Westworld (S2E10: The Passenger) Catch-All - Spoilers Ahoy!

tuffalobuffalo wrote:

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'm currently in the middle of BioShock 2 for the first time, and I get that vibe from Westworld too. What's going to happen to Dolores' dad? I would think they could just destroy the "brain" and re-use the body, but that seems too simple.

It'll be interesting to see how they handle these issues.

So, the Ars Technica podcast is amazing and really touches on some stuff I would have missed/not investigated. They do mention that they've seen the first 4 episodes, so given that they started a podcast around Westworld, I imagine the next three at least will be good. They bring up the fact that the androids in this show are programmed so they don't realize they aren't human which is different from Ex Machina and many AI shows. It generally makes everything more creepy and disconcerting.

I watched episode 1 a second time all the way through, and I'm just blown away by how packed the first episode is of amazing things. Stray observation that I haven't seen brought up. The milk in the opening sequence is hugely reminiscent of Alien and Ash. The drinking of the milk by the android assaulting Delores's father and having it all over his chin just screams Ash from Alien. There is a shot where the other dead android's blood is mixing in with the milk that just has to be intentional in saying "we're blurring the lines between android and human."

Bernie takes out a picture of a kid that must be his. I wonder if the kid has some sort of brain disease and his agenda in the park is research. There are so many secrets going on.

I wish they would make a Red Dead Redemption 2 type game that has a whole meta thing like Westworld. That would be just an absolutely incredible video game that plays with your expectations about what video games are. It would be similar to how AC4 took things but you could really take it to a whole other level.

My prediction is that the man in black is actually the protagonist from the original movie 30 years prior. He had that crazy experience, and that changed his perspective forever and then he got hooked on visiting the park, ultimately modelling himself after that Yul Brynner villain. I also wonder if you can spot Delores's character in the original movie.

Running Man wrote:

What's going to happen to Dolores' dad? I would think they could just destroy the "brain" and re-use the body, but that seems too simple.

It'll be interesting to see how they handle these issues.

Well, Bernie whispers something to him just before decommissioning him, so my guess is we'll see him later at some point during a sort of robot uprising. I can't imagine they don't bring that actor back after his really amazing performance. I think out of anyone in the first episode, he easily has the most interesting and best performance of them all. His performance develops so much empathy for the character, but then it all turns, and he is really, really frightening in that last bit.

Am I alone in feeling that they have used some similar ingredients in this reboot that Battlestar Galactica did with the Cylons.

Who is what? What do they know? etc.

Bruce wrote:

Am I alone in feeling that they have used some similar ingredients in this reboot that Battlestar Galactica did with the Cylons.

Who is what? What do they know? etc.

Yeah, I think the James Marsden character is the only time they'll pull that trick.

For example, it's just going to be really, really bad writing if they make the man in black an android. It undermines the fact that all the androids in the park have finally evolved with that recent update. Really, it would just make no sense given the shootout. They'd have to write in a "well, this android figured out how to override his programming 30 years ago..." Also, the main focus in the first episode is the tension between androids and humans. I really don't feel like they're going to go in that direction. There's so much there for them to work with. If they start throwing in the Cylon thing, it's just going to get eye-rolls.

I think that everything is as it seems on the surface with the first episode but there is a lot hinted at that will be revealed. Mostly, we're waiting to figure out what all of the human motivations are.

tuffalobuffalo wrote:

Well, Bernie whispers something to him just before decommissioning him, so my guess is we'll see him later at some point during a sort of robot uprising. I can't imagine they don't bring that actor back after his really amazing performance. I think out of anyone in the first episode, he easily has the most interesting and best performance of them all. His performance develops so much empathy for the character, but then it all turns, and he is really, really frightening in that last bit.

That was a pure acting moment - sitting naked and transforming from one character to a completing different one.

If the man in black is an android it will be interesting for them to explain how he has gotten around the guns.

I am 99% certain the man in black is an android, and no, it doesn't mean it's going to be bad writing if he is.

Jayhawker wrote:

I am 99% certain the man in black is an android, and no, it doesn't mean it's going to be bad writing if he is.

The only explanation I can figure is that Ford figured out how to create sentient life 30 years prior and the man in black is a side project he's had this whole time. So, for 30 years, he's been sitting on that update that gets applied in episode 1? It would negate any agency they created for the androids in episode 1.

Also, the man in black is a much more interesting character as a depraved gamer. If Ford created a depraved gamer character 30 years ago and a game for him to find 30 years later, it will end up in an android war and cylon type characters are going to pop up everywhere. I will be very, very disappointed if they go that route.

I'm curious if you have a good writing explanation that would work. I sure can't see a good way to do it.

I'll start spoiler tagging extensive speculation from now on. If any of that stuff comes to pass in the horrible way I thought up, though, yeesh.

I try not to write the show into a hole in my own mind by placing expectations on where it needs to go.

Like, I'm assuming he is an android, and that there are multitudes of ways to make that an interesting story. But I'm also interested in what they might do with him as a human. Either way, I'm looking forward to how that drives the narrative.

Regardless, the show, after one episode, is well produced, and the writers have some interesting things about what they think makes us human, which can generate good discussion. If there is a conversation I dread, just really hate, it is the armchair review stuff, worrying about if episode x is better or worse than episode y, and, oh my god, it is trending the wrong way. This basically makes The Walking Dead threads unreadable.

And I don't think speculation needs to be spoilered, unless it is stuff gleaned from the writers talking about where the show is going. I think understanding what we think will happen is an important piece of understanding literature.

Jayhawker wrote:

And I don't think speculation needs to be spoilered, unless it is stuff gleaned from the writers talking about where the show is going. I think understanding what we think will happen is an important piece of understanding literature.

Got it. I don't typically watch the post credit bits because they really ruin the characters.

I think I took the 99% sure is android comment too seriously. At any rate, we'll see what happens and if they can write that smartly, I'll tip my hat to you.

I typically don't armchair direct or try and predict anything in a show or movie as I'm watching it. This show is something else for me, though, and I think I was mostly just gut-reacting to all the man-in-black is an android comments because I really don't feel that is an interesting place for the show to go at all given all the wonderful writing and setup they presented in the first episode.

Hey, it's better than getting posts sh*tting on the show because the Man in Black being human ruins the original! So, at least we aren't getting the Star Trek effect yet.

My take on these twists in shows like this, and particularly Mr. Robot is that many viewers miss the point. It's not just to be tricky, like a challenge to see if you can predict it. Figuring it out early doesn't mean it was done poorly. And if it is a riff on a twist from another piece of media, it's not lazy.

It's there to make you think about the story and characters in a different way. The entire nature of wondering if a character is human or android reveals a lot about what we think makes us human.

In Westworld, it is going a step deeper. As the androids begin to realize they are not human, they will realize that they have been othered by humans. The story could twist into a commentary on class and status. But instead of just presenting androids as the other, as the film does, this let's viewers do some of the heavy lifting on their own.

I mention Mr. Robot because it was getting dinged for making the twist too obvious, when figuring out the twist, or being surprised when it is revealed was not the point. The writers wanted us to see it, think about it, and use those thought to think about the characters and the story.

Like Mr. Robot, the writers are working with our preconceived notions on a variety of topics and themes, and using it to make us think. Just the setting of a fake old American West provides fodder. Some of it is historical. Much of it is based on the western films and musicals we've seen.

I had to watch season one of Mr. Robot twice, because to me, the perspective shift makes it different enough that a second viewing is fresh and interesting. Keeping the story meaningful in different ways with multiple viewings is a quite a writing feat, and it makes shows like this much more interesting to me. (Or movies, or books, or...)

Oh, and if the writers make the Man in Black an android THEY ARE LITERALLY sh*tTING ON MY CHILDHOOD. /s

(The Yul Brenner Westworld came out when I was 12 - I think I actually saw it in a theater! My dad took me to some odd movies when I was young. Like Klute, for example.)

It looks like HBO has released the second episode early. If you want to discuss that episode, please use spoiler tags until Sunday.

I want to know what happens when a guest tries to kill another guest. I also want to see something about risk. I would think there would be people that would at least want to fake die. Games aren't fun if you can't die or fail. Maybe that is the secret maze level.

Well, I'm working at home today, so I "took a break" to watch it.

Spoiler:

They very strongly suggested the man in black is an android, so we'll see where that goes. *shrug* I guess I'll just make my peace with that. They may be turning him into some sort of savior character or something. At any rate, I hope they don't go that route. I kind of think with the amount of hinting they did that they're setting it up that he's human. He says something about being born in the park 30 years ago. I still kinda think that he's the original protagonist from the movie, not the man in black, and he was "born" after going through that experience. I need to watch the movie again.

There was a ton of great stuff in episode 2. The most shocking thing was the racism portrayed in the storyline writer. If that doesn't make you cringe, I don't know what will. It was really painful to watch.

I edited in a little man in black stuff after thinking on it a bit.

On the second episode:

Spoiler:

I think the Man in Black is being set up as the opposite of a savior, He is the Lucifer, the one that rebels against the world God has created. Ford's new story is to give his androids religion, a reason to be good. He is saving there souls by giving them a option to reject the world view of the Man in Black.

I mean, I'm reading a lot into the final scene, where he takes his protege to the desert to see his plan for the new storyline, which is a cross.

And yeah, just an utterly amazing episode. The comparisons to Mr Robot are even more apt, as the show commentates on modern culture's addiction to escapism. Ford's dismissal of the writer's new storyline could have been aimed at so many AAA games, films, and TV shows. I kept thinking of Ken Levine during the episode and about how I felt that he was going for a similar idea.

I'll wait for the show to air to comment much more. There are so many things worth discussing.

...so when do we get another Red Dead game, because I really want one now. Failing that, another Western themed mod for Mount & Blade.

Loved the second episode. I'll wait until late Sunday night to comment.

I just watched it.

Spoiler:

No Suprises

Rat Boy wrote:

...so when do we get another Red Dead game, because I really want one now. Failing that, another Western themed mod for Mount & Blade.

Yes, RDR was an influence. As was GTA and Bioshock.

For those of you who haven't seen it, this trailer for the original Westworld (1973) basically spoils the whole plot:

Yeah, I watched the original Westworld the other day and I was pretty disappointed. It is silly to the point of slapstick in many places. It isn't so much that it is dated (it is), but it couldn't decide if it wanted to be a tense thriller or a near future sci-fi or a goof on exotic holiday getaway movies. The extended bar room brawl is ridiculous. The only time it gets serious is when the Gunslinger is on the screen. At least the "behind the scenes" technology shots are historically interesting. Lots of blinking lights and CRT terminals, and people spouting pseudo-techie gibberish into their headphones.

BadKen, would you recommend newcomers to watch the movie?

I was interested in seeing it for some background and context, but I'm now deciding against it because I'd rather not be spoiled and I tend not to enjoy decades-old movies that don't age well.

Hobbes2099 wrote:

BadKen, would you recommend newcomers to watch the movie?

I was interested in seeing it for some background and context, but I'm now deciding against it because I'd rather not be spoiled and I tend not to enjoy decades-old movies that don't age well.

My 2 cents: I would totally recommend it because it'll make you really appreciate the TV show. You'll see how far ahead of its time some of the ideas and concepts in the movie are. You'll see how hampered it is by many problematic aspects that just don't work. Some of it is the writing, some of it is the production is on a 6-million-dollar-man level of cheesiness. Overall, while it's a little painful to watch and hasn't aged perfectly, it's mostly worth watching for creepy-as-hell Yul Brynner playing an android gone bad.

It's not going to give you context for the TV show, but it will make you realize how good some of the core ideas are in the show and give you an appreciation for how good that show's writing is.

Aristophan wrote:

For those of you who haven't seen it, this trailer for the original Westworld (1973) basically spoils the whole plot:

Wow, Christian Bale looks like the spitting image of James Brolin at that age.

A couple of notes -

Spoiler:

In the second episode, it's becoming more and more common for the Man in Black to kill, not with the revolver, but with a knife. While the guns might be able to distinguish between Android and Human, I doubt that sharp steel has quite the same protections on it. Which means that, if he DOES turn out to be non-human, he's found a loophole if he finds someone human in need of a killing.

It might also lead up into a couple suspenseful "Was his victim human or android?" considering how realistically they bleed out.

As for the "Reveries" - what's basically happening is a real CS problem, namely referencing uninitialized memory. As the android's "brain" processes data, it stores the values into a non-volatile source, like a hard drive. Like in a real computer, "erasing" their memory deletes the references to these values, but doesn't do anything to change the values themselves.

So, these Reveries are a function that creates a reference to an uninitialized area of memory, and reads the random bits of data stored there. To the Android, this would be functionally equivalent to a dream - a chaotic representation of forgotten memories, with none of the context or meta-data related to it. However their AI processes this data, it then feeds the results back into their conscious "functional" memory space. Hence, the nightmares, hallucinations and flashbacks.

Quite cool.

Yeah I'm pretty much all about this show.