Kevin Wetmore is an author and professor at Loyola Marymount University. His books include The Theology of Battlestar Galactica, Post-9/11 Horror in American Cinema, and The Empire Triumphant: Race, Religion, and Rebellion in the Star Wars Films. For more information about Kevin, check out his website, Something Wetmore This Way Comes, and to purchase his non-fiction and fiction books, see Amazon.
Welcome, True Believers, to the penultimate episode of season two. The phrase “Vanishing Point” means two things. The first is the art term (shades of “Les Écorchés,” two episodes ago), in which in a perspective drawing (an invention during the Renaissance) it is the point at which receding parallel lines appear to converge. In other words, it is an art concept that allows three dimensions to be viewed in two. The second is the more general conceptual definition: the point at which something that has been growing smaller disappears altogether. Both definitions apply to this week’s episode.
Not gonna lie, compadres – this might be the best Westworld episode of all time. One day after airing, and it has a 9.4 on IMDb. Avengers: Infinity War (the highest rated film in the franchise) has an 8.8. The Shape of Water, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture last year, has a 7.4. The Handmaid’s Tale, which won the Emmy for Best Prime-time Drama series, averages 8.6. Not that scores mean anything much, I just bring this up to show how much this episode is already becoming a fan and industry favorite. And count me in on that. My reaction when the end credits ran was a combination of shock and joy and for the first time in my life (or so I think), I stood up off the couch and just stood there looking at the television, knowing I wanted to do something and not knowing what. Yeah – I want to marry this episode and have a million of its babies. It’s that good. But I don’t want to oversell it.
Howdy, pardners. Before we git to this week’s hootenanny, some corrections and apologies must be shared. Last week, the person I called James Delos is actually Karl Strand, which kills me a little, because that name is so rich in meaning. “Strand” is German for “beach,” as in the place where they found all the dead hosts, and “strand” is English for either “land bordering water,” “to leave behind or abandon,” or “a fiber or filament twisted together to form a unit,” OR “one of the elements interwoven in a complex whole.” You could not have done more if you named this character “Karl Metaphor.” He is, after all, the one who said, “How did all these disparate threads come to create this nightmare?” Karl Strand wants to know the manner in which the strands came together!?! Damn, people.
And welcome to Shogun World. Mata Irasshaimase! 歴史的な詳細のいくつかは間違っているかもしれません。 私たちのホストはあなたを殺すことをうれしく思います。 私はあなたのニーズに応えることを意味します! (All those years of Japanese in college and grad school are finally paying off!)
I think the showrunners of Westworld binge watched a lot of Game of Thrones during their time off, as Season Two, Episode Two seems like a GoT episode: lots of exposition, four or five running plotlines, nothing resolved, and pawns being moved into place for some crazy stuff three to four episodes from now. But precious little actually happens.
Star Wars is kind of my thing. I have been a fan for forty-one years now. It was my thing since I first saw the film on a rainy afternoon on Cape Cod in June, 1977. Our family was camping (for the first time ever), and it rained for three days straight. By the third day, with three wet, crazy kids under ten, my folks decided we were going to a movie to get out of the rain, whatever was playing. What was playing was a thing called Star Wars, and 121 minutes later, I had found my new religion. I saw it seven more times that year. It was the first film I saw more than once. (VCRs weren’t a thing yet.) I saw all of the prequels multiple times in the cinema, even Phantom Menace. My siblings saw the movies, but it was never their thing. They’d seen the film when it came out and said, “It was all right,” and moved on with their lives. I obsessed.