So, I’m still watching Westworld. I am probably going to be in this for the long haul this season. And I mean long because my first viewing of each episode feels like forever. It’s only after I’ve taken a day to recover from all the things I didn’t like that I can start thinking about the interesting parts. Unfortunately, there are a lot of things to shake off like the subjugation, the vile Guests, the gross machismo, and the boredom. These episodes feel tedious as I watch them. But the possibilities. Despite the effort, I’m here for that.
So let’s start talking about Westworld, episode 3.
In episodes one and two, Dr. Ford came across as fatherly. He seemed to have a deep respect and high regard for the Hosts. He would visit the decommissioned ones, talk with them, engage with Hosts in the park. He seemed removed from the crassness of the storylines, as though he felt the Hosts deserved something better.
Then he insisted on the Host’s nudity and sliced open the face of one being repaired.
The employee and the audience is brutally reminded that the Hosts are machines. They are programmed to feel and do not experience anything they haven’t been programmed to experience. He isn’t sympathetic to the Hosts. He isn’t interested in the autonomy of the hosts. He quickly went from fatherly to psychopath in an instant.
Dr. Ford is not interested in the autonomy of the Hosts. He is not interested in their personhood.
So that begs the question: what are Dr. Ford’s motivations?
I think it’s a lot more complicated than whether he sees the Hosts as life or not. I think Dr. Ford’s playground is bigger than the park. I think he’s playing with the park and The Company’s employees. I think his god complex has escaped its boundaries.
When Bernard is talking with Delores, she asks about his son. Bernard stops her and asks why she inquired. Her response was “We’ve been talking for some duration and I haven’t asked you a personal question. Personal questions are an ingratiating scheme.”
Have we considered the type of person it takes to program robots to imitate and manipulate people so completely that the people they interact with can’t tell? That the people begin to care about them? Nurture them? Love them?
Have we thought about the type of person who would create such a thing and then put it into an environment where it would be tortured and killed indefinitely?
Dr. Ford is scary.
We learn a few more things about how the park works in this episode. We learn that some Hosts have a specific purpose when interacting with other Hosts. Teddy, the heroic bounty hunter, is meant to keep Delores from leaving town so that the Guests can find her. He has no backstory, something Dr. Ford corrects this episode.
Watching Dr. Ford interact with Teddy was curious. He talks to them like they are people, alters their memories to fit his stories, and makes it feel real. But he keeps them naked to remind himself that they aren’t.
Bernard had a life, a tragic life outside of his role at the park. He had a wife and a child. His child, unfortunately, passed which seems to have caused him to focus his energy on raising Delores.
In the beginning of the episode, he gives Delores a book to read, one that he used to read with his son. He spends time grooming her. Giving her space to learn. He is fascinated and fixated on her change. She is a surrogate for his lost child. I’m not sure how I feel about them using an adult white woman to replace the Black son he lost…it feels symbolic in a negative way. It also feels like Bernard is being set up to be the fall guy for when everything goes sideways. Like he will be blamed and written out of the history of the park when things go wrong, especially as Bernard believes he made a mistake.
He owns it, though. He’s willing to let the thing play out. I just hope he doesn’t sacrifice himself for this decision because all the stuff going down feels a lot bigger than his actions.
Delores is changing.
She has gone from being unwilling to hurt any living creature, to killing a fly, and then wanting to learn how to shoot. She was unable to shoot… probably wasn’t programmed to do so. We learn from Elsie’s and Stubbs’ hunt for a roaming Host that only certain Hosts are even capable of holding weapons. It would make sense that Delores, the Host programmed to be a victim, would be one of those without weapons privileges.
By the end of episode 3, she’s graduated to killing another Host to save herself from rape and likely murder. And she deserted her loop. Oops!
Ok, so not oops. Delores lied to Bernard about staying on her loop. She broke eye contact before answering his question about staying on her loop. It is clear that Bernard did something, something that changed the Hosts. He called it a mistake, but was it? Especially once we learn that Bernard didn’t roll her programming back to the pre-reverie coding. He gave her a choice – did she want to stay the same or go back to the way she was and she chose to stay on this path. She lied about staying on her loop and chose self-preservation. She also heard a voice telling her to kill the Host attacking her. What is that voice?
Arnold and The Bicameral Mind
This week we learn that Dr. Ford had a partner named Arnold, who we learn is deceased and erased from the history of the park. Arnold sought to create consciousness. Dr. Ford states that they only figured out 3 of the 4 components of consciousness (memory, improvisation, and self-interest), that they never determined what the fourth component would be. I think he’s lying, but we’ll see.
Dr. Ford and Bernard talk about the Bicameral Mind Theory, and how people once believed their thoughts to be the voice of god. It was believed that nascent humans operated this way until environmental changes forced them to have to be more adaptable in how they think. The bicameral mind theory is rooted in routine, very much how the park is. The deviation of one Host sends other Hosts to get caught in a loop. This causes a cascade of story errors among the Hosts that need to be corrected by the engineers and story creators.
So let’s think about this. We have robotic creations that are given memories, programmed to improvise, and how to fake self-interest who had code introduced that allowed them to access past storylines and experiences…the very things that inform a person’s choices and decision-making abilities.
This couldn’t go badly, could it?
Not to mention that Arnold was scrubbed from the history of the park and supposedly died in the park. Died. In suspicious circumstances. In the park.
For the second time in the show, we’ve seen a Host override the programming delivered by the Company’s staff. We saw it in episode two when Maeve was having surgery and escaped only to become paralyzed with fear after seeing the various bodies of “deceased” Hosts. This week we saw the stray Host that Elsie and Stubbs were tracking overcome Stubbs voice command so that he could retrieve the control unit from the Host.
As Stubbs sawed into the Host’s head, the Host wakes up and escapes long enough to grab a boulder and smash its head in, probably destroying the control unit. I’m not sure what the control unit is, but it seems really important to security.
Questions and Theories
So, again, I have questions. I’ll be real, watching this show is tedious for me, but I do find the questions it raises fascinating.
- How can the Hosts shoot Guests when they are programmed not to kill? How are the guns and bullets different for the Hosts and the Guests?
- What is the last step to consciousness? Is it choice? Is it autonomy?
- Did Bernard leave Delores in improvisation mode? Why the hell would she stay on that loop? Seriously?
- Is Dr. Ford a sociopath? Would the promoted version have to be considering everything that happens in the world? Is Dr. Ford close to what the current American Christian god have to be for us to live in the world we live in?
- What is the voice? Who is hearing the voice? The malfunctioning Hosts are talking to Arnold, the Dr. Ford’s deceased partner. What is that about? Is it part of the Dr. Ford’s new storyline?
- Dr. Ford’s storyline seems to be some cult storyline. Not sure what it means or whether it matters but even if I don’t think it matters, the writers will make it matter. Just realized this wasn’t a question. Still something I’m kinda thinking about.
And here are my two running theories.
- Theory 1: Everybody except Dr. Ford is a Host, i.e. god complex gone wild. I say this because there are weird redundancies that make me question what’s happening. Bernard’s similarity to Arnold. Dr. Ford’s warning. The way Dr. Ford fluctuates between seeming to care about the Hosts and dehumanizing the Hosts.
- Theory 2: A perfect storm of f*ckshit happening at the exact same time resulting in a domino effect of chaos and rebirth. We see various individuals’ implementing different priorities working together to create the worst possible scenario. Dr. Ford keeps tinkering with the storyline, wrecking the routines of the host, forcing increased improvisation and triggering a need for greater flexibility. His tinkering with the code to create the reveries. Bernard’s decision not to update the Hosts in order to see how deep the reveries go. The potential coup looming in The Company. The desires of the shareholders. The actions of The Man in Black.
So those are my thoughts about episode 3 of Westworld. Am I thinking about it too much? Maybe. But that’s the fun of watching original shows, right? Right?
TaLynn Kel is a writer and an avid participant in the Atlanta cosplay scene. You will find her at various Atlanta conventions in costume and participating on panels about cosplay. She is also a guest writer for Black Girl Nerds, The Establishment, The Anime Complexium, and Huffington Post.