Grade: A for Entertainment, C for Answering Basic Human Questions, D for the fact that it’s not coming back until 2018
If you’ve hung out with me at all in the last few weeks (highly unlikely, as I am a very popular person who spends almost all of his time in bed watching Netflix) you might’ve/probably heard me mention the HBO sci-fi Western Westworld. I’ve been obsessed.
It’s been a while since I’ve been obsessed with a show—the last one was probably Scandal where I fully binged—but it’s been even longer since I’ve been obsessed with a show that’s airing in real time. Sure, at any given point I’m watching at least four different Bravo shows, but that’s less of an obsession and more watching of a real-time science experiment unfold. So the experience of watching a show week-to-week, and ruminating over it and dissecting it and reading about it, is something that I haven’t engaged in for a long time.
The finale of Westworld’s first season is this Sunday (I’m writing this on Saturday), so I think it would be a fun little experiment to write down some of my predictions and theories today (Saturday), watch the show tomorrow (Sunday) and then do a review-cum-recap-discussion for Monday. Sound sexy? LET’S GO. Also, obviously spoilers (SPOILERS) ahead. I have, like, four readers in total, and only one of them watches Westworld and I know she’s up-to-date, so I’m not worried. But don’t come for me.
1). Why did Dolores kill Arnold?
My running theory is that Ford programmed Dolores to kill Arnold. I think this BECAUSE Ford later essentially SPOILER rebuilt Arnold (i.e. Bernard) as the perfect companion—someone who was his “partner” but whom he inevitably controlled. Arnold and Ford had fundamentally different ideas for the park. It seems as if Arnold wanted to see if he could create sentience, and if he did, to set those sentient hosts free. Ford seems undoubtedly more power-hungry and likes being a god in the park, able to control everything. He doesn’t want his subjects to leave. I think Ford had Arnold killed and rebirthed him in a mode he could control. The minutiae of Bernard’s movements, such as the way he cleaned his glasses, leads us to believe that Ford is searching for some semblance of his partner. He wants a version of Arnold.
2). Maeve will die. Like, for good this time.
I DON’T WANT THIS TO BE TRUE, BUT I THINK IT IS. Stay with me. Westworld has been renewed for a second season. Thus, we have to assume that the greater plot of androids gaining sentience and causing ruckus in the park will keep getting bigger and bigger. Maeve is already rapidly—or has even already gained—sentience, and she’s building an army. The Westworld creators have enough story for five seasons, and it’s reasonable to assume that Maeve’s storyline—or something similar—is along that arc. However, if Maeve is already there, then where else can she go without being A) killed or B) lobotomized and shuffled back to square one. I love Maeve and I love Thandie Newton’s portrayal of her, so I desperately hope I’m wrong. But I feel like she’s too advanced for them to keep her around if they want to keep the show on for multiple seasons, so they got our hopes up to dash them.
3). MiB is William, who saw Dolores go through the Maze (reach sentience) and thought that the maze was for everyone and would reach total enlightenment.
Can someone tell me exactly what the Maze is? I saw on a Reddit thread people being like “Duh obviously the Maze is just a metaphor and not a real place” and I was like “oH, ha HA who wuld think that not me obvi not me” back when I totally did and thought that an android-ed version of Arnold was in the center. Now I think it refers to the process of an android gaining sentience. So my theory is that the MiB is William, who followed Dolores on her “Mazing” and becoming sentient. However, he got it completely wrong and thought the Maze applied to everyone, when it just applies to hosts. So when his wife dies and his daughter hates him, he’s looking for meaning, so he remembers the Maze. He thinks to himself, “I’ll find life’s meaning that way!” But the Maze isn’t for him.
4). What will happen to Stubbs and Elsie?
Possibly the worst names, but that’s beside the point. I don’t believe that Elsie is dead until I see her cold rigor-mortised corpse on an examining table. And it can’t be a coincidence that they were both taken by unregistered hosts. Maybe Ford is reworking them to be models for other hosts? I don’t think that they’re dead, but maybe they’re not quite alive either…
5). Someone else will be revealed as a host.
This I kinda hope doesn’t happen, because overusing that trick—like how The Vampire Diaries kept bringing people back from the dead so by the eightieth time you didn’t even blink when a favorite character died—will rapidly grow old. But I think that that would be a good twist if it was someone HUGE we didn’t expect. Who it would be, I have no idea.
NOW I’M GONNA STOP WRITING UNTIL IT AIRS AND I CAN COMMENT. OH BOY. SOUNDS LIKE FUN.
1). Dolores killed Arnold because Arnold asked her to.
WOWWOW. Arnold wanted to cripple Westworld into not opening, so he had Dolores kill everybody. Wait, I’m just realizing—He realizes that Dolores has sentience, so he has her kill everyone and then herself? Whatever, I can’t even get into that. Also Dolores was Wyatt all along, which I knew.
2). Maeve DOESN’T DIE.
Thank god(s). Maeve actually has probably my favorite storyline in the entire show, and Thandie Newton deserves an award for her incredible acting. The twist that her “sentience” was part of a program (possibly by Ford) and an “escape” narrative is heartbreaking, and definitely not a twist I was expecting. But her choice to get off the train (thereby undermining her narrative, which was to escape) and go back and search for her “daughter” proves that she is sentient.
3). MiB is William, and William is an asshole.
If you go on Reddit, this one was obvious. But it’s nice to be validated. Also I was SO right about MiB knowing jack shit about the Maze. And the fact that the ‘physical’ Maze ended up being a game reminds me of when Viserys from Game of Thrones wanted his “crown” so Khal Drogo poured molten gold over his head, killing him instantly. Nice memories. Also, William sucked even when he was nice, so it’s no surprise that he sucks when he’s mean, too.
4). Who the fuck knows.
5). This didn’t happen either.
Although the twist that Ford’s last narrative was a robot rebellion is a nice little twist, and adds a lot more nuance to his character than just the decrepit old overlord god. Also whether he’s actually doing the revolution for the right reasons is yet to be seen. Also I suspect that the “Ford” that was killed was a host-Ford.
The following is adapted from a frantic text I sent to myself while I was walking to the gym.
The gala massacre reminded me a lot of Cersei’s killing of everyone via wildfire (RIP Margaery). It’s the kind of shit that’s beautifully orchestrated, and the viewer gets the spine-tingling pleasure of realizing what’s about to happen right before it happens. Both Ford and Cersei would benefit from everyone opposing them being killed, so that’s exactly what they do. I will admit that the Game of Thrones sequence of that killing is one of my favorite television moments ever.
The gala killing closes the loop that began in the park’s nascence, and reinforces the idea of moving “upward” (towards higher living) through repetition. Change happens when you cycle through. The first loop was Arnold’s orchestration of the massacre for the liberation of the hosts. 35 years later, Ford makes the same loop. His loop contains the question of motive. I do believe that he wants the hosts to be out of the control of Delos, but you have to wonder if his actions were edged in retribution. He would never let anyone else have control over his creations.
Quick side bar—Was Charlotte Hale crying while Ford was giving his speech? And if so, why?
In a larger scheme, the gala massacre is the same methodology that Westworld utilized forever. When things get out of control, you wipe the slate clean. You start from the beginning by destroying everything. Creation out of chaos. That raises the concern of “Was that really the right thing to do?” If the hosts are utilizing the same methods that their oppressors have used, aren’t they just stuck in another loop, albeit from a different perspective?
Maeve’s story served largely as a red herring. You were so preoccupied with her rapid rise to sentience, as compared to Dolores’ relative stagnation that you forgot about Dolores when, at least in the eyes of the show, she was the one achieving true sentience. And the purposeful focus on Maeve makes the admission that her escape is a narrative becomes heartbreaking.
The question ringing through the entire season was, “How much pain are you willing to endure until things get better?” It’s how the hosts gain sentience; it’s their/our cornerstones. In fact, it’s only Maeve who’s really showed the power of pain. In the middle of the episode, Maeve asked Bernard to wipe her memories of her daughter. He refuses, as they operate as her cornerstone memory—the memory around which her entire personality was built—and as such would destroy her.
But it’s her memories of her daughter that end up taking her off the train and heading back into the park. It’s what causes her to override her narrative—to Escape—and it’s what marks, in the end, her sentience. Her pain and her love—entertwined—have evolved her into sentience.
In season two, Westworld will undoubtedly play with a wider scope. The brief foray into “Samurai World” and the fact that Maeve’s daughter is in Park 1 (out of how many?) means that there’s a much wider Delos beast. It leads to a lot of questions: Why was Delos so concerned with Westworld and getting their data? Are all the hosts creations of Ford, even the ones from different parks? Will we start the next season in a different World, and have to go through the same thing again? Is that the point of the show, that we go through the same loops over and over, until the small details build up and become something larger?
I fucking hope not.
See you in 2018, Westworld, when I’m a dead-eyed adult.