Westworld‘s Season 1 Finale, “The Bicameral Mind”: Meeting Wyatt, Finding the Center of the Maze, Ending the Game… and Starting Over
At last, it’s time for the season one finale of Westworld, hosted by your dual reviewers with divergent opinions, Teresa and Maddy. Teresa’s all like Dr. Ford, raising a glass to toast Dolores finding the center of the maze. And Maddy’s like the Man In Black, responding, “What is this bullshit?” This is an hour-and-a-half long finale, so strap in. We’ve reached the end of the game! But perhaps, as Teddy says, it’s only the beginning of a new chapter…
Dolores lies on a table, remembering the first time Arnold constructed her, and looking back on her life as though it was a long dream. “Welcome to world,” Arnold tells her.
Flash forward to the Man in Black and Dolores sitting together on a porch. He’s making her shave his beard for him. As the shot pans out, we see that the porch is in the old original town of Westworld. The MIB notes that Dolores is “obsessed” with this place. “I’ve never been here before,” she protests. But, of course, she’s been here many times. The MIB points out that Arnold programmed her to do this, and she flashes back once again, remembering the bustle of the old town square and the sound of the church bells ringing.
William and Logan wander down a forest path together, William on horseback and Logan on foot behind him, tied to the horse, as William drags him along. They’re both looking for Dolores. They get interrupted by a crew of gunmen, led by Lawrence.
Teddy is riding into Westworld on the old steam train. As he walks through the town square, on the beginning of his route, he suddenly flashes back to his memory of the battle alongside Wyatt, and the town square covered in dead bodies. He looks around in confusion. Then he sees Dolores, wearing her powder-blue dress, walking through the bodies and staring back at him, a cold expression on her face. Then she smiles peacefully at him and keeps walking.
Teddy jolts back to the present when someone in the square bumps into him. In a panic, he shoots the man, who falls to the ground dead. Teddy realizes what he’s done and approaches the body. He looks up and sees the train pulling away from the station. “Dolores,” Teddy whispers, then hops back on the train as it pulls away.
Dolores enters the church and she finds Bernard—or Arnold?—inside. He’s holding a sketchbook/journal. She smiles at him and says, “I know where your maze is.” This is a flashback, because she’s still wearing her blue dress. As they walk outside, the flashback flips back to the present day, showing us the MIB and Dolores (now wearing her pants instead of the dress) walking together outside the church.
There’s a small set of graves just outside the church; Dolores walks up to one, which bears her own name. (Teresa: I loved this moment. What’s interesting is that she says the maze ends “in a place I’ve never been. A thing I’ll never do” and then she gets to this grave. One thing she’ll never do is truly die.) She digs and finds a small circular box; inside it, there’s a toy version of the maze. The flashback returns; dress-Dolores looks up at Arnold expectantly, while holding the maze model. She asks what it means; he draws her a diagram in his sketchbook, explaining that the maze served as his model for building the hosts’ consciousness. He asks if she understands what’s at the center of the maze. She doesn’t, but he says she’s “close” to understanding. Then he says, “We have to tell Robert. We can’t open the park; you’re alive.” He looks proud of her; she looks happy, albeit confused.
Flashforward. The MIB takes the maze from Dolores. She believed that if she found the answer to the maze for Arnold and Robert, “they would set me free.” She flashes back to a memory of Arnold telling her that Robert didn’t see her, or any of the hosts, as humans. But Arnold didn’t want to roll back Dolores’ programming; he doesn’t see it as ethical. Then again, Westworld isn’t ethical either: “This place will be a living hell for you… it’s unconscionable.” To prevent Ford from opening the park, Arnold tells Dolores that she has to kill all of the other hosts. “You’ll need some help,” he continues, “I’m sure Teddy would do anything for you.” He hands her a gun.
Dolores flashes back to the memory of herself and Teddy killing everyone in the town square together. In the present, the MIB keeps trying to intimidate Dolores into confessing what happened; he’s frustrated that she won’t tell him about the maze. “You said this was the only world that matters, so I bought this world,” he explains. “This world doesn’t belong to you,” she protests. The MIB says that nothing in this world is “true,” and Dolores says she has found something true here: “I found someone who loves me… when he finds you, he’ll kill you.” (Maddy: She doesn’t specify that it’s Teddy here. Who is it? Maybe she thinks it’s William, but perhaps it’s… Arnold? After all, Arnold certainly does love her, and in the pilot episode of Westworld, we saw that paternal love was going to be one of the running themes here.)
William and Lawrence sneak up together on an enemy encampment (Wyatt’s men?). Logan makes fun of them as they scheme about how to get past it.
In the train station at Westworld HQ, Lee walks up to Charlotte and asks her if she’s trying to “push out the old man” and replace him. He says he wants a promotion, if he’s willing to help her. She concedes.
Sylvester is putting together a spinal cord for a robot design; he’s frustrated by it and keeps looking around nervously. Eventually the design is complete; we see that it’s a finished rebuild of Maeve. This version of her spinal cord must not have the kill switch built into her vertebrae. Felix watches in awe as she wakes up, takes his tablet, and makes some changes to the park’s security system, as well as the other hosts.
Dr. Ford sits in his office, sketching in a sketchbook. Charlotte shows up to meet with him. She tells him the board is forcing him out and that he needs to announce his resignation at some big party the board is throwing that night. He asks her if she’s worried that he’ll sabotage all the hosts on his way out the door. She says she isn’t worried about him doing that, because she knows him. He wouldn’t do that. (Maddy: Yeah, he might do something wayyyy more weird and sinister than that.)
Armistice and Hector are getting fixed up by Westworld techs before starting their next loop. One of the techs wheels Hector out of the room while making jokes about how he’s planning to sexually violate Hector. The other tech is disgusted but doesn’t try to stop his colleague from doing this, since it’s status quo for them. Meanwhile, Maeve has been updating the other hosts’ programming, so both of these hosts are about to gain the ability to fight back. Armistice wakes up and she starts attacking the host who is operating on her. His colleague is too busy lubing himself up and listening to pop music to notice what’s happening in the other room. However, he overhears when Armistice throws his colleague through the glass window. As he turns around in shock, Hector stands up and stabs him.
Maeve and Felix walk in. Maeve summarizes the goal to her new allies: “the goal is to escape.” Sylvester shows up and Armistice starts threatening him. Sylvester admits that there’s something he hasn’t told Maeve yet: the whole reason why Maeve is here is because she figured out how to wake herself up from sleep mode. The reason why she can do that is because someone changed her programming, and the access code in the logs says “Arnold.” Sylvester doesn’t know who that is, nor does Maeve—but she knows someone who does.
Teddy hops off the train at the next stop. He finds two men eating at a small table at the side of the road; he shoots one and steals their horse.
Meanwhile, back at the old church, the MIB is kicking Dolores around. This time, she clarifies the man who she thinks will save her: “William will find me.” The MIB is pleasantly surprised that Dolores does remember William after all, and tells her: “I knew a guest named William, too. Let me tell you where his path really led.”
William and Logan (and, presumably, Lawrence) have successfully taken down the soldiers’ encampment, and William is interrogating one of the only men left alive. The man admits that the soldiers saw Dolores and that they raped her, but that she’s still alive, at least as far as he knows. William kills this man, then stabs him in the neck for good measure. Logan looks horrified. (Maddy: Is the guy that William kills in this scene a host? I assume he’s a host, based on context, but I’ve been curious about what would happen if two human guests got into a fight and tried to kill each other in the park. Would their guns work? What about the knives? I’m mostly curious about this since Logan and William seem like they’re constantly on the verge of actually killing each other. Well, that, and it seems like it would be an easy mistake to make, since the human guests look identical to the robots. Teresa: Good Samaritan protocol. The hosts are programmed to respond to a variety of threats to protect human guests. Also, everything is being watched all the time. Hosts would take a bullet before a human could get hurt. At least, that’s the idea.)
William and Logan ride through the plains back to Dolores’ farmhouse. She isn’t there. As they turn to leave, William accidentally drops the photo of his fiancee – the same photo that Dolores’ father finds buried in the dirt in the first episode, which caused his programming to begin to unravel.
William rides all the way out to the “fringes,” and as the MIB explains in the voiceover, “He couldn’t find you, Dolores. But out there, he found something else: himself.” William picks up a black cowboy hat, takes out a black feather, and hands it to Logan, who is still tied up, and now naked for some reason. William tells Logan that he thinks their company should increase its holdings on Westworld. Logan gets really pissed off: “Our company? Delos is my company, you piece of shit!!” William smiles coolly and says he’s planning to take over. Logan laughs hysterically: “You never really gave a shit about the girl, did you? This was the story you wanted.” William whips the horse that Logan is on, and the horse wanders off into the wilderness.
The MIB insists that Logan was wrong. William did keep looking for Dolores. Eventually he found her, back at the beginning of her loop once again, in the town square. William watches Dolores drop her can on the ground, but then he also watches another man—a human guest—picking it up and giving it to her. As the MIB finishes his story, Dolores realizes that the MIB is William. “I thought you were different; you’re just like all the rest,” she realizes, as the MIB goes on and on about just wanting to find the center of the maze and beat the game.
She points out that the ravages of time have beaten him, and that eventually he will die, whereas “new gods” will walk this ground and rule this world–the hosts, like herself. She tells him that their true god has yet to come. He whispers, “Wyatt.” Dolores just glares at him. “The maze wasn’t meant for you,” she reiterates. She starts to walk away, he tries to stop her, and she starts beating the crap out of him. She drags him through the church, up to the podium. He starts hitting back, but she’s much stronger than he is. She tosses him out the side door of the church, takes his gun from him and throws it away. She pulls out her own gun and holds it up to his head. “Do it,” he taunts her. But she can’t. He stabs her. (Teresa: The MIB has never been more infuriating than he was in this moment. I was screaming at my TV, “HOW STUPID ARE YOU? This is exactly what you wanted! For the hosts to fight back! You wanted higher stakes? HERE THEY ARE! It was so annoying to see that he was so convinced that the answer to the maze was anything BUT Dolores, or her awakening consciousness, that he was blind to what was being said and done directly to him in this moment! I firmly believe that she doesn’t kill him here as a matter of choice, not programming.)
As she falls to the ground, her stomach bleeding, the flashback shows us William in the town square, his face falling as he watches Dolores with another man. In the present, the MIB stands over Dolores, insisting he’ll find Wyatt by himself. Then all of a sudden, Teddy rides up and shoots the MIB several times in the chest. He falls to the ground, but we know the hosts’ bullets don’t work on humans, so he’ll be up in a second. Teddy runs to Dolores’ body; she refuses a doctor, instead saying, “take me to the place you promised. Take me to where the mountains meet the sea.” Teddy agrees and picks her up. They ride away on horseback. The MIB opens his eyes. (Teresa: TEDDY FINALLY WINS! Yet another sign that things are changing among the hosts)
Felix, Maeve, Armistice and Hector enter the basement of Westworld HQ, where tons of robot bodies are in cold storage. (Maddy: Wait, where’s Sylvester? He disappears mysteriously for all the rest of these scenes… In his final scene, Maeve says she’ll send Armistice back to get him, but that never happens. Hmmmmmm.) Maeve finds Clementine, but that isn’t who she’s really looking for: she’s there for Bernard, who is lying on the ground in cold blood. Maeve tells Felix that Bernard is a host and asks if Felix can get him back online. Felix briefly wonders whether he’s a host, but Maeve dismisses that notion: “you’re not one of us. You’re one of them. Now fix him.” Felix does what he’s told.
Bernard asks the question that we all have about this show: “Is this now? Or is this one of my memories?” Maeve tells him, “it’s the sweet hereafter, Bernard.” Bernard is surprised that none of his memories have been wiped. This isn’t the first time he has woken up under circumstances like these—nor is this the first time it’s happened to Maeve, he says. Maeve looks back at Clementine, wondering, “How many are there like me?” A few, over the years, according to Bernard. Maeve wants Bernard to remove her false memories of her past Westworld storylines. He says he can’t, not without destroying her consciousness.
The MIB walks through the church graveyard and picks up the maze toy. Dr. Ford walks up and calls him by his actual name, which (as we know now) is William. “So you found the center of the maze,” says Dr. Ford, gesturing to the toy. The MIB retorts, “What is this bullshit?” The narratives are “just games,” Ford reminds him, somewhat dismissively. The MIB says his goal was to improve the game by making sure the hosts could “be free, free to fight back … I knew you’d never let them.” But the maze is a game for the hosts, not the guests, Ford insists. He then gestures back to the town square and tells the MIB to enjoy his new narrative. (Teresa: Again, WHAT DOES WILLIAM THINK DOLORES JUST DID?! Sexist asshole.)
Maeve asks Bernard who programmed her to wake up. Bernard asked her why she’s doing this. She believes she decided to get out on her own, but Bernard points out that someone else altered her storyline and gave her a new one. “I planned all of this,” Maeve insists. Bernard tries to tell her about the rest of her storyline: first, she gets allies, then, she makes it to the train, “then, when you reach the mainland–” “Bullshit,” she interrupts, snapping the tablet at half before hearing the rest. “I’m in control,” she says, but that doesn’t seem so certain anymore. She walks over to Clementine’s blank body and kisses her on the forehead. Maeve, Felix, and the other hosts walk out of the room. Bernard gives them a “seen it all before” facial expression.
Several programmers notice a discrepancy in the temperature in cold storage, but they can’t find any other anomalies, and the board is already on their way to the gala. One of the programmers insists they should check the security video feeds, floor by floor, to try to find out what’s causing the anomalies.
Teddy and Dolores ride together to the ocean. He carries her from the horse to the shoreline. “You came back,” she cries. “If only I’d run away when you asked me to,” he says, stroking her face. But she points out they have nowhere to run: “We’re trapped, Teddy.” As she dies, she explains to them that their love is “the beautiful trap” that keeps them there, stuck in the prison of Westworld. After Dolores dies, Teddy still seems hopeful; he seems to be aware that they aren’t really dead for good, and that they can come back, and that “someday” they’ll figure out how to escape together. He insists, to no one in particular, that perhaps this is “the beginning of a brand new chapter.” (Maddy: This scene made me cry. I’m a total softie for the robot romances in this show. I’ve already gone on record as not caring about any of the human characters, so that should surprise no one.)
As the camera pans out, silhouettes of people on benches can be seen in the foreground. Teddy and Dolores freeze in place, as Dr. Ford walks out onto the beach to thunderous applause. Ford explains that his new narrative is called “Journey Into Night.” In the back of the benches, Charlotte reminds Lee that he has “somewhere to be—somewhere important.”
At Westworld HQ, the programmers find a video of Armistice attacking her surgeon. Before they can take any action, such as calling the board, the whole system shuts down. Maeve, Felix, Hector and Armistice wander the halls downstairs, on their escape route. A bunch of military guys show up with machine guns, saying they’re “Delos Personnel,” ordering everyone into lockdown. Hector and Armistice disguise themselves by standing very still among a group of hosts, then they disarm the Delos fighters and start shooting back.
The Man In Black shows up to the gala, wearing a tuxedo. As one of the demonstrations at the event, Teddy teaches some of the guests target practice; a woman shoots a host and Teddy smiles and tells her, “well done.” Bernard shows up and walks through the party also.
Maeve, Felix, Armistice and Hector make their through the Westworld warehouse; they find a mysterious new room with hosts dressed as ancient Japanese warriors. Looks like there was a feudal Japan theme park in the works? (Teresa: The logo on the wall reads “SW.” SAMURAI WORLD! I legit jumped off my couch when I saw this for reasons I’ll elaborate on in my opinion section below) The Delos fighters are catching up to them; Armistice and Hector stay behind to gun them down as Maeve and Felix push further ahead towards the exit. One of the soldiers sets off a lockdown door, and Armistice gets her arm caught in the door; she tells everyone else to go on without her.
Maeve, Felix, and Hector walk past some offices and a front desk clerk. No one stops them; the front desk clerk starts to get up in protest, but Hector shoots him. They reach the elevator, at which point Maeve tells Hector he can’t come with them. His programming is preventing him from even entering the elevator with her. He doesn’t seem that disappointed, in the end, though. He tells her, “see you in the next life.” (Maddy: This is another strong piece of foreshadowing that Maeve isn’t really going to make it out… I already knew she wouldn’t, especially after Bernard explained that she’s done it all before, but damn.)
Dr. Ford patches up Dolores’ wounds and reminds her of her fondness for painting. He shows her Michaelangelo’s painting of God creating Adam, which was Arnold’s favorite painting. It depicts the moment when God gave humans consciousness, but that story could be a metaphor—or a “lie,” as Dolores calls it. Bernard walks in and Dolores calls him “Arnold,” but Dr. Ford corrects her. He then explains that he kept Dolores and Bernard away from each other because of Arnold’s close relationship with Dolores, and also, because Dolores was involved in Arnold’s death.
Ford then explains that Arnold got the idea for the maze from one of his son’s toys. This maze idea inspired Arnold to put in the “reveries” update to the hosts—the ability to give them memories. Arnold didn’t want Robert to open the park, but Robert didn’t agree, so Arnold merged Dolores’ personality with a new character they’d developed: Wyatt.
In the flashback, Dolores remembers herself and Teddy killing all of the hosts, in an effort to make a statement to Dr. Ford. After everyone dies, Arnold walks into the square and explains to Dolores that they need to send a stronger signal to Ford. The hosts can be brought back to life, but he can’t. Arnold starts playing a song on a gramophone, explaining it was his son Charlie’s favorite song. He takes a chair into the middle of the town square and sits down, waiting. Dolores stands behind him and asks if she should “begin.” He confirms, then says, “These violent delights have violent ends.” She shoots Arnold, then Teddy, and then, herself.
In spite of these “violent ends,” Dr. Ford opened the park anyway, because he found—or rather, Dolores found—an “investor who believed in this place,” meaning William, a.k.a. The Man In Black. Ford then went on to clarify that he didn’t believe back then that Dolores really had consciousness; Arnold was the one who programmed her to pull the trigger, or so Ford justified it to himself at the time. That way, he could open the park without feeling guilty about it. But he seems to feel guilty now, saying he’s made “mistakes” that have taken him 35 years to undo. He gestures to the nearby desk, atop of which is the gun that Dolores used to shoot Arnold.
He then gestures to the Michaelangelo painting on the wall, pointing out that the image of God looks like the shape of a human brain, “the message being that the Divine Gift does not come from a higher power, but from our own minds.” He asks Dolores if she understands who she needs to become.
She cries, but she does not respond; she doesn’t understand. Not yet, anyway. Dr. Ford walks out. Bernard looks confused, then follows him.
As Maeve and Felix ride the elevator, she finishes changing into a new dress. He tells her he has the information she wants: “the location of your daughter.” She’s in the park. Maeve looks at the piece of paper, which has a location in the park written on it. She puts away the paper and says “no, she was never my daughter,” then takes a gun out of her purse and loads it. She puts the loaded gun back into the front pocket of her purse. She then walks towards the futuristic Westworld arrival train and gets on board. She sits down. (Maddy: But it can’t be this easy, can it? Furthermore, I feel like Felix sabotaged Maeve here, by giving her that piece of paper and implanting the doubt in her mind, reminding her of the core backstory that draws her back to Westworld. Why did he do that? Why didn’t he just let her leave? Now I’ve got all sorts of questions about Felix’s motivations throughout this entire arc. Not to mention we still don’t know what happened to that jerk Sylvester! Teresa: I was wondering about Felix’s motivations here, too. A part of me wants to believe that he did it because he believes she has feelings and genuinely just wanted her to get to her daughter, but knowing this show, he’s probably just another human you can’t trust.)
Upstairs in the church, Bernard confronts Dr. Ford about the “reveries” update, asking if Arnold was the one who really slipped that update into the code. Ford avoids answering that question. Instead, Ford points out, Arnold wasn’t exactly a great guy: after all, he’s the one who built the hosts’ programming to revolve around suffering and sad backstories. This wasn’t the way to help the hosts achieve consciousness and save themselves, at least not according to Ford: “You needed time.” That journey involves even more suffering, but of a different kind. Ford shakes Bernard’s hand, then gives him back the maze toy and says “good luck.” Ford walks out of the church, back to the gala. Bernard looks at the maze toy.
In the underground office, Dolores stares at the painting. She eventually leaves the room and walks into the side room, where Bernard—Arnold?—is waiting. He asks her, “Do you know where you are, Dolores?” She starts up the same monologue she said at the beginning of the episode: “I am in a dream… I do not remember when it began.” He asks if she realizes now whose voice she has been hearing in her head. She looks across from herself to see… herself. She realizes that the thing she has wanted and has sought throughout “this long and vivid nightmare” was to confront herself—to become truly self-aware. She looks back over to the desk with the gun on it. It’s actually on top of her own blue dress, nearly folded.
Back at the gala, Teddy smiles placidly at the guests and Dr. Ford gets a champagne for himself. As Ford walks by Charlotte, he taps her on the shoulder and says “Miss Hale.” She stares at him, looking unnerved, as he walks away. The Man In Black throws back some hard liquor, watching the party from the back. The player piano starts to play Radiohead’s “Exit Music.” Dr. Ford takes the stage. He explains why he likes telling stories, but that in creating Westworld, he has created “a prison of our own sins… you don’t want to change. Or cannot change. Because you’re only human, after all.”
Meanwhile, we watch Maeve on the Westworld train. She sees a mother and child nearby; she takes the piece of paper out of her purse and looks at it. She finds that she cannot bring herself to leave Westworld yet and gets off the train.
At the gala, the Man In Black walks further away from the stage, lighting a cigarette for himself. Meanwhile, Bernard looks on as well, along with Teddy and the other hosts and guests.
As Maeve walks back into Westworld, the power goes out. Lee has gone back into Westworld HQ as well, into the basement, but he is shocked to find that the cold storage basement is now completely empty.
At the gala, the Man In Black hears twigs breaking off in the woods. Suddenly, a huge group of hosts emerges from the dark woods and starts walking towards the gala.
Dolores walks up behind Teddy at the gala, telling him, “This world doesn’t belong to them. It belongs to us.” She has changed back into her blue dress again. Meanwhile, on the stage, Dr. Ford concludes his monologue about how this will be his last narrative. Dolores walks up behind him onto the stage, draws her gun, and shoots him in the head.
She then starts shooting the rest of the board members present. The Man In Black gets hit in the arm, but he doesn’t die—well, not that we see, anyway. He looks very excited by this brand new storyline. (Teresa: And as we know that Ed Harris is coming back for Season Two, it’s likely that he somehow survived. Then again, this show is very timey-wimey, so who knows?)
After the credits, we get a bonus ending scene with Armistice, back in the Westworld headquarters. She cuts her own arm off from the door, to escape. Then, recognizing that she’s able to take off her own arm and still be okay, she faces down the oncoming guards with gleeful abandon.
THE OPINION SECTION
Maddy: Let’s hear a round of applause for my fellow reviewer, Teresa, folks! We may not agree about this show in general, but game must recognize game when it comes to her ability to consistently guess every single major twist thus far, several episodes ahead of time!
Yes, the Man in Black is indeed William, which is a plot point that many other people guessed long before either of us did–but Teresa also guessed that Bernard would turn out to be Arnold, and as this episode shows, her prediction that Dolores would turn out to be Wyatt turned out to be shockingly true. What’s more, Teresa always advocated for the idea that Dolores would turn out to “save herself” rather than relying on Arnold–and indeed the center of the maze isn’t about Arnold or Bernard or Dr. Ford or William or Teddy… it’s Dolores meeting Dolores, and gaining the self-awareness she has sought, without fully understanding that quest. I never should’ve doubted it.
As far as season finales go, I found this one satisfying, at least in terms of answering the questions that I wanted to have answered–for now, anyway. One of my big complaints, particularly about the two episodes previous to this one, was that we didn’t get enough explanation for why the villains on this show behave the way that they do. I still want more, but for the moment, I’ve had at least a couple of questions answered about those motivations.
The MIB’s backstory as William doesn’t explain everything I’d want it to explain, though–or at least, not yet. His William scenes seem to contradict the MIB’s own story to Teddy about his wife committing suicide, and him turning to Westworld, since now we know that he went to Westworld long before he even got married in the first place. But that’s not what interests me about his character, really. Instead, I was more interested to learn more about his personality in general, and how his own ennui as a rich and lonely man–as well as an emotionally abusive and manipulative person, and a selfish person, as we’ve seen–led him to create his own savior complex within Westworld.
It was also interesting to learn about how Dr. Ford built the park to accommodate William’s whims, and how in the wake of Arnold’s death, that became a new “game” of sorts for the pair of them. They’re both detestable megalomaniacs in their own way, but they exhibit that personality type in very different ways, as evidenced by my favorite scene this episode, in which the Man In Black sputters “What is this bullshit,” upon viewing the maze toy.
The maze isn’t for either of the men in this scene, really. It’s not about them. The story isn’t theirs. It’s the groundwork laid by someone long dead, in an effort to give the hosts the key they need to overcome their oppressors. But the maze isn’t for Arnold, either. But it is, actually, for Bernard. And the rest of the robots, like Dolores, obviously.
I see Arnold as a villain as well, at this point–although I’m not sure he would see himself that way. At the very least, I see Arnold as complicit in all of this, and I’m not sure I buy that he’s the savior, even if he did give the robots the key they need to unlock eventual self-awareness. This is a Michael Crichton story, and the similarities with Jurassic Park have long been noted by many other people before me, so let me just be the gazillionth person to quote this line: “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.” I kept thinking about that line when we saw all the flashbacks in this episode, particularly with regard to Arnold’s choices.
Why do Arnold and Robert create the hosts in the first place? It’s clear throughout that Dr. Robert Ford isn’t really interested in giving the hosts consciousness; he doesn’t mind if they’re janky and robotic, and he doesn’t know if the people attending the park even want realism. But Arnold is the one who wants to give the hosts consciousness, and who also ultimately decides that he wants to close the park entirely, because it’s unethical… but the whole reason why it’s unethical is because Arnold made it unethical, due to his inability to resist giving the robots consciousness.
I don’t know that it’s inherently unethical to build a robot that is self-aware and conscious, so long as that robot is able to then have civil rights; that self-awareness means that the robots need to choose whether they want to work in the park, and also, to get to decide what types of roles they want to play there, if any. But Arnold built these robots within a framework that he knew would never afford them that right, and then he was surprised that things went wrong for them.
Arnold and Robert probably gained the funds to build Westworld in the first place due to the promise that people would be able to visit the park and abuse the robots as much as they wished; that’s why people invested in this park, because they wanted it to be a theme park where humans could do anything, with no concern for morality. So… knowing that, why did Arnold even want to give the hosts self-awareness? I’m tying my own brain in a pretzel trying to figure that one out, but no matter how I think about it, I feel like Arnold is still at fault.
I guess I would have the same question for developers who are working on AI and robot technology nowadays, although obviously we aren’t at the point where we have to worry about these questions of moral responsibility… at least, not quite yet. But it is something that I wonder about, and I’m still not sure whether Westworld has really thought about that. Or, at least, we haven’t yet heard further explanations about the morality of creating this type of park, and what it depicts, and whether there’s a responsibility to do something else with this type of technology. There are a lot of questions getting raised on this show about the nature of consciousness and memory and the whole idea of telling a story; it’s a show about the idea of a show, a story about stories. But it’s also a pretty disturbing dystopic picture of the ways in which the tech industry could go wrong. And, so far, I’m not sure that the show’s depictions of different ways to “escape” make sense, quite yet. A violent escape is one way to escape. But there might also be other ways out of this.
I think we’re supposed to see Dolores killing Dr. Ford as a victory– and, I admit, I do see it that way, at least for now. Within the show, as it stands right now, “violent ends” is the only pathway out… again, for now. But it’s not the full solution to the problem. Dr. Ford is just an agent in a larger system that allowed this all to happen. As for what that system looks like… well, we’ll have to see what the rest of the outside world in Westworld might look like. Teresa has already predicted that it won’t be pretty, and I know better than to question her predictions by now.
Teresa: Damn, Maddy! Thanks for the props! For some reason, this show and I jibed, yo. I think it’s because, as I work toward a television career myself, I’m getting better at seeing how a televised story works as a whole? Or something? (Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, I’m totally available to join your writers room. But SHHHH. Don’t tell The Mary Sue!)
OK, so there’s SO MUCH TO TALK ABOUT RE: THIS SEASON FINALE, AMIRITE?!
Let’s break this down major plot point by major plot point:
DOLORES IS QUEEN, DR. FORD IS MUSIC
Or, at the very least she’s Wyatt. Or rather, Wyatt is her. Or rather-rather, SHE IS ENTIRELY HERSELF AND AS THE OLDEST HOST IN THE PARK SHE HAS SO EARNED THIS. I knew that she would come into her own, and she did! It was thrilling to watch Dolores wake up, even moreso because throughout the whole show we’re kinda supposed to be rooting for Maeve as “the stronger one,” and because William doesn’t believe that sniveling Dolores could herself be the reason and answer to the Maze. Everyone underestimates her except both her creators, it seems. And that was a delight to find out, too.
Maddy’s right that both Arnold and Ford are megalomaniacal and at fault for everything, but what’s great about Ford is that he is someone who fucked up and is (at least as far as we can see right now) trying somehow to make up for his own mistakes. It’s interesting that both men see taking themselves out of the equation as the solution. After all, in order for children to become adults and the circle of life to continue, parents eventually have to die, right? I’ve given you everything I can. Now, it’s up to you. Inscrutable bastard though he’s been throughout the entire show, I couldn’t help but see his final speech as beautiful. He was having his greatest creation take away his life after basically giving his entire life to creating her. He was, like the musicians he named, “becoming music,” or rather, becoming a part of the narrative he created by being the catalyst for this next and final story.
WILLIAM/MAN IN BLACK
OMG, Ed Harris’ gleeful, little kid on Christmas morning smile when he saw the hosts revolting was worth the price of admission BY ITSELF. Holy crap. I’ve never seen someone so excited about robot overlords. It infuriated me that William “Man In Black” McDouchebag couldn’t believe that the soft, sweet object of his affection could be the key to the whole Maze even as she was handing him his own ass. What redeemed him for me at the very end was him finally seeing the chaos beginning to erupt around him. He finally got it, I believe. He got what Dolores was trying to say, and what she means with regard to the Maze. The center of the Maze is consciousness, but not human consciousness. Host consciousness. If he’s looking for meaning in this park, it will likely have a lot to do with humanity being but a speck in this big bad Universe. And a speck with an expiration date, at that. What I want to know is, what is the outside world like for William that he’s SO GLEEFUL about a host uprising and possibly getting shot to death.
In that moment when Dolores could’ve killed William, William says “Do it,” and to me, it felt less like a challenge and more like a desperate request. He is not feeling life outside the park, and I want to know what’s so miserable out there?? Or is he just fed up with his own stupid life?
I held out hope until the last possible second that she’d get out of Westworld and stay on the train. When Felix gave her the information about where to find her daughter, she firmly decided against going back for her. Which means she’s at least somewhat capable of doing that. However, despite her having gotten off the train and stepped into the impending chaos of Westworld, I don’t think that she’s under anyone’s control at the moment, no matter what Bernard said. I just think that she is a conscious being with the memory of a child, and someone in that situation would understandably choose finding the child over their own freedom. Arnold and Ford got shot to get out of their children’s way, why wouldn’t Maeve risk her life to save her daughter? Her daughter’s “not real?” Arnold and Ford’s kids aren’t “real” either. And yet…
Dr. Ford’s narrative begins with a new people and the choices they make. Free choices. Maeve’s life is her own.
I totally jumped off my couch and screamed “SAMURAI WORLD!”, when I saw an “SW” logo followed by samurai swordfighting. While the original Westworld movie featured a Medieval World and a Roman World, Jonathan Nolan confirmed that we would not be seeing those parks in future seasons. However, we now know that his cryptic answer was also oddly specific. No, we won’t be seeing those worlds (heh, heh). But Samurai World? SO much better.
When I was a kid, my dad had a book that he always encouraged me to read (I never did, and now I can’t even remember the title. I think it was Giving Up the Gun?) about how the end of the samurai had to do with the rise of Westernization. Specifically, Western guns. That idea has always fascinated me. The idea that you could get really good at something like swordplay only to have someone come along and shoot you dead with a gun from far away. When I saw the movie Jarhead, I was fascinated by the same idea. Peter Sarsgaard’s sniper was trained to take one careful shot. He never gets to take that shot, because technology improved and now there are drones that can raze an entire city block. Craftsmanship (yes, even in battle), usurped by technology that makes everything faster and easier. Which is better? Which is worse? And are both the same?
Samurai and the “Wild West” existed at the same time in history. It would make sense, then, that the two worlds would meet. How they’re going to meet, I have no idea. But I would love to see some swords vs. guns analysis happening next season.
PEOPLE I THINK/HOPE ARE NOT DEAD
If you’re on the Westworld mailing list, you’ve already gotten this email from Delos and played this part of the ARG. If you’re not:
Dear Westworld Employees,
Please visit the Delos Security Panel for an important message regarding the security breach at the Mesa. Do not be alarmed, the situation is under control, but we need all current staff members to check in to the system. You will need to use your exclusive administrative password in order to access this secure message.
Do with that information what you will. I don’t want to spoil the fun of what you’ll find if you figure it out (or cheat by doing an internet search for some numbers, like I did), but you might find that a certain character who may have been killed may actually still be alive after all!
I also hope that we somehow get more Charlotte Hale next season. First, because I love Tessa Thompson. But secondly, because we still don’t know anything about what she was up to. Did her plan to get Abernathy out of the park succeed? Where was it going? Also, I kind of hope that she gets stuck in the park, forced to survive, and comes to realize there’s more to the hosts than entertainment. I’d kinda love to see her become their ally. Then again, she’s only human, after all…
In my opinion, Westworld Season 1 is a great example of how to do a genre show right. Obviously, you don’t write a Mad Men or a Breaking Bad the same way you write a Westworld. But so often, sci-fi and fantasy are seen as the red-headed stepchildren in film and television, assumed to be of lesser storytelling quality, because of a tendency among genre writers to focus exclusively on worldbuilding to the detriment of craft. Westworld gets its storytelling craft right. There is nothing on this show that isn’t earned, or that you can’t go back to a previous episode and spot foreshadowing about if you look carefully enough. It answers enough questions while also leaving enough open-ended mysteries for next season. The performances were flawless across the board, the music was perfection, and the look and the feel of the show was astounding.
It reminds us that every season is a story, and that having patience over the course of every episode, looking at the whole rather than its parts can be rewarding. Westworld is a lie that tells a deeper truth; that pain makes us human, and that while it can divide us, pain can also unite us.
Vive la robot revolution.
(images via HBO/screencap)
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