Westworld Season 3 Reviews Are In, Here's What Critics Are Saying About HBO's Sci-Fi Drama

tessa thompson westworld season 3 hbo

After what has seemed like the longest wait in the history of television, Season 3 of Westworld will finally be upon us in just a few short days. The HBO sci-fi drama is promising to offer up another season of twists, turns, surprises and...what's bigger than a surprise? Oh, right, an epic mindfuck. So, there will surely be at least a few of those when Westworld returns as, well.

Luckily, because Westworld Season 3 is arriving on March 15, we're already getting some reviews of the the new season, so that we can all determine if it's worth our precious time to dive back into all the mysteries, confusion and riddles, or if we should just give up and let the dramatic mindlessness of The Bachelor: Listen To Your Heart wash over us as we rock gently in a fetal position in the nearest corner.

Westworld is a heavy show in pretty much every way, but also impressively well-crafted, and it looks like the reviews will reflect that, with most fans probably enjoying what they see, even if they find themselves a bit confused. Lorraine Ali of the Los Angeles Times seems to be on board with that, seeing as how she gave Season 3 a gold star, while still admitting that it will take multiple viewings to even try to understand it all:

The latest nasty villain here is big data...Or at least that’s what I think the new season is about. There are likely a dozen other factors I won’t understand until I rewatch each episode four times, read several recaps and listen to at least one decoding podcast...Westworld is an artfully produced trip through topical and imagined wormholes, and the fact that it loses its way as often as its characters lose their minds is at once apropos and frustrating. It ushers viewers into a web of dueling narratives and terrifying insights about the collision of humanity and technology and the dangers of overindulgence — all themes that speak to our own modern struggles while grappling with the melee in a fictional realm.

Man, I haven't seen anything other than the trailer for Westworld Season 3, but I gotta say, this sounds about right. I got the good kind of chills when I watched it, but also didn't understand roughly 70% of what I saw. And, I know that if I watch the whole actual season, that percentage is unlikely to change.

As we've seen from that excellently pieced together trailer, Westworld has left the theme park for Season 3, and while Cnet's Jennifer Bisset enjoyed what she saw of the show so far (critics were able to view the first four episodes of the season), she feels that some may miss that very aspect of the show:

Overall, Westworld succeeds in offering thought-provoking ideas about the world, its design and whether our narratives are prewritten. But now that we've left the theme park and its blend of philosophy, violence, nudity and cowboy outfits, there's a touch of hollowness and disenchantment to the expansive, neon-lined vistas of an LA dystopia. If you can handle lines like, "Real gods are coming, and they're very angry," this season of Westworld will satisfy. The mystery, weekly shoot 'em ups and rhetoric are all there, but the circuitry of the story may not be as compelling anymore, rewired for a new setting. Sorry, but nothing beats samurais ripping it up in last season's Shogun World.

The show does have a very different feel for this season, but I'm still not convinced that what we see of the "real" world in Westworld Season 3 won't just be another theme park, with the whole world basically being a robot-filled fantasy land where Dolores ends up killing a lot of her own kind. It could be true, so don't say I didn't warn you.

Speaking about the new, theme park-less feel of Westworld in the new season, for Entertainment Weekly's Kristen Baldwin and Darren Franich it overrode what they used to enjoy about the show:

Franich: After seeing four episodes of the (notably reduced) eight-episode season, though, my main feeling is I really enjoyed the show about cowboy robots in a theme park that apparently ended years ago...Dolores has become… well, just another kind of cliché (tough deadpan spy, futuristic class warrior) surrounded by familiar tropes. Season 1 had a lot of fun with the nasty rich on their cowboy-themed vacation getaways. Now that we’re out in the larger world, the one-percenters all come off like bland nefarious handsomes. Think Melrose Place 2049. And don’t get me wrong: I’m all for lusciously filmed socialist philosophy in our Mature Content bang-bangs. But that onetime subtext is now just creepingly obvious text.Baldwin: I guess if I had to sum up how these first four episodes made me feel in one word, it would be this: tired...So far, sending the hosts out into the world hasn’t paid off the way either of us had hoped. The clichéd set-ups (like that Eyes Wide Shut charity sex auction) only serve to highlight the clunkiness of the dialogue...After spending three seasons struggling through maddeningly complicated time-loops, it’s time the writers let Dolores, Maeve, and Bernard control-alt-delete themselves.

Ouch. And those reviews rated the season at a C and B-, respectively, but they don't have too many good things to say. For Indiewire's Ben Travers, the whole enterprise has lost a key element that will make Season 3 of Westworld a bit of a slog for those that agree with him:

Somewhere amid the shootouts and brain wipes, Westworld forgot how to have fun...Season 3 sheds its old, suffocating skin to become a leaner, more lucid, and higher-stakes adventure, but in doing so it exposes its inability to manufacture fast and effective thrills. While the third season remains hellbent on maintaining its meticulously built highbrow dystopia, it also experiments with simple, direct larks and even reaches for a few bubble-popping laughs. Few of these efforts work, and many ring hollow...Though these first four episodes are much easier to track than Season 2 and remain flat-out gorgeous in their polished vision of a robot-led tech war, Westworld is a rather empty beauty.

As always, you can judge for yourself once Westworld goes live on HBO, Sunday, March 15 at 9 p.m. EST. For more on what you can watch right now, head over to our 2020 midseason guide!

Adrienne Jones
Senior Content Creator

Yennefer's apprentice, Gilmore Girl; will Vulcan nerve pinch pretty much anyone if prompted with cheese...Yes, even Jamie Fraser.