Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Westworld, Season One, Episode Two: Chestnut

So far, other than the Man in Black, we really haven't seen much of the guests, including how they get into the park or their desire to do so in the first place.  William arrives on a futuristic train with his co-worker Logan, who henceforth shall be described as dudebro because it's the perfect description of this predictable cardboard cutout character. For the most part, everything which happens with William and dudebro feels heavy handed because we've seen this before in so many different shows, films and books. It begins when William is given a choice of what he wants to wear, right down to a white hat or a black hat.  William picks the white hat, telecasting to the audience that he sees himself as a good and decent man.  Dudebro is encouraging William to let go of his inhibitions and be who he is meant to be. Naturally, Dudebro is hoping that this means William will join him in some debauchery and mindless violence.   The job of the residents is to entice the guests into some sort of story line and or fantasy.  I guess if you're paying, someone else should do the work.  Each time a resident tries to draw William in, Dudebro is there to push them away, at one point using a knife to stab through a residents hand. Anyone else curious about a knife which can only harm robots and not humans?

Unlike William, when Dudebro is offered a sexual encounter, he is quick to jump on it and participates in group sex with the robots.  It's worth noting that Dudebro embraces a male robot when they first arrive and later a male robot appears in bed with him.  Westworld could be implying that Dudebro is bisexual but don't hold your breathe folks because his primary interests so far seem to be heterosexual. William is able to resist the sexual temptation claiming to have someone back home he is saving himself for.  We do however see a potential crack in his veil of goodness when he spies Dolores for the first time.

The other guest of note is of course the Man in Black and his continuing trail of violence.  In the last episode, he made it clear before he raped Delores that he plays the game harder than anyone else.  This week he is in search of a maze and to access it, he has no problem killing robot after robot. Sure, he acknowledges that this isn't real and the audience knows that the technicians will gather the bodies and get them functioning again, but this is still inexplicably violent.  Finally, after shooting a mother in front of her husband and child, the child steps forward (and quite out of character at that) to give the Man in Black the information he is seeking.  We can probably expect the Man in Black to become increasingly violent as he searches for the maze, a level not normally accessible to guests.

The residents continue to have glitches.  A major one is set off when Dolores tells Maeve what her father did, setting off some unscripted behaviour in Maeve.  Maeve does her typical script about the bad girl inside her to entice guests into a sexual liaison but she is clearly triggered and remembers her own run in with the Man in Black. It's enough for Maeve to face being decommissioned permanently. In the middle of one of her flashbacks, Maeve closes her eyes, wishing the bad dream away and wakes in the Westworld Lab to find two technicians working on her. Maeve grabs a scalpel, gets away from the technicians and starts to explore only to be caught again.  When next we see Maeve, she's back in Westworld going through her spiel to entice guests into having sex.

What's clear is that no matter how the technicians wipe the robots memories, they are slowly becoming sentient and becoming aware that not only is their world fake but that each day they are subjected to some new form of depravity for the purposes of entertainment.  Dolores remembers the big shoot out that happened last week and that it left the center of town littered with bodies.  Maeve remembers her encounter with the Man in Black, her daughter from another storyline and being held captive by Indigenous robots.  Right now, the robots cannot hurt the guests.  The guns the robots have don't have any effect whatsoever but what happens when they become aware and decide that they are done with the violence and the horror? This is why Dolores digging up a gun at the behest of a mysterious voice deepens the mystery.  Is that a real gun and will Dolores finally have a weapon to use against the Man in Black when he attacks next?

The people who work at Westworld, are absolutely complicit in what is happening in the park. Not only are they responsible for patching the robots up, but creating new story lines as well.  They spend a lot time trying to figure out what went wrong with Peter Abernathy, wondering whether the picture he found set him off.  It made me want to scream, "hey stupid, remember Ford's code"?

When the Man in Black goes on his first rampage, there's some discussion in the control room about whether he should be told slow down given his extensive slaughter and it's made clear that the Man in Black can do whatever he wants in the park.  This is enough to make me wonder exactly who the Man in Black is and why more than any other guest, he exists with so much power.

Bernard has been spending some private time with Dolores.  It's worth noting that Dolores is the oldest robot in the park.  He seems to be seeking answers from her about how much she remembers and her sense of self. Clearly, Bernard sees that something is most definitely wrong but he's more fascinated with the glitch, than seeing it as a threat to the world which he helps to maintain.

Bernard is also having an affair with Theresa which given his experiments with Dolores, is going to put her in a difficult position. They don't exactly have a loving relationship and Theresa seems to be primarily interested in the physical side of it.  It's not often that media portrays a woman seeking sex for her own gratification, so this reveals yet another side to Theresa.

Ford has been a lot more busy than inventing some new code for the robots.  We see him enter the park taking a look at his latest advancement.  Yes, the guests to some degree see this as magic but that's not what it is to him.  He believes that the guests know who they are and that what they are seeking is not more blood gore and debauchery but an unexpected experience - something that isn't rehearsed and well telegraphed. This explains why the center of the town is the most mild and the further one goes from the center, the more intense it all gets.  It makes sense, especially for someone like the Man in Black, who has been visiting the park for 3 decades. Playing out the same adventure repeatedly would get boring.  However, I believe that the lack of real danger would also present potential for boredom.  Why participate in a shoot out, if you know that you cannot get hurt|? The Man in Black seems to love the violence for the sake of violence but as William shows us, this certainly cannot be a universal feeling for everyone.

The script writer has created a brand new story line and Ford is quick to pull the plug. He's not worried about what investors think because he has been working on something for awhile.  Is Ford secretly pulling the strings behind the new sentience of the robots? I guess we will have to wait for next week to see what he has in store.