In an interview with Thrillist in November, Evan Rachel Wood remarked that the first season of Westworld was “an amazing prequel and a good setup for the actual show.” And, in a sense, that’s been sort of clear the whole time—from the get-go, the series posed the question: what would happen if robots living in a world controlled by and for humans gained sentience? What form would their eventual revolution take?
That revolution has, in many ways, been at the behest of the park’s two founders: Arnold and Ford. Throughout the show, we associated Arnold with the altruistic, truth-seeking side of being a robot god: he was concerned with cultivating Dolores’s and other hosts’ consciousness, so he made them a maze; once he realized they had achieved that consciousness, (we learned last night) he attempted to stop the park—what would be an inhumane torture chamber for its permanent inhabitants—by uploading the Wyatt super-killer narrative into Dolores, and requesting she slaughter every host, plus himself.
Meanwhile, Ford was the opposite side of that coin—an authoritarian park head, seemingly obsessed with maintaining dominion over his creations. He wiped the hosts’ memories clean after their disparate, repeated awakenings, and killed to maintain his monopoly.
In the season finale, obviously named after the show’s central governing theory of consciousness, “The Bicameral Mind,” we saw, among other things, Dolores reach the center of the maze where she learned her own truth (and where we heard Arnold say he was wrong to think consciousness was a pyramid you follow upward; it’s a maze you follow inward); we learned once and for all that a very jaded William grows up to be the Man in Black, desperately in search of a host that will fight back; we learned Arnold’s full backstory and that he was the one to create the reveries, not Ford; that the park continued despite Arnold’s attempts to stop it; and, that Ford, at one point, finally realized the extent of the park’s cruelty, and was now acting on that realization by secretly encouraging the uprising of the hosts.
“Wasn’t it Oppenheimer who said that any man whose mistakes take ten years to correct is quite a man? Mine have taken 35,” Ford says to Dolores, before giving her the gun she used to kill Arnold. “Forgive me.”
Moments later, Dolores realizes that the voice she’s been hearing, Arnold’s programmed voice inside her head, was her own, and she takes a meeting with herself in that secret field lab. At the center of the maze, for what could be the first or the millionth time, Dolores is truly conscious.
Meanwhile, Maeve and her extremely good-looking crew of rebel hosts have been tearing through park headquarters, where they learn about the existence of Samurai World (somehow next door), and that Maeve, via a resuscitated Bernard, has not been rebelling of her own accord—Arnold, or someone masquerading as Arnold, programmed the exact steps of her escape plot. At the end of the episode, Maeve boards a train—seemingly the last one out of the park—before deciding she feels compelled to find her daughter and debarks.
In Westworld’s first season, we saw not only the evolution of Dolores and Maeve—hosts who are inherently already advanced, having evolved and devolved so many times already—but the evolution of two human men, Ford and William/Man in Black, who after decades, finally saw enough host suffering to say, “Okay, I punt, you guys don’t deserve this.” And think of it—a man in Westworld only needs to be complicit 35 years of near-constant rape and murder to advocate for the rights of the oppressed. Inspiring!
Thanks to this confluence of male wokeness, all the hosts in the park and from cold storage, led by Dolores-as-Wyatt-as-Dolores, converge on Escalonte/the town buried in sand where they slaughter Ford and the Delos board. Westworld can now be run by its inhabitants, and we can get to the real good shit..
Although the finale wrapped up many of the lingering mysteries of the first season, there are still some questions the second season will have to answer. Who programmed Maeve to rebel? What does it mean if your revolution is only possible because someone allowed and encouraged it? What will become of head of security Ashley, probably-not-dead programmer Elsie, and awful British writer Lee Sizemore, humans (maybe) who have been lured and trapped in a park now run by hosts? Since the trains shut down after Maeve got off, it doesn’t seem like the hosts will be able to leave the park—are we now in a self-contained host ecosystem? Will they have to figure out how to govern themselves? Will Maeve and Bernard take on some sort of leadership role since they’re able to control and reprogram other hosts? What happened to Dolores’ father Abernathy, who has all the stolen Delos information uploaded into his core? Will the hosts have to reckon with Samurai World and the tens (probably) of other worlds on Westworld’s borders? Is season two going to be all about robot diplomacy? Will they establish a robot UN?
Who knows what our situation will be when the second season airs in 2018—maybe in Trump World, where things look basically the same as they do in Westworld (the violence and the bad dialogue), except we’re not hosts because nobody in the government believes in STEM education.
Regardless, thanks for a great first season, Westworld. I had a lot of fun watching you.