Westworld: Contrapasso
October 30, 2016 7:10 PM - Season 1, Episode 5 - Subscribe

Dolores, Logan, and William reach Pariah and are recruited for a dangerous mission; the Man in Black meets an unlikely ally in his quest to unlock the maze.
posted by litera scripta manet (194 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
I was out of town when the last episode aired, and I didn't have a chance to comment on the previous thread when I finally got to catch up with the show, but prior to episode 5, I was already starting to become convinced that the big reveal or whatever at the end of this episode is going to be that this show is about a lot more than whatever is going on at this park, and after this episode, I'm feeling more and more inclined to believe that's the case.

Of course, a lot of that is based on seeing Person of Interest, where Nolan et al turned a relatively straightforward crime solving, number of the week show to a full on sci fi masterpiece, and I know that just because this another Nolan production, I shouldn't assume this will follow that same arc, but come on, they have 5 seasons planned out! And there are already so many potential conspiracies afoot!

Now, I'm not sure where exactly that's going to lead, but I'm excited to see what's next.

Also, I'm glad the Man in Black didn't turn out to be another host. I think the direction they're going in is much more interesting.
posted by litera scripta manet at 7:17 PM on October 30, 2016 [3 favorites]


I really need to watch this episode again, there was just so much going on that I didn't quite digest in one viewing.
posted by octothorpe at 7:21 PM on October 30, 2016 [2 favorites]


It sounds like they were referring to Lawrence as "El Lazo" which apparently can be translated as it's close cognate, lasso, or more interestingly, as a snare or trap. Hm...

Speaking of Lawrence, is the fact that the MiB killed him supposed to indicate that the MiB and William/Logan are in fact in different timelines? Then again, the title of this episode is a reference to Dante's inferno, so maybe Logan, William, and Dolores wandered into some sort of creepy afterlife version of the park.
posted by litera scripta manet at 7:23 PM on October 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


And as for the title of this episode, even though I know Contrapasso is primarily a Dante's Inferno reference, it will forever be associated in my mind with the show Hannibal, and Bedelia saying, "You play, you pay."

Although actually, that quote doesn't really get at the heart of the definition, which is that the punishment will be something that either is the opposite of or reflects the act itself.
posted by litera scripta manet at 7:26 PM on October 30, 2016 [6 favorites]


I really need to watch this episode again, there was just so much going on that I didn't quite digest in one viewing.

Agreed. For whatever reason, Episode 4 didn't leave me desperate for more like episodes 2, 3, and 5 did, nor did I feel the need to rewatch episode 4 as I've done with the other episodes, but maybe it was just because I came to it late or something.

Either way, I'm back to being excited. Five episodes down, five more to go in what I hope will be the first of multiple seasons.
posted by litera scripta manet at 7:30 PM on October 30, 2016


Dolores definitely has autoaim turned on.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:18 PM on October 30, 2016 [18 favorites]


That orgy scene was crazy. How many hours were they on set in those positions, body paint and under lights? I can tell I'm getting old when these are the thoughts running through my head when I see that spectacle.
posted by humanfont at 8:20 PM on October 30, 2016 [10 favorites]


It seemed like a nod to the Roman World section of the original Westworld film.
posted by octothorpe at 8:24 PM on October 30, 2016 [7 favorites]


I was thinking it was more like our heroes finally arrived at King's Landing.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 8:37 PM on October 30, 2016 [10 favorites]


That orgy scene was crazy. How many hours were they on set in those positions, body paint and under lights? I can tell I'm getting old when these are the thoughts running through my head when I see that spectacle.

Yeah, when I saw that scene I thought, so that's why they had all the extras agree to be filmed naked and all the other weirdness in that contract that they got in trouble with.
posted by litera scripta manet at 8:41 PM on October 30, 2016 [3 favorites]


I love that Sweetwater is really just the entry point, and not at all the core. This new outlaw town is like 20 times bigger, and there are probably others like it elsewhere.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 8:42 PM on October 30, 2016 [2 favorites]


There's an interview about the orgy scene here -- most fascinating to me is that it was filmed in an enormous mausoleum.

I'm wonderfully confused by this show, but I love it. The way Ford interacts with the park is one of my favorite things. It's practically an extension of him. The final scene of Maeve, so calm and possessed in the lab, is such a great promise for her character.
posted by gladly at 8:44 PM on October 30, 2016 [4 favorites]


So the opening bit was great, talking to a first gen host that's basically a Chatbot " a greyhound" "I've seen a few showdowns" nice illustration of a more primitive system.

Full on ghost in the machine territory with Arnold now.

So ..duplicates? I assume we are meant to think there are duplicates. Love the kid messing up his RP. Nice literal metaphor here with the nitro, got any fire you can play with? miB isn't Arnold or a host? Interesting. Also the corporate espionage stinger. Like if we're ever getting into the outside world, this is our first real hint toward it.

All that talk of how the biological robots were cheaper than "beautiful" mechanical robotics PLUS having Terrence drink blood ...so it's the blood that keeps them going? I assume *hand wave* nanowhatever poisteonic, whatever. The plot point is the blood can repair them? (Ah so they're immortals who exist on blood, ah AH) ALSO the dead doing damage, from the corpses of the dead filled to nitro to the corpse of the hosts coming back to life. To alive hosts rembering their past deaths.

They probably blew the entire HBO dick budget for this episode.

What?

(The Ford interview of course takes place at one earlier time, but it's ..intense, reminding us that Dolores is the oldest still working Host, so she's got Arnold programming buried inside her.)

Also, total nerd detail that is 99% not on purpose I bet . During the stagecoach robbery, we get our white hat and black hat, black and white morality, but you have Dolores, who is slowly pinging that she's Not Human is in her Olive hat and ....blue and orange outfit. Orange and Blue morality.

I am taking that bird thing as a Hannibal reference it's even a brutalist medical lab.

At serval points I tweeted DOLORES APPROVES (+). DOLORES DISAAPROVES (---)
posted by The Whelk at 8:50 PM on October 30, 2016 [8 favorites]


Okay, I have so many thoughts, and also, I totally have some legit work I am supposed to be doing, so I'm just going to throw some things out there:

I've been doing some digging and reading and link hopping, and I went and read the wiki synopsis of the movie Futureworld. I don't want to spoil the movie for anyone, but I wonder if some elements of that plot, if not the theme park itself, will have worked its way into this show.

After each episode, a new resource has popped up on the delos corp web site. The one for this latest episode hasn't popped up yet, but on reviewing the previous ones, I'm reminded of what I thought when we saw Dolores standing in that graveyard during this episode: the host intake protocol. I know this was linked to in the previous thread, but bare with me...

So the protocol has undertaker hosts chuck the other hosts into a "grave" that transports them to the livestock management, etc. Which then brings me back to the first "resource" that was posted: this video showing a map of the mesa headquarters.

The broad outline of the headquarters + the host intake protocol + the title of this episode is pretty suggestive, right? I feel like I don't fully have this formulated, but I feel like it's hard to see that video of headquarters and hear contrapasso and not feel like you're getting into the inferno and Dante's circles of hell.

And from the wiki article on the Inferno:

Sinners punished for incontinence – the lustful, the gluttonous, the hoarders and wasters, and the wrathful and sullen – all demonstrated weakness in controlling their appetites, desires, and natural urges; according to Aristotle's Ethics, incontinence is less condemnable than malice or bestiality, and therefore these sinners are located in four circles of Upper Hell (Circles 2-5)

That sort of feels like it describes Sweetwater right? But maybe I'm reaching too far with this. Probably I am. Still, I also feel like there's a certain parallel, in that Dante had to have Virgil, a dead guy, in order to gain entrance to the underworld. Maybe this ties into having to have the right host guide you to the Underworld?

But then I was also looking at Delos as it shows up in Greek mythology. And I'm not going to go through all the dredging up of my old Classics knowledge and whatnot that got me here, but I came around to Theseus (of Minotaur fame), and the fact that he was one of the few who ventured down to the Underworld in greek/roman mythology. Which is sort of interesting tidbit, and also, via wiki, I came up on the Ship of Theseus paradox, which I feel like could have some bearing on this show. Apparently, it's a "thought experiment that raises the question of whether an object that has had all of its components replaced remains fundamentally the same object."

Anyway, like I said, I don't know where exactly I'm gong with all of this, but I wasted enough time on my little link hopping and pondering that I figured I might as well share.
posted by litera scripta manet at 9:00 PM on October 30, 2016 [9 favorites]


I'm going to maintain that there aren't duplicates. Delores seemed to be hallucinating a lot of that fortune-teller encounter, and was probably similarly hallucinating her duplicate in the parade. Plus the butcher tech established that "VR tanks" are a thing; plus Delores goes straight into conversation with Ford after hearing his voice in her mind giving her the sleep command; plus Ford tells Delores they're in his dream.

And Lawrence was presumably recycled between his desanguination and showing up in the new town to mastermind the nitro heist.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 9:01 PM on October 30, 2016 [5 favorites]


(Also I think the show is more straightforward so far then people think, William says that's what they do, the park forces you to make a decision to keep you on track right before Dolores ..walked into a spooky tarot card reading reminding her of her main quest objective to find The Maze, as noted before the guests are just are herded and micromanaged as the hosts)
posted by The Whelk at 9:02 PM on October 30, 2016 [4 favorites]


I wonder if Arnold isn't some story created by Ford to make a special story for the MiB.
posted by humanfont at 9:02 PM on October 30, 2016 [3 favorites]


Okay, last thing for tonight, I swear:

I so much loved the moment when Dolores shoots all those guys that were roughing up William, and he's like WTF?!?! and she's like, "I imagined what it would be like if I weren't playing the Damsel in distress for once" (very rough paraphrase), because first of all, yes! Way to ditch the damsel in distress thing! But also, an interesting turn of events narratively. I feel like this is is the clearest sign of Dolores really being able to overwrite her programming since the whole killing the fly thing. Well, there was the originally shooting that guy in the barn thing, but her response was different to that. It was the response of damsel in distress Dolores killing in self defense. She was freaking out. But this was practically cold blooded.

And lastly, Thandie Newton and Evan Rachel Wood continue to just be so amazing in their roles.
posted by litera scripta manet at 9:04 PM on October 30, 2016 [11 favorites]


Oh I think the duplicates are Maeve and Lawerence, they both came back awfully fast after being killed, implying there's more then one running around.

(I would assume, since have a better sense of the scale of the park, that they keep multiple instances of a character far enough apart, it's only if you're in the game all the time like MiB that you start to notice)
posted by The Whelk at 9:06 PM on October 30, 2016


(But yeah I loved the Ford/miB discussion where Ford expresses admiration for him creating a real villain in his rampage , introducing an actual bit of randomness)
posted by The Whelk at 9:07 PM on October 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


(I should never promise something is going to be my last comment, because that always ends up being a lie.)

In case not everyone signed up for the Delos emails from Aeden, I wanted to mention that the episode 4 email has several not so interesting links, but then there is the "Inside Delos" section:

CIRCLES OF LIFE
The park is a richly-woven tapestry of thousands of closely-stitched interconnected loops. See how we hide the seams and keep you immersed in our world.


Circles of life, eh? Sort of like, the circles of hell? (Okay, maybe I'm stretching this too far.) But that includes a link to delosdestinations.com which doesn't do much right now, but maybe it will eventually? At the very least, it's another tidbit that makes me think the show is ultimately going to become more and more about what's beyond the park, and the role that Delos has in that world.
posted by litera scripta manet at 9:13 PM on October 30, 2016


Also, the first time black hat got punched in the face he seemed like, overjoyed? Like, Oh wow finally! Unscripted violence! This is cool as hell!

Like then it ends with William leaving him to the Confedrados like I AM CHOSING THIS RENEGADE PROMPT, YES I KNOW IT WILL EFFECT THE REST OF THE GAME, YOU WANT WILD SMD RAW YOU DESL WITH IT.
posted by The Whelk at 9:20 PM on October 30, 2016 [4 favorites]


Also also two things in the MiB/Ford speech

"That world, the world you'll never see, was one of plenty"

Wait WAS?

"Nearly destoried this place, if it wasn't for me."

Okay new theory MiB is ...Peter Theil? He was told a ghost story by Arnold that he hid the key to ...something, transhumanism immortality, godlike AI, all that nerd rapture stuff, inside the park so MiB funds it at a loss, gets his super VIP whale status, and maybe he never finds it or maybe like, Douglas Addams like the experiment needs 35 years to get it right.

I admit it's out there but by popular SF standards not very.

(I think we got blinded by Ford's feint, he is more comfortable with the hosts as machines and things , he's just comfortable being the only human in the room cause he likes being God. Oh they, hi Hannibal Lecter.)
posted by The Whelk at 9:30 PM on October 30, 2016 [3 favorites]


AV Club has a great interview with Evan Rachel Wood, both about this episode in particular and a broader look at her role in the show. It's really worth reading the whole thing, and I love hearing her take on the power of being able to shed the damsel in distress persona in this episode and how empowering this show was to work on. Which dovetailed with what I was already thinking, namely that one of the things I'm really enjoying about the show is the fact that two female characters are really leading this robot revolution or whatever it is. Both Maeve and Dolores are so badass. I mean, seriously, Maeve in that final scene with Felix (I think?) and the bird was awesome, and I can't wait to see where they go with that.

On the other hand, I don't know why I even bother reading the AV club reviews because they just keep getting worse and worse. I couldn't disagree with the reviewer more. This was maybe the most exciting episode yet, and I think the pacing has been pretty solid. The world building, the reveals and the hints at more to come, combined with some really central and exciting scenes each episode, like Ford and MiB sitting down together. After all, we're only 5 episodes in to this show. Then again, maybe if I hadn't watched PoI, I would be more skeptical, but since I did, I have lots of faith in Nolan and his plan for the series, and in the meantime, I'm really enjoying the ride.

Based on the comments for the review, I guess this show is very polarizing. Either people seem to see it the way the reviewer does, or there are those like me who are loving it and excited to see where it goes. I suppose if you were looking for more of a straightforward shoot 'em up Western this might seem like a disappointment.
posted by litera scripta manet at 9:49 PM on October 30, 2016 [8 favorites]


WHO IS THE BOY

birb!

HAHA HE LEFT LOGAN TO GET HIS ASS KICKED

why am i not surprised that mib knew albert

i really like the birb guy

DOLORES MY PERFECT MURDER PRINCESS
posted by poffin boffin at 9:54 PM on October 30, 2016 [6 favorites]


lol other people are watching the walking dead

fools
posted by poffin boffin at 9:55 PM on October 30, 2016 [11 favorites]


i really need to watch this episode like 3 more times but im trying to be an adult about bedtime
posted by poffin boffin at 10:26 PM on October 30, 2016 [5 favorites]


oh god I was chatting and it hit me. the MiB is doing a THE TREASURE OF SIERRA MADRE quest it's just taken him 35 years and I don't think Ford actually knows what the treasure is cause He's Louis B Mayer to Arnold's Irving Thalberg.

most of the plotlines, along with the Host rebellion are caught up in that the only other is Ford's New Vision and the outside Corporate stuff (there are spies/the park is losing money like hell)
posted by The Whelk at 10:43 PM on October 30, 2016 [5 favorites]


oh also, the field of crosses, the skull parade, the "unraveling" lots of death and being between life and death and dead things returning to life (BIRB)
posted by The Whelk at 10:55 PM on October 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


also, from the AV Comment "Nice Good Samaritan Programming in Terence to make him grab the knife to protect Ford."
posted by The Whelk at 11:03 PM on October 30, 2016


(one wacky theory from the AV comments that I kind of love is that Dolores wasn't always the Settler's Daughter, and may have been a key figure in Arnold's scheme, possibly killing him on purpose- and her current role of damsel and perpetual victim was punishment and also why she's never been replaced. Ford needs her to keep suffering as long as he lives.)
posted by The Whelk at 11:08 PM on October 30, 2016 [12 favorites]


Is this the first time we've been shown that humans can be hurt by hosts? Other than the indirect "bullets ping off you but leave a bruise" business of a few episodes ago? It did seem like Logan was surprised by that first punch landing.

The Ford/Delores scene was winking SO HARD towards Silence of the Lambs that I expected it to end with "fly fly fly."

(And yes, Hannibal, too: a lot of this episode, and specifically a lot of the orgy, had the same dreamlike/nightmarish quality; of being firmly askew from reality.)

It seemed like a nod to the Roman World section of the original Westworld film.

I thought so too, although ISTR that in the movie Roman World was more about serving the women guests -- lots of oiled male bodies etc etc -- while most of the tableaux in this scene were about men being serviced. Felt like a retrograde step after the lingering cock-shot.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:18 PM on October 30, 2016 [6 favorites]


Ford needs her to keep suffering as long as he lives

YEAH the whole "are we old friends?" "no, i wouldn't say we're friends at all" thing hmmmmm

HMMMM

anyway i failed at adulting
posted by poffin boffin at 11:22 PM on October 30, 2016 [9 favorites]


of being firmly askew from reality

and also a bird comes to life and flies around a concrete brutalist autopsy lab.

like that was the same thing.
posted by The Whelk at 11:23 PM on October 30, 2016 [2 favorites]


Sepinwall's review touches again on the flashback theory. I'm not as convinced as he is.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:27 PM on October 30, 2016


so it's the blood that keeps them going? I assume *hand wave* nanowhatever poisteonic, whatever. The plot point is the blood can repair them?

We don't know that they need the blood for anything. They may be able to function perfectly well with none, but have a line in their code like IF BLOOD LESS THAN 3 LITERS, PLAY DEAD.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:29 PM on October 30, 2016 [13 favorites]


I liked how Orgyville had standard ridiculous compressed game geography. Of course there's a railway line right through the middle of town, and of course it's flanked by Graves. It's like that little graveyard wedged into the middle of Windhelm.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:32 PM on October 30, 2016 [10 favorites]


so wait dolores seemed to fall asleep in the middle of that parade thingy and then woke up? talking to ford? but is she really physically there or is she dreaming and this is happening inside her mind? why is she naked like all the other scenes w/hosts, all the other scenes where hosts are being repaired are happening in the real world in real time although the hosts think they're dreaming then too. WHEN IS DREAMS WHO IS DREAMER WHAT IS HAPPEN

my brain hurts
posted by poffin boffin at 11:32 PM on October 30, 2016 [3 favorites]


I think she passed out in he parade and the Ford Interview is either footage from an earlier interview (I support this, she doesn't seem like her current self) or it;s a virtual Debugging the programmers can do via literal dreams *notice it takes place in a floating black space* and they just knocked her out so Ford could talk to her a bit
posted by The Whelk at 11:37 PM on October 30, 2016 [2 favorites]


so wait dolores seemed to fall asleep in the middle of that parade thingy and then woke up?

We were all wait, what happened, and wound back: just before she faints, we hear somebody in the parade say the "deep and dreamless sleep" phrase to her.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:38 PM on October 30, 2016 [5 favorites]


Yeah it's quick, but i think she got all trigger phrased.
posted by The Whelk at 11:40 PM on October 30, 2016 [2 favorites]


There were several exchanges—between Dolores and William, William and Logan, and especially between the two technicians* in the body repair shop—which made me wonder if the 'loop' of people's lives outside of Westworld are nearly as prescribed as those of the hosts.

*"How did you get this job? Personality tests should have weeded you out in the embryo."
posted by jamaro at 12:04 AM on October 31, 2016 [7 favorites]


I love how much of the park is recognizable from MMORGP tropes. Like "oh hell no not another bullshit fetch quest". At least Dolores is an even better escort quest than Elizabeth from Bioshock Infinite! Escort quests are almost always the worst.
posted by Justinian at 12:10 AM on October 31, 2016 [5 favorites]


she's even got the right blue dress
posted by The Whelk at 12:13 AM on October 31, 2016 [6 favorites]


From the Hollywood Reporter link: I think that Jonah and Lisa believe the world is quite large. I think the park is maybe 300 square miles, or maybe even more. There are different topographies and different geological and weather areas.

...

Either Richard J. Lewis doesn't know anything about distances or he confused "300 square miles" with "300 miles square". Which are very, very different things. Like off by, what, 30000%?
posted by Justinian at 12:52 AM on October 31, 2016 [3 favorites]


Note that if the park were 300 square miles one could walk from Sweetwater (the center) to the edge of the park at a fairly sedate pace in under 3 hours.
posted by Justinian at 12:54 AM on October 31, 2016


Yeah, I saw that 300 sq. mi. statement and laughed too. That's only 17 x 17 miles on a side.
posted by octothorpe at 4:15 AM on October 31, 2016


17x17 is still a pretty substantial parcel of land. Techniques used at real theme parks that play with perspective and sight lines could make that seem much larger.
posted by humanfont at 4:32 AM on October 31, 2016 [2 favorites]


But as Justinian said, an able bodied person could walk from the center to the edge in 3 or four hours depending on the terrain. Are there cliffs at the edges? Or just fences?
posted by octothorpe at 4:36 AM on October 31, 2016 [2 favorites]


Wacky thought based on little other than guessing the twist: Ford is a host created by (the dead founder guy.. Alan?). He is the original AI.
posted by coriolisdave at 4:36 AM on October 31, 2016 [1 favorite]


It's pretty much built into the premise that some major human character will turn out to be a robot.
posted by octothorpe at 4:50 AM on October 31, 2016 [3 favorites]


People clearly spend days expeditioning out from Sweetwater. 17x17 is hilariously too small for that. 300x300 is much more reasonable. And also lends credence to the idea that this is off-earth somewhere.
posted by Justinian at 4:51 AM on October 31, 2016 [4 favorites]


I'm not a fan of the off-world theory, because what does that add to the show, but a park 90,000 sq mi park is a little smaller than Oregon, so yeah it's kinda hard to imagine it fitting nicely somewhere in the US as we currently know it. I'm perfectly fine if they never try to explain that aspect of the park.
posted by noneuclidean at 5:12 AM on October 31, 2016 [5 favorites]


It's either in some kind of orbital station or underground. And if you have the tech to simulate that amount of outdoors while underground it seems like you might as well do it in orbit.
posted by Justinian at 5:28 AM on October 31, 2016 [2 favorites]


Is this the first time we've been shown that humans can be hurt by hosts?

Logan had one of the prostitutes slap him in the face in (I think) episode 2. Not sure if that counts.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 5:37 AM on October 31, 2016


The rich guest gets shot in the third(?) episode, not hurt but seemed like he had the wind knocked out for a moment.
posted by sammyo at 5:45 AM on October 31, 2016


Note that if the park were 300 square miles one could walk from Sweetwater (the center) to the edge of the park at a fairly sedate pace in under 3 hours.

And not to mention most of this is on horse back, which means you could cover that distance even faster. That would be absurdly small based on how far we've seen people travel.

It's either in some kind of orbital station or underground. And if you have the tech to simulate that amount of outdoors while underground it seems like you might as well do it in orbit.

Well, since the name of the company is Delos...maybe it's on a (man made?) island somewhere in an ocean or sea or something. I don't think it's in outer space at all. I feel like this is going to be much more tied to reality than that. After all, we say people arrive via train.

Although I feel like it must be quite remote, hence the fact that everyone who works there seems to live on site. Alternatively, even though it's hard to imagine that amount of space available in the US, what about in Africa or something? I believe The Salvation, a Danish "western" starring Mads Mikkelsen, was filmed in South Africa, which looked like a pretty good approximation of the Western US. Or maybe these people were just so rich that they bought an entire state in the US.

However, since Jonathan Nolan said in an interview somewhere (I think) that this show takes place in the 21st century, I'm inclined to think it's not going to be in outer space or something equally far fetched.
posted by litera scripta manet at 5:50 AM on October 31, 2016 [3 favorites]


Weird that you all think something this size couldn't be in the US. The west, where all those canyons and things are, is a HUGE place. I could easily see something like this taking up parts of NM, AZ and UT.
posted by LizBoBiz at 5:59 AM on October 31, 2016 [3 favorites]


Am I the only one who saw Logan smile in a "this was my plan all along" sort of way in the last shot we see of him as he gets abandoned with the Very Bad Dudes?
posted by biscotti at 6:04 AM on October 31, 2016 [7 favorites]


so it's the blood that keeps them going? I assume *hand wave* nanowhatever poisteonic, whatever. The plot point is the blood can repair them?

We don't know that they need the blood for anything. They may be able to function perfectly well with none, but have a line in their code like IF BLOOD LESS THAN 3 LITERS, PLAY DEAD.


Until reading this, I forgot that we saw the MiB exsanguinate someone before. He did it to the host that he scalped, and he'd collected his blood in buckets. So what did he do with that host blood? Or, who was it for?

AV Club has a great interview with Evan Rachel Wood, both about this episode in particular and a broader look at her role in the show. It's really worth reading the whole thing, and I love hearing her take on the power of being able to shed the damsel in distress persona in this episode and how empowering this show was to work on.

That's exactly what Thandie Newton said after the nudity in her "alien abduction" episode, and it really gave me faith that the show was going to payoff the story lines for Maeve and Dolores.
posted by gladly at 6:18 AM on October 31, 2016 [1 favorite]


(one wacky theory from the AV comments that I kind of love is that Dolores wasn't always the Settler's Daughter, and may have been a key figure in Arnold's scheme, possibly killing him on purpose- and her current role of damsel and perpetual victim was punishment and also why she's never been replaced. Ford needs her to keep suffering as long as he lives.)

I haven't been reading the AV reviews or comments but this isn't a wacky theory at all. I thought it was the natural conclusion we were supposed to draw from this episode. Like how else would you understand this episode?

We have seen flashbacks from Dolores where she wasn't the rancher's daughter. It was already clear that they give host different stories depending on... whatever storyline they need to fill. See Maeve's memories of her daughter. Dolores is obviously a pawn of Arnold's placed there from when he was trying to destroy the place. The only question I have is why did Ford let her exist at all for so long? Curiosity to see how Arnold's plan would work out? But Ford has definitely been enjoying Dolores's torture loop.

Re:blood: Maybe the Man in Black was practicing with the blood before, testing his theories. Also, I don't think the hosts drink blood - you can see a bloody point on Teddy's arm where there was a crude transfusion maybe? But they need it circulating to feed the tissues since they are made of flesh.
posted by bobobox at 6:22 AM on October 31, 2016 [3 favorites]


The Whelk: "also, from the AV Comment "Nice Good Samaritan Programming in Terence to make him grab the knife to protect Ford.""

Apparently the first commandment of the park's modified Asimov's laws is "A robot may not injure Robert Ford or, through inaction, allow Robert Ford to come to harm."
posted by octothorpe at 6:42 AM on October 31, 2016 [11 favorites]


Am I the only one who saw Logan smile in a "this was my plan all along" sort of way in the last shot we see of him as he gets abandoned with the Very Bad Dudes?

My husband interpreted Logan's expression in a similar way, like, "Oh, he's finally getting it."
posted by tracicle at 6:44 AM on October 31, 2016 [8 favorites]


Logan had one of the prostitutes slap him in the face in (I think) episode 2. Not sure if that counts.

if someone is smuggling tech secrets out of the park then maybe logan is a westworld-identifiable robot made by a competing corporate entity and that's why the hosts can potentially murder him
posted by poffin boffin at 7:00 AM on October 31, 2016


When season one is over everyone is invited to my place for a binge rewatch acid party.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:00 AM on October 31, 2016 [5 favorites]


tbh i don't think that's the case at all, i just wanted to present an extremely annoying theory bc im mad that i have to be awake at 9am
posted by poffin boffin at 7:01 AM on October 31, 2016 [1 favorite]


> Apparently the first commandment of the park's modified Asimov's laws is "A robot may not injure Robert Ford or, through inaction, allow Robert Ford to come to harm."

I thought that was Ford doing his whole robot mind control thing to make Teddy grab the knife.
posted by noneuclidean at 7:17 AM on October 31, 2016 [1 favorite]


So I have no idea what's going on or where any of this is going, BUT so far the introduction of Pariah as a new setting is the first thing has got me really interested with all the problems it presents.

For one thing, it's implied that not very many people even get this far, but Pariah is a super-elaborate setting with not only MANY hosts but elaborate costuming and architecture. Its existence doesn't remotely pass the sniff test of setting-plausibility (a "real" version of a place like that would requires access to a big economy that would totally break the old west setting) but that's not actually important because this is a theme park, not a functioning world. But aesthetically it's such a huge break from theme, PLUS it seems like an awful lot of park resources being dedicated to a section of the park that hardly anybody manages to get to.

But these are not "plot holes" to me—I think they're deliberate insofar as there seems to be a lot of stuff going on the in the park that would require effort and maintenance and design that fall into the "99% of guests will never see this" category, including the maze and related plots. It makes me wonder how much control the management really does have, and how much is a system that they know how to maintain and tinker with but fundamentally don't understand.

(If so, this reminds me of the Austin Grossman book YOU, a novel about video game design which hardly anybody's read but which I adore.)

No idea what I'm supposed to take away from El Lazo being the same guy as the MIB's prisoner.

LOVED Dolores's costume change.

Totally baffled by the chronology of Dolores's interviews. Are they taking place before, after, or (somehow?!) during the main action in the park?

Liked William leaving Logan behind after the latter was such an enormous prick, but William's character arc is the one I'm least certain about; it's not clear if his path is actually going to be heroic (nor am I sure exactly what I mean by "heroic.")
posted by Sokka shot first at 7:33 AM on October 31, 2016 [4 favorites]


So, we've got a bunch of intimations about external business dealings. It sounded to me like the MiB stepped in and (financially?) saved the park 34-35 years ago. And Logan's family/company wants to step in and do some kind of leveraged takeover?
posted by rmd1023 at 7:41 AM on October 31, 2016 [3 favorites]


It makes me wonder how much control the management really does have, and how much is a system that they know how to maintain and tinker with but fundamentally don't understand.

That would go a long way in explaining why robots are having massive orgies in the middle of the desert.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:44 AM on October 31, 2016 [4 favorites]


This episode is the second time we've seen that trusting kid in short pants hanging out alone in the rowdy part of the park. Kinda gross to think about.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 9:02 AM on October 31, 2016 [2 favorites]


So, we've got a bunch of intimations about external business dealings. It sounded to me like the MiB stepped in and (financially?) saved the park 34-35 years ago. And Logan's family/company wants to step in and do some kind of leveraged takeover?

Tis a small, thin branch, but that was actually the exchange that tempts me further onto the Two Timelines/William is MiB theory-limb. We know from Ford's luncheon of wine and scariness last week that Delos did not create, but rather took over the park 30 years ago, and that Arnold and Ford were these brilliant dreamers who were probably blowing though cash like nobody's business before Delos stepped in. We know Logan and William work for a giant corporation that is toying with the idea of taking over the park. When Logan refers to Arnold's suicide, he suggests it's in the past --- but he doesn't say 30+ years ago, which seems a slightly odd omission. If William is the MiB, it explains the two Lawrences --- and we just saw the first meeting of these "old friends".

The theory also works pretty well to create a coherent emotional arc for William --- He's an up-and-coming exec who marries into the Delos family. Whatever fucked up shit goes down in Westworld on this extended bachelor party changes the nature of the relationship between William and Logan, such that in time it's William who takes over the company. He retains his altruistic side ("your foundation saved my sister's life" from ep. 4) but he becomes obsessed with Westworld, uses it to explore a darker side to his nature. Now he is facing death himself, and has returned to the park to see if he can crack it open, discover Arnold's secret and perhaps destroy the park in the process. This would explain his urgency, and why Ford raises his eyebrows at it --- if he owns the joint he should have all the time in the world to dick around there if he wants to.

If this is true, then symbolic/emotional arc wise, this would also suggest that in some way it's William who shuts Dolores down the first time --- that something about their mutual adventure reveals to William a way in which the park is useful to him, valuable, and that Dolores' attempts at agency and/or to carry out Arnold's plan are a danger to it. Some form of alliance between William and Ford, perhaps. So in the present timeline --- call it the "Second Uprising" arc --- you'd have Dolores, Bernard and Maeve working against both Ford and the MiB. But this is all getting pretty far off into the wild uplands of speculation...

This episode is the second time we've seen that trusting kid in short pants hanging out alone in the rowdy part of the park. Kinda gross to think about.

If kid is Robot Young Anthony Hopkins, then perhaps he's being used as Ford's spy. He sends him to check up on the MiB, and based on his report Ford decides maybe it's time they had a little chat, and ventures into the park himself.
posted by Diablevert at 9:46 AM on October 31, 2016 [27 favorites]


Theory on a theory: what if, instead of the obligatory story arc of innocence heroism corrupted into jaded villainy, Teddy isn't the Man in Black, but Logan is? So it's more about the aging of gaming brutality from an Xbox Live griefer into a more refined EVE Online mastermind.

It would require the show runners to pull a Game of Thrones, but maybe Teddy dies in the oncoming robot revolution and Logan decides to use his callous violence and desire to explore the park for a darker, greater cause.
posted by Apocryphon at 10:34 AM on October 31, 2016 [1 favorite]


Theory on a theory: what if, instead of the obligatory story arc of innocence heroism corrupted into jaded villainy, Teddy isn't the Man in Black, but Logan is?

I wondered if the show was leading us there when Logan made the comment about Sweetwater's storylines being "market tested." Could be a red herring.
posted by gladly at 10:54 AM on October 31, 2016 [2 favorites]


Weird that you all think something this size couldn't be in the US. The west, where all those canyons and things are, is a HUGE place. I could easily see something like this taking up parts of NM, AZ and UT.

Am I the only one who doesn't see this taking place on Earth? Under a dome in a colonized Mars maybe?
posted by bluecore at 1:03 PM on October 31, 2016


It would require the show runners to pull a Game of Thrones, but maybe Teddy dies in the oncoming robot revolution

are you thinking of william? teddy is a robot, james marsden's character, currently adventuring with ed harris. william is the white hat guy currently adventuring with dolores and logan.
posted by poffin boffin at 1:10 PM on October 31, 2016 [1 favorite]



Am I the only one who saw Logan smile in a "this was my plan all along" sort of way in the last shot we see of him as he gets abandoned with the Very Bad Dudes?


Yep I saw it. And when I saw it I figured that Logan's whole rant about "you'll never be a threat" was designed to push William to this end. I'm wondering if maybe this whole family business deal has something to do with the smuggling. Logan was trying to get rid of him in order to do something illegal like modify another host or in order to potentially get him to become an accomplice. To finally really embrace his desires and shed his responsibilities (in this case very literally Logan, but also his morality, which Logan can later exploit.

The guests can be hurt. Logan explained that earlier to William when he first got shot, but they can't be seriously harmed (ie life threatening injuries). My guess is that if a host gets the upper hand in a fight and nothing stops him, there will be some sort of deus ex machina to prevent the host from continuing the fight. If William hadn't killed Logan's attacker, there was probably some other thing that would have stopped the host and sent the story line in a different direction.
posted by miss-lapin at 1:32 PM on October 31, 2016 [3 favorites]


That McPoyle brother is so dolled up to be of sweetness and light and noble heart, I thought he had a fuzzy name like Teddy. If he ends up turning into Ed Harris in his old age, it'd be a little disappointingly cliche. Logan, on the other hand, has a fittingly vicious and ravenous name, almost like some sort of ferocious woodland critter.
posted by Apocryphon at 1:53 PM on October 31, 2016 [4 favorites]


I was thinking it was more like our heroes finally arrived at King's Landing.

Yep, at that point I almost started waiting for Littlefinger to show up.
posted by fuse theorem at 1:53 PM on October 31, 2016 [2 favorites]


When I originally heard of the show, I thought it was supposed to have Michael Madsen. Let's hope they do next season, in addition to low-rent Chris Pine and off-brand Ellen Page.
posted by Apocryphon at 1:57 PM on October 31, 2016


I'm starting to lean towards Dolores being Arnold's robot messiah/love interest. She attained personhood/sentience, Ford killed Arnold, and punished Dolores by making her a weak victim stuck in an eternal loop of loss. But now she's coming out of that. And someone's going to have to pay.

Old friends? No, I wouldn't say that at all.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 1:59 PM on October 31, 2016 [5 favorites]


Something I've not seen mentioned yet is the final shot of Delores in the train carriage, alone. The previous shot had Lawrence and the Whitehat Wetfish in the background, but *blink* and they're gone, and she's standing alone next to the coffin with the Labyrinth burned into the lid.

Reading through Diablevert's comment I started wondering if Delores' flashbacks are actually, in fact, flash-forward (or rather, flash-currents) - I could buy that we're watching Delores and The Wetfish 35 years ago, whilst in 'current' time Delores is working her way (solo) through the same story beats to get to the centre of the labyrinth.

rmd1023: So, we've got a bunch of intimations about external business dealings. It sounded to me like the MiB stepped in and (financially?) saved the park 34-35 years ago.

I interpreted that interaction differently - not that the MiB saved the park, but actually saved Ford.
posted by coriolisdave at 3:26 PM on October 31, 2016 [9 favorites]


Did anybody see Evan Rachel Wood on Late Night with Seth Meyers last week ?
posted by Pendragon at 3:45 PM on October 31, 2016



We don't know that they need the blood for anything. They may be able to function perfectly well with none, but have a line in their code like IF BLOOD LESS THAN 3 LITERS, PLAY DEAD.


Two main things to note: A) the hosts only go into dead mode when the narrative indicates they should - hence Maeve is able to wake herself up after being 'killed', or the star-gazer still sitting up and twitching even after the head is almost entirely destroyed, or the bandito back in Ep1 or 2 leaking milk from his gut... and B) As he was leaving the chat with the MiB and Teddy, Ford says "Mr. Flood, we must look back and smile at perils past, mustn't we?", and then Teddy goes from a slumping invalid to a get-up-and-go gunhand instantly - indicates to me that the 'perils past' codephrase is a '100% FULLHEALTH' cheatcode for the hosts to return to full functionality, like many of the other phrases used to command them in-narrative (as opposed to the less poetic debug commands used in the underlying facility).
posted by FatherDagon at 4:43 PM on October 31, 2016 [10 favorites]


Which leads me to another horrifyingly awesome thought - how long before Maeve figures out how to wake up all the other "deactivated" hosts in the slaughter pens where she's now active? ROBOZOMBOPOCOLYPSE! With KNIVES! (because she evidently found a way to give herself knife privileges for the self surgery, which are supposed to be a rare thing... probably explains why Escaton wouldn't cut her and gave a handwavy excuse)
posted by FatherDagon at 4:47 PM on October 31, 2016 [5 favorites]


coriolisdave, I think you got the final shot wrong. In that shot, the camera was placed between Delores and the two guys, shooting toward the back door.

"Whitehat Wetfish." Nice!
posted by Marky at 4:59 PM on October 31, 2016 [1 favorite]


Am I the only one who doesn't see this taking place on Earth? Under a dome in a colonized Mars maybe?

For me, the primary argument for Westworld being underground, or under a dome, or offworld is the impossibility of keeping living fauna outside of an outdoor space that size. This sprung to mind when Ford did his Jedi hand motion toward the robot rattlesnake (and I thought, "Won't he look stupid on the day he tries that on a real snek") and was reinforced by the introduction of the robotic sparrow in last night's episode. Why would Westworld have to create robotic sparrows, a species so ubiquitous and habituated to humans that if there were any outside the park boundaries, they would colonize the inside of the park in short order? In any open air location in current-Earth, something will fly in or crawl in or burrow under the park boundaries: as anyone living indoors knows, we can't even keep spiders out of our bedrooms.

Which spins off two more related theories:
1) Westworld is on Earth's surface but the world outside the park has lost all or most of its non-human life
and/or
2) The fly in Episode 1 was a robot too
posted by jamaro at 6:19 PM on October 31, 2016 [8 favorites]


There's an interview about the orgy scene here -- most fascinating to me is that it was filmed in an enormous mausoleum.

From the interview:
We also had a sex stylist who made sure things looked properly choreographed in that regard.

Sex! Stylist!
posted by BungaDunga at 6:21 PM on October 31, 2016 [1 favorite]


2) The fly in Episode 1 was a robot too

If you dig around in the Delos website (in the terms of use or something) it says: "(d) All livestock within the Delos parks are Hosts, with the notable exception of flies."
posted by FatherDagon at 6:32 PM on October 31, 2016 [11 favorites]


Why would Westworld have to create robotic sparrows, a species so ubiquitous and habituated to humans that if there were any outside the park boundaries, they would colonize the inside of the park in short order? In any open air location in current-Earth, something will fly in or crawl in or burrow under the park boundaries: as anyone living indoors knows, we can't even keep spiders out of our bedrooms.

I don't know that it's in a dome, per se, but I feel like there must be some enclosure of some sort. (I keep thinking of the arenas in the Hunger Games and the force fields that acted as those enclosures. I guess it could be a dome where the sky and is projected on to it.

But even if it's in the US somewhere, it makes sense that they would want to have all flora and fauna be man made. After all, real birds crap everywhere, and we can't have that.

I don't think it's in outer space though. I feel like Nolan and co are going for a future but not too far in the future. Maybe alternate universe, but still a universe that could conceivably be ours. Plus, I feel like this is going to tie in strongly to the outside world.

Overall, I get the sense that Nolan is most interested in showing things that seem extreme and maybe even fantastical, but then he breaks it down to the point that you're like, hey this could happen. (Or more like: holy shit, this could happen and that's utterly terrifying.) The basic POI premise was the government (NSA and CIA) are watching and listening to everything that we do, or at least they have the means to. That show started in 2011, and Snowden leaks didn't happen until 2013. Clearly Westworld isn't set in the immediate present the way PoI is, but it seems like it's still relatively near future.

Of course, perhaps we'll find that everyone is living in man made domes because by 2060 global warming has completely wrecked the planet and that's the only way anyone can live anymore.
posted by litera scripta manet at 7:52 PM on October 31, 2016 [2 favorites]


Which spins off two more related theories:
1) Westworld is on Earth's surface but the world outside the park has lost all or most of its non-human life
and/or
2) The fly in Episode 1 was a robot too


what if there's a shrink ray and everyone is v tiny and this takes place in a really big fishtank
posted by poffin boffin at 7:56 PM on October 31, 2016 [13 favorites]


what if there's a shrink ray and everyone is v tiny

Then the spiders in the bedrooms will eat us all.
posted by jamaro at 8:23 PM on October 31, 2016 [1 favorite]


Aha! this theory is similar to what I was talking about, and includes a screenshot of Delores next to the coffin, and confirms that the two boys disappear between cuts.
posted by coriolisdave at 8:30 PM on October 31, 2016 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I went back and checked, and there were potatoes and root vegetables in baskets on the left and a burlap sack on the right and then *boop* angle changes and the lads aren't there.

Curious.
posted by Kyol at 8:43 PM on October 31, 2016


Reading through the latest Chrys Watches I noticed that, near the beginning, the first shot of Delores in the cemetery has her alone... then **flashback/side/forward** BAM! horses and dudes .
posted by coriolisdave at 8:53 PM on October 31, 2016 [3 favorites]


I am getting a kick about SAGs freakout when the contracts made it look like the amount of graphic sex and nudity required of actors in WESTWORLD would be off the charts raunchy but it has turned out to be positively restrained for a moderm premium cable costume drama. That's SAGs job and I'm not implying they shouldn't have raised a fuss. But the irony is, uh, ironic.
posted by Justinian at 9:14 PM on October 31, 2016 [2 favorites]


WESTWORLD can't be in the southwestern USA barring some sort of radical reshaping of society or the earth. Again, it would be the size of Oregon or bigger and the government owns virtually all that land. The cost would be so absurdly high it beggars the imagination, plus all the other problems like others have pointed out with border control, etc.

The "artificial island" hypothesis is intriguing. I assume we'll find out eventually. However, Delos didn't build the park so the name would be kind of too on the nose for somebody who came in late as an angel investor.
posted by Justinian at 9:17 PM on October 31, 2016 [2 favorites]


I think I'm beginning to buy the two timelines / William = Man in Black theory, though it raises a lot of questions as well. If it holds up, I'm guessing that at some point in the season we'll have William run into the CGI'ed young version of Anthony Hopkins which we saw in an earlier flashback. I'm also guessing that we'll witness the death of Arnold in William's story, and that he'll be played by the same actor who plays Bernard in the future/present timeline.

There's some evidence to back this up, like comments about Maeve being one of the oldest hosts in the park, and the Man in Black's comments to Lawrence that he's known him a long time (although those could both be true in a single-timeline show, too). The show's decision not to have anyone utter the Man in Black's name aloud (the QA guy refers to him as that man in one scene) also points towards this outcome. And in the MiB storyline we see that the game director is rather careful about explosives and needs to authorize their use. Possibly this is an security measure put into place after an untimely death is caused by some poorly handled nitroglycerine in the William storyline?

If that is indeed the case it puts the Robert Ford story into a bit of a different perspective. Especially if he desires to cover up the death of Arnold in some way, why would he deploy a software update which causes the hosts to retain their memories?

The other big plot revelation this week is the discovery of the satellite uplink in the wrecked woodcutting host. It's fairly easy to imagine that this could be used for blackmail in the outside world since so many of the guests are involved in unseemly behavior, but I wonder what the bigger picture is. There was an echo of it when Dolores met the fortune-teller, too - the thread she pulls out of her arm is in the same place it was on the woodcutter. But could the hosts have been surreptitiously relaying information out to somewhere else for 30+ years without ever being detected?
posted by whir at 9:40 PM on October 31, 2016 [1 favorite]


OMG this show is so good you guys. So many layers. I have no idea what's Really Happening, but some themes to pick up on...

The naked women were pissing me off. So much vulnerability and rape culture on display. And then right when I was getting really het up we have the swap to the Big Black Buck and his Big Black Cock, the mandroid. So yay? Objectified men too? And boo! Objectified Black man, with stereotype of Giant Penis? And all of it deliberate, I'm sure the folks making this show know exactly how offensive what they're doing is, and I'm still not clear to what purpose. But there was a bit of a mirror / denouement to it with Dolores proclaiming herself not The Damsel. I trust.

Speaking of Dolores, Evan Rachel Wood is a hell of an actress isn't she? This whole show hangs on her. I mean sure, Tony Hopkins has all the Oscars and stuff, but this is Her Show. (Which is not to dismiss Hopkins. That scene with him and Ed Harris was absolutely delicious.)

One more bit of PC reading; I'm a bit annoyed at the portrayal of Native Americans so far. First the kachina / body collectors. Now the Labyrinth imagery. They're appropriating SW Indian religious symbols for their story, or rather their twisted programmed-robots story, and it's kind of offensive. (Particularly the kachina; those are important sacred symbols in Hopi culture.) Holding out hope we have some Native American character with legitimate autonomy to balance it out and it's not just white people borrowing from a 5000+ year old culture to make some good teevee.
posted by Nelson at 9:56 PM on October 31, 2016 [9 favorites]


It's not white people borrowing from a 5000+ year old culture to make some good teevee, it's white people borrowing from a 5000+ year old culture to make a LARPing MMORPG.

You've noted that all the non-Indian hosts and plotlines are total stereotypes too, right? Pre-consciousness Dolores, Teddy, the hooker madame with a heart of gold, the speechifying handsome rogue outlaw...
posted by Justinian at 10:22 PM on October 31, 2016 [8 favorites]


(I don't think the labyrinth imagery is fairly characterized as appropriation. It's classical Greek at least as much as Hopi. At least it seems to me.)
posted by Justinian at 10:24 PM on October 31, 2016 [6 favorites]


And another thing...
the flipped angle at the end of Delores' scene in the train headed south was a real mind-fuck because it was subtle - in the previous episode after going to talk with Bernard, she wakes up with a gun. Thud.
Also, after she has her interview with Ford (she's never naked with Bernard, is she?) and says to the room, 'I've lied' was also a bit Thud. Except she's naked and where has Bernard been?
In the graveyard overlooking Funkytown there are bells hanging from some of the crosses- you know, in case you get buried alive, and just as Delores comes out of her reverie... one was ringing, somewhere, right? It wasn't sheep, don't think.
Also the prompt resurrection of 'Lawrence' was jarring, but in the right way, kind of. More 'huh?' than 'thud'
Oh oh and, like, if William is later the MiB, where're the miles on his cheek, huh? Hmmmm plastic surgery, yes could be
Delores is totally like Benji, from The Sound and the Fury, amiright? And we're totally the reader - so who's Quentin?
posted by From Bklyn at 12:34 AM on November 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


I spent a lot of time during the episode wondering where they filmed the sex orgy scene and I think I could have kept thinking about it my whole life before I came up with "mausoleum in Compton."
posted by something something at 6:40 AM on November 1, 2016 [11 favorites]


I spent a lot of time thinking about the filming logistics of the orgy scene but mostly about heat. Did they have an extra amount of heaters in that set because I mostly thought about whether the actors were cold. Jeez I hope they made sure the set was well heated. That looks like it could be really cold and uncomfortable, it's a big open building. Well I suppose story wise if the people were drunk and drugged enough being uncomfortable wouldn't bother them as much...

Which I think may be a sign of my age. Lots of naked beautiful people walking around? Does it make me feel all sexay and hot? Nah, it's all about being comfortable now.
posted by Jalliah at 7:00 AM on November 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


It's not white people borrowing from a 5000+ year old culture to make some good teevee, it's white people borrowing from a 5000+ year old culture to make a LARPing MMORPG.

Yeah, the whole point is that everything in the Westworld park is a stereotype taken from old movies and Zane Grey novels.
posted by octothorpe at 7:15 AM on November 1, 2016 [2 favorites]


Actually the first time they showed the maze designs I immedatley thought of the labyrinth of Chartes cathedral , where walking one is supposed to be contemplative and medativive, for greater self knowledge and understanding of God.
posted by The Whelk at 7:22 AM on November 1, 2016 [3 favorites]


Also, the What The Flick roundtable discussions of each episodes are good and noticed that during debug interviews, Bertrand always talks to a clothed Dolores while Ford talks to a nude one.
posted by The Whelk at 7:26 AM on November 1, 2016 [3 favorites]


During Ford's interview with Delores, he idly checks out hereright hand. Was he looking for a satellite transmitter like the one in the woodcutter? Would that even make sense if they were in a shared dream?
posted by paper chromatographologist at 7:29 AM on November 1, 2016 [3 favorites]


In the original movie, you could tell the difference between a robot and human by looking at the palms of their hands.
posted by octothorpe at 7:38 AM on November 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


And in the movies, the hosts were full of blinkenlights, microchips and wires ("A million little perfect pieces," as MiB says).

Which is what makes me think MiB, William and Logan are living in the same time - nothing indicates that their experience with the hosts is full of robot-like tells (poor quality hands, guts full of computer parts, herky-jerky movements like the old barkeep who always wants to drink to the lady with the white shoes). I like the multiple timelines idea, but I think it won't pan out.


bluecore: Weird that you all think something this size couldn't be in the US. The west, where all those canyons and things are, is a HUGE place. I could easily see something like this taking up parts of NM, AZ and UT.

Yes, we have a lot of open space here (Google maps broad view of the southwest).


Diablevert: If kid is Robot Young Anthony Hopkins, then perhaps he's being used as Ford's spy.

I don't think Ford needs a humanoid spy - there are a lot of aerial surveillance video shots in this show, which makes it seem like there's some good recon capabilities in the park, either with a satellite, high altitude something, or drones.


We had a deal, Kyle: Is this the first time we've been shown that humans can be hurt by hosts?

Guns shoot "smart" bullets that can't kill humans, so they can get shot and it hurts. But in the first episode, they make a point of telling us, the viewer "hosts can't hurt guests by design" (hosts literally couldn't hurt a fly) ... except there are shoot-outs. So in the second episode, William says "I thought that you couldn't get hurt here," to which Logan replies "Only the right amount."
posted by filthy light thief at 7:54 AM on November 1, 2016 [4 favorites]


litera scripta manet: Speaking of Lawrence, is the fact that the MiB killed him supposed to indicate that the MiB and William/Logan are in fact in different timelines?

I think "the butchers" work fast, and they can take short-cuts (leave a bullet fragment in a host) if they need a host back topside.

And here's a good theory on Dolores' relationship to Arnold (Reddit):
So, here's how I think it went down:

Arnold approached Dolores, handed her a real gun, and ordered her to shoot him and bury the weapon. He figured that an actual death on the park, due to a rogue host, would force the park to shut down. However, something happened, and Arnold's death was swept under the rug, becoming little more than an urban legend. But Ford became obsessed with figuring out HOW Arnold was able to get Dolores to kill him, and that's why she was never shut down - because he suspects that she knows something more.
And other Redditors agree with the comment The Whelk also found on A.V. Club: "Ford needs her to keep suffering as long as he lives" for her role in Arnold's death.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:01 AM on November 1, 2016 [3 favorites]


I understand all the hosts in Westworld are two dimensional stereotypes, that's the whole premise of the show. And I'm in love with the story that Dolores and Maeve are waking up and becoming sentient and transcending their loops. Which makes their nudity and body disrespect backstage all the more creepy. It's all deliberate and in service to a good story, so I'm OK with it. I trust that ultimately these two women are going to be given agency.

So far we haven't seen the same agency or respect given to African Americans or Native Americans. Both groups are present, but passive and used mostly for stereotypes and color. But there's plenty of time for more storylines to be fleshed out.

I'm particularly hoping the show has enough of a run that we get to see the experience of different types of guests. It's not all white tech bros looking to fuck and kill, is it? So far the Man in Black is the only guest who really respects the park's depth.
posted by Nelson at 8:42 AM on November 1, 2016 [2 favorites]


Uh, what about Bernard and Maeve?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 8:49 AM on November 1, 2016 [10 favorites]


Ok you're right about Bernard and Maeve. My bad. Still wincing at the Big Black Buck stereotype portrayed this week. But I'm confident the show writers knew exactly how offensive that was.
posted by Nelson at 8:56 AM on November 1, 2016


I'm pretty sure The Maze image is supposed to be specifically a Native American symbol and not a generic labyrinth like in many cultures. Specifically for the presence of a Man in the Maze, which is part of the imagery we see in Westworld. The Wikipedia page for I'itoi is a reasonable introduction to the Tohono O'odham version, and this page has lots of good images of the symbol. Compare the Westworld images: one and two.

Given Westworld is set in the Southwest, it seems reasonable to interpret the imagery as Southwest specific. And on top of that the I'itoi story is about a creator god who has died but still has power in the world. Pretty on the nose for Arnold.

I made a mistake referencing Hopi before. Sometimes the Man in the Maze image shows up in Hopi jewellry. But they also have another maze motif, the Tapuat, which lacks the man in the imagery. I think the show is specifically referencing the I'itoi. We'll find out!
posted by Nelson at 9:04 AM on November 1, 2016 [4 favorites]


The whole "You used to be beautiful" speech the MIB gave Teddy was frickin' creepy, lemme tell you.

"Flesh and bone just like us, they said it would improve the park experience [...] your humanity is cost effective."

There's a part of me that sort of wants that to somehow work out to the hosts _are_ actually human derivative, vat-grown with behavior modifiers (so the inhumanity of the guests is _especially_ damning), but we've seen enough that that's probably a bridge too far.
posted by Kyol at 9:05 AM on November 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


Reading through the latest Chrys Watches I noticed that, near the beginning, the first shot of Delores in the cemetery has her alone... then **flashback/side/forward** BAM! horses and dudes .

Yeah but you could sorta kinda argue that the men and horses were off camera but caught up to her because it's a wide open graveyard, unlike the train later where there's nowhere for the other characters to disappear to.

Stupid phased quests - does anyone get them right?
posted by Kyol at 9:11 AM on November 1, 2016


An amusement park filled with bird robots is just one step away from an amusement park filled with dinosaur robots which is just one step away from Jurassic Park so I'm totally on board with this.
posted by phunniemee at 9:27 AM on November 1, 2016 [2 favorites]


And then right when I was getting really het up we have the swap to the Big Black Buck and his Big Black Cock, the mandroid. So yay? Objectified men too? And boo! Objectified Black man, with stereotype of Giant Penis?

There was a Vulture piece on this. I get what you're saying. A very similar thing happened in HBO's The Night Of. I think it's tricky -- Westworld the park traffics in stereotypes and so does the show, sometimes ironically. This tweet highlights how the producers think about places like Pariah, and it doesn't sound great. I still love the show, but I can definitely see how it's not subverting all the tropes that it's including.
posted by gladly at 9:44 AM on November 1, 2016 [5 favorites]


I don't think Ford needs a humanoid spy - there are a lot of aerial surveillance video shots in this show, which makes it seem like there's some good recon capabilities in the park, either with a satellite, high altitude something, or drones.

That's definitely true. On the other hand, the kid can interact with MiB, ask questions, and one gets the feeling that the kid is Ford's own special toy --- maybe a way of getting info without the rest of Delos knowing?

Given Westworld is set in the Southwest, it seems reasonable to interpret the imagery as Southwest specific.

I agree that the show seems to be tapping into Native American imagry and myth. The thing is, though the show also seems to be tapping into The Bible (Revelations' Death in the credits), Greek myth (Delos, the Minotaur), Shakespeare (Pete Abernathy speech), Lewis Carroll (Bernard gives Dolores Through the Looking Glass, her dress), Walter Scott (apparently something MiB says to Teddy?) and now Dante (contrapasso). I love me some Divine Comedy, so I'd be happy to sit here and spin you all sorts of wild theories about the Wrathful and the rivers of blood, the Lustfull and the Whirlwind, the greatest of sins being betrayal and Satan frozen at the center of the pit, but the show is so chock-full of references that there's no real way to weave them into a coherent allegory, a coherent symbolic system. They all just end up glancing, one glint of thread-of-gold in a vast tapestry.
posted by Diablevert at 9:46 AM on November 1, 2016 [6 favorites]


WESTWORLD can't be in the southwestern USA barring some sort of radical reshaping of society or the earth. Again, it would be the size of Oregon or bigger and the government owns virtually all that land. The cost would be so absurdly high it beggars the imagination, plus all the other problems like others have pointed out with border control, etc.

i mean i hear this 100%. but like. having a future huge international corporate entity owning vast swathes of the united states is probably the LEAST unrealistic part of this show.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:46 AM on November 1, 2016 [13 favorites]


"It's bigger on the inside" suffices for me.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:45 AM on November 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


oh but from the current map thread on the blue: check out #9 on this list

it would fit in australia
posted by poffin boffin at 12:21 PM on November 1, 2016 [2 favorites]


How does the Delos livestock management's host intake protocol handle nitroglycerine filled bodies? I wonder if the resulting explosions must be pre-approved by the control room.
posted by autopilot at 1:35 PM on November 1, 2016 [5 favorites]


The question of nitro-bodies and park intake was where I thought it was going, or at least suggesting overhead. The implication from the cigars is definitely that they have techno-magic in place for approving explosive effects, though they didn't cut away at any point when the nitro was being handled, so maybe full chemical stuff like that is automatic?

Then again, it came from a park storyline rather than being developed on-premises, so I'd be fairly surprised if it weren't controlled.
posted by CrystalDave at 1:48 PM on November 1, 2016 [2 favorites]


1. Who says the 'nitro' was, in fact, nitroglycerine?
2. We/I don't know for sure about the temporal relationship of the MiB timeline and the William/Logan timeline. That is, one could be greatly offset from the other. Meaning that protocols for explosives and such hight be quite different or - no, really, there's no freaking way the 'nitro' is really 'nitro' It would kill guests (potentially) and ruin hosts - all around too wasteful. But if non of the hosts admit it's fake and play act as though it's totally real, well, who's to tell?
3. The nitro thing is a curious point that brings up another thing that I get stuck on. When Teddy and Dolores are smooching in the 3rd (4th?) episode, there's a moment where the show is asking me to invest in them emotionally - yet I know that they are 'robots' who will never ... who aren't real. Unlike the actors playing them? Or the other characters being depicted? It's a really sticky/squicky wicket. Where is the line of empathic investment?
posted by From Bklyn at 2:12 PM on November 1, 2016


Where is the line of empathic investment?

I find that one of the most interesting deeper puzzles of the show, as it were, and I hope they do more with it once they've revealed some of the surface mysteries....it's interesting, because we viewer seem to quite unconsciously hold contradictory ideas about the hosts.

Most viewers seem to think:
The MiB is a sadist because he is cruel to the hosts.
Maeve suffers from trauma when she gains the ability to recall the past.

If so, then: The hosts are beings. Their emotions are real.

Most viewers also seem to think:
Teddy doesn't really love Dolores. Dolores doesn't really grieve her parents.

Because: This is all just programming, the simulacra of emotion. You can turn it off and on with the flick of a switch, a word.

Doesn't really flow, though, does it? If there's no love there's no cruelty, and vice versa.
posted by Diablevert at 2:31 PM on November 1, 2016 [6 favorites]


what if there's a shrink ray and everyone is v tiny and this takes place in a really big fishtank

I thought of that initially when they were pouring over the table with holographic map of the park. I thought the map was the territory.
posted by Apocryphon at 3:21 PM on November 1, 2016 [4 favorites]


I think one of the reasons they went with the Loony Tunes exploding cigar gag last episode was to set up the fact that explosions need to happen at the control room level. Otherwise, a clumsy guest in the Nitro plotline would end up as a thin red smear and a legal liability.
posted by codacorolla at 5:13 PM on November 1, 2016 [3 favorites]


Teddy doesn't really love Dolores. Dolores doesn't really grieve her parents.

I guess we are debating whether code that elicits emotions equals real emotions? That's a tough one. My initial instinct is that if the robots are feeling the emotions, then they are real and exist.

I know someone who has real emotions over events that didn't happen. I'm talking about arguments and physical altercations that did not happen, but my friend 100% believes it did and has been really angry at people for things they never said or did. I believe those emotions are real even though they are based on a false basis. It still hurts me when they hurt, even though I know that whatever they are upset about wasn't real.

I don't know how it could be thought both that Maeve suffers trauma but Teddy's love is not real. I feel like those are two mutually exclusive positions.
posted by LizBoBiz at 5:19 PM on November 1, 2016 [3 favorites]


My initial instinct is that if the robots are feeling the emotions, then they are real and exist.
See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophical_zombie
posted by joeyh at 6:31 PM on November 1, 2016


I think I'm beginning to buy the two timelines

Oh man, where have you been. Now there's a THREE TIMELINE theory going around!
posted by cazoo at 6:38 PM on November 1, 2016


The whole "You used to be beautiful" speech the MIB gave Teddy was frickin' creepy, lemme tell you.

When I heard that line I thought about the time that Ordell shot Louis in Jackie Brown: "What the fuck happened to you, man? Your ass used to be beautiful."

The William-as-MiB theory gained some possibility with Lawrence showing up in the William timeline seemingly at the same time that his bloodless corpse hangs upside down from a tree; yet, the part that doesn't seem right to me about this is that Dolores seems way too advanced in her sentience-gaining progression for this to have happened decades before the MiB is on the scene. If we come at it from the point of view of watching Dolores gain in sentience, she seems to be more alive now than she was when she encountered the MiB in the first several episodes.

Of course, this can be explained away by Ford tinkering with her, maybe, but that would disappoint me. A main driver of the story is the hosts becoming more aware, and it would bum me out to realize that the hosts reached a level of even greater awareness decades ago.

In short, the William as the MiB theory would make much more sense to me if Dolores was much less aware.

I'm still at the point where I like so few characters, and I'm really trying to get invested in Dolores, but right now I'm on Team Maeve and no one else's. Maeve, though, is fucking awesome.

I realize that for me, one thing that sets this show apart from shows that I traditionally enjoy is that so many characters exist for me on a spectrum of meh---->cannot stand, rather than me feeling like I love or hate/love the entire batch.

Right now I'm feeling a little cynical about the whole thing and if I could script the ending I'd have the hosts go berserk and murder every single human except for that uber douchebag host repair tech, leaving him completely alone in WW without a way to return to non-WW, whatever that is.
posted by MoonOrb at 7:29 PM on November 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


it would bum me out to realize that the hosts reached a level of even greater awareness decades ago.

I used to think that way too, but I'm now at a point where I like the idea of Whitey Wetblanket getting swept up in a slave revolt, which gets brutally suppressed - then he devotes himself (as the MiB) to restarting the rebellion.

Every time Ford reiterates that the hosts are just machines, it comes off as too much protest. He knows it's a lie, but his livelihood depends on it.
posted by Rat Spatula at 9:01 PM on November 1, 2016 [2 favorites]


My apologies to coriolisdave, you were right, I was wrong.

Don't know what it means, tho.
posted by Marky at 11:36 PM on November 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


Ya what a good episode.

I feel the draw of the timeline theory too.

Maybe it's because I'm depressed as fuck lately, but I keep imagining an appropriately bleak and cheesy old scifi end to the show. Like, the park is the last "real" place left. Either everyone else has been loaded up in a VR and they come to Westworld to experience 'reality' (but their idea of fake/real is backwards) — or the rest of humanity is extinct. The park is running on autopilot, even the guests are fake now, and the MiB's quest is to turn off the lights.
posted by fleacircus at 12:34 AM on November 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


For those, like me, who've been enjoying Ramin Djawadi's music for the show, a partial soundtrack album has now been released online (iTunes, also on Spotify), featuring:

Main Title
Black Hole Sun
Paint It, Black*
No Surprises
A Forest

*That's how it's titled, presumably because it's a major re-arrangement rather than just a cover (although as a Morricone-style cover of 'Paint It Black' it works brilliantly).
posted by Major Clanger at 2:12 AM on November 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


Anybody get the idea that "Personality tests should have weeded you out in the embryo" was an indication that cloning exists in the future in which this is set.

The Delos workers aren't hosts, they're clones.
posted by fullerine at 7:09 AM on November 2, 2016 [5 favorites]


It is a bleak future indeed in which we clone dickheads like that repair tech.
posted by MoonOrb at 7:19 AM on November 2, 2016 [4 favorites]


Or it's a setting like that which Lois McMaster Bujold depicts in her Vorkosigan books, where anywhere that's not a complete backwater handles pregnancy via IVF (often with out-of-body gestation) incorporating routine genetic profiling of embryos at the blastocyst stage. Indeed, we're starting to do the latter now.
posted by Major Clanger at 8:02 AM on November 2, 2016


From the way the line was read, it sounded to me like "Personality tests should have weeded you out" was the meaning (mostly intended as an insult), and "in the embryo" was an exaggeration for emphasis. I only watched it once through though...
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 8:05 AM on November 2, 2016 [6 favorites]


I have felt for a while, and this episode confirms for me, that the main story in this show is Delores and Maeve's joined "awakenings" and whatever that entails (not controversial in these parts, I don't think). Everything else will eventually return or point to these two stories. I'm continually baffled by a lot of the critical reception that complains about wheel spinning and slow pacing. I think the show is careful and intentional and the end of this season is going to be a whole lot of "oh I have to go back and look at everything I missed."

I also feel like so much of it feels like "tantalizing for the sake of tantalizing" because there are no world-building exposition info dumps. All of these things that we obsess over could have been explained by a Basil Exposition character, laying out all the rules and telling us what the world is like but that's not a great story. Information about the world (internal, external, and in between) are dripped out in parcels because it's true to its own internal rules. In other words: I feel like this show is fully taking advantage of an obsessive fan base and trusting that they will do the work to keep up and pay attention in order to tell a complex story about ambition, consciousness, morality, and identity.

Or so I hope.

And, not that's meaningful, but a lot of comments here have focused on the way the game resembles Mass Effect and MMORPGs but I keep thinking about Fallout 3 and New Vegas. Specifically New Vegas where [spoiler] you have the opportunity to join Kaiser and his Legion. It doesn't happen in quite the same way in the game as it does in WW but I believe you can trigger an introduction to the character earlier in the game than if you follow the "main" quest line. I actually played with a couple different saves because I wanted to do the Legion quest lines but didn't want to sully my character's good karma. And you know, now that I'm writing this, there are a lot of video games (not necessarily FO3/NV) where a ton of content gets written into the game that most players never experience, but it still gets made because the developers had a vision and it wouldn't be complete without that content.

I wonder how much of WW (ie, Pariah) exists because Ford (or Arnold) didn't think the world would be complete without them, regardless of the percentage of guests who ended up visiting?

But more to the point of this episode: there's a lot of hints as to what the world looks like outside WW and I'm starting to think that conscious automatons used like cattle is one of its lesser horrors and will be important to the story very soon.
posted by Tevin at 8:56 AM on November 2, 2016 [5 favorites]


From the way the line was read, it sounded to me like "Personality tests should have weeded you out" was the meaning (mostly intended as an insult), and "in the embryo" was an exaggeration for emphasis. I only watched it once through though...

But when he said the other butcher's mother was "so fat that when she hauls ass it takes two trips" I was intrigued. Does this show depict a future where hyper-morbid obesity is so prevalent that common idioms ("haul ass") have lost their current meaning?
posted by paper chromatographologist at 9:54 AM on November 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


I took that line as face value. Not that the butchers are clones, necessarily, just that they could live in a world of GATTACAish genetic determinism.

Also I think it might serve as a way to tie the "construction" of the hosts to human "growth" and maybe they're not so far apart.
posted by Tevin at 10:05 AM on November 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


I mean the line from "they're mechial beings with an emergent consciousness" to "they're biologically constructed entities we keep leashes on and augment with kill switches" seems like a really big one they casually crossed.

(Also furring my theory that the 'real purpose' of Westworld is immortality, wouldn't be surprised if the MiB is dying. The line about how his 'foundation' saved a life - all reeks of transhumanist stuff)
posted by The Whelk at 11:10 AM on November 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


Pariah seemed from the way Logan talked about it to be something more along the lines of a player builds. Like they suggested things to hosts and the "plot architects" or whatever you want to call them realized there was some need for a place like Pariah. Like it was a natural outgrowth of the customer experience, but not something that was originally built.
posted by miss-lapin at 11:41 AM on November 2, 2016


Pariah also feels a bit like an Expert Level to me, for when Sweetwater's delights gets tiresome and repetitive. It requires some game knowledge to even get there. Gotta keep the repeat customers interested.

We're supposed to hate the Man in Black, right? But he's the only one who seems to really take the park seriously as a coherent work of art. He loves the place more than anyone, maybe even Ford.
posted by Nelson at 11:47 AM on November 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


I don't know if we're supposed to hate the MiB in this version. I think we're initially set up to hate him, but I believe the audience was set up from the beginning to slowly realize he isn't the enemy. His villainous nature has receded as Ford's has grown. I don't think that's an accident.
posted by miss-lapin at 11:53 AM on November 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


also furring my theory that the 'real purpose' of Westworld is immortality, wouldn't be surprised if the MiB is dying. The line about how his 'foundation' saved a life - all reeks of transhumanist stuff

Yeah, I've been toying with this bit of tinsel:

Supposition: Delos is a biotechnology corp. Some kind of incurable disease has begun to plague the outside world. Being able to transfer human consciousness into immortal host bodies is the killer app Delos is really working on --- but in order to do that, they must awaken the hosts. Only if host brain tech can manifest consciousness will they be capable vessels for humans. The hosts are being awakened to be enslaved.

Of course, for this to be true, Bernard must be a human, and in cahoots with corporate, trying to subvert Ford's park under Ford's nose. But it does seem to me an implication some of the theories about the show have stepped over --- some people are saying Bernard is a host, all the park workers are hosts, Bernard is Arnold, etc. But for most of these to be true it requires that hosts can be conscious, capable of free will and imagination. Otherwise they'd be like a computer that doesn't have the specs to run a given game. Trying to elicit consciousness in a host, prove it capable of such, is the necessary first step in any such plan.
posted by Diablevert at 12:08 PM on November 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


Whatever this show is, I just hope it totally avoids the old trope of "someone creates some proprietary technology that the military would really like to get their hands on" because c'mon, that one host had milk pouring out his gashed-open belly and was still standing, so surely he would be an effective killing machine on the battlefield.

I wasn't really thinking about this at all, happy to just go along with whatever the story was giving me, until the whole thing about a host transmitting data out of the park. Then I started worrying that we were venturing towards some familiar territory.
posted by komara at 12:15 PM on November 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


The "what goes on in the outside world" part is something I don't like to think about too deeply. The allure of the park is deeply linked to the verisimilitude created by the hosts--in E2, when William arrives at the park, the host who greets him says something along the lines of "you want to know whether I'm real don't you?"

In what kind of a world can we create this kind of theme park? How can it be possible that this type of technology mystifies and entrances a seemingly well off guest like William? Surely if this technology exists, it has other applications out in the real world?
posted by MoonOrb at 12:26 PM on November 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


If William and Logan are 30 years in the past then this technology could be mystifying to them because it hasn't proliferated yet. We've seen other guests (like the bros with teddy) be much more nonchalant. It could also be like arcade hardware in the 80s, where home systems were 2 or 3 generations behind purpose built stuff. But I think the show itself is taking care to point to life outside the park, especially regarding hidden motives of Ford, Bernard, and Delos.
posted by codacorolla at 12:49 PM on November 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


As an example, there's the buffalo bill model in cold storage Ford confides in. What if consumer model bots are about that complicated? They can respond blandly to prompts and move mechanically, but aren't convincing in any way whatsoever. Going from that to the park would be mind blowing. Like playing an NES and jumping directly to the Occulus Rift.
posted by codacorolla at 12:55 PM on November 2, 2016 [5 favorites]


If William and Logan are 30 years in the past, then how did the technology--which Ford and Arnold created--leap from Buffalo Bill-style obvious robot-ness to a Dolores who has awakened to the point that she is killing people?

I hate the William grows up to be the MiB theory for many reasons, so I hope this isn't the case. Although it would make more plausible William's initial amazement.
posted by MoonOrb at 1:00 PM on November 2, 2016 [4 favorites]


The park was old when the MIB got there. It's possible that hosts got to a certain point, and then most of the changes were matters of degree rather than huge leaps. I don't like 2 timelines either, but the plot is throwing out a lot of teasers for it.
posted by codacorolla at 1:12 PM on November 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


I don't like 2 timelines either, but the plot is throwing out a lot of teasers for it.

So, counterpoint: How do we know it's not just that Dolores isn't just the least reliable narrator in the world, having delusions and blacking out? What non-Dolores evidence is there? I'm not even sure I'm down with "Well, Lawrence was bleeding out from the MIB and in Pariah at the same time!" since we haven't seen anything to suggest that hosts are unique, have we? Certainly the evidence in the MIB storyline has shown that Lawrence is considered better off dead by the law enforcement types (hanging originally (or was that someone else? Dangit, I need to rewatch already), due for a firing line while the MIB broke Escaton out of jail), which doesn't put him that far off El Lazo's trajectory.

I mean, that said, it's not like Nolan is unfamiliar with working with time and flashbacks/forwards/etc, so I won't be heartbroken if it does turn out to be multiple timelines unfolding.
posted by Kyol at 2:14 PM on November 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


Seriously, this story is built like The Sound and the Fury. On the face of it, we don't know where or when we are, but with a little work, we start to piece together the universe we're in, who is who and where and when. To draw the analogy out further, Dolores is Benjy, MiB is (likely) girl Quentin. Logan and William are Cady and boy Quentin. Ford is Father (of course). I'm not sure who's Jason - because no one's that nuts and bitter and simply wrong - though in a way Bernard kind of fits the crafty but askew-ness.

If you think of Dolores as Benjy (if you ever even read the book - it's fascinating but not as much fun as this show) it makes an interesting frame of reference.
posted by From Bklyn at 2:55 PM on November 2, 2016


I think the maze looks like a brain and at the center of the brain is a man, so if you get to the center of the maze you gain sentience?
posted by elsietheeel at 3:22 PM on November 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


Or the maze is a sort of sump or trap, designed to collect Hosts that get too sentient for their britches.

we haven't seen anything to suggest that hosts are unique, have we?

"Suggest", yeah, I think so. Why bother repairing Maeve (or at least, why bother repairing her in a hurry) if you've got a closet full of backup units? And they've talked about how Dolores is the oldest host, and Maeve's also pretty old, and too bad about Abernathy, he was a good one.

The uniqueness of the hosts is my biggest question about this show. For disposable playthings - they're not really that disposable.
posted by Rat Spatula at 3:59 PM on November 2, 2016 [4 favorites]


Looking closely at the maze from the skull. It isn't much of a maze. What with the impossibly easy single path to the center. Most of the corridors aren't even accessible. They are dead ends on both sides. I'm not sure what to make of this. Was it intentional? Or is it just a collassal failure of the props department.
posted by humanfont at 6:07 PM on November 2, 2016


What with the impossibly easy single path to the center.

It depends on what you call the center.

If it's about consciousness, maybe the goal is the head. There is no path at all out of the maze, from the head-like circle, in most of the mazes we see..

The tarot maze, coffin maze, skull maze, trench maze are blocked by a leg.

The dirt maze Lawrence's daughter drew (IIRC) has a way past the leg.. but there's no head. And I think in the E6 teaser there's a maze by Arnold or Ford that does have a way out from the head, past the leg, but the lower left switchback is barelyalmostmaybe closed.
posted by fleacircus at 7:59 PM on November 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


Labyrinths and mazes are functionally different. Mazes are games, with false paths and a single win condition. Labyrinths are typically contemplative experiences, with a single path that leads to the center then out. I'm not sure that they considered the distinction, but it might be significant.
posted by codacorolla at 8:42 PM on November 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


Aside from their mythic resonance, I thought labyrinths were built to house things, like cheese or regards.
posted by The Gaffer at 11:23 AM on November 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


your majesty, the queen's just given birth to a horrible monster!
posted by poffin boffin at 11:40 AM on November 3, 2016 [6 favorites]


(ノ◕ヮ◕)ノ
posted by The Gaffer at 11:51 AM on November 3, 2016 [4 favorites]


Hip shot - During the Unexplained Crisis thirty years ago, William saves Ford by transferring him into a Host chassis* (or saving him on a USB stick) and now Ford is a self-hating Host.

*Afterward, he productizes this disruptive innovation, hence his foundation that Literally Saved That Dude's Sister.
posted by Rat Spatula at 2:16 PM on November 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


Joanna Robinson at Vanity Fair has an interesting Grand Unification article that posits three timelines, amongst other sundry theories:

Unlocking Westworld’s 7 Most Baffling Mysteries

There is a hole or two in what she builds here, but it's pretty solid.
posted by aerosolkid at 2:27 PM on November 3, 2016 [3 favorites]


From that Vanity Fair article: In the span of those two-plus years, the production of Westworld shut down entirely so the show-runners could work out some of the bugs.

Doesn't Ford talk about the park taking years to open to the public?
posted by octothorpe at 3:58 PM on November 3, 2016


Unlocking Westworld’s 7 Most Baffling Mysteries

This is well-done; I'm on board with the three-timeline theory, having already bought into the Bernard = Arnold theory. (Synopsis: the third timeline is the interrogations between Bernard and Dolores, but it's actually Arnold speaking to her, not his robot clone Bernard, and it is the chronologically oldest timeline, taking place before the William timeline at which point Arnold has already committed suicide. This also accounts for the conversation between "Bernard" and his wife, and it implies that it was Bernard who first awakened Dolores into sentience.)
posted by whir at 10:27 PM on November 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


Ok, so I'm missing something with all the talk of Bernard actually being Arnold, or a clone of Arnold, or something like that... since Ford shows Bernard a picture of Arnold (and Ford) and Arnold is an older (than Ford) white man. Am I misremembering this?
posted by Gaz Errant at 10:31 PM on November 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


The Maze is the meta-level in the game that Ford has created, in which you must "play Westworld" millions upon millions of times, to train Special Candidates from his farm of hostchildren into "sentience" (or like whatever man).

Maeve and Dolores (and maybe some others) are already in, or about to enter.

And the MiB is too, but "it's not meant for him" (because he's the only human player).

But the MiB is trying to reverse-engineer (?) Ford's training technology.
posted by Rat Spatula at 10:49 PM on November 3, 2016


> Ok, so I'm missing something with all the talk of Bernard actually being Arnold, or a clone of Arnold, or something like that... since Ford shows Bernard a picture of Arnold (and Ford) and Arnold is an older (than Ford) white man. Am I misremembering this?

You're remembering it correctly. The theory there is that when we see the picture, it is from Bernard's (Host Arnold's) point of view. Host's aren't supposed to notice dissonant things (like himself in a really old picture) and so he see's just another guy next to Ford instead of someone who looks like himself. Alternatively, I think it could be misdirection from Ford and the picture is really him standing next to some random person/host and not Arnold, and just lying to Bernard/Host Arnold.
posted by noneuclidean at 5:05 AM on November 4, 2016 [3 favorites]


Westworld + Blazing Saddles
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:48 AM on November 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


Host's aren't supposed to notice dissonant things (like himself in a really old picture) and so he see's just another guy next to Ford instead of someone who looks like himself.

I can hear the showrunner standing behind me and saying "psyche!" while I contemplate that theory, so I reject it
posted by prize bull octorok at 12:09 PM on November 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


Right. Even if Bernard is running rooted Host firmware that lets him see photographs properly, Ford could show him any old photograph he had laying around.
posted by Rat Spatula at 1:50 PM on November 4, 2016


I remain unconvinced on the Arnold=Bernard front.

I have, however, been on the two timelines train since seeing the logo comparison. I keep thinking that there's probably proof to be had by comparing two scenes: Chekhov's hall of hosts and William's intro to Sweetwater. If the two timelines theory is correct, I'd be surprised if there's not at least one host who is in both of those scenes.
posted by Gaz Errant at 5:23 PM on November 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


Yeah. On the other hand, maybe it's a production screwup in the lost time while they figured out where they were going with the show. It sounds good, though. I'm less convinced about the Arnard (Bernold?) theory. Frankly there's a part of me thinking the whole "we've conquered sickness and illness" speech was about the hosts and not humanity.
posted by Kyol at 7:35 PM on November 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


I find it hard to believe the logos are a production mistake when the official Westworld Twitter calls attention to the logos.
posted by Gaz Errant at 8:54 PM on November 4, 2016 [4 favorites]


i'm not on board with the theory but can we please call it bernarnold
posted by poffin boffin at 11:35 AM on November 5, 2016 [6 favorites]


do you ever feel like your run-on sentences tell us that there is something wrong with this world?


feel the bernarnold schwarzenegger

I'll be back....in progressive android form
posted by lalochezia at 11:51 AM on November 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


I went back and watched episode 1 again and it's fascinating seeing it in the light of later episodes. The interactions between the Man in Black and Dolores are really striking. He clearly knows all about her and is just too busy to spend time with her, other than dragging her into the barn early on in what we're supposed to assume is a rape. Also an odd moment when the milk bandit host (Walter) goes crazy; to no one in particular he proclaims "Not going to die this time Arnold. Ain't nothing gonna kill me." It's the only time Arnold is mentioned in the pilot.

Then there's the Man in Black torturing Kissy, the card dealer whose scalp ends up having the image of the maze. One of the lines the MiB delivers just before killing Kissy is that there's "a lot of wisdom in ancient cultures". I think Kissy's ethnicity is ambiguous but from an earlier line it's a reasonable guess that he's meant to be half Native American. Between that and the scalping metaphor, I'm going to stick with my theory all this maze stuff is going to be rooted in Westworld's potrayal of Indians.

But the most telling scene is a conversation at headquarters between one of the character writers and Theresa Cullen, the woman who's the head of QA. They're sparring about position in the company and he suggests there's more to Westworld than just entertainment. To which she responds that the company is "one thing to the guests, another thing to the shareholders, and something completely different to management". Exactly what that is does not get revealed, but is presumably a central mystery for the show. I'm betting on emergent consciousness.

BTW I complained (incorrectly) upthread about African Americans. There's several African American guests in episode 1 in smaller roles. Including a really sweet scene with a family looking for the part of the park that's "not too adult" for the little boy. They wander in to Dolores and she encourages him to interact with the wild horses there by the river as she's painting. I think it's the only moment of tenderness we see between guests and hosts.
posted by Nelson at 12:33 PM on November 5, 2016 [5 favorites]


That first "rape" scene with Dolores and MiB (which cannot have actually been a rape) reminds me of the scene in Memento when Carrie Anne Moss, tending bar, elaborately spits into the protagonist's drink. On first viewing, it's a WTF moment, but when you watch the scenes in chronological order her disgust with him makes perfect sense. At some point we'll understand what was really going on there.
posted by Rat Spatula at 3:59 PM on November 5, 2016


> Synopsis: the third timeline is the interrogations between Bernard and Dolores, but it's actually Arnold speaking to her, not his robot clone Bernard, and it is the chronologically oldest timeline, taking place before the William timeline at which point Arnold has already committed suicide.

I haven't read the Vanity Fair article yet, but this third timeline idea occurred to me as I was watching this episode, and finally the multiple timeline theory started to feel a bit less unlikely.

Also:

In this episode the MIB says to Lawrence, "As another old friend of mine likes to say, there's a path for everyone. Your path leads you back to me." Then later (OR IS IT IN FACT 30 YEARS EARLIER???) Delores says to William, "Lately, I wondered if in every moment there aren't many paths, choices—hanging in the air like ghosts—and if you could just see them, you could change your whole life."

The MIB also says to Lawrence, "There's not a man in the world who'd take the tone with me you do. In a past life, perhaps." Presumably he's referring to the days when he was Nice Boy William.
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED at 8:41 PM on November 5, 2016 [3 favorites]


one of the things I'm really enjoying about the show is the fact that two female characters are really leading this robot revolution

Me too. This episode had three separate storylines about women coming into their own power, if you count Elsie deciding "fuck this" and investigating the woodcutter on her own. Nice to see that richness.

Even nicer would be to see it in some of the Native characters as well. I get the "but Westworld is made of stereotypes" argument but good writers can, and should, be working within that to tell interesting Native stories. So far they don't seem to be bothering, and all we have is the Mystical Indian Other, which is boring and becoming less excusable with each episode.
posted by mediareport at 7:37 AM on November 6, 2016 [3 favorites]


(also why no gay male sex in that huge orgy dammit)
posted by mediareport at 7:38 AM on November 6, 2016 [5 favorites]


OK that was the worst orgy ever. Although I suppose that with all that gold body paint, they couldn't do anything that would cause actual sweat.

(also why no gay male sex in that huge orgy dammit)

There actually is some indicated, maybe? In the alcove Dolores walks by just before she goes through the red curtain to see the card reader, there are three men, one of whom is being ridden by a woman and two of whom seem to be more heading for each other. Ish. I dunno.

I saw one female/female kiss, and one woman masturbating herself while another woman... patted her shoulder or something? Also plenty of men getting oral from women, no women getting oral from anyone.

Woe. Woe are the women of Westworld. Woe.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:39 AM on November 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


There's a path for everyone. Your path leads you back to me.

First time in the park and already William is getting dragged by Logan to the far reaches.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:10 PM on November 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


AHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!! THIS IS SO GOOD.
posted by tobascodagama at 5:37 PM on November 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


Male gaze alert, apropos of nothing: So, Evan Rachel Wood is obviously a very attractive woman, but, in this role, for the most part, I've been appreciating that fact mainly in the abstract, since neither she nor Dolores are traditionally my "type". And then she pulled out a gun and murdered those Confederados and threatened to blow up Larry's train and now I'm staring dreamily into the distance while doodling "Dolores" with little hearts around it on everything. End male gaze.

Oh I think the duplicates are Maeve and Lawerence, they both came back awfully fast after being killed, implying there's more then one running around.

I disagree. I think they're just that fast at turning the hosts around. Stitch them up, do a transfusion, say the magic words. The "butchers" finished up with Maeve before their lunch break. Given the kind of bad behaviour we've seen out of our guests so far, is it so hard to believe that she got killed and sent back down over the span of a lunch break?

This also explains Lawrence and El Lazo. MIB says someone will be along to collect Lawrence shortly. And there's an ambiguous amount of time between then and El Lazo's appearance in Pariah, even if you assume (as I increasingly do) that the guest and staff storylines are all happening concurrently in "the present day".

It's pretty much built into the premise that some major human character will turn out to be a robot.

Eh. I feel like the first-episode fake out with Teddy was meant to get that trope out of the way early on. I doubt anybody else will turn out to be one of the Final Five Cylons or whatever.

Well, since the name of the company is Delos...maybe it's on a (man made?) island somewhere in an ocean or sea or something. I don't think it's in outer space at all. I feel like this is going to be much more tied to reality than that. After all, we say people arrive via train.

So, I'm gonna say "space elevator" and then immediately toss that out, because I think it's probably an artificial island instead. Still plenty science-fictiony, but well within what's possible to do with engineering technology from Next Sunday, AD.

Oh, also! The park can't be underground because the woodcutter was communicating with a satellite via laser. Could be on Mars or something, but I still highly doubt it. You could talk to satellites from an artificial island pretty easily, though.

Which leads to another crackfic theory: this takes place in the same universe as The Diamond Age, and Delos is a New Victorian corporation.

I thought of that initially when they were pouring over the table with holographic map of the park. I thought the map was the territory.

Take it up with Korzybski, dude.

I feel like this is is the clearest sign of Dolores really being able to overwrite her programming since the whole killing the fly thing.

so wait dolores seemed to fall asleep in the middle of that parade thingy and then woke up? talking to ford? but is she really physically there or is she dreaming and this is happening inside her mind?

My alternative to the triple-timeline theory is that Dolores is using her Bicameral Mind to reprogram herself. Ford says that the hosts experience the bicameral mind as "hearing voices", yes? Exactly like the voice that puts her to sleep in the middle of the parade. She was overwhelmed and instinctively put herself into diagnostic mode to figure it out.

And I think the reveries are connected to this, because it's by remembering past loops (which is what the reveries do) that she can recall all of the magic words to do that stuff. Same with Maeve, who it seems is now capable of waking herself from sleep mode at will.
posted by tobascodagama at 7:05 PM on November 29, 2016


Just started watching and stalled out here because my provider has every aired episode save 06 up on VOD. Where is 06?!? Anyhoo, stuff pulled out of my butt that is probably refuted, obvious, or old news.

Ford became obsessed with figuring out HOW Arnold was able to get Dolores to kill him, and that's why she was never shut down - because he suspects that she knows something more.

I think part of MiB's quest is to get Delores to kill him, to figure out how to get her to kill him. Because he loved her 30 years ago when he was William*. He used her to eliminate Logan, usurping his role and making the park vulnerable to take-over 30 years ago. Does the two-timeline theory require hosts experience flash-forwards? If so, that's not very plausible or this is a lot more sci-fi.

Dolores is naked with Ford because he needs to reinforce in his mind they are machines. Dolores is clothed with Bernard because their interactions are on the sly, and plus it'd feel weird for two people to have a conversation when one is naked. Because i) Bernard is a host & ii) Hosts are people** MADE OF PEOPLE!!!

*Old Bill in storage threw me for a loop; I didn't catch his name in the first episode and for a few minutes I thought Ford had somehow hosterized the kid 30 years ago. There's a bit of a resemblance between Jimmi Simpson & Michael Wincott, fleshy lips? Anyhoo.

** The whole 'That's just their programming' thing reminds me of Joe Pi in Alan Moore's Top 10
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:07 AM on December 1, 2016 [2 favorites]


Also, re: Dolores/Billy/Teddy - Assuming there are two timelines, chronologically did we see D&T's can-rolling shtick before D&B's first meet-cute? Or was that the first (Unscripted) time? Did it and the ensuing events make such an impression on Dolores that it persisted in her memory? Was it less hassle rewrite her script to include it, subbing Teddy in for Billy? Like Ford said, there's not much to Teddy; he's not there to avenge Dolores' honour so much as he's there to keep her down on the farm and provide a hazy focal point for those persistent emotions.

So why keep her around? Ford does not seem to care for Dolores and her storyline is incredibly cruel. Is Ford a sadist with a grudge? Possibly, but who has the energy to torment someone for 30 years, especially when the tortured has no idea why, and when the torturer could literally destroy them? Maybe is there someone above Ford in the corporate pecking order who insists she remains in service. And if so, maybe that's partly why she's stuck in town, romance, family murder, rape - Ford can't decommission her, but he can make her existence hell.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:41 AM on December 1, 2016


I'm so, so late to the party, but I just binge-watched the first five episodes of this show and I am hooked.

I am very intrigued by the use of color in this show. In the "real world," the only color that shows up with any regularity is red -- the walls are bright red, the boots and masks of the repairmen are red, etc. I mean sometimes someone will be wearing navy blue or dark purple, but mostly everything is slate, beige, white, charcoal, black, very low saturation. Except for that BRIGHT RED.

In Westworld, there is a lot more color, but every time that red shows up, it's really significant. In the first few episodes, the only red was in Maeve's jewelry and hair ornaments and in the blood. In the more recent episodes we've seen more and more of it -- the snake tattoo, the hair ornaments in the Offensively Stereotyped Native Americans, the wine that overflows the glass when Ford freezes the waiter, and then of course the orgy in Pariah is SOAKED with that red.

I don't think this is a coincidence. I think that scarlet red represents something, symbolically. Anyone else have thoughts?
posted by KathrynT at 9:56 AM on January 16, 2017 [4 favorites]


Until reading this, I forgot that we saw the MiB exsanguinate someone before. He did it to the host that he scalped, and he'd collected his blood in buckets. So what did he do with that host blood? Or, who was it for?
From the transcript of the pilot:
About three liters. That's how much blood I left in you. Lose more than that, you die. But for now, you're mine. I'm gonna get some answers out of you.
So, I think it was just to make Kissy more easily manipulated and to foreshadow the need to replace Teddy's blood in this episode.
posted by Cogito at 6:15 PM on April 29, 2018


I really appreciated the deep cut of Nine Inch Nails' Something I Can Never Have during the orgy in Pariah.
posted by Cogito at 6:18 PM on April 29, 2018


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