Westworld Season 1 Ep09 – Prelude in a Requiem, in four acts

This is more than a long review, this me and some questions which have been haunting me, and that WW last episode touched, at least tangentially.

I

Westworld´s timelines finally converged, to the delight of fans. So, William is the Man in Black, and that a-ha moment is a little anti-climatic, cause young William, or Billy, is not as badass as Ed Harris´ MiB. Even when in his cathartic moment Billy is kind of bland white hattish.

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MiB´s been tormenting Dolores for nearly thirty years out of spite of himself, or in order to understand the rules of the game through the host which turned his first stay in the park a life changing experience. Whatever the reason, the old William needs to come to terms with himself, and Dolores is in his path again.

II

This episode had the Maeve moments, cause it does have to build into the final, so we see her nudging Bernard into self awareness and bringing Hector to her cause. We also see that of other human emotions, she has developed hatred. Hosts do hold grudges, but Maeve does feel hatred as a fully developed emotion, materialized in verbal and body language.

Yes, Thandie Newton does hot sex scenes, and it is easy to do so with Rodrigo Santoro, who is so hot! The scene is very respectful though, compared to GoT standards, which is good!

III

The bulk of the episode is Arnold. Who is this man who built the foundations of Westworld? I say the foundations because he died when the park was only a few years opened and Ford took over the scientific enterprise. As we know Arnold, we also get to understand a little more about Dr. Ford.

Desperate for answers, Bernard lures Ford to the androids´ morgue. Nothing more fitting. He wants to learn about himself, delve into the depths of his memory files. That place is like Hades, where the dead are supposed to rest, either in good places or in bad, hellish ones. Descending into the land of the dead is a dangerous enterprise, a feat of heroes, for instance, in Greek Mythology, Orpheus goes to hell to rescue the soul of his beloved Eurypedes. Unfortunately, he breaks the deal he struck with Hades and his love can´t return to the world of the living with him. In fact, trips to the underworld always have a cost.

Bernard threaten Ford and he complies. The journey is painful, as it should. We´re sent to the rabbit hole one more time as Bernard reads to his dying son. The passage of Alice and the Mad Hatter. The core memory is his son´s loss, which forms his identity. Why would someone make one suffer so much? How could Ford be so cruel? Well, it was Arnold´s premise that trauma or some painful event shapes identity. It makes sense if we understand birth as a traumatic event for the baby, who leaves the comfort, protection and non awareness of the womb, to the world outside, and is immediately assaulted by the environment: the shock of the first breath, the air on the skin, hands touching him… but the baby forgets that moment.

Moving backwards, Bernard wants to meet Arnold, and still Ford says that he can´t, cause he made him. Threatened, Ford lets him access his first memory. And we see Bernard open his eyes for the first time. Bernard is the spitting image of Arnold, made to work like Arnold, to feel like Arnold, even the core memory is an homage to the real Arnold. Ford wanted his friend back, and did it the only way he could. From that point on,they started to work together, as partners, man and android.

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In the meantime, we see Dolores enter the old complex at the city under the sand, escalante, and she walks to where she used to talk to Bernard/Arnold. She flips between present and past, until she understands that Arnold can´t help her, and she must remember why. She finally does, she remembers that she killed him, she was the host who killed Arnold. Suicide by host?

So, if that was a problem with the program that Arnold built, Ford was right. It might bring self awareness, bring humanity and real life to hosts, but it would be dangerous. And although it could hurt humans in the park, the ones in real danger are the hosts.

The hosts are a different species, they´d be seen as competitors, and humans are brutal competitors, so ruthless that destroy everything in their path. And Ford tried to talk some sense into Bernard, that he could work with him. He refuses and tells the other host to shoot. Only the host can´t. Bernard realizes that all hosts, even himself have a backdoor programmed into their system, hidden from everyone, which allows Ford to control each and everything in the park.

He wasn´t affraid of the threat. He wanted to see if Bernard would rise as an ally, he had hoped, against logic, that he would understand the situation and join feely. Now, that things got so far,he commands Bernard to get the gun from the host´s hands, and put a bullet in his head.

Bernard begs for his life and Robert answers most candidly that he should have known better and understood that he is only human, and humans are never completely trustworthy.

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As Dr. Robert walks away from the room, and Bernard shoots himself, Anthony Hopkins grace us with another beautiful piece of acting. You can see the emotions changing on his face, sometimes with an eyebrow raised, or a pursed lip, squinting one eye, a half smile, the shadow of a pout. TV is economic in big gestures, and favours the small ones.

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What will Maeve do if she raises a small army inside the command tower? Does Ford has a back door to her as well, something that she hasn´t noticed?  It also seems that Ford is oblivious to Charlotte´s machinations, and does not know that they will try to smuggle a host out of the park, with classified information.  We don´t know why is Dr. Ford so intent on finishing this new narrative, which wasn´t written by the House writer, and which is based on his own sketch.

Considering that Ed Harris is renewed for season 2, we know that either his character survives, or doesn´t, and he is recreated as a host, just like Ford did to Arnold when he made Bernard.

IV

Ford imprisoned places his creations in a world where they serve guests who use them to satisfy their darkest urges. It is cruel and yet merciful, cause by wiping out the memory of pain, by resetting their memory, they start every day anew, pure, with their hopes and dreams untouched by the horrors of the days past. Innocent after a fashion, and pure. Conscience? Awareness? Why? Do these things make us happy, after all?

Humans are bound to let each other down. That´s who we are as a species, and that´s an evolutionary differential, an advantage. Would we have spared the neanderthals? Nope, in fact, we mated with them a little (most likely the more aggressive sapiens male taking a more pliable neanderthal female?), and then we wiped them out as a species, obliterating them.  And we were right? We are top of the food chain. The most vicious species on our planet and if we don´t kill ourselves, we might be able to adapt to anything thrown on us!

Would we let a human/android subspecies thrive without some inherent advantage to us? Unlikely. Would they be able to beat us? I doubt it. Cause they have this fundamental naivete, this predictability that the most ruthless among us can figure, they glitch thanks to their memory, we don´t. They might live for ever, but would reproduce only by literally making new ones, whereas we reproduce.

As Dr. Ford seems to have understood we are not supernatural creatures. Arnold failed to realize that… MiB can´t make peace with that realization.

There is no such thing as a natural man. If it is human, it is necessarily detached from the environment. Humanity is deviant. Humanity is chaotic. Humanity is a cell that decided, for whatever cosmic reason, to reproduce and change the host body.

We are the very definition of point of no return. Humanity is not based on rights, but on freedom. Unbearable freedom. We manage to cope with freedom by creating relief valves, such as religions, social values, culture, any cistern that hoards the overflowing fountain. We eventually burst the damns, and alas! It feels good to destroy and build anew!

We are the super volcano, and the great comet of doom, cruising the space… all in the hearts of every baby, of every one of us.

We are Science, we made Gods, and unmade them, and we are the unknown.  Humanity is beautiful. Humanity is lonely and bound to remain so.

 

 

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