Westworld: The Original
October 3, 2016 6:10 AM - Season 1, Episode 1 - Subscribe

As another day of fantasy plays out in Westworld - a vast, remote park where guests pay top dollar to share wild-west adventures with android "hosts" - top programmer Bernard Lowe alerts park founder Dr. Robert Ford about incidents of aberrant behavior cropping up in some recently re-coded hosts. Meanwhile, in the Westworld town of Sweetwater, a rancher's daughter named Dolores encounters a gunslinger named Teddy in the street - but their predictable narrative is upended by the appearance of a ruthless Man in Black and, later, by a supporting host's unscripted encounter with an artifact of the outside world.
posted by gladly (77 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
 
Thought it was quite excellent as pilot episodes go. Usually you have to cut them some slack as they establish the world and characters but this one was in high gear from the get-go. The cast was almost uniformly great (almost because I'm uncertain about Sidse Babett Knudsen. Something seemed off, but I'm willing to wait to see if that's the character. Still, I wish Miranda Otto was still in the role!) particularly Wood and... uhh... the guy who player her "father".

It was nice to see James Marsden get killed, because he has such a punchable face.

I figured the episode would end with a Dollhouse-esque tic signaling to the audience that Dolores was breaking her programming. And that's exactly what happened and in almost precisely the same manner as Echo's "shoulder to the wheel" gesture that served as the first sign she was breaking hers.

Lastly, I go back and forth between believing that we'd never treat sentient-seeming androids like this and believing that's naive since a lot of people already treat other humans that way.
posted by Justinian at 6:41 AM on October 3, 2016 [11 favorites]


Oh! I thought the music was great. It took me a while to realize what was going on (as in Bioshock Infinite) but Black Hole Sun and particularly Paint it Black twigged me.
posted by Justinian at 6:42 AM on October 3, 2016 [18 favorites]


We'd heard a great deal about the sexual violence we were to expect in this show. And while it was implied on several occasions, and clearly specified as an unseemly but (disgustingly) accepted part of the park, I was grateful we did not have to actually watch that.

I'm keeping a wary eye for that, but at this point, they're still in the clear. As long as they take the stance I expect to about the in-park sexual violence, this should be fine.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:05 AM on October 3, 2016 [5 favorites]


Wood was fantastic. Every shot of her waking up to a new day (were there five?) was a variant of confused, resigned, and unreadable. Finding out that she's the oldest host in the park was a satisfying click. It seems like the actors playing the androids have the most to do, and that they all have the same sort of affect works really well.

I'd read a lot about the sexual violence in early reviews, so maybe I was too prepared, but I thought it was handled fairly well. I can't quite believe that Ed Harris signed on to play a one-note sadist, so I hope that there's more to his story.

The pilot surprised me by how much I liked it. I have no affection for westerns, and so I was planning to just give this a chance, but I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. And, yes, I loved the orchestral versions of pop songs too! The only part that felt a little cheap was the park landscape in the lab; it just reminded me too much of Hunger Games.
posted by gladly at 7:17 AM on October 3, 2016 [6 favorites]


I mostly watched this based on Annalee Newitz's write-up. I'm intrigued - wondering what Ed Harris's man in black is going to be up to, looking to see how Wood's character will continue manifesting persistence of memory. My biggest worry is that it's going to get tangled up in its own larger-scope-worldbuilding, or that the handwaving around that will kick me out of my suspension of disbelief (which happens with some "super-perfect conspiracy" shows, like Blindspot). On the other hand, Nolan managed to take Person of Interest from a high-tech A-Team to an epic battle of AIs, and I was along for the whole ride (and sufficiently entertained to cut it slack where needed).
posted by rmd1023 at 7:43 AM on October 3, 2016 [4 favorites]


I rewatched the original fairly recently, and I do quite like how this is weaving in elements of it without feeling beholden to its plot. (Most subtly: there's a tiny little fragment of the original's juddering-strings music at the end of the theme tune.)

A little bait-and-switch at the beginning: we assume that Teddy is the show's human protagonist, the equivalent of Richard Benjamin's character in the original, but then the show twists us by revealing him to be a host too.

This seems like it's going to focus a lot more heavily on the abuse of the robots; something which I felt the original film did touch on in its opening act but which rapidly got submerged under the relentless Yul Brynner chase.

Two things I felt were very strongly lampshaded:

1. the "sweet and dreamless sleep" switch-off phrase is going to fail at some future point, and
2. that basement of deactivated psychotic robots is a large-scale Chekhov's Gun.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 10:29 AM on October 3, 2016 [26 favorites]


Oh, and for me Ed Harris's Man in Black was by far the least interesting part: so far he appears simply cartoonishly and one-dimensionally evil. Deliberately so, to humanize the robots and dehumanize the humans?
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 10:50 AM on October 3, 2016 [5 favorites]


Speculation here, not a spoiler, but I suspect Ed Harris's character isn't generic evil. I think he's testing out the different storylines for some reason. It's cold and fucked up, particularly when dealing with possibly sentient AI, so I am emphatically not saying he's anything but amoral at best.

I think there's a non-zero chance this is the in-show equivalent of a player on Lethal Enforcers back in the day shooting all of the civilians just to see what happens. I wish I knew video games well enough to give a better example, but hopefully, you will follow what I mean.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:19 AM on October 3, 2016 [7 favorites]


I want to know what the hell happened to Michael Crichton to make him hate theme parks.

I also want there to be more to the Ed Harris character, if only because I love him as an actor. Even if they keep him as primarily a psychopath, I hope that they give him more motivation than "asshole gamer." It's always nice to see him in another role besides "calm guy in the control room."

When they start offing the guests, I'm guess the schlubby guy who shoots the outlaw is going to be one of the first up against the wall, with his wife not far behind.
posted by bibliowench at 11:49 AM on October 3, 2016 [13 favorites]


Even if they keep him as primarily a psychopath, I hope that they give him more motivation than "asshole gamer."

I'm wildly speculating, and it's mostly because Harris' eyes looked so otherworldly when he was giving his speech out in the desert. Could he be a robot? He seems not quite human to me. Teddy still couldn't shoot him, though, so it's not that simple. Then again Ed Harris could just have really intense blue eyes.
posted by gladly at 12:10 PM on October 3, 2016 [3 favorites]


so I am emphatically not saying he's anything but amoral at best.

Which would be best in the case of an Ed Harris character? Amoral, moral or immoral?
posted by biffa at 12:37 PM on October 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


Pretty sure the Ed Harris' character must be the Yul Brenner character from the original!
posted by mit5urugi at 1:08 PM on October 3, 2016 [6 favorites]


Ed Harris's eyes are super-intense. Ever seen Enemy at the Gates where he played a Prussian sniper at the Battle of Stalingrad? Shivers.
posted by infinitewindow at 2:56 PM on October 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


I loved it. I can't wait for more.
posted by Fizz at 4:28 PM on October 3, 2016


Theory out of my household is that the man in black knows something about management's Bigger Picture, and has his own plans with regards to that. It's why his actions don't cohere into anything clear: he's playing a different game than everyone else, the rules and goals of which are not yet known to us.

I'm curious what it was printed on the inside of the skull that he took from the guy he killed at the end there. A map of some kind? I think the video game analogy is a good one, and I think he's testing the limits and maybe looking for a back door into the command center (physically or otherwise).
posted by vibratory manner of working at 4:31 PM on October 3, 2016 [9 favorites]


It was some kind of pseudo circuit board looking pattern on the scalp.
posted by Justinian at 4:41 PM on October 3, 2016


It's not circuitry (or, I mean it could be but it's not obviously that). It looks more like a maze with a stick figure man in the middle. screencap here (warning gross scalp picture). why is it even there, that's the big question. A small part of me wants it to be the WestWorld dev team trolling Ed Harris, who they know and dislike.

I loved the way this first episode used the soundtrack to mess with us. I am intrigued. Also very happy HBO says they've plotted this out several seasons, because if JJ Abrams tries to build me up and pull the football away at the last second again with me I am going to scream.
posted by Wretch729 at 6:10 PM on October 3, 2016 [11 favorites]


The pattern on the skull is an archetypal labyrinth. That would certainly fit with what the father host was saying about the whole thing being an elaborate prison. I'm really curious what Bernard whispered to the father as he was being put into the deep freeze.
posted by codacorolla at 7:05 PM on October 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


Just watched this based on the reviews, and like everyone else, rather digging it.

I like the idea that Ed Harris is trying to hack the game. It would be an interesting turn if in reality he's some kind of spy/investigator using the game to uncover whatever shady shit the corporation is up to.

So far, in a weird way he reminds me a bit of Tywin Lannister on GoT. In that, like Tywin, he is both ruthless and correct about how to successfully strategically manipulate the rules of the world he's in. That sort of blunt coldness throws into relief the essential horribleness of the world better than the cheesy dumb mofos one can be comfortably contemptuous of.

Also -- yeah, what is up with the security chief actress? I kept hearing raves about Borgen, which I haven't seen and she apparently stars in, so I've got to assume she's got some chops. But she just seems off in every scene she's in, like she's on a different show than everyone else.
posted by Diablevert at 7:15 PM on October 3, 2016 [3 favorites]


Interesting. I quite liked the actor who is playing the head of security. I found myself wondering where else I had seen her. There is a lot of great acting talent on this show and I hope it doesn't go to waste.

Unlike some others here, I wasn't really prepared for the sexual violence in the show. I guess it's HBO, so shame on me, but, at best, it seemed like lazy storytelling. I will still give it a chance, but I hope that aspect of it gets better.
posted by missmerrymack at 7:34 PM on October 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


I figure Ed Harris is a power gamer who's trying to collect all the achievements while following a trail of Easter eggs to unlock the secret level Anthony Hopkins built in to the world.

Lastly, I go back and forth between believing that we'd never treat sentient-seeming androids like this and believing that's naive since a lot of people already treat other humans that way.

Big company creates a fantasy playground and tells everyone it's okay to do anything they want to the non-player characters? People will believe them. People will want to believe them. Inevitable awfulness will ensue.
posted by Pryde at 7:42 PM on October 3, 2016 [5 favorites]


GTA games are built with screaming civilians for you to mow down. I think if you could convince people of their robot-ness, then it wouldn't really be a hard sell. That seems to be one of the main plot points actually - that the architect character's desire for greater verisimilitude is making it harder and harder to write scenarios that are viscerally thrilling (and therefore worth the money) for the guests to act out.
posted by codacorolla at 7:50 PM on October 3, 2016 [7 favorites]


Unlike some others here, I wasn't really prepared for the sexual violence in the show. I guess it's HBO, so shame on me, but, at best, it seemed like lazy storytelling.

I dunno man, everything I've heard about the show suggests that it won't, because it's the point. In the sense that the characters becoming aware of the trauma they've sufferred and showing how they respond to that awareness is the key arc for all the robots. Even in just the pilot, in the last scene of James Marsden on the train he puts his hand over his chest and strokes the place where he got shot in the prior sequence. So it seems like we'll continue to get heaps of both sexual and plain old regular violence, with an increasing focus on the lingering effects of that violence in a way that other HBO shows have conveniently brushed aside, for the most part. I suppose that's a bit having-its-cake-and of the show, but if the show does go on to interrogate and critique our desire to witness such things, the catharsis we find in it, that is potentially really compelling to me...but I'm a sucker for moral quandries.

The way all the robot actors are shown naked in the "backstage" scene seems like the whole dilemma writ small in a really interesting way --- their very nakedness in contrast with the clothed designers and security staff makes you fear for them, empathize with them, seems too intimate, makes you want to avert your gaze. And that lays bare the creepy power dynamic of the scenes, gives them a shiver that I don't think would be there if the robot actors were clothed.
posted by Diablevert at 8:02 PM on October 3, 2016 [20 favorites]


I'm curious what it was printed on the inside of the skull that he took from the guy he killed at the end there.

That's your standard Minoan labyrinth. Can't think of what genuine significance it could have beyond being a JJAbramsism. The labyrinth was created by Daedalus, so there's some Icarus (hubris and ambition), Asterion (not-fully-man) and Talos/automaton (obv.) mythology thrown into the pot in that regard.
posted by turbid dahlia at 8:13 PM on October 3, 2016 [9 favorites]


I'm not expecting too much from this show. The pilot was nice, but I think they suffered some in not giving us a few sympathetic guests to follow. I'd have preferred they started it far from Westworld, and gave us a view of the outside world. It's got to be interesting to see what sort of future exists out there that leads people to escape into an amusement park like this one.
posted by Catblack at 8:25 PM on October 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


Maybe. But if the conceit of the show is stock standard "what does it mean to be human?" stuff mixed with "have you ever questioned the nature of your own reality?", it makes sense for it to be contained to the park and its infrastructure.
posted by turbid dahlia at 8:43 PM on October 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


That's your standard Minoan labyrinth. Can't think of what genuine significance it could have beyond being a JJAbramsism. The labyrinth was created by Daedalus, so there's some Icarus (hubris and ambition), Asterion (not-fully-man) and Talos/automaton (obv.) mythology thrown into the pot in that regard.

I think the crucial part is that Daedalus was imprisoned in his own contraption, since he was the original designer of the labyrinth.
posted by codacorolla at 8:54 PM on October 3, 2016 [16 favorites]


It'll be fun when it's revealed that Deadwood actually takes place inside a far corner of Westworld, and we finally get closure of sorts. And that it shares a universe with Game of Thrones, aka Medieval World. And Rome, aka, um, Roman World.

It certainly would explain a lot about Joffrey and Ramsay Snow.
posted by Pryde at 9:59 PM on October 3, 2016 [41 favorites]


The other bait and switch is that the man in black (appears to be) human.
posted by rmd1023 at 4:16 AM on October 4, 2016


Oh, hey Chrys who does the picture recaps of Game of Thrones is also doing Westworld, if you're into those.
posted by Diablevert at 6:45 AM on October 4, 2016 [9 favorites]


I thought the actor playing the head of security was Daphne Zuniga. She's not though.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:21 AM on October 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


That's your standard Minoan labyrinth.

It isn't, quite, though. The Minoan is really one long path that sort of spirals back and forth into the center. The one on the scalp has some cut offs and dead ends (screencap linked above). And it has a human stick figure in the center that looks like it's also part of the walls.
posted by dnash at 7:40 AM on October 4, 2016 [5 favorites]


Yeah, that's an interesting point. The major distinction between a maze and a labyrinth is that the labyrinth isn't really a puzzle. It's a meditative journey with no dead ends, often used as a way to get the traveler to think about some sort of allegory (that's why you often find them next to churches). A maze, by contrast, IS a puzzle, where it is possible to get lost. A labyrinth is an experience (where you want your audience to get a certain experience culminating in a final revelation), a maze is a game (where you want to fool your player and make it as difficult as possible for them to reach their destination) in other words.
posted by codacorolla at 8:05 AM on October 4, 2016 [9 favorites]


And it has a human stick figure in the center that looks like it's also part of the walls.

That design looks like how the hosts are suspended as they're being made.
posted by gladly at 8:08 AM on October 4, 2016 [4 favorites]


It also looks like the design is mostly not a maze. Taken as a maze, you can make it to between the legs and to the right of the person, but the rest of the paths (80%?) are not accessible.
posted by noneuclidean at 8:51 AM on October 4, 2016


Oh, hey Chrys who does the picture recaps of Game of Thrones is also doing Westworld, if you're into those.

That was the most delightful recap, please keep linking to them in these threads.

I am neither a big fan of Prestige TV Dramas or westerns but I'm on board with this for now, more so than I thought I would be.
posted by everybody had matching towels at 9:20 AM on October 4, 2016


That design looks like how the hosts are suspended as they're being made.

It looked like they were trying to emulate da Vinci's Vitruvian man.
posted by missmerrymack at 10:27 AM on October 4, 2016 [4 favorites]


Taken as a maze, you can make it to between the legs and to the right of the person, but the rest of the paths (80%?) are not accessible.

Conversely, you start from the head and you can't escape.
posted by cardboard at 12:42 PM on October 4, 2016 [5 favorites]


Unlike some others here, I wasn't really prepared for the sexual violence in the show.

Same. I had no familiarity with the show going into it. I'm intrigued by the AI concept, and the characters who work behind the scenes at the park, but the dehumanization storylines are a bit much for me (I know they're robots, but they're meant to be human-like and the sociopathic guests are definitely getting off on the perceived humanity of the robots -- that is, the guests want it to feel like rape/torture, they someone/something to be victimized, it wouldn't be fun for them if it was just a fleshlight with googly eyes).

I want to see interesting stories about AI and how it evolves and such and the gleeful misogyny really makes it hard for me to pay attention to those plot points. Sometimes it feels like this kind of stuff serves only as a way for men to remind women that their progress can be taken away, so they shouldn't get too uppity; or to promote the idea that so many men are just naturally rapists that we need to make a rape park of women-facsimiles so they can get it out of their system in a societally "safe" way. I was left wondering whether the people who run the show were appalled at the violence of Westworld or fantasizing about how awesome it would be to have a White Male Supremacy theme park.

That said, I'll stick around for another episode at least. I'm hoping the sexual violence, the emotional abuse, and the general exploitative vibe was just to provide background info on Westworld, and will not be a regular centerpiece of the show - it's the least interesting storyline to develop and distracts from the actually interesting story ideas and character development.
posted by melissasaurus at 1:05 PM on October 4, 2016 [17 favorites]


This really stayed with me, and I found myself thinking about it quite a bit afterwards. It had a real Blade Runner-ness to it for obvious reasons, which is the point of the violence, sexual and otherwise. I don't think it is the least interesting storyline, I think it's the part of the story that makes the central fundamental ideas worthwhile. Are they toasters or are they people?

Also! Michael Wincott! Need more of him plz.
posted by biscotti at 5:39 PM on October 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


Right, I don't think it is the least interesting part of the story either. I think it is the story.
posted by Justinian at 5:41 PM on October 4, 2016 [4 favorites]


I hadn't heard about the violence part of the sexual violence equation, but I expect to see a lot more than I would traditionally when watching TV after reading about the contract the extras had to sign, and the type of actions they must consent to perform.

I like the arrangement of the music, but I found that hearing the songs I know really took me out of the story, especially at first when I was trying to decide if they were really pieces I was familiar with or just pieces that sounded like other, more popular works.
posted by sardonyx at 9:46 PM on October 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


To be honest, the lingering over the nude female actors has put me off of a show that I find otherwise well shot. I think you could get many of the same scenes without that sort of leering effect. Between that and the "WHAT IS THE NATURE OF MAN!?" pondering... well, it's pretty looking and well acted at least, so I'll be sticking with it. It's just so, so "prestige" HBO.
posted by codacorolla at 10:14 PM on October 4, 2016 [5 favorites]


Did anyone else get confused by the title of the first episode? I've clicked on a few articles that I assumed were going to talk about the original movie (which I wanted to brush up on since all I remember is Yul Brynner freaking me the fuck out and Richard Benjamin being kind of cute), and it took me longer than it should have to realize that "Westworld: The Original" referred to episode 1 of the reboot. I'm wondering if that confusion was an intentional bit of trolling on the writers' part. I'm also willing to entertain the idea that I'm just kind of slow on the uptake.
posted by bibliowench at 5:06 AM on October 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


My personal theory is that "The Original" refers to Dolores.
posted by ishmael at 6:48 AM on October 5, 2016 [10 favorites]


Did I just miss it or were we provided with any indication of exactly how the robots are able to distinguish a living being (that they aren't allowed to harm) from a robot (which they're allowed to shoot and kill and do other things to)? If they're unaware they're robots, then how does that decision-making process work? Can they only attack those they detect on a network? Or are their violent actions limited to interacting with those involved in their pre-planned story lines?
posted by sardonyx at 6:50 AM on October 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


Did I just miss it or were we provided with any indication of exactly how the robots are able to distinguish a living being (that they aren't allowed to harm) from a robot (which they're allowed to shoot and kill and do other things to)?

I haven't seen them say how that happens yet, but that doesn't seem like a tough trick. They could have something as mundane as RFID chips in their bodies and their programming could be setup to restrict their actions to people with/without.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:32 AM on October 5, 2016 [2 favorites]


It doesn't seem like a tough trick, but I can see it as becoming a future plot device for when things start to go really badly wrong. I guess it was Delores' action with the fly that got me thinking about it.
posted by sardonyx at 8:52 AM on October 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm wondering how Westworld (the fictional park) prevents guests from shooting other guests. The guns have live ammo that goes through things (exploding face, milk-drinking bandit), so how would a guest know the difference between a host in a black-hat role and a guest living out his black-hat fantasies?
posted by gladly at 9:03 AM on October 5, 2016 [7 favorites]


The ARG sites (Discover Westworld and Delos if you're interested) have explanations for a lot of the mundane technical details. I believe that the bullets have some sort of sensor that can tell whether or not they're firing into a human, and that determines if they deliver their payload or just hurt a little bit. There's a TOS on the site that reads,


(c) All weapons and equipment used within Delos parks are the exclusive property of Delos, Inc. Gun ammunition contains proprietary safeguards related to bullet velocity, and tampering with gun safety features or ammunition automatically transfers liability to you and absolves Delos, Inc. of any injury or death that may occur as a result.


So the bullets are smart and can sense whether they're entering a host or not.

There's some more technical hashing out in this interview posted to Rotten Tomatoes. Although that might spoil some minor stuff later in the series. RE: Guns,

“It’s not the guns,” Nolan said. “It’s the bullets. We thought a lot about this. In the original film, the guns won’t operate guest on guest, but we felt like the guests would want to have a more visceral experience here. So when they’re shot it has sort of the impact. They’re called simunitions. The U.S. military trains with rounds like the ones we’re talking about. But there’s a bit of an impact, a bit of a sting. So it’s not entirely consequence-free for the guests.”
posted by codacorolla at 9:23 AM on October 5, 2016 [9 favorites]


idk, i'm annoyed bc of how rapey it all is but i still like the premise quite a bit, and the "coming this season" post-ep trailer was really interesting in terms of things i would like to see happening.

really though the best bit was brit guy being all "i think the guests don't want to feel like they're doing awful things to actual humans, they want the safety of knowing they're tormenting robots" and i'm like oh you sweet summer child, you literally know nothing of human nature or the actual factual history of mankind.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:25 AM on October 5, 2016 [11 favorites]


Shouldn't Dolores wake up every morning to a player piano rendition of I've Got You Babe?
posted by condour75 at 7:54 PM on October 5, 2016 [24 favorites]


So I'm not the only one who picked up on the Groundhog Day vibe of the pilot!
posted by suburbanbeatnik at 11:50 PM on October 5, 2016


I knew absolutely nothing about this show but I rolled up to watch because everyone else was, and I was kind of late hopping on the GoT bandwagon and that sucked until I got caught up and I didn't want that to happen again. So I watched it last night. And then I thought about it, and today I'm still thinking about it.

Everything in my human experience tells me that if you let a bunch of humans loose on another bunch of humans with the promise of no consequences, there is going to be a significant amount of both rape and torture, so I don't feel like the rape of Dolores or the torture by the MiB was gratuitous. I appreciated that the rape was off-screen and think that was a good choice. I also appreciated that Newton shot the armed robber threatening to rape one of the working women in her whorehouse. (Go Thandie.)

My one concern at this point is how long this series is planned to last. Because the whole Management Plan thing coupled with the maze in the skull gave me flashbacks of Lost. If we're still here in 27 years waiting for this to resolve, I'm going to be pretty pissed.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:10 AM on October 6, 2016 [7 favorites]


The Man in Black drags her off for something, but we don't know what it is. Killing everybody else is just to get them out of the way. It's something he does almost every night, by his own admission. I suspect he's trying to reprogram her in some way. I also suspect that he's not a guest but a stowaway, living in the interstices of the park. Or, indeed, The Original himself.

I am almost always wrong about these things, but I enjoy typing them up and posting them, as that version of the story gets to exist for a tiny amount of time.
posted by Grangousier at 9:22 AM on October 6, 2016 [11 favorites]


I appreciated that the rape was off-screen and think that was a good choice.

Yeah glad it was off screen but I knew it was coming after the first 10-20 seconds of her freak out. I didn't need to see her scream and struggle in fear all the way to the barn.
posted by LizBoBiz at 10:26 AM on October 6, 2016 [3 favorites]


My one concern at this point is how long this series is planned to last.

Apparently they temporarily halted production earlier this year to better plan out a five year arc for the show.

I also suspect that he's not a guest but a stowaway, living in the interstices of the park.

Yeah, that occurred to me too. To know the game/park as well as he does would imply that he's been spending considerable time there for years...which you'd have to be a billionaire to do, as far as I can tell. But how many billionaires can just disappear from the real world for weeks at a time? Billionaires are usually pretty busy people...not impossible, but a bit of an eyebrow raise. Also, inasmuch as he seems to deliberately be trying to hack the game, how have these attempts gone unnoticed when every other glitch seems to have been picked up on within hours or minutes by the designers? Seems like either he's like a whale in Vegas, someone who's just dropping so much $$$ he's allowed to get away with stuff other guests can't, or he has somehow figured out a way to operate in the game world without being monitored.
posted by Diablevert at 10:41 AM on October 6, 2016 [3 favorites]


I checked out Delos (the island) today on Wikipedia, and it seems like there's not too much significance for the show apart from Delos being a sacred location for ancient Greeks. That was just a cursory read of its Wikipedia entry, however, so I'd be curious to see if anyone who's studied Greek antiquity might know more about it.

Also, maybe a little like Lost, the meta-game around figuring out all of the hints and easter eggs in the plot seems to be the most fun part of this show. I hope it ends up being better than Lost in other regards.
posted by codacorolla at 1:09 PM on October 6, 2016


I'm really hoping that they're subverting expecations a bit and that the Man in Black didn't rape Delores. If he was doing something else (more plot related and less skeezey), it's interesting and if not and he's 'raping' the robot girl, it's just trashy.
posted by rmd1023 at 1:41 PM on October 6, 2016 [4 favorites]


I checked out Delos (the island) today on Wikipedia, and it seems like there's not too much significance for the show apart from Delos being a sacred location for ancient Greeks.

Your comment made me do the same. Delos itslef didn't have an obvious resonance. But the reason it was sacred was that it was the birthplace of the twin gods Artemis and Apollo. Apollo is the god of light and wisdom; Artemis the virgin goddess of the hunt. Her most famous myth is that of Actaeon. Actaeon was a hunter who came upon Artemis bathing in the woods; he sneaks around trying to spy on her nakedness but she catches him and punishes him by transforming him into a stag, whereupon his own hounds chase him down and tear him to pieces. She was also the goddess of midwives, for according to the myth she was born first, and helped her mother give birth to Apollo.

So Dolores as Artemis has potential interesting resonances....the virgin goddess who punishes a man's lust by turning his beasts against him, hunter becoming the hunted; the midwife who helps bring wisdom into the world.

The show def seems smart enough to be doing something deliberate with all the Greek references; the bandit who shoots up the bar is names Escton, the end of the world, the ultimate resolution.

Of course, the credits also seems to be positioning Doloros as Death from Revelations, so it seems they're being a little mix-and-matchy with their portents.
posted by Diablevert at 3:19 PM on October 6, 2016 [8 favorites]


Well, the amusement park in the original movie was called Delos, so I guess it depends on what Michael Crichton had in mind.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 3:42 PM on October 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


I feel chagrin.
posted by Diablevert at 7:22 PM on October 6, 2016


FYI, HBO just posted episode 2 early to HBO Now, HBO Go, and HBO On Demand.
posted by noneuclidean at 6:34 AM on October 7, 2016 [4 favorites]


YAY
posted by poffin boffin at 11:18 AM on October 7, 2016


I just watched this, I guess I'm on board!

Sidse Babett Knudsen as the park director, though, seems kinda terrible; her lines just fall flat and there's never any expression on her face. Maybe the real robots were the managers we made on the way all along.

And I know it's just my paranoia and bitterness, but something about what they are doing with Ed Harris's character just reminds me of ... Lindelof.
posted by fleacircus at 6:55 PM on October 7, 2016


yeah, as soon as there was A Secret Maze i was like welp nobody better fucking turn into smoke
posted by poffin boffin at 8:35 PM on October 7, 2016 [13 favorites]


After Jonathan Nolan gave me 5 wonderful* seasons of Person of Interest with all it's dystopic, scifi, AI goodness, I figured I had to at least give this a go.

I read a couple "preview" reviews (one on AV club, another one somewhere else), so I had some idea of what we were getting in to. It was in a lot of ways better than I expected it to be. I really like the reveal of Teddy being one of the hosts and that Dolores is the oldest one of the hosts. Overall, strong acting, with Evan Rachel Wood being a real stand out. The only thing I think I've seen her in before was in Charlie Countryman, which is the one Mads Mikkelsen movie I hated so much that I couldn't finish it, so I was very pleasantly surprised by how great she was in this.

Speaking of Mads Mikkelsen, I googled Sidse Babett Knudsen and realized that what I knew her from was two Danish films she starred in along with Mads: After the Wedding and Mona's World. She wasn't my favorite in the pilot, but we'll see where everything goes.

I have to say that I've never really watched much of these "prestige" dramas, but I did really feel like some parts of the pilot were gratuitous. I'm glad they did more of implying sexual violence rather than showing it, and I really hope that's something they stick to, but I still felt some of the shots of the naked female hosts were lingering and creepy in a way that took me out of the story rather than pulling me into it. Not sure how much of the show I'll be able to stomach if that becomes a theme.

Still, I think the central conceit has promise, and the overall production was very good. Although the whole Man in Black thing was giving me major flashbacks so I really hope we don't have any time traveling or smoke monsters or Dharma initiatives.
posted by litera scripta manet at 2:04 PM on October 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


Oh, also, did anyone get a Hunger Games vibe when they showed them looking at that hologram or whatever of the park? I haven't seen the original movie, so maybe that comes straight out of the original. It was also funny because just as that was registering on me, we got a cut to Jeffrey Wright who was part of the Hunger Games film franchise, in a seemingly pretty similar role.

Anyway, I'll definitely stick around. After all, I need something to fill the void left behind by the end of Person of Interest.
posted by litera scripta manet at 2:08 PM on October 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


Also, in re why the name Delos, I think I found the mythy bit (h/t to r/westworld, I'm afraid):

"In the ancient times, the myth of god Apollo, god of light, and goddess Artemis having been born there rendered the island sacred: no mortal would ever be allowed to be born on its land. But, a cradle of gods as the island has been, no mortals would ever be allowed to die on it either."

So Delos is the corp that runs Westworld, and probably the name of the island/planet/whatever where the park is located. I recall hearing a similar urban legend about Disneyworld, that no matter what manner of accident befals a park guest --- and there have been some doozies --- the Orlando EMTs never declare a person dead while in the park's Zipcode; no one is ever allowed to die in the Magic Kingdom...
posted by Diablevert at 9:50 PM on October 9, 2016 [5 favorites]


That's your standard Minoan labyrinth. Can't think of what genuine significance it could have beyond being a JJAbramsism. The labyrinth was created by Daedalus, so there's some Icarus (hubris and ambition), Asterion (not-fully-man) and Talos/automaton (obv.) mythology thrown into the pot in that regard.

Someone on Previously.TV thought it referenced the unofficial flag of the Tohono O'odham nation, which is called "the man in the maze."
posted by fuse theorem at 12:06 PM on October 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


Oh my god, don't test code out in your production environment! (I haven't checked Twitter yet, but I imagine someone has already made this quip.)

I'm kinda thinking we'll get some human on human murder or whatever before long. Getting used to treating the hosts as literal objects seems like it might bleed over into general sociopathy.

Enjoying it so far. Loved the bait and switch with Teddy. Worried we won't have any sympathetic humans, because other than Hopkins' character everyone seems to be a jackass and it doesn't seem like he'll be in it much.
posted by ODiV at 7:10 PM on November 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


Hopkins is dressed in an interesting style.
The past used to inform current action in the reveries - seems like a recipe for complex emergent behavior.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:12 PM on November 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


Well, late to the party, but I loved this.

Half-assed theory about Management's end game: they're going for transhumanist immortality via brain uploading. At least some of the hosts (Dolores, certainly) are early experiments in this, but for some reason (the uploads aren't totally successful? the original personalities were experiencing an "I Have No Mouth, And I Must Scream..." kind of dissociative torture in their new bodies) they've had their original personalities subsumed by the host personae. The Man in Black has likely already figured this out and is trying to discover a technique to wake up a host's original personality.

Oh, also, did anyone get a Hunger Games vibe when they showed them looking at that hologram or whatever of the park?

I was thinking The Prisoner, actually.
posted by tobascodagama at 5:40 AM on November 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


transhumanist immortality via brain uploading

I really hope it's not this. I'm so tired of this concept.

I guess not everyone is in the same place wrt sci-fi, but still, yawn.
posted by ODiV at 7:31 AM on November 15, 2016


The thing about TV now is that I find that if it's good I'm watching it in a recursive way - episode 1, then episode 1 and 2 then episode 1, 2 and 3 and so on until about episode 5 at which point it starts to take too much time.

Still, this hour of television is endlessly rewatchable, I have to say. There are so many things that were just things that happened when I first watched it that have a deep significance if you've watched up to (as of now) episode 8.

Another thing is that pilot episodes have so much more attention lavished on them - the series looks good generally, but this episode looks fantastic.

I agree that the scene with Dolores at the very beginning happens just before the debriefing that security guy does at the end, so there's no particular temporal trick there. but it's necessary to note who is talking to her at the beginning, and that it takes place inside her head.
posted by Grangousier at 4:51 PM on November 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


but it's necessary to note who is talking to her at the beginning, and that it takes place inside her head.

Dang, I need to rewatch this now.
posted by tobascodagama at 8:02 PM on November 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


I think what I really loved, specifically as a video gamer, was the...gamey aspect? The way that they place the hooks to let you into stories, was so similar to how actual games do for side quests, that I found it really increased the plausibility of the place as simply an upgrade.
posted by corb at 5:30 AM on December 1, 2016 [3 favorites]


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