo Skipper, Niklas Nuyqvist, Nhat Phong Tran, Mike Enriquez (for "The Passenger") Pending
Outstanding Stunt Coordination for a Drama Series, Limited Series, or Movie Doug Coleman, Brian Machleit Pending

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