Mific (mific) wrote,

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Westworld meta

I'm up to ep 7, so spoiler warning, if you aren't there yet. Also, warning for discussion of violence, rape and body-horror - seriously; this show could be really triggering, especially if you were vulnerable to dissociation.
I never saw the original Yul Brynner movie, so I don't know where this remake is similar or deviates. That's probably good, as I'd rather not know how it's going to end.</p>

I'm enjoying it. I'm fascinated by ideas about consciousness/artificial intelligence and how it comes into being, and you get a lot of that with androids. Some things are developing the same way as Blade Runner: in a future world that can make androids so perfectly that even their insides replicate humans exactly (to the naked eye; I imagine the space-age white stuff is some kind of futuristic polymer, and the "blood" won't actually be blood), how can you ever know who's an android and who's human? And of course, how can the individuals themselves ever know? Seems like you only find out when it turns out you can be mind-controlled by a programmer and switched off. Remembering your life history is no protection as the androids are programmed with a lifetime of memories with each iteration.

There are plenty of horror themes. The Park itself is an id-playground and human guests have full licence to kill, rape and torture any android in the place. That's one area there's a plot-hole, as there's no way the park's staff could stop the human guests killing or raping each other - the androids are programmed not to harm humans - so I guess we're supposed to assume that the same handwavey futuristic science that stops bullets finding their mark (how??) would stop humans killing humans. Dodgy. Then there's the routine body-horror of seeing naked humans (androids) manipulated and dissected by the staff in the testing and rebuild areas, or lying in bloody heaps awaiting repair. That part's more horrific than the mass-slaughter gunfights because of its casual ordinariness.

Create a place where there's no moral code stopping "guests" from acting out every base instinct (on androids indistinguishable from humans) and a "wild west" culture that encourages adventurers to "be everything you can be", and it's a recipe for general murder and rapine. So there's also a theme of evil humans and good androids - the humans after all are supposed to have free will, whereas the androids, like Jessica Rabbit, are written that way. That's linked with the theme of the androids "malfunctioning", which actually means they're becoming more human and thus unpredictable and dangerous/evil.

I like the way the series plays with notions about freedom and reality. William (the nice guy in love with Dolores) who's a guest and thus human (but is he??? Are any of them human? Am I human? Am I even watching this show or is all this a storyline? - shades of The Matrix!) says his "real" life outside seems dreamlike and unreal, because in that life he wore a polite, false mask for society but in Westworld he can "be himself". Also he's found true love with Dolores, so that's altering his perceptions, like you get.

Underlying it all are dark themes about human ambition and abuse of power. Some staff at the park get their rocks off by physically and sexually abusing the androids. For such a high-tech place that seems pretty easy to get away with. Ford, one of the park's original creators, is constantly playing power games and making illegal androids in a high-handed, godlike manner. "The Board" - shadowy corporate controllers - send a representative who casually uses an android bandito for sex while politicking away. She also says the Board's only interest is in the android-tech intellectual property, not the barrels of cash from the adventure park itself. So the usual wheels within wheels - if the park itself isn't the point, why would this shadowy corporation with dodgy morals want to be able to create hordes of programmable people? Why, indeed? (shut up, Donald).

And what will our heroes find at the end of their quest, at the heart of the maze? The door to the outside? A Matrix-like revelation? Human consciousness? A soul?

I hope there's going to be a satisfying answer. It's been quite a build-up, reinforced by gorgeous production values and visuals, in the scenery and the actors. Oh, and it's nice that the two "hosts" striving for consciousness are women.

Tags: meta, rec, westworld

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