The TV show Westworld in set sometime in the technologically advanced distant feature and asks some of the ethical questions one could encounter in the future and also today. The main topic the show is the age of posthumanism. Posthmanism has several branches, but the show mainly deals with the idea of possible artificial intelligence takeover of humanity. The show is set in an amusement park called Westworld where there are manufactured androids closely resembling human beings and animals. The secondary topic the show deals with is morality and human cruelty. The android inhabitants of the Westworld, called hosts are there to entertain human visitors. The androids are incapable of harming the humans, however the human visitors are allowed to harm and harass and commit the evillest torture to the hosts in the name of entertainment. Are the host to rebel in order to protect themselves, is the takeover of artificial intelligence justified? The topics of posthumanism and ethics ask the inhabitants of the Westworld to question the nature of their world and at the same time the show asks us, the viewers to questions the nature of our current world.
The Westworld is set in an amusement park featuring the beautiful Castle Velley, Utah scenery. However, in actuality it might not be located in Castle Valley, Utah, it might not be located in the United Sates, and might not even be located on Earth. The show is set in the distant future, where robots closely resembling humans are created with ease. It wouldn’t be too far of a stretch, considering the advancement of the technology, to think that the whole park in not on Earth but completely manufactured elsewhere in our galaxy. Character Lee asks Theresa, the director of quality assurance: “When do you get to rotate home again?” Hinting that Westworld is far away from where Theresa lives. She has to live at the Westworld facility during the time she is working there. Lastly, the park is called the west – World, signifying that it’s possibly a world of it’s own.
The opening of Westworld provides an insight into some of the themes in the TV series. Right away we are clued into the advancement of technology, that humans and animals are artificially made. Nothing is really what it seems, and somebody is pulling all the strings. During the opening sequence we see a sun rising over the horizon of hills. A second later we realize that what seemed to be a Sun over the horizon, it’s a machine projecting light over the ribs of the horse’s body. We also see that eyes are manufactured almost to hint at the fact that what you perceive and see is also a manufactured illusion. Everything in the opening credits is black and white, but that might also hint at the illusion of black and white, things are actually much more complicated in reality. We also see a string being drawn on a piano. We see strings being drawn on a human and on an animal. Fibers of the human beings and animals a created by a machine. Humans and animals are manufactured. Even a gun is created by a machine and handed to the manufactured human. Not only is the human manufactured but it is also controlled. Even love making is somehow manufactured or altered and controlled, hinting that even emotions are manufactured. The repeating theme of strings signifies that everybody’s stings are being pulled and controlled. It shows manipulation and control over the manufactured humans/androids. You are left with the question, who is pulling the strings?
At first the androids seem completely oblivious to their situation. During the first scene we are introduced to the host Dolores. Dolores is the first ever host of the park who has been updated many times. Hence the first episode is called The Original. She is naked and seems to be badly abused and has bruises on her face. She is told that she is in a dream and if she wants to wake up, she has to answer the questions correctly. She is being lied to. In reality, this is the real world and what Dolores gets to wake up to, is manufactured and programmed reality. She is asked by one of the programmers, Bernard: “Have you ever questioned the nature of your reality?” Bernard is testing her to see if she is aware, is she self aware? Who she is? Is she aware that she is an android slave to humans? Is she aware that she is manufactured? Is she aware that the world she lives in is a completely fake? We as viewers get to ask ourselves the same question as Dolores. Dolores answers: “No.” She says she chooses to see the beauty in the world. She believes there is an order to this world and a purpose.
As the show progresses we see what happened previously to Dolores and see why there is a need for the android to be self-aware and to rebel, as Dolores is being treated unethically. One of the park visitors, the man in black, has killed her father and her lover, and then raped her. The man in black says, “I have been coming here for 30 years and you still don’t remember me.” This means that over the 30 years this man has been continuously raping Dolores and coming to the park to abuse the androids. Dolores mentions how her father told her that: “We are all born new into this world.” Meaning, when an android goes to sleep their memory is erased. As the cruel scene of Dolores getting raped is unraveling, Bernard asks her: “What if I told you that you cannot hurt the newcomers and they can do anything they want to you? Would the things I would you change the way you think about the newcomers?” Again, Dolores, as if she is oblivious says: “No.” She still cares for them. We also have to remember that if she does not answer the questions correctly she does not get to “wake up” meaning she gets put into storage. We can also question why is Bernard revealing to Dolores that park visitor can do whatever they want to them? Is Bernard trying to actually wake up Dolores to reality?
As the show moves forward we see more examples of a possible rebellion and a hint of who is pulling the strings. In the next part of the episode we see Bernard admiring how one of the androids has a beautiful reverie. The new update has been rolled out from Ford, the original founder and programmer. He explains that a reverie is a micro expression that allows the android to tie it to a memory. Bernard says that even though androids are purged, the memories are still there waiting to be activated. Soon after, we see scenes of androids “malfunctioning”. We see scenes of them not acting according the premade script. The sheriff experiences a glitch and gets stuck in a stutter. Walter who is one of the bandit hosts, who’s script is to die in every gun fight, does not die. We can see him drinking milk and the milk seeps through his stomach, showing that he is shot but as he is an android he does not die from gunshot wounds. Walter says “Not going to die this time, Arnold.” We wonder who is Arnold. Is Arnold along with Ford one of the people controlling the Westworld?
As time passes more androids seem to wake up. Peter who is Dolores’s father wakes up after he has been updated and also finds a picture of a woman in a Times Square, filled with many screens. A scene that is not available in the Westworld. Peter freaks out as he is now able to access his memories and he wants to warn his daughter, as she has been abused over the ages. Peter says to Dolores whilst he is crying: “Violent delights have violent ends.” He is aware that Dolores has been abused by the visitors. That people come the Westworld to torture and kill androids for pleasure. Peter is saying that the way the violence against the android has to end by returned violence from the androids. When Peter is pulled for questioning by Ford the following dialogue happens: “Ford: What is your itinerary? Peter: To meet my maker. F: What do you want to say to your maker? P: By my most mechanical and dirty hand (chuckles), I shall have such revenges on you both. You do not know where you are, do you? You are in a prison for you own sins.”Peter shows complete awareness of what is happening in reality. Ford on the other hand reassures people that this is just an excerpt from Shakespeare as one of Peter’s previous roles was a professor. It seems as though Ford is purposely waking up the hosts with his updates.
Bernard might be also one of the hosts. As there are more host acting aware, Bernard goes up to Ford to talk to him about the new updates. He says that there is a problem with the reveries that have been added. To which Ford answers “Mistakes, is the word you are too embarrassed to use. You ought to be. You are a product from about a million of them.” Ford here hints that Bernard is also made, programmed like the rest of the hosts. Bernard unlike the other humans, has sympathy for the hosts. He is the only one advocating that the guards do no shoot them and goes along with them when there seems to be a problem in order to make sure the hosts do not get killed. Bernard also is seemingly trying to wake up Dolores. Lastly, Bernard whispers something to Dolores’s father, Peter before he is put to storage which in turn makes Peter cry. Bernard, unlike humans treats the host humanely.
In the last scene after Dolores is questioned, now by Ashely, she again answers the question as in the beginning of the show, in her speech she shows little awareness. However, we are given a clue that she might be much more aware that we, the viewers and the humans running Westworld are lead to believe. In the first scene we see Dolores motionless. We see a fly that walk over her face and she does absolutely nothing. She does not seem irritated by the fly what so ever. The fly even walks over her opened eye and it gives us sense of her being lifeless and dead. We see a repeated theme of a fly throughout the first episode. When the sheriff has a glitch he also does nothing about the fly on his face. When Teddy has to be a tour guide to people to find sex workers and has to sit outside while they pleasure themselves, he also has a fly on his face and does nothing about it. During the last scene we see Dolores, stating on the steps of her home. A fly lands on her neck, and like a human she swaps at the fly.