When All Will Be Revealed

Tomorrow we’ll see the finale of HBO’s Westworld.  We’re being assured that all will be revealed, and after the episode the show will actually make sense.

Yeah, right!  I’ll believe it when I see it.  That’s like expecting triumphant Trump staffers  and bitter Clinton campaign operatives to reach friendly consensus on why Donald Trump won the election, or imagining that fair-minded Michigan fans will freely concede that the referees correctly spotted the ball on the 15-yard line after J.T. Barrett’s fourth-down keeper in the second overtime of this year’s classic version of The Game.

Westworld is right up there with The Leftovers as the most confusing show since Twin Peaks.  It’s so intentionally mystifying that I don’t even try to understand it, or piece together the disparate threads of the plot.  I just wince at the horribly bloody violence that is likely to occur at any tender moment, groan at the show’s troubling core assumption that any human who goes to a fantasy world will promptly turn into a blood-soaked, sex-crazed lunatic, and recognize that any character in the next instant could be revealed as a robot, a cold-blooded killer, a psychopath, or all three.  (I also cringe for the actors who have to routinely sit buck naked on chairs on a sterile set while other characters question them and tap iPads, but that’s another story.)

I’ve stopped trying to figure it all out.  Kish and I watch the show, and I just let it kind of wash over me, rather than struggling to make sense of why Dolores’ outfit changes from instant to instant or why Bernard’s interactions with his fake dead son are so significant.  I realized that the show had reached the point of ridiculousness this past week, when I was walking back from lunch with two friends, one of whom watches Westworld and one of whom doesn’t.  The watcher and I started talking about the show, and after a few minutes of discussion of “Billy” and the possibility that the show’s plot is running along different timelines and the importance of the photo of Billy’s bethrothed and whether the twitching beings at the church Dolores visited were troubled robots looking for some kind of salvation, the non-watcher asked, with a baffled laugh:  “What is this show?”  And I realized that it was all pretty silly.

So I’ll watch the finale, but I’m not expecting that I’ll get everything in this episode, because that sure hasn’t been the case in the past episodes.  I just make one request:  before we move on to “the new narrative,” can you at least let us know what the old narrative was all about?

The Return Of Twin Peaks

The BBC is reporting that, according to creator David Lynch, Twin Peaks will be returning to your TV screen, in a series that will air on the Showtime network in 2016.

There’s not much news about the new show, other than that Lynch and Mark Frost, who created the original series, will write and produce all nine episodes of the new series.  No word on whether the Log Lady, dancing midgets, Agent Dale Cooper, lots of coffee, the White Room, or any of the other mainstays of the original series will be returning.

I wonder if the success of The Leftovers and some of the other bizarre TV series of the current day made the return of Twin Peaks possible.  The Leftovers is weird, but I maintain that Twin Peaks was the most otherworldly, head-scratching, chillingly strange TV show ever broadcast.  It had a certain hypnotic creepiness that made it impossible to miss.

I have no idea what the new show will be like, or how it will relate (if at all) to the old show.  I just know that, when the new series kicks off, I’ll definitely be watching.

The Leftovers

Most of our lives are pretty conventional.  We drive to work in the mornings, do our jobs, try to watch our weight, and behave in reasonably appropriate ways in social settings.  If we are going to venture beyond that conventional world, we’re probably going to have to do it through the TV set.

This is why Kish and I are now watching The Leftovers on HBO:  because everyone should watch a TV show that causes them, at regular intervals, to think “What the hell . . . .?”  I loved Twin Peaks — which I would nominate as the single most bizarre TV show ever broadcast on a mainstream network — so this kind of stuff is right up my alley.

The context of The Leftovers is simple.  Three years ago two percent of the world’s population mysteriously vanished, and now the leftovers are trying to deal with it.  I think it’s fair to say that most of them aren’t dealing with it very well, including the chronically unshaven town police chief who is the central character.  His wife has joined a cult, his son is protecting a woman apparently impregnated by a messiah-like figure, and his daughter has gone rogue.

Social order seems to be on the verge of totally breaking down.  Attendance at conventional churches has plummeted.  Lots of cults have since sprung up, including the Guilty Remnant, a white-clothed, chain-smoking, non-talking group that engages in civil disobedience tactics and clashes with townspeople who just want to move on.  One of the signs in the GR enclave says rather, than “let us pray,” “let us smoke.”  Why do they smoke so much?  Is it because they just don’t care if they die horrible, cancer-caused deaths?  Is it because they think breathing and talking are interfering with recognition of what is really happening?  We don’t know, but we hope to find out.  Watching the show is like slowly peeling back the layers of an onion.

Each episode, inevitably, some oddball incident occurs that makes you wonder whether any of what we are seeing is reality, rather than the fevered dream of a person in a coma.  A mystical deer trashes a kitchen, then gets chased and devoured by a pack of now-feral dogs on a quiet suburban street.  White shirts mysteriously go missing.  A car suddenly stops its standard operation.  And then there are deeply disturbing scenes, such as a brutal stoning of a member of the GR.  Oh, and there is a governmental agency that deals with the cults that seems to exist mostly to dispose of the bodies of cult members who have been killed by the rest of us.  All of this is presented through deep symbolism that I can’t begin to appreciate or even describe.

When Sunday night rolls around, Kish and I are primed for our bracing dip into the cold world of existential, left-behind weirdness.  After watching The Leftovers, we’re ready for just about anything our conventional, everyday worlds might throw at us.

The 24 Movie

When a popular TV show ends, it’s not unusual for fans to be promised that a movie will be forthcoming.  Sometimes it happens (think Star Trek, for example) but often it doesn’t.  Deadwood fans were told movies would happen, but they haven’t.  (More’s the pity!)

It’s looking more and more like 24 will actually make it to the big screen.  Kiefer Sutherland — excuse me, I mean Jack Bauersaid this past weekend that the movie will begin filming this spring.  He added that the movie will pick up about six months after the end of the series and, like the TV show, will follow the characters during one 24-hour period.  The plot will involve the scowling, cranky, indomitable Chloe O’Brian, ace computer hacker and one of the most original TV characters ever.

There’s always trepidation when a favorite TV show gets the movie treatment.  Sometimes the gist of a TV show gets lost between the small screen and the big screen.  Twin Peaks was (for the most part) a great TV show; the movie wasn’t.

Let’s hope that the 24 movie is able to capture the frantic pace, the constant conspiratorial twists, and the rapidly mounting death toll that made the TV show so enjoyable.  And who knows?  Maybe we’ll get to see something we haven’t seen before — like Jack Bauer coming out of a bathroom.