Westworld: Reunion

“Have you ever seen anything so full of splendor?”

Time is out of joint, and questions of mortality and godhood are raised.

I must reiterate that I love how Westworld is fully embracing its own nonlinear narrative structure. It allows us to explore the history of the park and its characters, to realize how the past has led directly to present events.

It takes it even further here than in the premiere.

New Beginnings

As she unveils the truth of her kind’s existence and mounts her forces, Dolores is revealed to know quite a lot that will prove useful in her quest. Not only is she aware of the technology that has ruled her life, she also remembers her own past, fragmented as it is. We focus on her memories of being exposed to the real world and the grand ambitions of her former masters.

Through her lens we see how Westworld became the marvelous world phenomena that we saw from the start. While Arnold took a detour by sightseeing with Dolores, the real reason he and Ford brought her out into the real world was to seduce Logan Delos into funding their park. They instead used Angela, since Arnold couldn’t bring himself to exploit his prized creation like that.

Needless to say, that worked. Logan is blown away by the state of the art hosts, only to later become a hopeless drug addict after witnessing firsthand how the park truly brings out the worst in people, costing him the respect of his family or the reward of their legacy.

Dolores also witnessed William selling his father-in-law James Delos on the park’s potential. He’s convinced to invest in the fantasy world for the vast data-mining benefits they will yield from its rich and powerful clientele. Considering Delos is last seen with an Incurable Cough of Death, I'm guessing his real aim with the hoarding of DNA was to find a cure for whatever disease was killing him. Maybe it worked and Delos is still alive; it was briefly mentioned last season that William is some kind of philanthropist whose charities have saved lives.

Tainted Love

Anyway, I find it amusingly poetic that the the park’s success and the entire machine uprising came as a result of a nasty break-up between the android Dolores and the human William, our former star-crossed lovers.

Although he has made the full transformation from a hapless drone to a vicious corporate shark and cynically claims that he sees her as “just a thing”, young William clearly still has complicated feelings for Dolores. Why else would he bring her out into the real world to show off his beautiful wife and daughter in front of her, or make her a witness to the super-secret project he built within the park?

Sadly, past Dolores appears to have not been so different. When she sees William with his family, there is a faint glimmer of recognition; seemed like William saw it too. Even in her waking dream state, it must have been terribly confusing to see this man treating her so spitefully when part of her remembers the love they shared.

In the present, Dolores and William are making separate journeys to the same destination. Where his younger self believed he was answering “a question no one has ever even dreamed of asking,” the Man in Black now sees his mysterious project as his greatest mistake, which he wants to destroy along with Westworld. Meanwhile, Dolores sees it as a weapon she can use to destroy humanity and conquer their world.

Road to Glory

Perhaps this will tie in to the Valley of Death where the mass killing of all the hosts took place two weeks later. Maybe the death of their host bodies is just one step towards entrance into the Valley Beyond, Glory or whatever it really is.

The bit where Dolores has Major Craddock and his Confederados gunned down and then resurrected as her own soldiers might be hinting at this. Her dialogue to Craddock has a devilish flair which, combined with the inappropriate Last Supper organization of the dining Confederados and the resurrection aspect, makes it seem as if Dolores intends to storm the gates of Heaven and dethrone the almighty: humanity. William even compares himself and his Delos brethren to gods overseeing the denizens of Westworld, both man and machine.

Now that she is awake, Dolores is wasting no time in stripping away the deceptions of her world. She invades one of the park’s outposts, takes hostages and makes Teddy realize that he’s been murdered over and over for the amusement of others. She then uses the techs to locate and recruit the Confederados for her army.

William has the same idea, but discovers that he’s the one facing the limitations as opposed to the hosts. He’s nearly killed rescuing Lawrence, his favorite host companion. They travel to Pariah, where William attempts to persuade the new El Lazo and his rebels to fight for him. Unfortunately for William (and those who were hoping Giancarlo Esposito would be more than a cameo), the late Ford enacts his will once again and makes the rebels kill themselves to prevent William from gaining an unfair advantage. For some reason, Lawrence doesn’t count, so he might have a greater role to play in William’s arc beyond acting as his henchman and whipping boy. They proceed on their quest.

As Teddy later points out, all the hosts are looking for the same thing: the Valley Beyond, Glory, etc. I assume that all of these relate back to what the child Ford host told William, that the point of this new game is to escape, to find The Door. Whether any of them realize it or not, all of the humans and robots are aiming for the same prize. A way out of Westworld.

Somehow I doubt that will happen too soon. I mean, in a lot of ways Westworld's most important character is the park itself. Or maybe the virtual reality will consume actual reality. Maybe the end will be a reversal of the beginning. Instead of futuristic humans playing god with an artificial recreation of the old west, maybe the cybernetic ghosts of the old west will rise to haunt the human world of tomorrow.

Loops and reveries:

* Anyone else slightly disturbed by Arnold planting the idea that humans don’t deserve their world in Dolores’ head? Just because not every one of us stops to gaze wonderingly at a glowing cityscape doesn’t mean we all deserve to be terminated, right? However, it’s also kind of adorable how Arnold basically viewed Dolores as his child, since he saw so much of his son’s wonder and innocence in her.

* I think I forgot after awhile that the park is catered to the wealthiest of the wealthy, and it made me realize that basically all the human characters we’ve met have either been corporate elites, smug super-geniuses or stinking rich weirdos. The most low class people we’ve seen are probably the guys who handle the massacred corpses, like Felix or Dolores’ new human slave.

* While we can’t account for the lower class yet, the world of the future seems to be a pretty sweet deal for the upper class. Sprawling cities, palatial mansions, and an environment that appears largely stable and intact.

* The hosts no longer seem to be coded to blind themselves to things that don’t fit into their narratives. Lawrence watches in mild fascination as William busts out a futuristic med-kit and treats his gunshot wound, and Craddock is understandably confused when one of his dead compatriots seemingly returns from the grave.

* William's dialogue is too good. His speech to Lawrence about belief in God was excellent, especially the part about it being "some fairy tale to convince people to behave, pay their taxes, and not take a machete to their neighbors." Ed Harris really owns this role. And for that matter, Jimmi Simpson is doing a stellar job at playing the past version of this character.

* We get a beautiful little showdown between our two revolutionary women, Dolores and Maeve. I like that Maeve refused to join Dolores' insane crusade, that Dolores respected her autonomy, and that they were backed up by their mutual boyfriends, Teddy and Hector. It was also fascinating to see the differences in their individual developments. Maeve continues to choose free will over submission to another master and raises a fascinating point, suggesting that Dolores's mission makes her no different from their human overlords. She sees that Dolores' end goal is to essentially become the new overlord that dictates reality and treats everyone like puppets, which may in fact just be part of her programming as per Ford's design. In this way, Maeve seems more evolved than Dolores. Maeve is actively denying her scripted narrative by delaying her escape to search for the girl who was once her daughter. Of all the hosts, Maeve might be the most human.

Quotes:

Arnold: (regarding the city lights) You get used to it. After awhile, it doesn’t look like anything at all.

Dolores: A strange new light can be just as frightening as the dark.

Logan: They’re all so painfully human.
They are, aren't they? Of course, the relevance of this line is completely lost on Logan.

Dolores: I can only fathom the revenge that lives inside you.
Maeve: Revenge is just another prayer at their altar.

Lawrence: He was dead. Or at least the better part of it.
William: Well, dead ain’t what it used to be, Lawrence.

James Delos: My fuckup of a son invested in this place because he believed in the future. I’m not interested in the future. I’m not interested in fantasies. I’m interested in reality.
William: I think in 20 years this will be the only reality that matters.

Dolores: We have toiled in God’s service long enough. So I killed him. And if you want to get to Glory, you won’t be looking for His favor. You’ll need mine.

Logan: You know what they’re really celebrating? That, darling, is the sound of fools fiddling while the whole fuckin’ species starts to burn. And the funniest fuckin’ thing? They lit the match. So here’s to you, assholes. May your forever be blissfully short.

Not a whole lot actually happened in this episode, but it was still a treat. Three out of four living dead robots.

5 comments:

Patryk said...

With all the twists that Westworld pull on us I now think that the "real world" that Arnold was showing Dolores was just one of the 6 parks, an early model without human hosts, just a recreation of the world that once was and maybe the real world is an apocalyptic wasteland and there is actually nothing to fight over. That would tie into Logan's rant at the party too.

But maybe my imagination is running wild thanks to the fascinating show.

Patryk said...

Adding to that theory is Williams line to Delos senior about this becoming the real world in 30 years. You might take the line literally instead of as VR will become reality.

And Arnold said that he's building a home for his family to bring his two worlds closer together. Maybe he's literally building adding stuff to the faux real world park.

Just food for thought. I'm just as behind on the show as the reviews, I was waiting for them before I start. :)

Logan Cox said...

Patryk, I'm with you as far as endless speculation goes. With the number of complex ideas this show is playing with, it's no wonder it sets our minds on fire like this every week. Though, I admit I hadn't considered the possibility that "the real world" we've glimpsed so far might be just as artificial as the parks. That would certainly be trippy. I haven't seen the original Westworld's sequel, Futureworld, but many feel that this season is apparently veering toward concepts introduced in that movie.

I'll have my reviews caught up soon, that way neither of us will be behind on new developments in the series.

TheShadowKnows said...

I HAVE seen Futureworld, and I believe the show is indeed headed in that direction - more or less.

(In Futureworld, Delos was building duplicates of world leaders to allow it to take over the world. I believe Delos on the show has been doing something similar. However, Delores is now planning to hijack their project...)

Patryk said...

I hope You didn't take my comment as a complaint, with Westworld it's better to wait for all episodes and watch them together. So much is happening that's best not forgotten between eps.