Westworld is not a show that can be properly enjoyed merely as background noise while doing laundry. Its themes, plots, characters and visuals are all as layered and complex as those of any TV show in existence, and sometimes not even a fully devoted attention span can ease the confusion. The Man in Black himself, Ed Harris, admits that not even he has an iron grip on everything that's happening, though he seems to be fully comfortable knowing that he's not going to understand everything that Westworld shows him. In his words:
I got to the point last year when I would just focus on what was going on with the Man in Black because there's so much going on [in the show]. Even when I watch it, and as much as I am a part of it, there's a lot of it that I don't always understand. I find it fascinating and really interesting and I love watching it, but I don't always get the intricacies of what's taking place. [Laughs] . . . It's like Game of Thrones, in a sense that I loved watching that and I didn't read the books. When I'm watching it with my daughter, it's great, because she can tell me everything about who everybody is and what's going on. It's one of those things where you get the gist of it, but you don't necessarily understand all the minutiae.
Ed Harris had a pretty appropriate comparison point when talking about Westworld's "blink and you'll need something explained to you" method of relaying plot information. HBO's current flagship drama, Game of Thrones, is equally capable of stumping viewers who are more accustomed to having character motivations and timeline shenanigans all explained away in straightforward manners. These kinds of shows are always better to watch with others, since everyone views and interprets media differently and can offer a variety of outlooks and insight. At least Harris has a dependable daughter to keep him in line with everything happening in the Seven Kingdoms, while things are a little murkier over on Westworld.
That said, it has at least helped Ed Harris' performance that Season 2 has turned the Man in Black from a confident and determined outlaw into a dour husk who -- SPOILER WARNING for anyone who hasn't watched the penultimate episode -- isn't even sure if he's a real human being or not. (And he probably wishes he wasn't, considering William confusedly murdered his own daughter.) And while Harris obviously knows what happens to his character in the upcoming season finale, "The Passenger," that doesn't mean he knows what it means or what's going to happen next. Or if he'll even be involved. Here's what he told Huffington Post about playing Man in Black in his current state.
He's been so immersed in this park and in this other reality, this other dimension, that he's lost it. He basically gets lost in it and he's not sure what is going on. And so, especially working on this show, it's not that difficult to play, "I don't know what's going on!' [Laughs] . . . Yeah, I have no idea where it's heading. We're not supposed to start shooting Season 3 until next June, so I don't even know if I'm in it or not. I figure I am? But I don't know in what capacity, and I don't know what the what will be happening. We'll find out.
The Man in Black still needs to finish his big Season 2 mission, which involves not only reaching The Forge (or Valley Beyond) to destroy the mysterious humanity-studying project he started all those years ago, but also reaching Robert Ford's metaphorical "Door." (Likely at the same location, just with different behavioral guidelines.) And to do it, he'll likely have to face down Delores, Maeve and Akecheta, among others. Just maybe don't ask Ed Harris what any of it meant, or what any of the other characters were up to.
Westworld has just one episode left to go before Season 2 is a distant memory (in this current narrative loop), so be sure to watch it on HBO on Sunday, July 1, at 9:00 p.m. ET. The wait for Season 3 will be a really long one. And to see what other new and returning shows will be around when it's gone, head to our summer premiere schedule.