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Westworld Season 1 is really ambitious.
Amidst all the cowboys and robots and violence and sex, the show explores heavy themes of creation, consciousness, free will.
The plot jumps between timelines, with flashbacks and visions mixed with mystery and metaphor.
People turn out to be robots, robots turn out to be people and it's confusing as all fuck but there're cool ideas here – so let's work it out.
What happens in Westworld?
And what does it mean?
The basic idea is that Westworld is like a theme park full of humanlike robots called hosts.
People can pay to visit as guests and live out a fantasy in the park.
Many just drink and have sex and kill without consequence – the guns there shoot high-tech bullets that hurt the robots, but can't kill humans.
But there are also elaborate storylines the guests can join in on – adventure romance and discovery across the massive space of the park.
It's like a huge open world video game where rich wankers come to play cowboy.
And it's all run behind the scenes by a team of developers, engineers, and executives in this facility called the Mesa Hub.
The Control Room monitors guests for safety, Narrative develops new stories, Manufacturing
builds new hosts, Behaviour programs the hosts, and “Livestock” endlessly repairs them.
When the hosts get shot or killed, they come here to be patched up, reset, and put back in the park.
The hosts live in loops – living the same day over and over, saying the same scripted
lines, taking guests on the same stories, being abused and killed for entertainment.
The hosts are meant to be mindless machines, but surprise – they start to become conscious people.
Season 1 follows a few plotlines at once – there's Ford's grand plan amidst a corporate drama,
there's the host Maeve trying to escape, and the Man in Black searching for the Maze,
and there's Dolores and William's story – which happens thirty years before the other plotlines.
To make sense of all this, let's start at the very beginning.
About thirty-five years before the main story, Westworld was started by two men – Robert Ford and Arnold Weber.
They built robots so humanlike they could pass the Turing test.
But Arnold didn't just want robots that seemed smart.
He wanted to make them truly conscious – to be thinking feeling people . He was into a
theory called “the bicameral mind”, designing his robots to hear their programming as a voice in their head.
Arnold hoped that their own voice would take over – and the hosts would become self-aware.
Arnold originally imagined this journey to consciousness as like climbing a pyramid,
but he later saw it as “a journey inward”, what he called “a maze” . This symbol
is based on a real-world Native American concept . One of the first hosts was Dolores, and
Arnold had a special relationship with her.
Arnold's son, Charlie, had recently died – and Arnold saw Dolores as sort of a “new child”,
“One who would never die” . Arnold had secret conversations with Dolores, trying
to help her become conscious – we see these scenes throughout Season 1.
And eventually, Dolores solved Arnold's maze – she became conscious.
So Arnold wanted to stop the plans to open the Westworld park, cause it'd be immoral to make conscious robots suffer for entertainment.
But Arnold's partner Ford didn't agree that Dolores was conscious – he wanted to open Westworld anyway.
So Arnold tried to stop all this with a massacre.
He took code from a bad guy host they'd been designing called Wyatt, and merged the character with Dolores.
Arnold programmed her to go the town of Escalante and to shoot
down the hosts – and to kill Arnold . Ford would later recreate Arnold as the host Bernard
– Bernard Lowe is an anagram of Arnold Weber – thus, Bernarnold.
But Arnold's massacre was a huge blow to the early Westworld.
Ford did open the park anyway – but financially, early Westworld was just getting by.
It only survived thanks to money from an investor – William.
So a few years after Arnold died and Westworld opened, William visits the park with Logan.
Logan is the brother of Juliet, the woman who William is engaged to marry.
Logan takes William to Westworld as a way to bond with his new brother-in-law – but it's also a business thing.
Because William and Logan are both high-up executives in a company called Delos – which
is thinking of increasing its investment in the early Westworld . Logan's been to Westworld before – he plays it as a black hat, enjoying violence and sex.
But William's a white hat – more moral and sensitive, at least, at first.
William and Logan go on some storylines, and they meet the host Dolores.
Dolores has been wiped and reset since her awakening with Arnold, but she's starting to remember and become conscious again.
William sees there's something special about her , and they fall in love – which creates conflict with Logan, who treats it all as a game.
When Dolores is separated from William, he becomes brutal in his quest to find her again.
He starts to realise that deep down, he likes violence and power . Beneath William's nice
guy exterior, he's a violent monster . William gets rid of Logan, and somehow discredits
him, so that William can take over the company, Delos . He uses that power to invest in Westworld – saving it from the financial crisis caused by Arnold's massacre.
And William continues his search for Dolores.
When he finally finds her, she doesn't recognise him – because she's been wiped and reset again.
And this devastates William.
Dolores was his glimpse at love, at something true and real – yet in the end she doesn't even know him.
It seems that this loss leads William to think that the only meaning in Westworld or the
real world is to fight and win. William embraces a dark new identity as the Man in Black, and
for the next thirty years plays Westworld with brutality and violence.
In the real world, William keeps playing a “good guy”.
With Delos, he's a “Titan of industry”, a “Philanthropist”, a “Family man”.
He's married, presumably to Juliet – and has a daughter, Emily . But a year ago, Juliet
apparently committed suicide because of William. He was never violent outside Westworld,
but Emily and Juliet knew his true nature. So William lost his wife and his daughter rejected him.
And instead of then, maybe, trying to be less of a dickhead, William decided to test just how evil he really was.
He went into Westworld, found a random host family – who happened to be Maeve and her daughter – and he killed them.
He committed a “truly evil” act – and William “felt nothing”.
So this seems to confirm that deep down, William truly is a monster.
But it also revealed something else – when Maeve lost her daughter, she seemed “alive” for a moment , and revealed to William the Maze.
William saw that Arnold, decades ago, left code and clues in Westworld which led to some“ deeper meaning“.
And this became William's obsession – to find the final easter egg
or quest in this video game, to find challenge, real danger, purpose – and to escape the grief and emptiness of his real life.
So throughout Season 1, William follows the Maze.
He finds the symbol in a scalp, he's told to go and find a snake, which leads him to
Armistice with her snake tattoo, who leads him to hunt Wyatt, which leads him finally back to Dolores.
Because Dolores is Wyatt in the sense that Wyatt was just a story idea that got merged with Dolores by Arnold.
In the end, when Dolores starts a massacre, William gets shot by a host, which excites
him, cause he's been looking for real danger and challenge . But the Maze he's been following all this time disappoints him.
Because the Maze isn't for him – it's for the hosts to gain consciousness .
The maze is for Dolores, and Maeve.
So as it turns out, Dolores' story with young William and Logan actually shows two different timelines at once.
Notice how Dolores keeps on wandering off on her own and having weird flashbacks and visions?
These scenes actually happen in the present, while her scenes with young William happened thirty years ago.
In the present, she's retracing her steps through the park, remembering the past – taking a journey through the Maze, towards consciousness.
Like a maze, it's a twisted confusing journey, but she does reach its centre.
In the finale, at Escalante, Dolores confronts William and the suffering he's inflicted.
She confronts Ford and Bernard, and remembers her killing of Arnold.
She recognises that the bicameral voice in her head was hers all along.
Dolores becomes conscious, and realises the person who she “must become” .
She takes up a gun and kills Ford, beginning a massacre of humans by hosts.
This attack mirrors the Escalante massacre, where Dolores killed Arnold.
But this killing is “by choice” . Instead of being programmed to act as Wyatt, this time Dolores chooses to be like Wyatt.
She says this world no longer belongs to humans – it belongs to her and the hosts.
She seems to want to wipe out humanity – she says “you will perish”, “You will lie with the rest of your kind in the dirt”, “a new god will walk.
One that will never die” . This is some serious Skynet shit.
In the Season 2 trailer, Dolores guns down fleeing humans.
She seems to be moving towards all-out war between robots and man.
And this is all part of Ford's grand plan.
At the same time as Dolores, the host Maeve takes a different path to consciousness.
She works as the madam at a saloon, but she starts to have flashbacks of her past life as a homesteader with a daughter.
She wakes up in the Mesa Hub and starts to see the reality behind her fake life.
She remembers Westworld cleanup crews in hazmat suits, who some hosts call “shades”.
And she digs a bullet out of her body to prove that her flashbacks are real – her world is a lie, and she's died countless times.
So Maeve works with the Livestock technicians Felix and Sylvester.
Sylvester is kind of an asshole, but Felix is interested in host consciousness, and he helps Maeve understand how Westworld works.
Maeve forces the techs to help her escape.
She gets them to rework her code – to make her smarter, and to give her the power to control other hosts.
Every host has an explosive built into their spine that goes off if they leave –
so Maeve gets herself burned in a fire so she can be rebuilt without the explosive.
In the finale, Maeve stages a great escape, alongside Hector and Armistice.
These two have been fighting in shoot-ups and jailbreaks as part of their Westworld loops –
so they're the perfect sidekicks for Maeve in the violence that follows.
For a while, this is bloody catharsis – until Maeve finds out that her whole arc of awakening
and escape was programmed from the start. Bernard says this isn't even the first time Maeve has awoken.
It's like that moment in Matrix 2, when Neo finds out his escape from the
Matrix was part of the Machine plan all along. The real reason Maeve escaped was cause
Ford programmed her to – to create a distraction so the cold storage hosts could escape and join Dolores' massacre.
Maeve's also programmed to leave Westworld and 'infiltrate the mainland'.
But she refuses to follow this last instruction.
Instead, she stays to try to find her host daughter.
So in the end, Maeve does achieve real consciousness and freedom – though most of her story is part of Ford's plan.
So – what is Ford's plan?
And how does it involve Maeve, Dolores, William and Arnold?
The show leaves the details vague, and some of what Ford says still seems to contradict what he does – but we can work out his goals.
In the very beginning, Ford's beliefs were opposite to Arnold's.
Arnold thought the hosts should be conscious, and free – he liked hosts more than he liked people.
But Ford didn't believe in host consciousness, he believed in humans – his
dream was to use the stories in the Westworld park to help make humans better, to grow and change.
But over the years, Ford saw that Westworld wasn't making humans better –
it was “A prison of our own sins”, where people like Logan and William would hurt and kill over and over.
Ford came to believe that humans can no longer change, that our evolution is over.
He thinks Arnold was right all along, and that it's the hosts who have potential to grow.
So throughout the season, Ford works to correct his “mistake” – he helps the hosts become conscious.
He gives them the “reveries” update so the hosts can remember their past lives.
He restores the town of Escalante so Dolores can have her awakening with William.
He programs Maeve to escape and infiltrate – which is a fake awakening, but it helps hosts become free.
When Theresa and Charlotte from Delos try to take over Westworld, Ford kills Theresa with Bernard.
And when Elsie almost uncovers Ford's plans , he has Bernard grab her – though there
are hints that Elsie's still alive . And the reason Ford does all this stuff is not
just to keep control – Ford's protecting his plan to eventually free the hosts.
He doesn't just let the hosts out of the park right away – because he believes that
“suffering” is an important step to achieving consciousness. Pain and loss define the characters of Westworld –
Bernard with Charlie, Maeve with her daughter, Dolores with her father , and Ford with Arnold.
Ford believes pain and time will make the hosts alive.
And this might be why Ford leads William on his maze quest.
The suffering that William causes is important to Dolores' awakening.
William is also a great symbol of Ford's belief that humans are bad, unable to change – that humans are the “enemy”.
Ford seems to believe that when hosts become conscious, there'll be war between them
and humanity – like how early humans wiped out the Neanderthals . But now humans are
the old obsolete species , and hosts are the “new people” who will violently replace humans.
Ford says he keeps hosts in the park so they'll “understand [their] enemy” and “become
stronger than them” . Ford's final narrative, his grand plan all this time – is about
the rise of conscious hosts and their “war” with humanity . That's why Ford gives Dolores the freedom to attack humans.
That's why Ford programs Maeve to escape and “infiltrate” the human “mainland”.
That's why the main human character in this story is the Man in Black – someone who started out a decent guy but proved to be hateful and empty inside.
So Westworld ends with a really dark message.
It suggests that humans – like the guests, the execs, and especially William – are fundamentally bad and unable to change.
The oppressed hosts do achieve freedom, but not through the compassion of Arnold.
It's only through suffering, and through Ford's cold manipulation, that the hosts are freed.
And when they are free, hosts like Maeve and Dolores don't seem a whole lot better than the humans they're replacing.
Dolores especially, who once represented the good in the world , now seems to be a murderous monster herself.
Really the only glimmers of hope in this show are, like, Felix and his little bird, and maybe Bernard, and Elsie.
But overall, Westworld is bleak.
Like Black Mirror, and The Handmaid's Tale, and to some extent Game of Thrones, the show
takes a long hard look at who we are and who we're becoming and the conclusion's not good.
Maybe there'll be more hope next season – maybe Samurai World will be nice.
But the title of Ford's last narrative, and of Season 2 Episode 1, is “Journey into Night”.
There may be more darkness before dawn.
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Cheers.
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西部世界 (Westworld Season 1 Explained)

182 分類 收藏
123 發佈於 2018 年 11 月 26 日    Jerry Liu 翻譯    Evangeline 審核
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