What I’ve Been Watching: Knox, Cage, Westworld

by on October 14, 2016 at 7:24 am in Books, Film, Television | Permalink

Amanda Knox on Netflix is a shorter version of Making a Murderer. Shorter because there isn’t much evidence that Knox had anything to do with the murder of her amanda-knox-doc-netflix-780x439housemate. The documentary has extensive interviews with the lead investigator, a blowhard who likens himself to Sherlock Holmes but whose idea of deduction is that the murderer must have been a woman because the body was covered up. Surprisingly, the one clear sociopath isn’t the actual killer but the journalist whose lurid dispatches turned a tragic but ordinary murder into a witch hunt–a real Nightcrawler. Throw in some nationalism on both the Italian and U.S. sides and it’s not surprising that justice went awry. Trump has a cameo.

Luke Cage, also on Netflix, is the latest Marvel superhero story set in the same New York universe as Daredevil and Jessica Jones. Harlem is lovingly portrayed and the barbershop name dropping–Walter Mosley, Zora Neal Hurston, Crispus Attucks–and luke-cagevarious basketball, jazz, and rap references adds color. The central conflict, however, is flat. Super-strong, well-nigh invulnerable Cage is not evenly-matched by drug dealer-businessman Cottonmouth. Despite a watchable performance by Mahershala Ali, Cottonmouth is no Kingpin. Vincent D’Onofrio’s Kingpin had Shakespearean intensity, depth, and the physical power to battle a super-hero. Indeed, one of the things that made Daredevil special was that you could see his exhaustion and pain in every battle. Similarly, Jessica Jones’s nemesis, Kilgrave, was one of the most horrific characters ever seen on television (in a great understated performance by David Tennant) and Kilgrave had Jones under his thumb for much of the season. Super heroes need super villains. To be sure, there is pickup in the second half of Luke Cage, but it takes a long time to develop.

Westworld (HBO)–this is the one that you must watch. The first two episodes have been remarkable. Every scene has something to see or to think about. Audience expectations are continually subverted. The cinematography is stunning.

One characters says “That’s what I love about this place all the secrets, all the little things I never noticed even after all these years. You know why this place beats the real world…in here every detlevelsail adds up to something.” Very meta. The shots also speak to the structure of the plot. Look at this amazing shot of the control building–levels of meaning.

It does not pass notice that it’s bright and shiny on top but the lower levels–the subconscious–are dark, moist, subterranean. We are told that WestWorld is a maze, a maze literally and figuratively, in our heads.

Westworld also challenges us with questions. Who are we? If we visited Westworld would we be the good guys or the bad guys? How many of us secretly harbor the desire to do evil and are restrained only by fear of punishment? What kind of Zimbardo experiment is Westworld?

Or are we the operators of Westworld who treat other people (?) as mere means and not as ends in themselves? Parts of Westworld look like an abattoir and from one perspective there are mass rapes.

Or are we the robots, living in a simulation, a reality of someone else’s construction? And what is going on with the corporation? The ultimate god?

The executive producer of Westworld is Jonathan Nolan, brother of Christopher, and writer or co-writer of Memento, The Prestige, The Dark Night and Interstellar.

We are only two episodes in but so far this is thrilling art in action.

1 Ted Craig October 14, 2016 at 7:37 am

Did you watch both the Knox docs? Or just the one you knew you would agree with?

2 Nebfocus October 14, 2016 at 7:47 am

Wait, you’re not here to tell us “no, she really did do it”, are you?

3 Ted Craig October 14, 2016 at 8:05 am

I’m not, but Netflix did release two documentaries: “Believe Her” and “Suspect Her.”

4 komponisto October 16, 2016 at 1:27 am

No, those were just two promos. There’s only one film.

5 MikeP October 14, 2016 at 11:19 am

Well, she really did confess to it.

6 Art Deco October 14, 2016 at 12:03 pm

Not really. The ‘confession’ was phrased in terms of a dream sequence and she repudiated it within hours.

7 MikeP October 14, 2016 at 8:29 pm

Sollecito’s story continually changed when the police presented him with facts that proved his earlier version of events could not be true. To this day he maintains that he is NOT SURE whether Knox stayed with him the entire night. Computer activity proves that either he or she was awake at 6AM when they insisted that they slept until 10:30. Marco Quintavalle testified that Amanda Knox was outside his store at 7:45am waiting for it to open and that she went straight to the cleaning supplies when he opened the store. Believe what you will, but I think it defies all credulity to believe that Knox was not involved in some capacity with the crime.

8 Art Deco October 14, 2016 at 8:32 pm

Believe what you will, but I think it defies all credulity to believe that Knox was not involved in some capacity with the crime.

Did she know Rudy Guede? Where is her biological material in Kircher’s room? Does she have a history of violence? What possible reason could she have to kill Meredith Kircher in conjunction with Rudy Guede?

9 MikeP October 14, 2016 at 11:23 pm

Guede was a friend of the people in the apartment below Knox’s, so, yes, could have easily known him.

She surely did not have a reason to kill Kircher, but likely got caught up in the whole affair and then did what she could to cover her ass.

She claims that she didn’t get to the apartment that morning until late and then saw the door was open and then blood in the bathroom in the sink and on the floor. She claims that those facts somehow raised no alarms in her mind.

Sollecito also indicated that he was originally told what to say to the police by Knox and that’s why his earlier version of events did not match the facts the police later showed him.

Two bottles of bleach were found in his apartment that his cleaner woman said were not there before the murder.

The two are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, but I can understand that people would say there’s enough doubt to acquit. There is nothing, however, to say that they are innocent of the charges.

10 MikeP October 15, 2016 at 2:16 am

The bathroom floor and corridor had been wiped clean after the murder. According to their own admission, they transported a mop from the cottage to Sollecito’s apartment the day of the murder to, according to them, clean up some water that had spilt in his apartment. How often have you moved a mop from one apartment to another in your life? Maybe once, if ever? And this happens the day of the murder? What are the odds? Infinitesimal.

11 MikeP October 15, 2016 at 2:23 am

She never officially retracted her claim that Lumumba was the murderer. She stated five days later that this was her “best truth”.

12 Art Deco October 15, 2016 at 12:04 pm

http://arstechnica.com/science/2016/09/how-weak-dna-evidence-railroadedand-then-rescued-amanda-knox/

A discussion of biological evidence regarding Sollecito and Knox is here. Again, law enforcement had no trouble locating biological evidence of Rudy Guede in the bathroom and in Kercher’s bedroom. Biological evidence of Knox’s presence in Kercher’s bedroom was nil. Biological evidence of Sollecito’s was minimal and subsequently discredited. There is no conceivable way they can wipe away their own traces and leave his.

There is no indication, none whatsoever from any disinterested source, that Amanda Knox knew Rudy Guede from a cord of wood. The closest you get to any such testimony is a statement from one of the residents in the downstairs apartment that Knox and Guede had once crossed paths. How your imagination spins that into a fantasy sex foursome that Kercher would not cooperate with only you can begin to answer.

13 MikeP October 15, 2016 at 10:10 pm

“There is no indication, none whatsoever from any disinterested source, that Amanda Knox knew Rudy Guede from a cord of wood. The closest you get to any such testimony is a statement from one of the residents in the downstairs apartment that Knox and Guede had once crossed paths. How your imagination spins that into a fantasy sex foursome that Kercher would not cooperate with only you can begin to answer.”

Don’t take it from me, take it from the horse’s mouth: “I know him.” – Amanda Knox to her mother by prison phone referring to Guede, secretly recorded by police. They even play this in the grotesquely biased Netflix doc around minute 50. Also we have testimony at trial that Guede was infatuated with her. As for Sollecito, there was plenty of evidence to show that he was into both violent sex fantasy and, interestingly enough, knives.

As far as the DNA evidence, do what Bugliosi recommended the prosecution do in the OJ case: throw it all out. The remaining evidence convicts beyond all reasonable doubt.

14 Hazel Meade October 17, 2016 at 12:53 pm

If she’s guilty, why did she finger Patrick Lumumba not Rudy Guede?

15 MikeP October 17, 2016 at 4:11 pm

If she had said Guede, it would have been game over right then and there because he would have then exposed her involvement. She was still trying to save her skin, but was obviously in a distressed state having just learned that Sollecito had retracted her alibi. To this day Sollecito claims Knox was not at his place from 11-1, contrary to her claim that she was there all night. By saying it was Lumumba, Knox was still able to be at the cottage (of which she then believed the police had proof), but not in Kercher’s room at the time of the murder. Even though she indicated an innocent man, she revealed two facts in that interrogation that could not have been known by an innocent person. First, that Kercher had been raped and second that Kercher had screamed (a fact reported to the police by three witnesses, but not publicly known at the time).

BTW, these “admissions” happened after little more than an hour of questioning by the police, not many hours as Knox defenders claim.

There is no reasonable possibility that Guede committed the crime alone. There had to have been someone who staged the break-in after the murder by breaking the window in Romanelli’s room. Anyone who believes Guede gained entry into the cottage through that window does not have sufficient familiarity with the evidence. He was let in to the apartment and took a shit in the larger bathroom before the murder as evidenced by the fact that there was his shit in the toilet without any trace of blood in that bathroom. There also had to have been at least one additional person that subsequently cleaned the blood in the hallway and little bathroom. The attempt to misdirect the police toward an outside intruder indicates that the crime was committed by someone with ready access to the apartment. The other two living roommates had alibis. Knox did not.

People claim that Knox could not have done it because of the lack of her DNA in Kercher’s room. They dismiss the blood in the small bathroom and elsewhere that is a combination of Knox’s and Kercher’s and the high peak DNA of Sollecito on the braw clasp, but are perfectly fine with the DNA evidence that shows Guede was involved.

16 MikeP October 18, 2016 at 11:47 am

In the interview where she first indicated Lumumba, she also revealed a third feature of the events of that night: that she went to Piazza Grimana to meet someone before going to the cottage. This is where a witness placed her and Sollecito that evening, completely contrary to Knox’s and Sollecito’s story that they stayed at his place and hadn’t gone out that night.

Knox claims that she was harangued and beaten into saying Lumumba by the police, notwithstanding the fact that this confession occurred in an interview that could not have lasted more than an hour and a quarter in total. Four hours later she then had every opportunity to denounce to the magistrate what the police had done to her, but she did not, instead embellishing her first account in that second statement. And, again, she never withdrew her accusations against Lumumba. There was absolutely no immediate retraction as Art Deco claims and to claim otherwise shows complete ignorance of the case.

17 MikeP October 20, 2016 at 10:07 pm

There’s an interesting bit of visual evidence at 22:43-22:47 of the Netflix documentary. If you look carefully at Amanda Knox’s neck in that video taken the morning of the discovery of Kercher’s body, you can see the long vertical scratch that Laura Mezzetti (one of the roommates) testified she noted to be present on Knox’s neck that morning, but not present on Amanda before the murder on Oct. 31. Unfortunately, the police did not note it at the time because Knox was not immediately a suspect, but Mezzetti stated that it was visible on Amanda from yards away and was very surprised to learn later that the police did not immediately document it. The police did not photograph the scratch until five days later by which time it had obviously faded, but you can see it in the Netflix documentary. I have not seen this noted before.

18 Ray Lopez October 14, 2016 at 8:30 am

I think the consensus, based on a comprehensive review of the documents, is that Knox had nothing to do with the murder (note: common household cleaners of the kind used by everybody have bleach in them, so she nor her boyfriend deliberately bleached the suspect knife). There’s no DNA evidence that would show Knox was at the crime scene. If you wish to speculate she hired the black convict to do the job, that’s fine, but that’s not the legal test. The real murderer, the black convict, used the same MO (climbing up an outside wall to reach an upper window, without the use of a ladder; he was very athletic) for an earlier burglary. Knox was immature when she suspected her roommate was dead. She was flippant; the speculation is they didn’t really like each other. But being immature is not the same as being a murderer. All in all, a very incompetent job by the Italian prosecutor, who years earlier had screwed up a murder trial by alleging Satanic murder and this also made headlines. A blowhard as AlexT says. The Italian police were amateurish by contaminating the crime scene, but it did not really matter as no Knox DNA of the kind that would be present if she was there was found (as for example was found by the black convict).

BTW, in the Philippines they rarely use DNA evidence, instead preferring old-fashioned confessions I am told by a detective there.

19 Ted Craig October 14, 2016 at 8:57 am

You’re both missing my point. This wasn’t “Making of a Murderer,” which should have really been called “The Case for the Defense.” This documentary made a point of presenting both arguments, but Tabarrok only focuses on one half.
I’m not saying she did it.

20 Art Deco October 14, 2016 at 9:14 am

There isn’t much of an argument in favor of her guilt or Sollecito’s. The DNA evidence implicating Sollecito was a miniscule amount on a bra clasp collected from the scene 7 weeks after the fact. It’s incredible that he participates in a sexual assault and murder and managed to wipe away almost all his biological material but leave Rudy Guede’s to be found. It’s not incredible that the inept Italian police cross-contaminated samples or fabricated evidence against him.

21 tjamesjones October 14, 2016 at 10:14 am

on the other hand, despite what you say, she was convicted of the murder. So as Ted says, there is another case to be made, other than “handwave, handwave, crooked italians”.

22 Art Deco October 14, 2016 at 10:27 am

on the other hand, despite what you say, she was convicted of the murder. So as Ted says, there is another case to be made, other than “handwave, handwave, crooked italians”.

No, they’re wasn’t a case to be made. That’s what made the case a scandal. The ‘case’ against Knox consisted of a pseudo-confession she was badgered into making that she repudiated immediately conjoined to some dubious (and discredited) biological evidence on the tip of a knife. Detractors of Knox and Sollecito made a great deal of hay about their ‘demeanor’ (especially hers) and about contradictions between their accounts of that evening and that morning (both had been smoking maryjane the previous evening). Law enforcement managed to destroy crucial data on the hard drive of Sollecito’s computer which would have corroborated (or discredited) what the two had to say. It’s a reasonable guess that that destruction was deliberate.

These two had no history of criminal activity of any kind (other than mj possession), no known disputes with Meredith Kircher, no demonstrable association with Rudy Guede (other than living in the same city), and were not terribly well-acquainted with each other. That two amiable college students team up with a man they don’t know to engage in some lurid sex game and then kill a young woman they had no animosity toward beggars belief. No one not a complete fool would accept this tale without credible forensic or eyewitness testimony. Well, there appear to be a critical mass of fools in Perugia.

23 Jeff R. October 14, 2016 at 11:07 am

Inept public officials? In Italy??????? Surely you jest!

24 Hazel Meade October 14, 2016 at 2:40 pm

Also, one thing I have read is that the prosecuter interpreted her text of “See you later” to her boss as *literally* an agreement to meet later in the evening. Not that Patrick Lumumba had anything to do with the murder. But you can understand how, with a crazy Italian cop interpreting a harmless vernacular as some sort of secret meeting arrangement , that might result in her (falsely) fingering Lumumba.
This is the sort of thing that makes be doubt the competence and objectivity of the italian police.

25 Hazel Meade October 14, 2016 at 2:50 pm

Side note: That’s a classic characteristic of a false confession – she randomly fingered an innocent man, which she was being pressured to finger by the police based on a stupid interpretation of a text message.

26 Joel October 14, 2016 at 5:46 pm

That’s right Hazel, and that’s a point which is easily forgotten.
The confession is false, since the man she accused to have committed the crime with her had an alibi. It is therefore absurd to pretend using the content of this confession to establish the facts. The only remaining fact, and that was the prosecutor says in the film, is “she lied during that confession, if she is innocent I don’t know why”. Except that everyone should know how easy it is to obtain a false confession with enough pressure, especially on a very young girl without a lawyer in a foreign country very far from home.

27 MikeP October 17, 2016 at 8:44 pm

Incorrect. Sollecito’s DNA on the clasp was characterized as “high peak”, not subject to inadvertent contamination. The only possibility is that Sollecito touched the clasp or that it was planted.

28 SD October 14, 2016 at 6:05 pm

“The Case for the Defense,” that’s generous, as it assumes the defense even has a case. Scumbag Steve Avery is the most dramatic example of these cause celebres, one where evidence overwhelmingly indicates his guilt, but who cares about that? What matters is it’s a good story, a conspiracy theory, but there’s nothing wrong with conspiracy theories so long as the right people, non-elite Whites, are targeted. Other examples include Leo Frank, the Central Park Five, and the West Memphis Three.(there’s some doubt about the last one, and it was IMO the right decision to release them, but there’s a lot of evidence pointing to their guilt, evidence the media ignored.)

Amanda Knox, however, is a different case entirely. She had no inclinations that would lead to murder and no reason to commit murder. I saw both documentaries and I think the case really was a miscarriage of justice.

29 MikeP October 17, 2016 at 8:42 pm

Oh dear. No DNA evidence of Knox at the crime scene? Her blood is mixed with Kercher’s all over the little bathroom and elsewhere in the cottage and this cannot be due to contamination since the DNA peaks of Kercher and Knox are comparable.

Guede did not go through Romanelli’s window and that was clearly shown at trial. Going through that window would have required 1) climbing up to unlatch and open the shutters, 2) climbing down to then throw the rock with force to break the window, and then 3) climbing back up to enter, all while leaving no trace of any mark from the mud that covered the yard after the rain that fell that night. There was no trace of mud or mark on the wall, no trace on the windowsill and no trace in Romanelli’s room. The glass was also on top of the clothes that the stagers strew about the room prior to breaking the window with an oversized rock. But let’s go with Guede breaking in to the cottage. After breaking in he would have had to have casually taken a shit in the bigger bathroom (shown to be his) before proceeding to rape and murder Kercher as, in contrast with the little bathroom, their was ZERO trace of any blood in the bigger bathroom. Instead, the little bathroom had plenty of blood evidence, including a footprint on the bathmat that 100% excluded Guede, yet perfectly matched Sollecito’s footprint.

30 Dain October 14, 2016 at 4:58 pm

What, did no one but me watch the Lifetime network’s dramatic interpretation? It more entertainingly helps you arrive at more or less the same conclusion the Netflix version did.

31 komponisto October 16, 2016 at 3:52 am

The Lifetime film was a huge disappointment — from a cinematic point of view alone. They way underplayed Mignini, treating him as some kind of soft-spoken civil servant rather than the gesticulating firebrand that he actually is in court (the kind of character than surely every actor longs to play!). They got the personality of the title character wrong as well — the real Amanda has a quirky intellectual depth that was completely missing from the vapid character played by Ms. Panettiere.

The lines, particularly the key, famous ones taken from the real case, were delivered unconvincingly, as if they were being self-consciously inserted into the script.

All this apart from the fact that the film leaves a much more ambiguous impression about the state of the evidence than the real-life case.

The fact that this case — whatever you think of it — was such an obvious match to the Lifetime film genre (whatever you think of *that*) makes it all the more perplexing that the result was such a perfunctory, pedestrian, half-assed effort.

32 mavery October 14, 2016 at 8:07 am

Most of the things about Jessica Jones were great, IMO. The tone, the filmmaking, the performances, etc. But I couldn’t watch it because I found Kilgrave too horrifying. A little too “super” of a villain for me, I suppose.

33 The Other Jim October 14, 2016 at 8:08 am

>Throw in some nationalism on both the Italian and U.S. sides and it’s not surprising that justice went awry.

This is the kind of comment that makes it very clear that you are an idiot living in a bubble that you will never, ever escape from.

Having seen the doc just last night myself, there was absolutely nothing in it showing that nationalism made justice go awry. Nothing. But since you hate it, it must have been at fault, and you must say so.

For sure – long AFTER the initial conviction happened, and debate about the integrity of the evidence was increasingly in doubt – the doc showed some comments of people saying that Italian police are terrible, and that Italians don’t like Americans passing judgement on them, etc.

But if that series of events is too complex for you, you are way beyond help.

34 Art Deco October 14, 2016 at 9:05 am

“Nationalism” did not make justice go awry, but particularist loyalties addled attentive public opinion in both Italy and in Britain.

The Italian police are inept, and managed to destroy crucial forensic evidence housed on Sollecito’s computer. There are only about 900 homicides in Italy in a given year and they just do not have experienced investigators when they need them. Combine that with a horrible and abusive prosecutor and stupid jurors, you get two wildly improbable defendants like Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito in prison even though the forensic evidence implicates Rudy Guede.

35 too hot for MR October 14, 2016 at 11:10 am

>There are only about 900 homicides in Italy in a given year and they just do not have experienced investigators when they need them.

Thank goodness for the high murder rates in the U.S.!

36 cjcjc October 14, 2016 at 8:09 am

Westworld – where the controllers monitor everything.
Except the important stuff obviously!

37 C October 14, 2016 at 9:27 am

That get’s pretty close to my problem with Westworld. It seems that there are problems with the ..logic?, maybe… of the world that’s created that’s ignored in favor of throwing up fun situations and questions. I’m on board for the fun so it doesn’t really bother me but sometimes my trying to put a finger on those problems is a distraction.

For example. When does the story line get “reset”. Do the guests stay for every reset? I mean, would a guest show up one day and then go home for the night and the next day it’s as if nothing happened?Is there no continuity? Why do the robots interact with each other when there are no guests around? If one robot says to the other “I had a dream last night” are they lying? Why would they? Why wouldn’t they?

38 JJ October 14, 2016 at 11:05 am

You don’t play video games, do you?

39 C October 17, 2016 at 10:55 am

Sure I do. Mainly Nethack for what it’s worth. Which brings me to another about the show. What an insanely boring video game it would be. I mean the graphics are good but the playability is awful. There’s no feedback at all. You take no damage. How can you tell if you’re winning if there’s no way to lose? Plus isn’t there a PVP mode? Frankly that’s usually the best way to play these first person shooters…

40 efp October 14, 2016 at 4:16 pm

My problem: how do the guns work? You can blow holes through the hosts but not each other?

41 JBob October 15, 2016 at 12:53 pm

What happens if a host gets really destroyed; like a Wile E Coyote rock gets dropped on him or something. There must a point at which the host is totalled. Buildings too. Are guests charged per the amount of destruction they wreak?

42 Slocum October 14, 2016 at 8:24 am

Not long after the Amanda Knox story broke, I happened to read Douglas Preston’s The Monster of Florence. In it, you find the same insane prosecutor as in the Knox case spinning the same kinds of ridiculous, lurid theories of satanic rituals, as well as the same kinds of intimidation tactics (Preston, at one point, was threatened with being charged as the serial killer himself while Knox’s parents were charged with libel against the police). So I was quite confident, from the beginning, that the prosecution of Knox and Solecito was baseless (though not so confident the Italian justice system would finally reach a just result).

43 Ray Lopez October 14, 2016 at 8:31 am

+1. Indeed.

44 Pshrnk October 14, 2016 at 10:13 am

The prosecutor reminds me of Dr. Michael West the fraudulent bite mark “expert”; and quite a bit of The Donald as well. “Trust me I’m an expert on this. I’m the only one who can understand/fix it.”

45 Art Deco October 14, 2016 at 10:32 am

What does Donald Trump or some phony experts-for-hire have to do with the prosecutor in this case? The prosecutor is guilty of gross abuse of power. Donald Trump hasn’t sent anyone to the slammer. The prosecution in this case tried to buttress its case with dubious forensic evidence, but the basis of it was always the confused statements Knox and Sollecito made when they were being interviewed right after the murder was discovered.

46 Pshrnk October 14, 2016 at 11:01 am

Trump would still like the Central Park 5 executed.

A 20 year old returns home to find her roommate gruesomely slaughtered and does not behave according to the pre-conceived notions of a prejudiced show off; and that is considered good evidence. God help us all.

47 Steve-O October 14, 2016 at 12:07 pm

From what I know of the case, I wouldn’t mind too much if they were executed. They were violently attacking strangers for thrills, weren’t they? It’s just that they didn’t rape (or at least, someone else raped) the one jogger?

Where am I wrong?

48 Art Deco October 14, 2016 at 12:28 pm

No, he said the civil settlement with the Central Park Five was based on a con job.

http://www.newyorker.com/news/amy-davidson/donald-trump-and-the-central-park-five

49 SD October 14, 2016 at 6:18 pm

Considering the central park five are guilty, I see that as a positive.

50 Rock Lobster October 14, 2016 at 8:58 am

I have to say I disagree on Westworld. I’m genuinely curious what you thought was original or interesting about it. Are these not the same old tired robot tropes that have been done to death for decades? As I was watching I could just see the lame thinkpieces being written before my eyes.

Of course that wouldn’t matter so much if the show were still fun to watch. But instead they’re taking what should be a movie and spreading it out into a long boring TV show, simply because HBO needs a show right now.

51 JWatts October 14, 2016 at 10:18 am

“Are these not the same old tired robot tropes that have been done to death for decades?”

Well since the current iteration is an HBO remake of a movie from 1973, it’s not exactly a new take on the idea.

52 celestus October 14, 2016 at 11:06 am

There is a sort of fresh take in that they’ve reimagined the park as more of an open world Bethesda/Bioware RPG than a Disneyland: blatant quests, visitors saying things like “the first time I played it good, the second time I played it evil”, the gushing over the small details. It is also well executed, if unsubtle- the flies throughout the pilot episode, the player piano (a period-accurate robot), the Union army recruiting volunteers to fight for a free land.

But the big picture stuff is weak so far. I’ve seen nothing to convince me that all the razzle-dazzle elements will add up to more than Just Another Lost Clone. The writers seem to be heading in the disappointing direction of “are machines that look like humans and are programmed to act in a human-ish way human??? Yes. Yes they are. Well, that’s settled.” And they definitely are begging for thinkpieces about gender politics and all the rest, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but shouldn’t be the main goal of a work of entertainment.

53 Dain October 14, 2016 at 5:53 pm

I find the premise that visitors are interested in a wild west re-enactment, of all things, hard to buy. Fascination with the ol’ wild west has been in decline since roughly the 1960s. Why would it come back into fashion? There’s a better case to be made for a medieval fantasyland ala Game of Thrones, what with the popularity of LARPing among white and Asian folks with the money to spend on a Westworld theme park (this demographic already digs “escape rooms”). But I guess since the medieval thing has been exhausted with Game of Thrones, that idea is/was out.

54 Rock Lobster October 14, 2016 at 12:13 pm

If it’s not a new take, then we’re not exactly “challenged with questions.” My most common reaction while watching the first episode was, “Ugh, gimme a break.” Robot discovers that it’s hyoo-mon and has feeeelings and falls in love with a toaster. But the robot is an abused slave of humans. Humans are cruel and sadistic to the robots for their own amusements. What does that tell us about our own dark hidden natures? What are the implications for capitalism and fembot rights? Baaaaaarf.

I agree with celestus that the video game parallels are new if not exactly subtle.

Like I said I really wouldn’t care about it if the show was interesting and entertaining for aesthetic and narrative reasons. But it wasn’t, in my opinion. Maybe it’ll get better and I’ll say, “That show came through after all,” but I’m not holding my breath.

55 JWatts October 14, 2016 at 2:03 pm

“If it’s not a new take, then we’re not exactly “challenged with questions.” ”

Well, we could still be “challenged with questions”, because we haven’t answered the challenging questions raised in the first iteration. However, from your description, this version may be just be a simplistic remake with modern graphics and an amped up sex and graphic violence quotient. And then a thin layer of Political Correctness layered on as the current political climate demands.

56 Rock Lobster October 14, 2016 at 2:39 pm

Ok, let’s not get too into the semantics here. I think you understood my meaning though. The show would not get credit for reinventing the wheel.

57 raj October 14, 2016 at 11:04 am

As opposed to… super heroes punching bad guys?

All tropes are tired. Some are still aesthetically preferable, and tend to come with better acting and cinematography for a variety of reasons.

58 Sam Haysom October 14, 2016 at 1:49 pm

People don’t go around saying that the Avengers raises challenging questions though. Alex made a really silly claim and is getting called on it stop deflecting.

Alex has a immature need to infuse everything he watches with significance rather than just enjoying his entertainment choices. It speaks to a fundamental lack of self confidence in contrast to Cowen who while maddeningly solipsistic and prone to status signaling netberless in many ways also has to confidence to consume things without claiming they are inherently significant.

59 Rock Lobster October 14, 2016 at 2:45 pm

No need for rudeness. A lot of people like the show.

60 Art Deco October 14, 2016 at 9:07 am

Meredith Kircher’s family swallowed the proscutor’s lurid nonsense hook, line, and sinker. Papa Kircher’s a newspaper reporter and the British press in general gave credence to this trainwreck.

61 MikeP October 15, 2016 at 12:28 pm

If the two are innocent, then explain the computer activity that evening and the next morning in the face of their statements.

Sollecito said he was on his computer emailing late into the evening. There was no such activity.

They claimed they slept until 10:30, yet the computer was being used early that morning from 5:30-6:00.

Sollecito first told the police that he and Knox were together the entire night. When the police indicated that they had evidence that that wasn’t true he said that she was gone from 11-1.

Knox’s confession fingering Lamumba took little more than an hour of interrogation and occurred immediately after the police showed her the text messages between them.

They admit to moving a mop that day to clean up his apartment. A store owner let her into his store at 8 in the morning the next day where she went directly to the cleaning supplies, this during a time that she claims to have been sleeping at Sollecito’s.

The break-in was, beyond any doubt, staged. Why would Guede stage a break-in when it would only add evidence against him? Because he did not stage it. The only purpose for doing so was to indicate that the murder was not committed by someone with a key to the apartment.

62 MikeP October 15, 2016 at 2:59 pm

The only person with a key to the apartment and opportunity was Knox. She let Lumumba stew in prison for two weeks knowing he was innocent. When she indicated that it was him, however, she gave away two facts of the murder that the real killer knew, but not the public at the time: that Meredith screamed once and was sexually assaulted. She is guilty as sin and it’s a travesty that she’s walking around free today, lecturing us while profiting from her barbarous crime.

63 Tom October 14, 2016 at 9:15 am

I’ve read about everything there is about the Knox case and there is absolutely no way she did this. I guess I feel bad for the Kurcher family that got roped in by the British paparazzis and their friends in the British press – they would say anything to make money. Of course, not too long after, we found out about how the sleezy British press works.

64 tjamesjones October 14, 2016 at 10:17 am

it’s “sleazy”. but I’m sure you’re right about everything else.

65 prognostication October 14, 2016 at 9:23 am

Jonathan Nolan was also one of the driving forces behind Person of Interest, one of the best shows about privacy and the surveillance state that has aired to date.

66 Sam Haysom October 14, 2016 at 9:34 am

It does not pass notice that it’s bright and shiny on top but the lower levels are dark, moist, subterranean–like our subconscious. We are told that WestWorld is a maze, a maze literally and figuratively, in our heads.

Just terrible terrible writing and what a poorly formed simile. Straussian reading Alex plagiarized this from an over emotional eighth grader.

67 too hot for MR October 14, 2016 at 11:23 am

Sam, does it enrichen your small life to carry on this way?

68 Sam Haysom October 14, 2016 at 1:38 pm

My life is actually pretty great I just think Alex is a complete joke and take pleasure in pointing out how silly he is. I notice that contrary to my specific criticism of Alex you went for a broad personalized attack. Let’s just say that doesn’t exactly scream happy life.

69 too hot for MR October 14, 2016 at 6:25 pm

If “pretty great” means reading other men’s blogs so that you can lob insults, I guess my life isn’t that great. But for every playwright, there are a thousand idiots with tomatoes.

70 Sam Haysom October 15, 2016 at 6:10 pm

So you’d be what the guy too poor to afford theatre tickets or tomatoes? You have the bitterness of a poor person.

71 Seb October 14, 2016 at 1:14 pm

You are missing the point it’s not a simile, Alex is showing how the director is echoing the plot in the visuals and if you watch the 2nd episode you will understand what Alex is saying about the maze.

72 Sam Haysom October 14, 2016 at 1:43 pm

“like our subconscious” is a simile. I agree that the visual is a heavy handed attempt at foreshadowing the “lower levels” or whatever Ed Harris is looking for not a simile.

But Alex adds his own ponderous simile to the image- our subconsious isn’t moist, or even dark necessarily. It’s exactly the kind of overactive childish writing that drove Orwell nuts. It’s embarrassing writing of kind that pokes serious wholes in Alex’s soi-disant sophistication.

73 Sam Haysom October 14, 2016 at 1:49 pm

People don’t go around saying that the Avengers raises challenging questions though. Alex made a really silly claim and is getting called on it stop deflecting.

Alex has a immature need to infuse everything he watches with significance rather than just enjoying his entertainment choices. It speaks to a fundamental lack of self confidence in contrast to Cowen who while maddeningly solipsistic and prone to status signaling netberless in many ways also has to confidence to consume things without claiming they are inherently significant.

74 Lord October 14, 2016 at 9:37 am

I did have trouble believing the Westworld scenario designer couldn’t imagine what the company’s strategy was unless he had already dismissed it as having failed.

75 A Black Man October 14, 2016 at 10:31 am

“…challenges us with questions….”

I always wonder if this line, which appears in the reviews of all terrible movies, is done on purpose. Every show that “challenges us” ends up challenging us to not throw the TV out window. It’s a shame. I was going to download this series, but now I suspect it may not be worth the effort.

76 GoneWithTheWind October 14, 2016 at 11:09 am

The Italian prosecutor would have been charged and convicted of outright crimes if he did the same things in a civilized country that he got away with in Italy. There never was any evidence of Knox committing a crime but there is an abundance of evidence that the prosecutor misused his power and lied, made up ‘facts’, and hidden evidence in his zeal to put Knox in jail.

77 MikeP October 17, 2016 at 5:37 pm

To say there is no evidence of Knox’s involvement in the crime indicates you have zero understanding of the case.

78 Sondre R. October 14, 2016 at 12:09 pm

As you I also found Westworld extremely captivating on several levels. On the top level it’s just a really well-made sci-fi series. Beyond the points you mentioned, I could also add that the first episodes play with the concept of how our reality is formed by what the people around us tell us it is. And how we can feel betrayed or distraught when we “grow up” and discover that the world isn’t like that at all.

Also, of course, lots of good stuff on consciousness, free will. This series will for sure be a cult hit if it isn’t also a mainstream hit.

79 TR5749 October 14, 2016 at 2:46 pm

I, too, have seen the first 2 episodes of Westworld . . . but I will watch no more. It feels like “Lost” redux to me – in order to get through 6 or 7 seasons, the maze will be filled with red herrings, plot threads will be introduced and abandoned, and the conclusion will be unsatisfying. If I’m wrong, I can always go back and stream it when its over, but once bitten twice shy: I’m not going to waste my time on another shambolic JJ Abrams project.

“Rectify” has been the best drama on television the last few years and is about to begin its 4th and final season on the Sundance channel. the CW’s “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s” first season was the freshest & funniest thing on television last year and is also about to begin again. The earlier seasons of both shows are currently available on Netflix and I highly recommend both. Neither will waste your time.

80 carlolspln October 14, 2016 at 3:01 pm

“How many of us secretly harbor the desire to do evil are are restrained only by fear of punishment?”

More than you think, Alex T. And they’re well represented – here.

81 SD October 14, 2016 at 7:31 pm

As the number of MR comments increases, the probability of someone insulting MR commenters as a group approaches 1.

82 stefanoch October 14, 2016 at 7:58 pm

Amanda Know is clearly “innocente”. As Italian I am ashamed of my country legal system. Sorry Amanda Knox. Sorry Raffaele Sollecito.

83 Slocum October 15, 2016 at 9:39 am

Don’t feel too bad about Italian justice vs in the US. We’ve certainly had our share of ambitious, amoral prosecutors railroading innocent people here, too.

84 Otto von Doom October 16, 2016 at 10:27 am

[MILD SPOILER ALERT]
With regard to Luke Cage, I actually thought Cottonmouth was a very nuanced character and liked him better than the more super of the villains. He had “the soul of a musician” and was never really cut out for the gangster business, he was kind of forced into it by Mama Mabel and Pops. Realizing that made his nervous habits (like his constant laughter) and big talk turn into a pretty deep performance.

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