Friday, November 4, 2016

Westworld Review and Theories

HBO's Westworld

Bechdel Test: pass
Mako Mori Test: pass
Sexy Lamp Test: pass

There are only five episodes so far, but it is quickly approaching monuments levels on the DZA Review Scale.


It's RinnReads Sci-fi Month! Whoo-hoo!

Basically all this event is is a bunch of bloggers geeking out about science fiction. As if we need an excuse to do that. :)

To kick off this glorious occasion, I've binge-watched the entirety of the new HBO show Westworld. That's not as impressive as it sounds, as there are only five episodes so far. But they're each an hour long and I did it in three days, so it sure felt impressive.

The sci-fi Western genre has always captivated me. It's the clash of the sleek, elegant technology of the future with the rustic grit of the Old West that somehow mesh together beautifully. In that alone, Westworld is a master.

The concept: humans have created a theme park, called Westworld, where people can go and literally do whatever they want. The "hosts" are all robots that all have personalities and backstories, but they all believe they're human. The human visitors can do whatever they want with and to the hosts, and the hosts cannot kill the humans.

That concept alone, of course, brings out the very worst of the human visitors. In the first twenty minutes of the pilot, our main villain butchers a family and rapes the rancher's daughter. All because he can. There's nothing anyone can do here that will stop him. (Side note: that daughter, Dolores, spends the first four episodes being the damsel--because that's what she's programmed to do--and in episode five turns into a complete badass.)

While I do believe that there is evil in every human being, the one thing that I have to complain about this show is that it marginalizes the good in humans. All but one (maybe two) of the "good" guys are robots. And the majority of the villains, people with very questionable motives, and apathetic characters are human. While the very purpose of the park is to "unleash the beast within" and all that crap, the fact that 90% of all the humans are bad guys, from the guests at the park to the owners, just strikes me as wrong. There is evil in every human, yes, and it does come out. But there's also good in every human. I wish Westworld did a better job of representing that.

As you can see, it's a very thought-provoking show. The story is all-consuming The actors are incredible and the characters have depth. The plot keeps you guessing. While all the characters are safe to a certain extent (all of the robots keep getting killed in horrible, bloody ways, and the park just fixes them right up and sends them back in), you don't know what they're going to do. Especially now that the robots, who cannot hurt a living thing, are now beginning to rebel.


Theories

One of the biggest questions of the show is Arnold, the co-creator of the park who died more than thirty years ago. How did he die, and why are all of the "malfunctioning" robots talking to him? And then of course there's the maze, the center of which everyone seems to be trying to find.

My theory as to Arnold's death is that Dolores is the one who killed him, as she was the last person to see him alive. We've seen that she is capable of killing living things: the fly at the end of the pilot. Arnold may very well have programmed her to be able to kill, had her kill him in his fit of insanity, and the ability to do that got lost somewhere amid all the updates and tinkering she's been through.

I think the center of the maze is the key to unlocking that ability. That once whatever's in the center is unleashed, the robots will be able to fight back with violence. Arnold wanted to destroy the park, and that is an excellent way to do it. Also, the Man in Black seems eager to put some actual risk in the game. He's so bored with life that even the park has grown old. He wants to create a real Wild West, where people stand to lose something.

As for Arnold himself, I think he managed to put a piece of his consciousness into the robots' code. A drive to reach the center of the maze and destroy Westworld.

If and when the robots do manage to gain their freedom, it really will be the Wild West.

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Thanks for reading! :)

Comments are love! What are your opinions and theories about Westworld?

4 comments:

  1. Interesting article. I just want to add that there are some hosts fitted with a satellite communication device. Even Dolores. So I believe that the maze isn't in the park at all. It's somewhere else and Arnold is at the centre of the maze.

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    1. Huh. I hadn't even considered that. I'm going to have to mull that one over. Thank you for the comment!

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  2. I am liking this show a lot. And it is thought provoking. Some of the best scenes involve Maeve I think. I think it's going to be very chilling when the robots go into "Rebel" mode, as you allude to. the guests may not be quite so safe then! And I think William (or is it Logan? the bad one anyway) is gonna get offed.

    I think you may be right about Arnold. And of course there's the multiple timeline theory, that Logan and William were in the park years ago, not "now". I was skeptical of that but now I'm not so sure.

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    1. Time is so iffy on this show that I wouldn't be surprised if the timeline theory was correct.

      I think you're right about Logan (black hat) getting killed. His character doesn't seem to have much purpose other than pissing people off.

      Thanks for the comment! :)

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