What a surprise! HBO releases the second episode of Westworld a few days earlier, supposedly so that they may continue their ratings dominance by not competing with any presidential debates. Smart choice. Having to decide between a sci-fi western that has yet to establish itself with a concrete plot and the most important discussion that this country has been so vocally opinionated on since the last cirucs came to town will create more sore losers than need be.
But back to the fiction; and by that I mean Westworld.
This episode opens up with two guests as they embark on their journey into the life of a Hollywood western. The first “level” is more of a character selection with the guest, William, whom we see has a hesitance to enter into the game by falling into his baser instincts, instead, after declining an ambiguously live female or machine host’s sexual advances, he dresses the part of cowboy (all the clothing in the room is tailored to fit him exactly), walking to the host from outside of his dressing room and is presented with a choice: take the black hat or take the white hat.
William exits the modernized facility of whiteness, sheen, and routine to enter into a lively saloon filled with even livelier men and women. After he downs a drink given to him by the bartender without any sort of verbal request, his friend Logan shows up decked in full black, questioning the nature of his choices and chiding him for his own questions about the reality. Logan says that he cannot wait to see the man that our white-fitted cowboy really is. (Later on, William tells a hooker who he refuses to sleep with because he “has someone at home” that Logan is not his friend.)
That’s when the saloon reveals itself as the train leading into Westworld.
This episode is clearly about choice and the infection that those choices involuntarily spread throughout other people. We see the Man in Black (Ed Harris) continuing his quest to discover another level of this game. He threatens a host’s family (appearing to reside in some sort of representation of Mexico), going so far as to shoot the host’s wife in the head before their daughter, who loses character, creepily delivering her lines that give more information as to where the maze begins. The maze referring to the picture printed atop the scalp he hacked from a host upon the previous episode. What does this all mean? What will happen once he finds whatever it is that he’s looking for? Did he really not know about the host’s family until this year coming into Westworld? The Man in Black constantly refers to the host as his old friend. I don’t treat my friends this way, especially ending the day by tying said friend to my horse and forcing him to walk beside me on my journeys. Let alone after killing his wife. Sheesh.
Dolores, the host played by Evan Rachel Wood, hears a voice whispering to her, “Do you remember?” What she still continues to remember after the events of last episode is a mystery, but it does have some effects. She runs into a the brothel owner, Maeve (Thandie Newton) who tries to get Dolores to leave the entrance of the building as she will misrepresent the kind of woman the brothel holds. Dolores turns to her and says, “These violent delights have violent ends,” then continues on with her preprogrammed day. Maeve, however, begins to have nightmares – recurring memories of an experience she had with her daughter from a previous character that she played, perhaps – with problems arising from this. She awakens after a particularly brutal finish of the nightmare to find herself on an operating table before two strange men. She escapes with her abdomen cut open into a room of discarded hosts to be cleaned or disposed of before the men subdue her with anesthetic. Do the hosts have organs? If they can be subdued by medicine, can they feel the effects of alcohol? Maeve drinks a lot.
While this episode gives answers, it raises just as many if not double in the amount of questions we have. Deception and choice at the forefront (by way of the makers, for the former) and intringue sprinkled all about to make this show delve even deeper into this Choose Your Own Adventure book of which we as the viewer can choose nothing, sitting in passive passion of a story that will hopefully continue to be a satisfactorily wasted hour in a country that is frankly much more fun when it’s fiction done right as opposed to the alternative. I admit that I do have high hopes.
Also, don’t even get me started on the makers. I’ll talk more about Anthony Hopkins’s character and his employees once I come to understand it all more.
Sarahann Darlene Walker‘s final thoughts:
No cheap shots of nudity. It’s not as in-your-face like Game of Thrones was. Preferring more vulnerability with the hosts and their nudity in the presence of the makers, to make them feel more human since it is so difficult to distinguish between a human or a host, why not push that further?
The sex scene, however, was in a quick enough way that it was tasteful even if it was like PG-13 when compared to other programming on HBO, rather it was done refreshingly.
With Jurassic Park we were already believing this world once we enter into it, to have some greater power amongst human nature. But in this park we come face to face with human nature and the discorvery of what’s real within ourselves verses just only the park itself. Therefore, possibly having more time with the makers prior to visually looking at this “new world” and it’s many astonishing characters, may have allowed us to see this world differently or prepare for it differently. The suspense of all this could have been dwindled to encourage eager discoveries which would unravel after entering the park. Everything is so condensed without enough information.
Also Westworld isn’t the only world, right? What about those?
I’d like to thank Ms. Walker for taking the time to lend her thoughts as well as to help better form my own for this piece.