Welcome to Westworld, Why Don’t You Kick Off Your Boots And Stay A While?
Do you recall that itch somewhere between Jurassic Park and the Matrix that needed scratching? Don’t worry, neither did the rest of us. But now that it’s here in the form of Westworld, fans can only hope it will be kicking off its boots to stay a while.
For those looking to find a similarity between the new Westworld and the movie of the 1970s, you’ll have to look pretty hard. As of this moment there’s no word of the other two parks: Roman World and Medieval World; and the only hint that the company in question is still Delos is information taken from a San Diego Comic Con Virtual Reality Exhibit and a website that debuted after the airing of episode two. One may be able to draw a line of similarity between Yul Brynner’s Man in Black and that of Ed Harris’, but given that we do not yet know with any certainty that Harris is a “Host” or not, that question remains up in the air.
That being said, the complexities of Westworld are currently being teased as only skin deep, but don’t doubt that the plot will thicken as more truths are exposed over the course of the remaining seven episodes of the season. It’s hard to say what direction the show might go as there are so many paths available and so many hints being dropped as to who is trustworthy, who might not be, and whether or not it is malevolence or curiosity that is driving the show runners of Westworld to push the Hosts in new and different directions.
For those unfamiliar with the premise, Westworld is a fabricated amusement park for the wealthy (not specifically, but the price tag was labelled at $40k a day) in which they are given the ability to live out any fantasy they wish without fear of retribution in the setting of America’s wild west. This, as one might suspect, leads many visitors to pursue desires of a more violent and carnal nature, but most are there for pure fun and adventure. Those that visit the park are known as Guests, or “Newcomers”, while the androids that inhabit the park are referred to as Hosts. Hosts are controlled and managed down to the very last spasm of movement by the staff of Westworld who are spearheaded by Doctor Robert Ford (Sir Anthony Hopkins), a man with his own mysterious past.
As is always the case things begin to unravel. Slowly at first, but as Hosts begin to show erratic behavior due to new programming and accidental exposure to outside sources, concern begins to grow among the staff that the issue may be stemming from Ford’s new program. Events later reveal that that may only be a small part of the problem. Only future episodes will tell, but in the meantime there is a far deeper question that Westworld tackles: whether or not consciousness can be created, and whether it constitutes sentient and independent life.
Our own Host in the journey thus far is Dolores Abernathy; the “girl next door”. Played by Evan Rachel Wood, Dolores shows us through her own eyes what her world means to her and the joy life brings on a day to day basis. Unfortunately, Dolores’ life doesn’t offer much joy despite her apparent optimism. Never mind how difficult home on the range is regularly, when your home is a theme park for those less inclined to give much concern to their robotic counterparts it becomes very clear to the viewer that Dolores and her kin are little more than playthings of the Guests of Westworld; but as her father later reveals: “These violent delights have violent ends.”
This leads one to ask, what place does this line from Romeo and Juliet have in Westworld? The obvious conclusion seems the easiest especially given what we know about the movie: the robots will most likely tire of their slavery and revolt, killing the guests and staff alike. However, Westworld has already proven itself to have more depth than such a simple conclusion, and since that’s about as far as events went in the movie one might like to think fans deserve something more this time around. Granted, people like The Man in Black and Guests certainly are attempting to quench their darker desires, but what then can be said about those that created Westworld?
Doctor Ford and Mr. Sizemore (the narrative lead) seem very intent on plugging story lines for Westworld the likes of which no one has ever seen before. Many of these no doubt consisting of a great deal of violence toward Hosts. Both characters have already gone so far as to exude violence towards Hosts before they are even conscious, such as crushing noses and slicing at their faces simply to prove their own points.
Perhaps it is not the cruelty of the Guests that angers the Hosts of Westworld, or at least not just the Guests. Perhaps it is a more visceral hatred towards that of their creators that show them little to no care or consideration, and even worse, permit all of the crimes that the Guests perform against them. It would be much akin to the man who gets angry at God when bad things happen. Why does our creator/creators let these things happen? If they made us only to suffer, what sort of creator are they? And most importantly, why should we subject ourselves to their will?
For everything the viewers currently do not know, everyone is given this one undoubtedly pivotal warning right in the first episode. Ashley Stubbs, speaking with Bernard Lowe, explains that anyone who has children knows one pivotal detail: “They all rebel eventually.”
So with that, what is the ultimate fate of Westworld? We know that the park has gone over thirty years without an incident, and is well overdue according to Quality Assurance head Theresa Cullen. There are questions that still require answering, but every dialogue that hints at an answer only creates more complex questions. Regardless, no matter what happens, we most likely won’t know anything for sure until it is far too late.
Whether Westworld will prove to be a walk in existentialist park or something greater, it is too soon to say. What can be said is that so far the show has been nothing short of a masterwork of television.
Westworld is available to watch now on HBO, HBO GO, and HBO Now. Viewer discretion is advised for language and nudity.