Delayed and beset by production issues in its first season (including a particularly explicit nudity clause), Westworld’s lavish world-building and twisty narrative mystery made it one of HBO’s marquee shows. For a season. After that, Westworld started teetering away from what made it great, becoming—like the Man in Black—too obsessed with the game, to the detriment of its players.
In its third season (after a two year hiatus) Westworld underwent something of reboot by leaving the parks completely, and entering the world of man—although the endgame, as led by Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood), remains unclear. (Remember when this was a western?)
As we march towards this season’s finale, it has felt, in some ways, like the right place to say goodbye to this robots versus humans drama, one that has (with varying degrees of success), examined human nature and explored the best and worst of the human (and AI) experience. But it is not to be! As HBO announced today, Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy’s sci-fi odyssey will continue for a fourth season, which is also not billed as the final one. In fact, according to THR, the series will likely continue through a Season 6 as part of their overall deal with HBO/Warner Bros (though the married showrunners also have a lucrative deal with Amazon, for whom they have already started creating new projects).
So, um, we’re getting a lot more Westworld. And somehow, it makes me want to watch the current season even less. Despite once being a must-watch show that I looked forward to experiencing and debating week after week in its first season (and still enjoyed sporadically in its second), the third season’s returns continue to diminish. Even though the cast remains stellar, particularly its women —Thandie Newton, Wood, and Tessa Thompson—and there are interesting threads to be explored with them along with Aaron Paul’s character (who wasn’t even in the last episode) regarding human and android relationships … mostly the show seems to want to remain focused on Dolores as a kill-bot, and more twists than are even sensible to maintain a cohesive narrative.
But for HBO, which will soon be launching its expanded HBO Max service, the series remains one of its only remaining legacy dramas. And though viewership is down from previous seasons, it’s still a show that garners discussion, breaking through the general noise of Peak TV.
However, if you are looking for a more character-driven consideration of humans and robots living side-by-side (or not), check out the UK series Humans. Or, for a show about breaking out of one’s loop, try Dispatches from Elsewhere. As for Westworld and its possible multiple future seasons … it seems these violent delights will not see their end, violent or not, for quite some time.
Westworld airs Sunday nights on HBO.
Allison Keene is the TV Editor of Paste Magazine. For more television talk, pop culture chat and general japery, you can follow her @keeneTV
For all the latest TV news, reviews, lists and features, follow @Paste_TV.