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Episodes 1 & 2

About two-thirds of the way through the second episode of HBO’s Westworld, we get a speech from Park Director Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins) that could have easily come from the show’s writer’s room shutting down a bad idea…

“No, I don’t think so. What is the point of it? You get a couple of cheap thrills, some surprises, but it’s not enough. It’s not about giving the guests what you think they want. That’s simple: titillation, elation, horror, their politics. The guests don’t return for the obvious things we do, the garish things. They come back because of the subtleties, the details. They come back because they discover something they imagine no one had ever noticed before. They’re not looking for a story that tells them who they are. The already know who they are. They’re here because they want a glimpse of who they could be.” – Robert Ford

This may as well describe the kind of films and television that capture our imaginations, the ones that keep us coming back because they challenged us and made us think and we came a way inspired and excited.  Westworld isn’t supposed to be a guided tour through a cheap fun house ride but a complex matrix of interwoven story lines that leave the newcomers satisfied but also craving more.

It’s an ambitious idea that expands a simple film concept into 10 hours of television drama and another “Bad Robot” reboot hoping to cash in on our childhood nostalgia by serving it back up with new layers of meaning and mature themes.

Logan, the veteran traveler to Westworld, tries to keep his friend (okay, coworker) William from falling into the novice “quests” because, as he says on the train, Westworld is far more than an amusement park; it is a way of figuring out who you really are (a line echoed later in the quote above by John Hammond’s cybernetic doppelganger, Robert Ford.

Last post, I floated the idea that these newcomers are in the past, perhaps 30 years in the past around the time of the park’s last big meltdown.  It seemed to fit at the time.  But.  Maybe I am wrong about William and Logan being from the past.  The more I think about it the more I suspect they’re from the future, experiencing the new story line hinted in Episode 2.   The train and the arrival station look different.  Teddy is not on board (what we saw) and it was William who bumped the sinister gunman in the street.  Instead of Maeve, we find Clementine outside the brothel.  Perhaps Teddy and Maeve were decommissioned after their repeated breakdowns?  The group of men mustering for a manhunt are now recruiting for a war.  Initially I thought it might be earlier, representing the Indian battles seen in Maeve’s flashmares, but could it be Sizemore’s new story line edited to suit Robert Ford’s vision?  I’m not totally convinced of either option, but it is a cool storytelling device.

Questions:

  1. How is it that The Gunslinger could sustain interest in Westworld for 30 years knowing there is absolutely no danger, no risk, just complete fulfillment? He even seems bored with replaying the same “levels” or “chapters” in his adventures but does so because he thinks there is something deeper.  He’s hinted at a kind of Dirk Gently holistic connection between all things leading to some more intriguing mystery in a maze which may be metaphorical or real at this point.  But if we accept that he is a human guest of the park (the park’s head of security called him a “guest” but doesn’t go so far as to confirm his humanity) he’s been at this a long time.  It also suggests that the characters and situations haven’t changed much in 30 years which supports the idea that William and Logan are in the past and that William is the Gunslinger after all.
  2. At the apex of her grief, the android daughter confesses the location of The Maze’s entrance to the Gunfighter. She adds, “The maze is not intended for you.”  Could this mean the Gunfighter is a rogue android and the maze is the down-under repair and management facility?  Or could it just mean the area is off-limits to customers?  Or is it some new, mystic bullshit thrown out by the writer to develop the mythology behind the show?
  3. Who is going to kill Lee Sizemore? What a cartoonish twat-waffle.
  4. Was the little lost boy a young, robotic Robert Ford? They sure went out of their way to suggest it.
  5. Is Ford looking out at the future (meaning present) Westworld at the end, where he talks to his mini-Ford about the “white church” which already stands in town? #4 and #5 are some serious retro-Lost mind games.
  6. Is the discoverwestworld.com web site canon? There are some interesting clues there if so.
  7. I’m still not sure about how the arcs work. From the Hosts’ perspective, if they are “killed” they wake up at the beginning of their story cycle.  How long might that be?  Are there newcomers arriving every day?
  8. Is Teddy really intended to be Dolores’ primary love interest or just a place holder in case a Newcomer doesn’t pick up her canned goods? I know there’s a non-can-related connection between them, but it isn’t consistent.
  9. We’ve seen Teddy drinking alone at the saloon a few times in Maeve’s various reboots. Are these reboots crossing weeks of planned storytelling?  According to the web site, newcomers can only stay 28 days.  Does that mean a cycle lasts that long or that there’s some natural “restart” within that time?
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