Great Shows with Nowhere to Go

HBO’s Westworld and SyFy’s 12 Monkeys. I’ve liked those shows a lot. Westworld was laughably edgy at times, seemed like it was trying to reach a quota of F bombs and tiddies in some episodes, but had several excellent to truly great things about it. 12 Monkeys played with a lot of sketchy mental illness tropes, had all the time travel related foolishness you might expect, and used a child as a character motivation in a way that felt emotionally dishonest and a bit ridiculous to me. And the lead actor looks like a tired otter. But it had a bad-ass two-fisted style and some sweet moments of plot payoff. I love the first season twist ending about The Power of Friendship, and Kirk Acevedo is sexy in a way that I find hard to explain. Plus the lead actress (as usual) does all the heavy lifting on the show, and does it well.

I’ve liked both of those shows a lot, but I have such big doubts about future seasons that I’m unlikely to tune in unless I get very positive spoilers. The places they left off promised nothing good. Spoilers below the fold. Anyhow, do you ever get like this? Find yourself bouncing on a show because you can’t imagine it sustaining the same quality going forward?

Westworld ends with the robots in kill-all-humans mode, running riot over the evil corporate overlords, with Evan Rachel Wood-bot achieving self-awareness. We know the world outside that section of the park is vast. At least a little interest could be drummed up from that exploration, but there are a few problems: The emotional arcs are almost all over. Not much left to resolve, and any ending for, say, the Thandie Newton’s baby storyline is likely to be pretty fucking dull. More than that, there is no way in hell the robots can win. They’re gonna die. If Westworld is a place humans can get to easily enough – an island, a space station for a sufficiently advanced future – then the human species surely has those bots outnumbered a billion to one, and would probably do its best to see them wiped out, or parted out to shareholders.

Regardless of the outcomes of those storylines, I can’t imagine them being anything but depressing and frustrating. Likewise, season 2 of 12 Monkeys was pretty damn great, but ended with the excellent lead actress lady in a fucking forced birth scenario. Fate worse than death, super gross. Can’t imagine anything entertaining coming of that.

For me the high point of Arrow was in the Deathstroke season, when the villain killed Ollie and Thea’s mom in front of them, with a sword through the heart. OK, it’s disposable women to make the hero feel some type of way, so bad on that level. But the mom character was a villain in her own right, the plot leading up to the scene had really built up everyone involved, and it was so action-movie brutal that it hella worked.

But the show has had a lot of seasons since then, and whenever they aim for that level of drama, it feels played out now. Could be worse, but still. Never getting the high point again. And that’s the evidence, it could well be best for people to drop out when the writing is on the wall.

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