The Dissonance in Westworld is More Than Just a Theory
This episode of Westworld is the most intriguing episode so far. And not in the “I thought about it later and it was intriguing” but the “WHAT! Did you see that shit?!” kind of interesting.
So much happens in this episode. So much. I admire other writers who can make sense of this shit. All I can do is juggle the pieces in my head and hope for a semblance of logic and clarity. I’m not there yet.
So let’s talk about the big shit, shall we?
Dr. Ford is a creeper.
Yeah, I said it. He’s a damn creeper. He’s spent decades creating and perfecting victims for the sadistic games men play. He has collected data on all the employees and Guests and modified the Hosts to accommodate. It is obvious that there are many things going on in the park. Many secret things, and the secret things we know about just scratch the surface. My significant other keeps reminding me that this is the team who worked on Lost, so we should expect bullshit. I laugh because it’s true.
Dr. Ford is actively changing the physical, emotional, and psychological environment of the park. He’s introducing an extensive storyline that’s changing the Hosts’ motivations and backstories. Remember, we started the show off with Dr. Ford introducing new code to the Hosts, code that caused some glitches. I don’t think that was unintentional. I think Dr. Ford is a man who has become so accustomed to playing god that he cannot stop, not even in the real world.
He threatens Theresa. He warns her off Bernard. He takes pleasure in showing her that he knows about her past and has influence over her future. That moment when he let her know the Board was making moves without her knowledge? He did that to shake her up and he was successful.
Dr. Ford is… he’s a monster. I’m not sure if he always was. As he’s talking to Theresa, he mentions how he and his deceased partner, Arnold, had a bet going about maintaining the balance between good and evil in the park. He says how they had 100 hopeful storylines that no one ever played. The park showed Dr. Ford the worst of humanity, and once the park had shareholders interested in increasing their profits, he found himself having to cater to what customers, Guests, wanted. And they wanted to inflict pain, commit murder, have sex, and enact abuse without punishment.
Let me be real clear here. Dr. Ford is a complete creep and monster. He may not have started out in the beginning of the park that way, but as we see more of his character, he gets uglier. When you think about it, who makes a park full of life-like victims and unleashes violent wannabe predators on them?
Like Peter said in episode 1, “Hell is empty and all the devils are here.” Like Sisyphus eternally pushing his rock uphill, the Hosts are condemned to repeat the same routines over and over until the Guests descend and launch them into chaos. They don’t get to progress. They don’t get to continue. They get to rinse and repeat. Isn’t one of the definitions of insanity doing the exact same thing and expecting a different result? The difference here is that usually the Hosts’ memories are usually erased, at least they were.
Now they lack even that protection.
We don’t truly understand how the human body works. A few years back I had blood clots in my lungs that killed part of my lung tissue. Within 24 hours of being hospitalized and on supplemental oxygen, my body created new pathways and I didn’t need the oxygen anymore.
Who is to say that these Hosts are not capable of doing the same, provided they have external support.
Thing is, Bernard keeps giving the Hosts more and more leeway to adapt and improvise. Dr. Ford’s code gave them access to past experiences. These Hosts are becoming the sum of their experiences, instead of just the enactors of their programming.
What’s weird to me is that Dr. Ford examines and watches everything and everyone. He knows that the Man in Black is running unchecked through the park. He knows that Bernard is talking with Delores and hasn’t rolled her programming back. He knows these things are happening.
I’m very curious to see the motivation behind his choices.
Also, why did he feel the need to threaten Theresa. And that was definitely a threat. He clearly has final word on the park’s operations and while it is Theresa’s job to protect the shareholder’s interests, Dr. Ford controls the creative direction and the Hosts. It makes sense for them to be at odds, so I guess he’s just showing her that he has always won the war.
The good, the bad, and the do I really care?
Maeve. She was a straight BOSS. Thandie has my attention and watching her figure out what’s happening to her is just…it’s got me a tad invested.
From the moment we see her in the saloon talking with Clementine to the moment she cut her own abdomen to find the mysterious bullet, she had me riveted. Her story, the story of someone lost and trying to find her way, is amazing. Once Hector enters the scene, the chemistry between them is hot fire. I really like Hector. He knows that world ain’t shit. He doesn’t understand how or why, but he knows.
The use of mystical natives as harbingers of things to come. Such a horrible racial stereotype that needs to go away. Then there is the way Bernard spoke so condescendingly to Theresa and she called it charming. That shit was irritating to the extreme. They are peers and he needs to regard her as such. Ugh.
Theresa pretty much got kicked around the entire episode. Bernard let her know that she’s easy to read and Dr. Ford let her know that not only is she expendable, the Company is already operating like she’s a non-entity. It was kind of hard to watch. Not that this is unusual. They have made Delores childlike, despite her appearance as a grown woman.
The “do I really care?”
Thanks to Bernard, both Delores and The Man in Black are seeking the maze, the secret game, hidden in plain sight, that is meant to free all who find the center. Riddles that are etched into the bodies of its secret keepers. Clue one was etched in a skull. Clue two was etched on skin. I wonder where clue three will be.
We see Delores’ story. She is learning, adapting, being guided. The Man in Black claims his motive is to learn the park’s final secret. Yet, as he continues this path, he keeps finding new secrets – Hosts he hasn’t met; towns he hasn’t visited. Relationships he hasn’t known of. I guess finding the Maze is a complicated and intentional task that intersects storylines in ways they haven’t been in the past. Or, maybe this is the result of Dr. Ford’s new narrative as he reinvents the world.
Thing is, in Westworld, we live in the mind of someone who’s had decades to play with life-like robots. A man who is used to playing god, and who, has free reign if he provides paying customers with ever changing, violently decadent distractions. In Westworld, we have an ever-evolving story that is starting to feel a little Inception-ish and manipulative.
There are a bunch of things that got me fucked up about this show, the biggest being the shifting Park narrative. You realize what kind of monkey wrench that throws into the machine for us watching the show, right? We are watching a story about a story actively being rewritten both by the Guests and the Programmers. The characters we met in episode 1 are not the same characters they are in episode 4. The continuity of these characters is broken. Any mention of Wyatt is a change from what was. We are watching a show about a story being rewritten while we watch. I mean, from what I understand about TV shows, that’s usually how it goes but it feels weird to me. We’ll see.
So those are my thoughts on episode 4 of Westworld. I’m withholding on theories this week because now that I’m aware of the constantly shifting landscape, I want to let a few things marinate.