Westworld (Latest Episode: The Bicameral Mind) Catch-All

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This 10 episode series is a dark, dark show. Go watch it on HBO before reading the thread!

Now that all episodes have been aired, please feel free to discuss the entire show, and any future speculation, without spoiler tags.

It's on the DVR. I wasn't up for anything really dark last night. We'll probably watch it tonight or tomorrow.

I was impressed, but I don't know how long I'll be able to stick with this show. There's a reason I bailed on The Walking Dead pretty quickly; I don't have a lot of patience with what a friend of mine calls "misery pron". By the end, I was pretty sure I never wanted to see Ed Harris again.

I very much enjoyed the first episode. I really enjoyed the original movie after watching it relatively recently, and I like that a series will have more time to explore all the complex themes and ethical quandaries.

My only complaint is that I can imagine the series not sticking the landing. Westworld is about as anime a show could get, and many anime series tend to start strong and run into the ground.

I like how they ditched the multiple worlds (Roman World, etc.) to focus just on The West.

tuffalobuffalo wrote:

...and many J.J. Abrams series tend to start strong and run into the ground.

That's what I'm worried about. Hopefully he's just throwing money at it.

deftly wrote:
tuffalobuffalo wrote:

...and many J.J. Abrams series tend to start strong and run into the ground.

That's what I'm worried about. Hopefully he's just throwing money at it.

Well, at least next week's episode should be great. It introduces Jimmi Simpson's character who was kinda the main character in the original movie from what I can tell in the preview. Glad he's not the focus in the show, but it'll be interesting to see what they do with the character.

I love most JJ Abrams stuff, so I'm not really all that worried. Is this an event, or is there a possibility of future seasons?

I thought the episode was a fantastic introduction to the world. I was surprised that things went south so quickly. I figured we would get just a glimpse of things beginning to go awry.

I told my wife early on that it felt like an awesome Red Dead Redemption LARP. Later I read that the producers do want it to have a video game feel. Considering that, it makes me wonder about Harris' character seeking a deeper level to the game.

Michael Calia had a nice recap of the show, but it is subscription locked.

This section Dr. Robert Ford was particularly interesting.

Robert Ford

The man behind Westworld, Dr. Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins), has a name that not only calls to mind the man who shot Jesse James, but also the “Ford” of Aldous Huxley‘s “Brave New World.” The novel, about a dystopian future society where people are engineered and conditioned, takes its title from a line in William Shakespeare‘s “The Tempest”:

O, wonder!
How many goodly creatures are there here!
How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world,
That has such people in’t!

Those words resonate with “Westworld,” certainly, but there’s also a moment in the first episode when one of the hosts quotes “The Tempest” directly: “Hell is empty, and all the devils are here.” The character in question, a robot who acts as Dolores’s father, freaks out because he finds a guest’s photograph in the field. It depicts a modern city, something which this being programmed to be in the Old West can’t comprehend. It triggers within him an existential crisis, and later he threatens Ford with more Shakespeare quotes: “By my most mechanical and dirty hand (Henry IV, Part 2),” he tells the scientist, “I shall have such revenges on you (King Lear).”

Ford himself is going through a bit of his own existential crisis. He has figured out a way to create “reveries” in the hosts, allowing them to tap into memories. He claims it was a mistake, but he is also quick to point out that natural selection occurs because of mistakes. “We’ve managed to slip evolution’s leash, haven’t we?” Ford tells right hand man Bernie (Jeffrey Wright). “Do you know what that means? It means that we’re done, that this is as good as we’re going to get.”

What's the spoiler policy gonna be for the thread? I'm cool with whatever, but we should probably be clear.

That's very interesting just how deep those Robert Ford references go.

Spoiler:

All the scenes with Dolores's father going through an existential crisis were fascinating and beautifully acted. It's all so creepy!

One other scene that was a favorite of mine was with one of the original hosts having a drink with Robert Ford. That actor did such a good job of seeming like the best animatronic characters ever. It was really weird.

I love how this show somehow feels a lot like Bioshock. It's a completely different setting, but I got a lot of Bioshock vibes from that first episode.

I did get a "Holodeck program on the verge of breaking down" kind of vibe from the first episode.

I loved the last shot of the first episode.

Spoiler:

That fly is dead. Dolores lied.

BadKen wrote:

I loved the last shot of the first episode.

Spoiler:

That fly is dead. Dolores lied.

Spoiler:

Wouldn't say she lied. She evolved. And her expression when swatting the fly seemed to be one of surprise. I think the scene was supposed to show that their nature is changing, as they begin to be affected by past memories.

I spoiled the response, but it seems like discussion of the current episode ought be fair game, no?

I'm intrigued, but not sure where the show will go.
I haven't seen the original movie and I will probably give it a shot after the end of the 1st season.

If I understand correctly, Ford has included "reveries" as part of the latest update. Using the wrong metaphor, it feels like something that goes deep into the kernel level of relevance. Hosts have now been given a subconscious and everything that comes with it. Ford calls it an accident, but you only do something that complex on purpose. Ford is obviously proud of the level of evolution he's managed, "we're done, this is as good as it's going to get".

What I don't get is the basement full of malfunctioning Hosts.
I didn't quite get if Dolores' father malfunctioned because of the update or rather his programming couldn't handle the Visitor's photograph, or if the photograph was the last straw.
Also, why not destroy every malfunctioning Host? It seems leaving a floor full of naked, forgotten Hosts is a great premise for a horror movie, or an 'I, Robot' movie.

trichy wrote:

By the end, I was pretty sure I never wanted to see Ed Harris again.

My feelings exactly. They're obviously going somewhere with this, I don't think Harris' arc is just about paying every few months to go torture the same Hosts every time. Again, haven't seen the movie and maybe that explains it.

Finally, this feels like an extremely twisted version of Mr. Roarke's Fantasy Island.

I love that they used the song Paint It Black behind the arrival of the villainous host.

Hobbes2099 wrote:

Ford calls it an accident, but you only do something that complex on purpose. Ford is obviously proud of the level of evolution he's managed, "we're done, this is as good as it's going to get".

Ford was talking about humans, as a species at that point. Our ability to feed the weak and cure disease has meant that natural selection no longer weeds out the weak. Humans are the best they will ever be, because of this.

The implication is that we are going to be replaced by AI, which can still evolve and make individuals stronger without the need for reproduction.

The accident was that by giving them access to past memories, it having unintended consequences. He wanted them to pick up new gestures and have a better ability to ad-lib. But what he accidentally created was consciousness.

Jayhawker wrote:

I think the scene was supposed to show that their nature is changing, as they begin to be affected by past memories.

I don't know, I just found Dolores' boundless optimism very creepy while everything else is going to sh*t. Also the reveal about her history seemed pointedly ominous to me.

I can see that. But one of the concerns that the interviewer had was that her daily repletion was prompting her to question reality. She changed after seeing her father flip out over the photograph, and whatever happened to her in the shed with hate Man in Black. So yeah, she was already creepy, but it was her commitment to her routine that made her creepy. Now she is breaking out of that routine.

And I'm not buying that the Man in Black is human. I think he is an android that has figured out how to game the system, which is the original story.

A theory I saw mentioned on the Interwebs:

Spoiler:

The Man in Black is the original Critical Failure from 30 years ago. He comes to the park as a human now, but is trying to figure out what it is, and what it means to him.

Also, some people are claiming there are robots among the crew, and possibly management.

But the Man in Black is obviously the key to the entire series. We had Paint it Black during the shootout. The piano in the salon was playing Black Hole Sun. And the closing song was Ain't No Grave, sung by Johnny Cash, the original Man in Black. Will be interesting to see what music drop next episode.

Jayhawker wrote:

Will be interesting to see what music drop next episode.

I suddenly want a Wild West rendition of "Back in Black."

Rat Boy wrote:
Jayhawker wrote:

Will be interesting to see what music drop next episode.

I suddenly want a Wild West rendition of "Back in Black."

My guess is we will see this:

Por que no las both?

tuffalobuffalo wrote:

What's the spoiler policy gonna be for the thread? I'm cool with whatever, but we should probably be clear.

I'm fine with spoiling the show once it has been aired on Sundays, so I updated the original post.

Aristophan wrote:
tuffalobuffalo wrote:

What's the spoiler policy gonna be for the thread? I'm cool with whatever, but we should probably be clear.

I'm fine with spoiling the show once it has been aired on Sundays, so I updated the original post.

Sounds good!

Yeah no way is Ed Harris Man in Black human. Has to be the OG glitch that is trying to figure out what's "out there". Probably smart enough as well to realize he can't shoot any humans....yet

TheGameguru wrote:

Yeah no way is Ed Harris Man in Black human. Has to be the OG glitch that is trying to figure out what's "out there". Probably smart enough as well to realize he can't shoot any humans....yet

I'm starting to suspect that the original malfunction from 30 years ago is in fact the events from the original movie and that somehow Ed Harris' character is Yul Brenner's.

I wonder if this song will be dropped in.

Rat Boy wrote:
TheGameguru wrote:

Yeah no way is Ed Harris Man in Black human. Has to be the OG glitch that is trying to figure out what's "out there". Probably smart enough as well to realize he can't shoot any humans....yet

I'm starting to suspect that the original malfunction from 30 years ago is in fact the events from the original movie and that somehow Ed Harris' character is Yul Brenner's.

That would make sense if they are preserving the timeline from the original movie as canon. I haven't watched in ages but I seem to recall Yul Brenner getting melted? So it would be interesting to see how he comes back from that.

TheGameguru wrote:

That would make sense if they are preserving the timeline from the original movie as canon. I haven't watched in ages but I seem to recall Yul Brenner getting melted? So it would be interesting to see how he comes back from that.

My guess is that the timeline loosely has something like the original movie's plot happening 30 years ago but they're going with something vague that will be referenced here and there. I guess we'll see! Maybe they'll bring up the Roman world. Or maybe they'll do Roman World as a future season.

However, I did enjoy the reveal that James Marsden was an android, which plays off the fact that Ed Harris is (seemingly) human. Going into the series, one big question is "Who's an android?" and to have that bubble burst in the first fifteen minutes was quite refreshing,

Aristophan wrote:

However, I did enjoy the reveal that James Marsden was an android, which plays off the fact that Ed Harris is (seemingly) human. Going into the series, one big question is "Who's an android?" and to have that bubble burst in the first fifteen minutes was quite refreshing,

Yeah, that was really cool. They totally got me, and that few seconds when you realize you've judged a character incorrectly are glorious. It was very well executed.

I love how the whole first part of the episode up until that point sets that character up as the typical Hollywood male protagonist and then just pulls the rug out from under all of that garbage.

You can stream the Westworld pilot for free right now

HBO’s newest series, Westworld, debuted on Sunday night and over the past few days, those with subscriptions to the network or its stand-alone streaming app, HBO Now, have been able to dig in.

Today, the network announced that it would also be putting the pilot online to allow non-subscribers the chance to watch the show. Those interested can head over to HBO’s Westworld site and watch the pilot while it’s still available, but it appears it’s regionally locked. Those in Canada and the U.K., for example, are out of luck this time around.

Ars Technica is doing a podcast each week on Westworld.

Danielle Riendeau did a great writeup on Westworld and how it comments on video games and the gaming industry.

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