Westworld

First: I am not impartial about this show. It is beautiful, both visually and in terms of each episode’s construction. It is richly nuanced. It is thoughtful. Unless it takes a sharp right turn off a high cliff, I think it is going to be the best science fiction show I’ve seen this year.

Second: I have not yet seen more than the second episode, and it’s the second episode I want to talk about. (Of course, this might be the kind of thing people have already established in cast interviews, or something, but I’m going to put it under a cut for spoilers anyway.)

I’m pretty sure that Michael–the blond white-hatted guest from the second episode–is the Man in Black from the first episode. (Not Hector Escaton, the bad guy. The guest.)

The Man In Black talks about knowing Dolores from before; he’s been to the park thirty years before. One of the most chilling interactions with her is him picking up the can of condensed milk and handing it to her. He is almost a Western caricature; the most heavily stylized and stereotyped of all the characters (and in this show, that is saying something).

When Michael first appears in the entrance to Westworld, the logo on the screen is different–it’s not the one on the TV show, bluntly. The opening stroll through the town shows a Civil War recruiting party; they aren’t anywhere else, in any of the scenes contemporaneous with the Man In Black or the “now” of the… the park maintenance staff. He interacts with Dolores in exactly the same way, picking up the can of milk for her, although he takes it in a very different direction. He is very heavily stylized–the fresh-faced young white hat, whose hat is dramatically stained with blood due to the interference of his dastardly friend!–in a way that is not as strong as the Man in Black’s, but follows the same dramatic pattern. His friend Logan, on the other hand, is a dissolute tramp who’s playing at being a Man in Black; contrast him with the actual Man in Black, who is something closer to an autonomous blood-greased beartrap chewing its way towards the center of the world. Logan’s shallowness serves to emphasize William’s stylization and investment in the world by contrast.

Finally, the second episode keeps bringing up parallels between older and younger versions. I’m equally sure that the boy that Ford talks to out in the desert is a younger version of himself–the same memories of what their father said, the odd fondness, the similar-in-their-datedness hair, the identical (save for the boy’s clothes being a darker shade) clothing. And we see this in Maeve Millay over and over again; in a very minimal way there’s the repeating herself with variations in behaviour because her personality has been tweaked, but much more to the point there’s the earlier version of herself, her life coming out West as a pioneer before she became someone who came over on a ship to become a prostitute.

…this show requires an entirely new set of past tense vocabulary, let me tell you what.

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