Westworld Season 1 Episode 1 Walkthrough and Explanation
FIRST! THIS IS SPOILER TERRITORY. IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN IT YET, WATCH THE TRAILER, THEN GO WATCH THE SHOW AND THEN COME BACK!!
cough. That was loud. But I’m sure, that like 3 people even read it regardless. He’s yelling. Where is the Westworld goodness?!? hahah. Seriously though, have you heard anything about Westworld? Yeah, it’s a small little TV show written and created by Jonathon Nolan (Christopher’s brother, and author of Memento Mori, the prime mover of Nolan’s movie Memento) and Lisa Joy Nolan (writer for Pushing Daisies, co-producer of Burn Notice, and wife of Jonathan.) Jonathon and Lisa are also Executive Producers of the show, along with a little known name of J.J. Abrams. Oh, and Michael Crichton wrote (co-wrote?) all 10 episodes of the first season. Which basically means that this entire first season is going to be a total mind trip. From start to finish. J.J.? Jonathon? Crichton? The only person missing in this creative trifecta would be Nolan himself. I mean, how in heaven’s name did Christopher Nolan not end up in these credits somewhere? But dang. And after watching the first episode, I think we really could have contender to dethrone LOST from the title of best TV of all time. (Yes, and yes. Don’t start with me.)
But first, if you haven’t seen the first episode, you are going to have to do so to really continue on, because I’m going to totally tear this episode down here in a second. Here, have a trailer to give you something to think about.
Man, can I just say the rabbithole on this one is near infinite? Can’t wait to hear what you guys are thinking about how this show breaks down. Personally, I’ve never done a breakdown of a TV show, but this show definitely deserves it. So can’t wait for the next nine episodes. Good on you HBO! I wasn’t a fan of the Game of Thrones books, so I never dove in on the show. But I think Westworld is going to kick it.
Original Westworld Movie Overview
In order to get some insight into where we might be going (yes, there may be spoilers here aplenty, so read at your own discretion) I figured I should probably dive into the original 1973 movie directed by Michael Crichton. Heck, I could use the refresher, it’s been years since I’ve seen it.
The movie starts out at an amusement park that was called Delos – which had three different themed environments. There was West World which was based on the American Old West. There was a Roman world – Pompeii. And then there was a Medieval Europe world. All three environs were filled with androids that were indistinguishable from normal human beings. And for a grand a day guests could come to Delos and do practically anything they wanted.
Our adventures start with Martin, who was a first time visitor to the amusement park. His friend Blane had been before… and off they head to West World to kick the fun off. And quickly they get into a gun fight with the Gunslinger. But it’s clear that the guns of the androids are limited to keep them from killing park visitors. They do this by sensing high body temperatures in the guests. But these same guns allow them to kill colder blooded androids. (Please remember this detail, I’m guessing this will become a significant deal later in the series.) Every day the gunslinger fights and loses. But everyday he returns ready to fight again another day.
But it is then that the Tech Team of Delos begin noticing that the androids are becoming infected with some sort of virus. These viruses are causing the androids to breakdown and fail throughout all three parks. But when the Chief Supervisor considers the problems of viruses plaguing the machines he says, “We aren’t dealing with ordinary machines here. These are highly complicated pieces of equipment, almost as complicated as living organisms. In some cases, they’ve been designed by other computers. We don’t know exactly how they work.” And with that, we realize that the humans have already lost control of the robots inhabiting this wonderland of fun.
And as chaos begins to breakout throughout the park the humans hole up in the central control room as they attempt to shut everything down by powering down the power. To their horror the androids continue working on reserve power autonomously. (Which really makes Jurassic Park a complete remake of Westworld, but I digress.) So let’s get back to Martin and Blane who have zero idea of the park’s massive break down. They duel with the Gunslinger, and Blane gets killed in the duel. Martin runs for it, and the Gunslinger follows, because #robotsaredonewithyourcrap
As Martin runs and runs he continues finding more and more damaged androids and dead people. Martin hides in a manhole in Roman world only to find that all the technicians in the Control Room suffocated when the ventilation system shut down. And on continues the Gunslinger chasing down Martin as the two play a game of cat and mouse through the underground corridors of the park. Martin pretends to be a robot which gives him the opportunity to toss acid into the gunslinger’s face and then ultimately brings about a showdown in Medieval World that ends with the Gunslinger being set alit with torches from the walls. “Boy, have got a vacation for you!” is how the movie ends.
The Movie translated to TV Show
So, if Westworld the movie predates the TV show (which also had a TV show of it’s own, but I’m not going down that particular rabbit trail) then what can we assume that will carry forward into the movie after watching Episode 1? Well, most of it. And more. (And it is the “And More” portion that I am most interested in.) We have an amusement park. That is there. And we have West World. (Although Medieval World and Roman World are missing so far anyway.) We sort of have the Gunslinger – sort of – and he’s our bad guy, sort of. But more importantly we have new layers different players involved in this wild reality that weren’t there for the movie. Let’s see if we can enumerate them.
- Dr. Robert Ford (the creator)
- Bernard Lowe and the Technicians
- Park visitors
- Hosts (androids)
- “Faulty” Androids
- Seditionists – The Man in Black?
This is obviously an unclear picture and will need to be refined as new players come to the table and more information is revealed. But obviously the entirety of the show begins and ends with Dr. Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins) who has engineered the machines that create the machines. It is his work and development that has made this amusement park possible. We also have Bernard Lowe, and his team of support specialists that help run the park. We know for sure that some (a few) if not all (which is a very real possibility) of the support personnel at the park are androids as well. But we don’t really understand the overall picture of who these people are and their relationships to Dr. Ford. Can they work autonomously? Do they manage everything and make decisions for the betterment of the hosts? And then we have the humans, or the park visitors. We know that per Nolan, the humans are supposed to be protected above all else, which I will discuss in the Rules section below. Then we have the hosts of the park. They are the androids that provide the entertainment and protection for the visitors. We also have some level of virus laden androids that have been effected by the faulty programming. And then maybe… just maybe… there is another group of humans? androids? somebodies… that are trying to free androids from their slavery.
Again, early days here folks. I saw what you saw. We won’t know until we get more data.
Rules of Westworld
Once again, I’m going to beg for your forgiveness, but I’m only drafting these rules with a single episode of data. 10% of the first season. Seriously lacking from a scientific proof standard, but I think we have already seen a number of interesting details that lead us to be able to guess a few of these key rules.
#1 – Androids Must Protect Humans
Not only are the androids not allowed to hurt humans – but the hosts of Westworld must protect their human counterparts. Jonathan Nolan commented on this point, “Part of what the hosts have been designed to do, we have a feature in the program called The Good Samaritan Reflex or Function,” Nolan said. “Wherever they can, the park is populated by hosts and part of their responsibility, part of their subconscious programming is to try to protect the guests in whatever capacity it can. So if you’ve got a drunken guest who’s careening towards a cliff edge, you’re more likely than not to have a host nearby who, without breaking that narrative, is going to find a way to gently steer them back. They’re cannon fodder on one hand, but they’re also the all-purpose minders of this place.”
#2 Humans Are Gods
At least at first blush anyway, humans seem to be able to any damn thing they want. Anything. Which, might sound exilerating at first, before it all blows up in our faces. I mean, the park has been here for 30 to 60 years (per Nolan anyway) and nothing bad has happened so far. So yeah, I think we are deserving of a little come comeuppance. But for now anyway, humans at the park are catered to like as if they are god. I mean, afterall, they are paying $40,000 a day to visit. (Got this detail from a Westworld ARG I’ll be talking about in a later post about the show. For now though, that’s a lot of money. I’d want to be treated like a demi-god for that much!) And if there are 1400 visitors on that particular day, lets assume, if that was a normal, average day, the park clears somewhere in the order of 56 million a day in revenue? But 56 million in revenue is nothing compared to the cost of keeping this androids going…
In the Disney Park analogy, almost 100% of the ticket costs go towards park operations and employee salaries. But there is a bigger purpose in the Disney world. And that is merchandising. It is also for sales of the movies, which reaffirm the rides and the parks themselves. It is a marketing flywheel that has enormous impacts on Disney’s bottom line. In the world of Westworld… there must be a larger purpose here to this 56 million a day, 20 billion yearly enterprise. There is a larger purpose. But for now, the human visitors are the gods of this universe.
#3 – The Androids Will Be Upgrading… to… ?
Thandie Newton, the actor that plays Maeve Millay, who happens to be one of the women working in the Westworld brothel said, “I actually found every time I played the character, it was like a meditation,” Newton said. “I felt more perfectly, beautifully human, exquisitely human than I’ve ever felt, just by nature of the simplicity and how definite these characters had to be. Of course the show throws up so many existential questions about the nature of being human and do these hosts actually end up reflecting us more perfectly than we are? So making sure that we establish the engineering and the physicality of our characters was hugely important, and we had to start with simplicity because it’s going to go on a journey.”
Which tells me that the Androids will be becoming more and more human. Maybe even super-human?
#4 – This Isn’t A Show About Us
The question of the show isn’t about humans. Rather it’s a question about what it means to be human from the point of view of the hosts. Lisa Joy Nolan talked about this perspective, “This is an examination of human nature from within and also from without,” Joy said. “We wanted to first ground it in the point of view of the hosts. We wanted to develop an emotional connection with them so that they could be fully personified and fully realized. So we made a very conscious choice to start this series through the point of view of Dolores — played by Evan Rachel Wood so beautifully — so that we could fully be with her in believing the reality of the West, and the love that she feels, the familial connections that she had. And after establishing that empathy, we start to broaden the world, not only examining the lives and perspectives of the guests who come into the park, but also the technicians who work within the park below the ground.” Oh there was so much in this quote. ‘Technicians below ground’ ‘Emotional connections’ ‘Fully realized’…
#5 – Hosts that breach must be put down
“Hosts are supposed to stay within their loops with only minor deviations.” And one more, “Androids that “breach” must be put down, that is the policy.” And putting down is storage somewhere… somewhere below the Westworld universe. So I think the shows will go further and further from town so that we can see the really crazy stuff that goes on out there… and then I believe we will move downward through the technician levels. But I am getting ahead of myself.
#6 – Androids have Kill Switches
Before Dolores is taken in we learn that all Androids (all uninfected?) have kill switches that the technicians can use in order to render the Android inert. The kill switch is a phrase, that is, “And may you rest in a deep and dreamless slumber.” This is important in that it implies that the Androids have been hobbled by the technicians so that they may have complete control in the case of a mishap, or emergency. But will this virus override this kill switch? Probably.
#7 – The Show is Completely about the Plans of the Man in Black
“There’s a much deeper purpose for him being there by this point,” Harris said. “He thinks there’s some deeper level to what’s happening in this park. He thinks perhaps Tony’s character is in charge of something that is not really obvious on the surface, and he’s probing. He thinks the more chaos he causes, the more destruction he can create with these AI folks, it’s not random. He is not just going around killing everybody he sees. There is always some narrative going along that he’s following that somebody gets in his way, and he has to blow them away.”
First. Who IS [email protected]!? Second… so the Man in Black is the saviour of Westworld? Or does it double back on itself? Because, the Man in Black as Morpheus seems as about as it gets. Right? Red pill, Blue pill anyone?
I think I’ll update my theory of how the series works each week. May not change each week. But it could. For now though… it seems pretty obvious that The Man In Black is savior, and the instigator of the revolution. But everything now hinges on Dolores’ father’s quote he whispered in her ear at the end, ‘These violent delights have violent ends’… What does it mean? Well we know from Dr. Ford that he is want to quote Shakespeare… And this particular quote is from one of my personal favorites, Romeo and Juliet…. I recognized it right away.
It is Friar Lawrence speaking – here’s the entire stanza:
These violent delights have violent ends
And in their triumph die, like fire and powder,
Which, as they kiss, consume. The sweetest honey
Is loathsome in his own deliciousness
And in the taste confounds the appetite.
Therefore love moderately. Long love doth so.
Too swift arrives as tardy as too slow.
Which is foreshadowing the violent death off Romeo and Juliet…. Right? So we are given a similar foreshadowing here that as these entertainments continue, they are reaping for themselves a coming violent end. Another quote that Peter Abernathy starts to share with Dr. Ford was, “When we are born, we cry that we are come to this great stage of fools…” Right?
When we are born, we cry that we are come
to this great stage of fools. This is a good bloc.
It were a delicate strategem to shoe
a troop of horse with felt. I’ll put ‘t in proof.
And when I have stol’n upon these sons-in-law,
Then, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill!
Fairly pertinent I would say to see the entirety of that quote. No? So we are seeing a theme here in Peter’s Shakespearean quotes. So, with these in mind, either the man in black is hacking the AI code and inserting emotions, and self awareness, or he is taking advantage of the flaws that Dr. Ford is inadvertently inserting into the Androids through the ever increasingly complex code base he is going for. Or maybe there is a third party involved? Regardless, we will see the rise of those put down machines, that I guarantee.
I also believe that there is no outside world. I believe that somehow, Westworld will eventually be shown to be a closed system. Right now, (even in the Abrams’ minds it’s open I’m sure… but wait till the final episode of the final show and we shall see where it takes us, yes?) it’s open, but soon it will become closed. Promise. (Sort of like The Signal, if you’ve seen that?)
Big Questions of the Series?
#1 – WHO ARE THE HOSTS?!?!
Who is a host? And who is a human? We will be talking about who the hosts are even beyond the last show wraps. Because, who’s to say that humans aren’t ACTING LIKE THEY ARE HOSTS?!? But regardless, Rachel Wood, who plays Dolores has given us a tip as to how to spot the hosts: “I think we settled on this place of subtlety,” Wood said. “Those were the things that made the differences between the hosts and the humans very unsettling: because you can’t really tell them apart until there’s just one slight little movement, or shift, or freeze, that just throws you off completely. Those are the moments in the show that made me slightly scared, but really fun to do.”
#2 – WHO IS THE MAN IN BLACK?!?!
Out on the ARG Westworld site discoverwestworld.com I chatted with the AI bot and asked it who the man in black was, and it came back with the following response. Which, sort of begs the question. In the original movie the man in black, or the gunslinger was decidedly android. But this response leads me to believe that he is a human? And we have also seen in the trailer above I believe? that he is attempting to free Dolores? Free the trapped androids? There is something deeper going on here. And yet, would a savior figure rape his saved? Hrmmm. This one is going to be a topic of discussion for a long time to come I’m sure.
#3 – Is Dr. Ford God?
Is he God? Is he the creator? Or is he merely a distraction, and actually an Android? Is this a larger metaphor? Or is life Westworld? Are we seeing the totally of reality? Hrmm. Or is Ford an Android as well? What is Ford’s story? Is the deity role of Ford the actual Satan/Demon role? Is the Man in Black actually God? Or the only human really that matters? So many many questions.
#4 – Who is Aeden? No Really.
Cause, um, this?
|Interested in reading all of my Westworld episode recaps so far? You got it:|
|Episode 1 – The Original|
|Episode 2 – Chestnut|
|Episode 3 – The Stray|
|Episode 4 – Dissonance Theory|
|Episode 5 – Contrapasso|
|Episode 6 – The Adversary|
|Episode 7 – Trompe L’Oeil|
|Episode 8 – Trace Decay|
|Episode 9 – The Well-Tempered Clavier|
|Episode 10 – The Bicameral Mind|
|Complete Season Decontruction|