This show has so many narratives interwoven, it’s difficult to remove one’s self as the week to week viewer and begin any attempt to piece together a linear story so far. I think the show would benefit greatly from a binge watching approach. I’ll leave the ambiguity at the door this time around since avoiding spoilers will get us nowhere. I meant to write this at the exact halfway point after episode five, but here’s where we stand after Episode 6: The Adversary.
Episode 6 revealed some interesting puzzle pieces to the audience, but was noticeably lacking Evan Rachel Wood’s lead character Dolores and her new companion Billy, especially after their combined journey picked up a lot of steam in the previous week. So much of the emphasis thus far has been on Dolores and her story. Her narrative. It seemed a bit off key to stray from that completely, but several of the other key characters saw development in their stories. After all, this show is about characters and the intricacies of the narratives that intertwine them. Regardless of each character’s individual journey, there is a bigger picture yet to be revealed and each character’s story plays a part in that mystery as it unravels.
It’s quite possible we are dealing with multiple timelines. It’s been made clear, through Ed Harris’s Man in Black character, the park has been up and running for at least 30 years. However, through Billy and Logan’s conversations about the park and it’s financial problems, it would seem as though their timeline is much earlier than that of the Man in Black. I’ve read theories about Billy or Logan eventually becoming the Man in Black and there is traction to those thoughts.
For Billy, his transition to the main villain in the park’s narrative would take a drastic character change, but would make sense if his hero arc is shattered by heartbreak. Then there is Logan. He already seems like a villain and has made reference to his company’s investment opportunity with the park. It would explain why the Man in Black is recognized as an important man outside the park by a fellow patron. Logan also likes to sport a black outfit and has a disdainful disposition towards Dolores, who we know gets raped, brutalized and tortured by the Man in Black. She is having a crisis of consciousness as she journeys with Billy and Logan. Her interactions with the Man in Black seemingly point to her story arc having some deep seeded connections to his character. Dolores seems to hold the key for connecting the timelines.
Having seen the original film since the show’s debut, I’ve been trying to figure out if the show serves as a prequel, sequel or neither. In episode six, we see an easter egg when Bernard ventures to the subbasement. Yul Brynner’s gunslinger cowboy from the 1973 original is quite visible briefly in the background. The same episode in which Ford confesses to having first generation hosts still in operation. It’s possible the gunslinger was just a shout out, but what if it’s not. Then we are dealing with a Westworld in which a robot uprising has already happened and been put down. That seems like a bit of a stretch simply because who’d be interested in going to a theme park where all the visitors were murdered by the hosts? It would be exceedingly difficult to inspire investor confidence after such an incident.
Speaking of the original, the robot uprising was distinctively different in the film. Although parallels do carry over into the show, the movie version was reactionary and vengeful. The robots promptly turned on the guests and went on a murderous rampage (much like the robots at Itchy and Scratchy land in one Simpsons episode). The HBO series is scratching a much deeper itch. Sentience. Most noticeable in Bernard’s secret conversations with Dolores, there is an obvious attempt to distinguish between the illusion of intelligence and true self-aware A.I. Bernard’s hand in Dolores’s education bring his motivations and past into question. Rumors have been floated suggesting Bernard himself is a host who believes himself to be human. This was one of the first theories I cam across. He is the park creator’s right hand man. As the mystery of Ford’s partner Arnold begins to unfold, the more Bernard seems to fit the description of that character. Equally curious, Bernard is repeatedly linked to the “narrative” concerning his dead son. Ford makes sure to drive that point home and the shows subtly point to that clue with dialogue between other characters.
There is certainly something else being played at here. While the characters are working their ways through the maze, so is the audience. However, I fear the writers will have a tough time bringing it all together with only a handful of episodes remaining. So far they have done a good job keeping me interested, but unless the payoff is worth all of the mystery I’m not sure the audience will hang around.