There is a lot at play during Westworld Season 1 Episode 2, and if you try to find meaning in all of it straight away (meaning, even, during this hour), you're likely to become frustrated.
It's my opinion that we're only peeling back the layers of these many storylines. It might feel as though some of them are coming at us too soon and without enough information to process what's going on, but because they intersect with other stories along the way, it made sense to someone to in the writers' room to start laying the groundwork a little early.
Because on the whole, this feels like more pilot material. On Westworld Season 1 Episode 1 we were in deep, learning about the hosts and their coding. Here, we're taken to the park and given a taste from the guests' perspective.
It's not a surprise the guests in question are two males. From what I gathered, William and Logan are coworkers. Logan is the loud-mouthed idiot in the office, a misogynist, a braggart and probably not well thought of by many, while William is the opposite, and might be why he eventually wound up on this trip with the guy.
Thankfully, we're seeing the "Welcome to Westworld" experience through William. He knows next to nothing about the park.
William: So how does this work? Is there an orientation?
Host: No orientation. No guidebook. Figuring things out is half the fun. All you do is make choices.
William is a careful man and a kind one. He gets excited during his dressing, and, of course, picks the white hat on his way out the door, he carries trepidations with him as he goes. Not knowing what lies ahead doesn't seem like his thing. I can't blame him.
Logan is a long-time visitor and returns because he's comfortable with the idea of doing whatever he wants to the people in Westworld. As he's in the initial act of doing said things, he has no idea whether they're playing a role or not. As far as I can see, it's an assumption on his part.
Logan: I know that you think you have a handle on what this is gonna be, guns and tits and all that mindless shit that I usually enjoy. You have no idea. This place seduces everybody, eventually. But by the end you're going to be begging me to stay because this place is the answer to that question you've been asking yourself.
William: What question?
Logan: Who you really are. And I can't fuckin' wait to meet that guy.
We find out relatively quickly once inside the park Logan is a jerk and William remains kind. Whether those two roles hold up will probably be the point of all of this. But the general courtesies William shows others shouldn't be destroyed as easily as Logan expects.
William bumps into someone and apologies. Sees a stranger in distress and assists. It's in his nature to be the hero, while it's in William's to be the villain. I wonder what the ratio is between potential heroes and villains coming into the park and at what level would be the normal person, who just wants to ride horses and goof around.
Even more importantly, will they be able to maintain their black and white hat status during their time in the park? Given what we know is going on, we can expect the guests to choose sides, even if what that looks like might not be such an easy discussion.
Logan immediately treats the hosts like things. There's little doubt that if the hosts start to rebel while they're still in the park, Logan will do his best to put an end to the creatures in the swiftest way possible.
I'd be surprised if William didn't bond with the hosts in some way that would mean he'd keep his white hat, but on behalf of the hosts. If he gets wind of the way they're treated by the park and continues to see others, like Logan, doing things like driving a fork through an old man's hand, his loyalties toward humans could get tested.
And there's probably a reason he's such a good person, someone with empathy and compassion. I'd like to know more of his story. Why he's here, who is the lucky woman waiting for him at home and why he wouldn't use the word "friend" in association with Logan, but would make a trip like this with him.
Bernard and Dr. Ford talked a little bit about what they do. "You can't play God without being acquainted with the devil," Dr. Ford said. On his end, Bernard has been talking with Dolores, having off-side conversations he doesn't want her to share.
He knows she's changing, and he likes it. He's fully aware she's changing beyond her wipes and isn't doing anything about it. That has to mean he knows the others are doing the same, but he doesn't seem all that alarmed at the prospect.
He's not the only one. Elsie overrides a decision to decommission Maeve when she begins behaving irrationally. Elsie earlier thought Bernard was nuts when he mentioned one of the possible issues Peter Abernathy had could have been an existential crisis. She scoffed that off and knew he did, too.
But she should have been paying more attention to Maeve just like others should have paid more attention to Peter. There is a lot more going on with the hosts than the people minding the shop are aware, and it's due to their own poor treatment of the very expensive machines.
Because, really, even if they treated the machines with the respect machines of the cost and type deserve, they'd likely not be going through what they are now. Cleaning crews throw them around, pile them up, hose them off. They perform "surgery" on cognitive machines without any respect for the fact they've been created to think and to feel.
Someone mentioned in the comments for the pilot that they found it bothersome Dolores could feel the fly on her face, let alone that it bothered her and she killed it. That was part of the evolution of these machines. They've been built to feel. Whether that's exactly like we do or not doesn't really matter.
In order to be as overtly sexual as they must, and to react and suffer in ways that effectively move the humans who are hurting them, they have to be programmed to feel, to cry out in pleasure and pain.
It's why The Man in Black has been coming back for so many years. He is only satisfied when he sees the hosts suffer. Maybe at one time he got his enjoyment in another way, but no more. Especially since he became so interested in this maze.
There is still very little movement on what the maze is, but we know it's not for him, he's not going to stop looking for it and he never plans to leave Westworld.
We also know he's at the center of Maeve's nightmares much as he's at the core of Dolores'. When there is an all out revolt, this man may suddenly discover himself in a boatload of trouble. Of course, he'll still think he's in the same old world where he's given free rein to do what he pleases. How will he change when the forces turn so totally against his favor?
Maeve's nightmares of The Man were awakened, in some part, because of the lack of respect given to the hosts by the people behind the curtain. Her abdomen pain kept poking at her and triggering more memories. She imagined herself bleeding from the gut and the pain and confusion accompanying such a memory triggered more.
She was diagnosed with "some discomfort" in the abdominal area (confirming they are programmed to feel) and set for surgery, during which she woke up. Thankfully, whatever they DO feel isn't in the same ballpark as us, and Maeve was more frightened than anything else, because what she witnessed as a result will surely haunt her more than anything else she's witnessed in all her years in Westworld.
One of my regular readers tried to egg me into a discussion about caring more about humans than robots of any variety. I wish I had enough faith in humanity to blindly give that endorsement, but as a group, we have shown time and again that lemming behavior and an unwillingness to stand up for individual beliefs when a herd mentality is in play sends us, as a species, in the wrong direction.
I would never personally condone a park like Westworld, as it gives too much leeway to the sick side of our mentality without any consequences and what happens during the assured-ending scenarios is far too realistic. It's like a testing ground for what you, the potential criminal, can do in the real world if you want to train and callus yourself to the cries of your impending victims. It's all kinds of wrong.
I'm going to think about how I'd change it and if I could change it to be something worthwhile. But, even without the bots gaining emotional ground, I'd still give it a pass unless people learned how to better behave while otherwise proving they were diabolical and unworthy of wearing their human skin suit.
One last story point to discuss. Bernard and Teresa are sexually involved (which seems unbelievable), and something she said caught me off guard. Did you make anything out of this quote?
Theresa: You're certainly a man comfortable with long, pensive silences. Although, ironically, your creations never shut up, even when there are no guests around.
Bernard: They're always trying to error correct, make themselves more human. When they talk to each other, it's a way of practicing.
Theresa: Is that what you're doing now? Practicing?
Let me know if you see something in that quote and what it is you see.
- Do you agree with The Man in Black that the hosts are never more real than when they're suffering?
- I liked that the Westworld arrival area left room for the other worlds after the train arrives. Go up a different platform to a different world. That's how it was done in FutureWorld.
- Any ideas on what the heck the maze is The Man in Black is hoping to find (and do you really care at this point?) or why he's not planning to leave the park?
- Dolores looking down her nose and telling Maeve "These violent delights have violent ends" after Maeve insulted her was well done.
- Were you as disgusted as I was at how poorly the hosts are treated by the people behind the curtain? Even if you only look at it from a financial perspective. It's crazy, right?
- Ford is planning a new portion of the park that will focus on a...church? Was it strange he had a host created of himself as a child? It's hard to decide if he's more on God's side, or that of the devil.
- Who planted the gun in Dolores' yard, and who planted the idea for her to get it...Bernard?
Hit the comments, you guys. Doesn't it seem like we've had a lot more than two episodes already?? Get to talking. Where have we been and where are we going?
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.