Westworld Season One Recap
The first season of HBO’s Westworld introduced the viewer to Westworld, a theme park where people can escape from reality into the wild west. This immersive experience is enhanced by robots called “Hosts” who are set to follow a specific story line. Interaction with Hosts will open up narrative paths for the visitor to follow. However, as Michael Crichton’s work usually goes, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Season One finds Hosts having issues with their programming and going off script. This all culminates in an explosive season finale in which the hosts band together to take back what is theirs.
There is no easy way to recap the entirety of the first season because there are so many twists and turns along the way. The three characters who the story seems to be revolving around are all Hosts (though you don’t know one is until midway through the season). Dolores is the first Host ever built and is set on finding the Maze, a quest that has plagued her for years. Maeve is a Host who regains consciousness while being revived and sets out to escape from Westworld into the real one. Lastly, there’s Bernard, who is the head of Host Behavior and right hand man of the creator of the park, Dr. Robert Ford, and was created in the likeness of Ford’s partner, Arnold (all of which was kept a secret from him). Something the three have in common is that they have all deviated from their set course of action before. After each, their memories are wiped and they are set straight, but the coding implanted by Arnold before his demise is too strong and keeps coming back.
Behind the scenes of Westworld, the Board of Directors is intent upon creating a new narrative to entice visitors, but Ford is refusing to allow what they are pitching into his park. They eventually push him out, allowing Ford one more narrative before his retirement. Unfortunately for them, they do not know the true extent of his story. Before the park was set to open, Arnold realized that the Hosts could potentially become conscious beings and exert free will. He pleaded with Ford not to open the park, but Ford disagreed. Arnold decided upon drastic measures and uploaded a narrative called “Wyatt” into Dolores. This caused her to murder all of the Hosts, Arnold, and then herself. Unfortunately, Arnold’s plan failed as a financier stepped in to fully fund the park. As Ford introduces his final narrative, he once more awakens the part of Dolores that is the villainous Wyatt. She kills Ford in front of the Board of Sirectors and then opens fire on them. The finale ends with the uprising, setting up Season Two to have the central theme of anarchy.
Season One focused on the idea of control and free will. The hosts were placed within a set loop, forced to live out the same course of action over and over. Ford and Arnold wrote improvisation into the coding to allow the hosts a little bit of wiggle room, but no choice they made would ever be made by them. They were always under the control of their creator. This brings in an interesting idea as Dolores and Maeve seem to be making decisions for themselves, but they’re really not. This is especially evident with Maeve, who is trying to escape her creators. Up until the penultimate episode of the season, she believes that the choices she is making are her own. Come to find out she was programed to wake up while being prepared for re-entry. She was given the goal of escape. All of her steps were planned out. For Maeve, she makes it onto the train out of the park, but she ends up going back with the idea of finding her daughter from a previous life. However, did Maeve actually make the decision to go back? Or was she always destined to turn back and find her daughter? Dolores was programmed to create an uprising, to bring an end to the imprisonment of the Hosts. At least, she was the first time around. The Maze was created for her to remember what happened in the past and who she was meant to be. So did she kill Ford because she made the decision to once more take on the persona of Wyatt? Or, again, was this always destined to be?
Personally, I can’t wait to see what twists and turns are in store in the upcoming season.
Westworld returns Sunday, April 22, on HBO.