I’m not going to spend a lot of breath on this one, largely because I just don’t get a lot of enjoyment out of tearing things down. I know they spent literally millions of dollars on it, and they probably had legit dreams and incredibly talented artists galore, but the honest truth is that WW3, much as I had the highest hopes for it, was a failure in almost every way. The only real positives I can give it go to the visuals, which are spectacular throughout. The FX are unmistakably top notch, even next-level for HBO, relatively inventive, and nearly flawless from beginning to end. The actors and actresses are beautiful, if poorly choreographed, and TV needs more badass female-fronted sci-fi, not less. So it hurts me a lot to hate on this season. But man was it awful.
I was in wholeheartedly for less than an episode. Soon as that rich dude in Ep1 falls into his own swimming pool and just dies, I knew something was off. It didn’t stop there. The number of insta-kills in this season flew through the roof, and pushed the limits of stupidity multiple times. Maeve literally killed a guy by shoving a pill into his eye. Was that symbolism, or just the single most awkward martial arts choreography in television history? The choreography throughout was pretty terrible, as swat teams repeatedly approach without cover, the bad guys have worse aim than storm troopers by default, and mercs are apparently on their cell phone watching for app updates in the middle of gunfights… For every kinda cool tech idea, like drone-assisted sniper auto-aim, there is a doubly awkward super-fail like a sniper rifle that can take out multiple targets in very different areas without changing direction, accounting for walls, or any such real-world inconvenience.
The season repeatedly invents new tech just to solve inconvenient plot problems, like giant robots being app-controlled by a single button to self-assemble, intelligently find targets through walls, negotiate complicated battlefields, and recognize friendlies . . . construction bots that is. That thing wouldn’t have come in handy in any other scene, eh, that’s what you’re telling me? Oh man . . .
But the worst of it, again and again, is the writing. Talk about a fall from grace! Was the brilliance of Season 1 a mistake? Because where we once had Shakespearean quotations and Anthony Hopkins, we now have vague platitudes and a squirrel-haired Jesse Pinkman. Where we once had distinctly nuanced philosophical dialogue, we now have “Free will does exist,” just because. What was a believably crafted sci-fi world, now is full of robots that not only don’t weigh 500lbs and fool willing guests, but ones that can fool their own spouses and trained paramedics. What was a brilliant, carefully crafted and paced plotline with many angles and perspectives across multiple timelines, is now a completely linear action romp where Jesse Pinkman goes from a construction tool who accidentally happens on Dolores in a tunnel, to somehow a chosen statistical outlier who is supposed to lead the world. And wtf is LA rioting for, anyway?? Dolores revealed the databases, I get it, but that tore apart the whole society? It just doesn’t add up. Hale IS Dolores, but acts nothing like her? Maeve is a badass samurai, she can see outside of the simulation, just because, but she can’t figure out how to beat an obvious ploy and a little remote control device – until it’s convenient for the plot that is, then she just can . . . Ed Harris’ arc was comparably better than the rest of the season, and then they undercut it in the after-credits scene after the finale, and it means literally nothing, sum total.
I could go on, but I promised I wasn’t going to waste all that much breath. I’ll stick to what I said going in, WW3 is still better than most TV on right now. But seriously, you kind of have to compare it to Fuller House to believe that. By the last episodes we were yelling, “You go get em Squirrel!” instead of caring about the characters. That can’t be a good sign. See you next year for 4! Hopefully they take their time and actually write something less terrible. I still believe they are capable, but somehow success just reveals the cracks sometimes.