Contrapasso – Westworld S01 – ep 5

And Dolores chooses to tell a story where she is not the damsel. And William decides to be something other that strict honourable, at least from according to social expectations, tMiB challenges Ford´s strict codes of roles and seeks for truth, taking a subversive stand, rather than a villain-hero simplistic approach. Episode 5 is more interesting for its subtext, than for the actual scenes as narrated, and that is something that amazed me as lover of complex script writing, that does not lean into the pretentious.

It is easy to make something “smart” in that euro/indie way, the audience is conditioned to judge any silliness as brilliant, and to endure boredom to death. A product for mass consumption which manages to be intelligent and offer several layers of depth, that is a feat of writing!

A few lines of script called my attention: when one staffer teased the other about his soft heart, he said something about weeding him out of the bowl, as if they were produced in vitro to and selected to perform the exact jobs they do as staffers. That´s why the more callous of the two says the asian looking one should give up studying on a stolen sparrow and behaviour pad, that he wasn´t Behaviour, was not  a programmer, and would never be one. It echoes Huxley´s Brave New World society where people are bred to perform certain duties in society, and they are programmed from the womb (bowls or capsules) to desire anything but their assignment, they are given physical and mental abilities limited to their role, and so on.

Are the staffers androids too? We´ve seen that androids do operate as staffers, as receptionists welcoming guests to Delos, when Logan and William arrived. Why can´t they operate more extensively as labour force?

Ford and Bernard have different attitudes towards Dolores. Bernard has no problems dehumanizing other hosts and dealing with them naked, at least in front of other technicians, while he often treats Dolores with more respect, keeping her clothed, which, in Delos, means that he sees her as more human. Ford doesn´t grant her any special status. even though he does acknowledge that she is the last android which shares an important part of the history of the park and his own personal history. Shares or logs? He is unsure, it seems. Certainty is a luxury unknown to scientists, which Dr. Ford managed to fake in his make believe world.

The damsel in distress, the oppressed maiden who needs a hero to save her and to defend her, is integral to many heroic arcs. The male character is motivated by his love, his faith, moral values, to stand for someone who can´t stand for herself. She is both the one who benefits from his actions, and the reward, she is less of a character and more of an object, solid, monolithic, with no agency of her own. The male character becomes a man in opposition to this female non agent.

Modern narratives give female characters agency over their own destiny, they are empowered, and not damsels anymore. In Disney-speak, gone are the Sleeping Beauties and Snow Whites, and welcome are the Mulans, and Elsas. Dolores goes from Aurora to Mulan…

However, these arcs often make the male characters a bit emasculated. It is as if women had to steal masculine features in order to gain agency, and it is not a painless process for the men in their arc. But that´s another issue, at least for me, who love erotic literature and who believe that sex and gender issues has been taking the fun out of sexual intercourse.

 

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