The Maze and the Mind: Musings on Episodes 2, 3 & 4 of Westworld

The conclusion of episode one of Westworld was a shot that launched 10,000 fan theories. Jeffrey Wright’s Bernard Lowe, head technician behind the scenes in Westworld, assures one of his staff members that host Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) is definitely all clear to continue her role in the ‘game’ and that she would never hurt a living thing – namely the customers. Cue the final shot of the episode where a fly lands on Dolores’ face; which she swiftly swats to death. Series creators  Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy are tackling psychology, satisfaction, and the social responsibility of awareness in such enticing ways. Strap in for reality paranoia or as I call it “The ‘Silver’ unicorn”.

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The Stray: Down the Rabbit Hole...

The latest clue leads The Man in Black from one seemingly inconsequential storyline to another. Landing in the the employ of the Snake woman a jail break of Hector Escaton (Rodrigo Santoro). The Man in Black has epiphany after epiphany that characters he'd walked past, especially those who outwardly look stuck in their tiny loops require attention to conquer this emerging - "game within the game."

We have the next clues to the maze and yet again the layers are difficult to unfurl so that only the most determined and worthy players are able to dance across the precarious stepping stones.

The Man in Black (Ed Harris) continues his pursuit to discover the layers of Westworld’s game that he’s sure have been traced in his observations of the thirty year devotion to and immersion in the game. One assumes that all gamers have asked themselves the question that the Man in Black is plagued by; what if there’s a deeper, secret level to this game that been disguised by developers? It’s not as crazy as it sounds. I can’t remember what I’m doing on the weekend, but I can tell you that if  I press A, C, UP, B. UP, B, A, DOWN when playing Ultimate Mortal Kombat III start screen on my Sega Megadrive, it unlocked a cheat menu. Before I bought a Hyper magazine and discovered the codes to unlock new layers to the game, they existed. Therein lies the  maddening conundrum.

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Dissonance Theory: "Do you feel in charge."

Stray characters (Tate Fletcher), Dolores (Wood) pulling the trigger, Maeve (Thandie Newton) seeing behind the curtain of the host experience and being able to hoard the impressions of her visions aren't perhaps the anomalies that Bernard (Wright) has described to management. The awakening of the hosts touched by the updates, doesn't just appear to be in the echoes of the unquantifiable repetitions of death and debauchery unleashed upon their artificial forms, but it's like the world is goading them into awareness. The new storylines, the introduction of Wyatt begin to create opportunities for interactions with new characters and people in the world. The clues to what's behind the curtain for the hosts, isn't just being revealed in the awakening of several of the hosts, but actually appearing to bleed into the storylines themselves in ways that often go unnoticed by the hosts. The latest migration OF Native Americans through the park, as a result of Wyatt and his crew, reveal religious totems made in the image of their creators; the service technicians in the park.

Dr. Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins) sits across the table from Theresa Cullen (Sidse Babett Knudsen) and discusses the state of the park and the recent flutter of glitches, malfunctions and pits her monetary motivation against his architecture. For the beginning of the series, Dr.Ford feels like he's slipping and relinquishing his calculating smarts in his old age. Meandering through the world with custom hosts that he can interact with, visiting decommissioned hosts, activating the reveries that are the catalyst for the strange happenings in the park. When Theresa realises that Dr. Ford has staged their meeting at the exact table that she and her family sat at on their first visit to the world and that he stops the entire army of host staff without an outward gesture you get a taste of the power he's able to wield in his world. He describes that he and his partner GET NAME ARNOLD? "thought we were gods” and it's only now apparent that he's already living "God mode."

Delving into the psychological satisfaction and consequence of gaming; the addictive nature of that illusive 100% completion in an ever updating sequence of stories and finally the illuminating omnipresent power of the architect; if Westworld was a book, it would be un-put-down-able.

Blake Howard- follow Blake on Twitter here: @blakeisbatman

Creators:

Jonathan Nolan,  Lisa Joy Nolan  

Cast:

Anthony Hopkins   ...   Dr. Robert Ford

Evan Rachel Wood  ...   Dolores Abernathy

Ed Harris   ...   The Man in Black

James Marsden   ...   Teddy Flood

Thandie Newton   ...  Maeve Millay

Jeffrey Wright   ...  Bernard Lowe

Rodrigo Santoro   ...  Hector Escaton

Shannon Woodward   ...  Elsie Hughes

Ingrid Bolsø Berdal   ...  Armistice

Simon Quarterman   ...  Lee Sizemore

Angela Sarafyan   ...  Clementine Pennyfeather

Luke Hemsworth   ...  Stubbs

Sidse Babett Knudsen   ...  Theresa Cullen

Tessa Thompson   ...  Charlotte Hale

BLAKE HOWARD IS A WRITER, A PODCASTER, AND THE EDITOR-IN-CHIEF & CO-FOUNDER OF AUSTRALIAN FILM BLOG GRAFFITI WITH PUNCTUATION . BLAKE IS A MEMBER OF THE PRESTIGIOUS ONLINE FILM CRITIC SOCIETY (AND A MEMBER OF THE GOVERNING COMMITTEE), IS A CO-HOST OF GAGGLE OF GEEKS ON SYDNEY'S 2SER COMMUNITY RADIO, A COLUMNIST AT THE AUSTRALIAN ONLINE INSTITUTION DARK HORIZONS AND SWAYS THE TOMATO METER WITH ROTTEN TOMATOES APPROVED REVIEWS.