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Couple thoughts from the podcast:
1) The rule change with the aspect ratio didn't bother me. Maybe I am being overly charitable, but my impression is that all of these time-trickery tools and obfuscations were always intended to maximize the audience’s empathy for the Host’s predicaments by putting us in their perspective. That was true for the Dolores 30 year thing in season 1, true of the Bernard amnesia of season 2 (less effective), and true of the aspect ratio change of this episode. The reason the aspect ratio changed is because we are in Maeve’s POV and so when she realizes the truth, so do we.
2) I also think Lee has to be dead because that is the only thing that makes thematic sense. The whole emotional crux of the simulation reveal hinges on Maeve realizing Lee didn’t actually make it out, and Thandie Newton sold the hell out of that moment that if Lee does end up being alive, that would completely cheapen the moment.
3) Lastly, call me naive but I really think Nolan and Joy are playing everything much more straight with us this season and so some of the mental gymnastics we are doing about timelines and simulations and who is in who’s body will probably not be as true this season as it was the last 2. Containing this type of mystery in one hour instead of dragging it out over a whole season make those type of twists much more fun and much less frustrating. Nolan and Joy have basically come out and said they heard the criticism and while they aren’t dumbing down the show, they will make it less mechanically complicated.
With that being said, if Park 5 ends up being Futureworld or if the “real world” is actually a simulation, or if Caleb ends up being a host, I am so done with this show.
I’m sure I’m not the only one to have thought this but this was basically the same conceit as “The Constant” from Lost which is probably my favorite episode of television ever. Lindelof always has these crazy sci-fi elements in his shows, but ultimately all of them boil down to a fundamental love story, and I think that’s really beautiful.
I completely understand why some people don't see the value of sitting through 3 and half hours of this movie, but I thought this was incredible. Once you get over some of the uncanny valley stuff from the de-aging tech, watching De Niro and Pacino acting against each other was thrilling, and Joe Pesci was truly incredible playing such a different type of role. It's a much more contemplative and meditative gangster movie, so if what you like about Scorcese is the manic feel in movies like Goodfellas or Wolf of Wall Street, this probably won't do it for you. But it makes sense for where Scorcese is in his career, and though I think he could have cut out a lot from the first half hour, everything from the second Pacino is introduced is excellent. Probably just outside of my top 5 Scorcese films.