WESTWORLD RECAP S1EP1 THE ORIGINAL

Paul Mendoza

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“Bring her back online.”

We see a naked blonde woman sitting in a glass room in some underground lab. We hear a voice asking her questions.

“Would you like to wake up from this dream?” The voice asks.
“Yes. I’m terrified.” She answers.
“Have you ever questioned the nature of your reality?” The voice asks.

The voice belongs to Bernard Lowe (Jeffrey Wright) the head of programming and co-creator of artificial people. They are conducting an update in the ‘hosts’ program. Hosts are what they refer to the artificial people that inhabit Westworld. The programmer’s have set up very intricate storylines for these hosts to play out over and over again. As they interact with the ‘newcomers’ the stories may change course.

The newcomers arrive by train and usually for a two week stay. They are dressed appropriately and they can do anything they want as they interact with the hosts. The hosts are programmed not to harm the newcomers. It is an adult playland wherein you can act out your most secret desires. As one young newcomer is heard saying to his friend as they ride the train:

“The first time I cam with my parents and we fished for two weeks it was great. The last time I came I went full on evil.”

This first episode is well written and directed. It is not easily summarized. I watched it twice and I still need to see it again. It’s rich with ideas and concepts that are fascinating to ponder.

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Delores (Evan Rachel Wood) is the rancher’s daughter, beautiful and innocent. Peter, her father greets her warmly every morning as he sits on the porch. We see the same day begin again several times and each time the day plays out differently.

Early in the episode we meet a tall stranger dressed in black (Ed Harris). He recognizes Delores though she doesn’t recognize him.

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“I’ve been coming here for thirty years but you still don’t remember me after all we’ve been through”.
She struggles to break free from his grasp. He slaps her.
“I don’t pay all this money to have it easy. I want you to fight”, he tells Delores.
He drags her into the barn. And then the day begins again. Delores waking up in bed.
She walks on the porch to be greeted by her father. What will the day bring?

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Back in the lab, Bernie continues with the new update. They are adding new ‘reveries’ to the hosts memory. Reveries are little gestures that are tied to specific memories. Something the creator, Dr. Ford (Anthony Hopkins) has come up with. Even though Bernie is now the main programmer, Ford still likes to tinker. Only this time his tinkering has caused something to go wrong with the hosts. They are malfunctioning. This can lead to just freezing but also to extreme behavior and acts of violence.

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“Look at him. He’s perfect!” female newcomer to her friend.

“Perfect is boring. I’m more interested in the bad guys.” Female newcomer friend.

There is a lot of violence on the show and I’m sure it will get worse as the hosts begin to malfunction even more. But the newcomers, the ‘real’ people are just as violent and have been, up to this point, the perpetrators of the most violence since they cannot be harmed and always ‘win’ in whatever situation they are in. Therefore, who are the good guys?

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“Some people choose to see the ugliness in this world, the disarray. I choose to see the beauty. To believe there is an order to our days. A purpose.”   Delores

Delores’ father, Peter is tending to his horses and looks down to see something in the dirt. He picks it up and it is a photo of a young woman. It seems a newcomer may have dropped it long ago. He stares at it in bewilderment. When Delores comes home that evening, Peter is sitting on the porch staring at that photo.  He shows Delores. She sees it but can’t acknowledge it in any way. “I don’t know what that is.”

The next morning, the day resets once more and Delores goes out on the porch as always and her father, Peter is sitting there as always. However, this time he is still holding that picture. Staring at it. He’s been out there all night looking at that photo. Something has been triggered. He looks completely distraught, Delores is frightened. Peter than says to her:

That question, the question you’re not supposed to ask. I’m getting an answer you’re not supposed to know. Would you like to know the question?  Peter

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When they get Peter back into the lab, Dr, Ford speaks to him.

Dr. Ford: What is your itinerary?
Peter: To meet my maker.
Dr. Ford: Ah. Well. You’re in luck. And what do you want to say to your maker?
Peter: A most mechanical and dirty hand [laughs]. I shall have such revenges on you…both. The things I will do, what they are, yet I know not. But they will be the terrors of the earth. You don’t know where you are, do you? You’re in a prison of your own sins.

They shut him down. They decide they cannot repair him and they put him in cold storage with hundreds of other hosts that are too damaged to be reused.

As the technician works on repairing Delores he asks her the same questions Bernie asked at the beginning of the episode. She gives the same responses.

The last scene we see Delores wake up in bed yet again and go out onto the porch.  Her father has been replaced with the man who was previously the bartender in the saloon. A fly lands on Delores’ face.  She slaps it dead signifying that something is wrong or that she at least, has some awareness that she is not letting on.

SIDE BYTES

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*There is so much happening in this first episode it’s almost overwhelming.  Much like watching the first episode of Game Of Thrones – information overload.  But it’s the challenge that is exciting and this is a very exciting and intriguing beginning

*Peter’s warning to Dr. Ford is actually from Shakespeare.

“By my/Most/Mechanical and dirty hand”– Henry IV (5.5, 33-35)

“I shall have such revenges on you both/That all the world shall–I will do such things–/What they are yet I know not, but they shall be/The terrors of the earth– King Lear (2.4, 276-279)

He combines two quotes: one spoken by Pistol in “Henry IV” and the other spoken by Lear.

* The fly landing on various hosts throughout the episode signifies that they would not harm a fly. They are programmed not to harm living things.  So when Delores slaps that fly on her neck on the end it’s a sign of things to come.

FIVE THINGS I THINK I KNOW

1 The Ed Harris character is human. I think.

2 Dr. Ford has a master plan that no one knows about. What did he envision his creations becoming? Functional inhabitants in the real world?

3 This may all take place on another planet.

4 If ‘Delores’ is ‘the Original’ did Ford create her based on a real person he knew? Is that real person still alive? Who is she?

5 In the novel and 1973 film, there were three worlds to choose from: Westworld, Roman World and Medieval World. I believe there are other ‘worlds’ created that we have yet to see. What might they be?