Westworld

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Westworld

Postby reallifegirl » Mon Oct 03, 2016 4:42 pm

Did anyone else watch the pilot last night? I saw it and am intrigued, terrified, and delighted by it so far. And also my eternal crush on James Marsden's delightful face continues unabated.

Spoiler: show
-The way the opening misleads you into thinking that Marsden's character is human is pretty masterful. The writer on either AVClub or Vulture pointed out that it's basically a masterful way to introduce the idea that we will be siding with the robots instead of the guests, unlike the movie -- we empathize with Marsden because he's more "real"-seeming than Evan Rachel Wood's character, before we get the rug yanked out from under us by Ed Harris.

-Also, Ed Harris is TERRIFYING in this.

-That said, we should have known James Marsden was a robot. The real James Marsden never actually gets the girl.

-God, the scenery is gorgeous. Whatever budget they're spending on landscapes is well-spent.

-Evan Rachel Wood's acting is amazing. She's both likeable/engaging and completely unnerving when she shows off her robotic side. It seems like she's set to lead whatever catastrophe is about to come (notice the symbolism of her pointing out the Judas steer) and I'm all set to enjoy her performance for it.

-That said, the guy playing her father was the MVP for the episode. His monologue of scattershot Shakespeare quotes was completely fascinating and eerie, and easily the best scene of the pilot. ("I will have such revenges on you both / That all the world shall—I will do such things— / What they are yet I know not, but they shall be /The terrors of the earth")

-Character I want to know more about: Rodrigo Santoro's bandit character. He looks like he's going to be fun.

-Apparently there's a lot of fighting about this online, but for what it's worth, I like the saloon piano covers of 'Black Hole Sun' and 'Paint It Black'.

-The one sour note I'd throw in -- the female scientist randomly kissing a host for no reason.

-Something people online are fiercely debating that I didn't even think about: are any of the employees actually robots in disguise?
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Re: Westworld

Postby Irishjava » Tue Oct 04, 2016 1:47 pm

This show had me at the intro, and kept me with a premise that's basically "I, Robot/Jurassic park/Blade Runner".

Spoiler: show
Something people online are fiercely debating that I didn't even think about: are any of the employees actually robots in disguise?

I buy this, and might go a little further. The man in black says something about the creator having deeper levels to the game, and evolution is a core theme discussed by the creator, so it wouldn't surprise me if he trapped some hosts in the same loop thinking they're guests to see how they'd react. I'm 50% sure the man in black is one of those hosts, and 90% sure we're going to add "Battlestar Galactica" to that formula in the future.
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Re: Westworld

Postby reallifegirl » Tue Oct 04, 2016 2:47 pm

Irishjava wrote:This show had me at the intro, and kept me with a premise that's basically "I, Robot/Jurassic park/Blade Runner".

Spoiler: show
Something people online are fiercely debating that I didn't even think about: are any of the employees actually robots in disguise?

I buy this, and might go a little further. The man in black says something about the creator having deeper levels to the game, and evolution is a core theme discussed by the creator, so it wouldn't surprise me if he trapped some hosts in the same loop thinking they're guests to see how they'd react. I'm 50% sure the man in black is one of those hosts, and 90% sure we're going to add "Battlestar Galactica" to that formula in the future.


Spoiler: show
See, I'm actually hoping the man in black isn't one of the hosts because it really takes away from the whole 'the robots are more human the humans' vibe that the intro seemed to be setting up. I'm positive there's more to him than we're getting (someone online suggested he used to be Anthony Hopkins' business partner, which I could see happening), but I feel like a lot of the the themes they're setting up get muddied if he's not a real person.

Right now, my bet is that maybe Jeffrey Wright is a host, given his odd behavior and lack of a family. But that could just be red herrings.
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Re: Westworld

Postby Irishjava » Tue Oct 04, 2016 3:25 pm

I'm happy to say I honestly can't predict the direction this show is going. There are so many different takes on AI sentience, and the show hasn't shown its hand yet. It's one of my favorite themes (Blade Runner and Ex Machina are two of my favorite movies ever), and I think the showrunners are exhibiting exactly the right amount of restraint for a full-fledged AI emergence series. The creeping sense of wrongness, the classic human hubris, the "ghosts in the machines" are all spot on and beautifully executed.

Spoiler: show
From the looks of the preview, next week will be mostly from the perspective of a guest, right as all these glitches are manifesting. I think this will shed some more light on the relationship between guests and hosts, beyond the abject cruelty we've seen so far. Barring a big "robot rebellion" reveal too early in the first season, I'm really, really excited for how this show is going to go off the rails. Once it's off the rails and into more open conflict, I get a little nervous that the themes won't be as central to the show. I'm still hopeful they find a way to navigate that in a long form series, though.
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Re: Westworld

Postby BROWNRECLUSE » Wed Oct 05, 2016 5:40 pm

Is this worth an HBO GO subscription?

I lost all interest in GoT, and True Detective shit the bed during the 2nd Season, but this looks quite amazing.
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Re: Westworld

Postby reallifegirl » Wed Oct 05, 2016 7:55 pm

So far I am really, really liking it. But it's only been one episode, so it's hard to say. But it's incredibly gorgeous and intriguing for its first 75 minutes, so I'm hopeful it stays excellent.
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Re: Westworld

Postby reallifegirl » Mon Oct 17, 2016 4:24 pm

Spoiler: show
Is it a rule of Westworld that James Marsden has to die a new, even more hilariously brutal death every single goddamn day? That poor man.
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Re: Westworld

Postby KleinerKiller » Mon Oct 17, 2016 5:28 pm

I've seen the first two episodes and I'm really getting into it. Definitely the best new thing HBO's done in a while. It's good, because I needed something to scratch the itch Mr. Robot left in me for brilliant television, and the only two other series I'm watching right now are SyFy's Channel Zero: Candle Cove -- which is great, but flawed -- and Gotham -- which AAAAAAAAAAGH THE BURNING NEVER STOPS
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Re: Westworld

Postby Masonator » Mon Oct 17, 2016 7:25 pm

reallifegirl wrote:
Spoiler: show
Is it a rule of Westworld that James Marsden has to die a new, even more hilariously brutal death every single goddamn day? That poor man.


Spoiler: show
My favorite death of his so far remains the bro in the saloon high on adrenaline shooting him repeatedly for no reason at all. It's like a look at how I play Grand Theft Auto, but through the eyes of a non-playable character that did nothing to deserve my wrath.

The third episode suffered from a severe lack of Ed Harris, sadly. What the hell has he been doing there for 30 years? Last episode there was a line in there about it costing $40k a day to stay in Westworld, so is someone bankrolling him to be there or does he have a special arrangement (possibly as a co-founder)? Is he a robot with some special rank instead? What the hell was that maze that he found after scalping that guy? What the hell did that riddle the girl told him mean? Who left these breadcrumbs for him to follow and why? What is he searching for? Is he going to be the big bad like in the movie, or is his appearance as the 'Man in Black' just there to throw the viewer off?
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Re: Westworld

Postby reallifegirl » Tue Oct 18, 2016 4:23 pm

So there's a theory floating around regarding one of the major plot questions that I'm kind of starting to think is probably legit. Cut for possible spoilers for the rest of the season.

Spoiler: show
One of the questions people are asking is 'Who is the Man in Black?'. I've seen a few theories, i.e. he's Arnold/the business partner, he's actually a robot, he's an avatar for one of the employees, but this one is currently front-runner for my favorite and possibly the most plausible.

The theory is that the Man in Black is actually William, Jimmi Simpson's character, and his storyline is actually leading us towards seeing what the 'incident' was 30 years ago in the park. Some clues for this are:

1) So far, William & Logan's storyline doesn't really intersect with anyone else's, even though the employees' and hosts' plots affect each other regularly

2) When William goes through orientation, the Westworld logo is different and older-looking than the logo used in every other scene

3) When Dolores encounters the bandits at the end of episode 3, she keeps flashing back to her past mid-struggle (i.e. seeing The Man in Black, seeing her old father instead of her current one). She then gets shot, then flashes to being fine and runs off and encounters William & Logan. Since that sequence includes scenes from her past, it's possible this is a flash to an encounter she had 30 years ago, and in the present she simply got shot and died.

Here are three different links that lay it out better than I can, but I think it's really interesting and probably where we might be headed.
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Re: Westworld

Postby Masonator » Tue Oct 18, 2016 7:10 pm

reallifegirl wrote:So there's a theory floating around regarding one of the major plot questions that I'm kind of starting to think is probably legit. Cut for possible spoilers for the rest of the season.

Spoiler: show
One of the questions people are asking is 'Who is the Man in Black?'. I've seen a few theories, i.e. he's Arnold/the business partner, he's actually a robot, he's an avatar for one of the employees, but this one is currently front-runner for my favorite and possibly the most plausible.

The theory is that the Man in Black is actually William, Jimmi Simpson's character, and his storyline is actually leading us towards seeing what the 'incident' was 30 years ago in the park. Some clues for this are:

1) So far, William & Logan's storyline doesn't really intersect with anyone else's, even though the employees' and hosts' plots affect each other regularly

2) When William goes through orientation, the Westworld logo is different and older-looking than the logo used in every other scene

3) When Dolores encounters the bandits at the end of episode 3, she keeps flashing back to her past mid-struggle (i.e. seeing The Man in Black, seeing her old father instead of her current one). She then gets shot, then flashes to being fine and runs off and encounters William & Logan. Since that sequence includes scenes from her past, it's possible this is a flash to an encounter she had 30 years ago, and in the present she simply got shot and died.

Here are three different links that lay it out better than I can, but I think it's really interesting and probably where we might be headed.


Okay, now that we're into theories based upon the past 3 episodes, I'm putting everything into spoilers. Only click on this if you've seen through episode 3.

Spoiler: show
I like this theory, though it is a bit of a cheap trick on the audience in episode 3 if we're being shown Dolores escaping the barn and recalling the Man in Black right before shooting the bandit rapist, then the next scene is her collapsing into William's arms after wandering through the desert. It's presented as though it is chronological, but for the theory to hold up, the second scene happened 30 years prior to the first, because William has not yet become the Man in Black so there's no way she could recall the memory of him dragging her into the barn in episode 1. Also, we know that the robots are regularly given different roles and Dolores is the oldest, so it's kind of difficult to accept that for 30 years she's still the innocent farmer's daughter dropping her can of beans, romancing James Marsden, only to come back to find her dad shot and to be (sometimes) saved by James Marsden from the bandits. Her dad from episode 1 had several different roles before being retired, and when he malfunctioned he was mixing up dialog from his past characters. One villain robot that went haywire in the saloon had memories of every story line he had been involved in, and he specifically targeted every other robot that had killed him in a past story line, which was a whole lot of people if I recall correctly. He must have been the villain in over ten story lines if that many people had killed him in the past. I wouldn't expect any robot to play the same character for 30 years.

Maybe with Dolores being the oldest, the tale of the farmer's daughter is the very first storyline (it would basically have to be if we're going by this theory) and will never be retired, kind of like as a memorial to the founding of WW. But then, why is Anthony Hopkins retooling James Marsden as the star of a brand new storyline when he's an integral part of Dolores' storyline? It'd be kind of sad if James Marsden's new revenge quest means that Dolores gets raped and killed by bandits every day without host intervention.

William definitely has some importance that remains to be seen, and the retro WW logo in William's first scene is hard to explain away if this isn't a flashback (I never would have noticed that if I watched the episode ten times). He also seemed hurt after being shot in the last episode, when Ed Harris never even flinches when shot (I did notice this one, thank you). That seems to indicate that the technology has improved, though it could also just mean that Ed Harris' character is tougher than Jimmi Simpson's character (which is not exactly a big leap to make). Thematically, William choosing the white hat (because he's the good guy) seemed to be just him contrasting with Logan in all black (who objectifies the robots and stabs one in the hand just for bothering him), but it might be meant to contrast with his future as the Man in Black.

Now that that's all written, I've got one question. It's easy enough to see that the guns cannot be fired on humans, so that would prevent a guest from killing another guest. But, what about knives? Ed Harris uses one in episode 2 when he takes out the outlaw's posse, stabbing one of them in the entryway of a saloon, so we know the guests have them. Since they aren't shy about killing a robot suddenly and without provocation (poor James Marsden), how exactly does WW prevent a guest from stabbing another guest under the assumption that the other guest is a robot? Or even if you're a guest using a knife on a robot, the robot can't harm you, but you're not exactly an expert with a knife, your hand slips and you cut yourself. I'm smelling a lawsuit there. This last paragraph was especially pointless. Just one of my fridge logic moments on something that has no relevance to the plot.
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Re: Westworld

Postby reallifegirl » Tue Oct 18, 2016 7:30 pm

Masonator wrote:
Spoiler: show
Maybe with Dolores being the oldest, the tale of the farmer's daughter is the very first storyline (it would basically have to be if we're going by this theory) and will never be retired, kind of like as a memorial to the founding of WW. But then, why is Anthony Hopkins retooling James Marsden as the star of a brand new storyline when he's an integral part of Dolores' storyline? It'd be kind of sad if James Marsden's new revenge quest means that Dolores gets raped and killed by bandits every day without host intervention.


Spoiler: show
I think it's very possible she's been in the same loop the entire time she's been in the park. I suspect that there's the possibility that Dolores may be based on someone personal for Hopkins, like how the child host was clearly meant to be a version of him as a kid. She was the first ever robot and has been kept even as dozens of others have been phased out -- she might be based on a daughter, wife, lover, etc. and thus be kept in her same spot over and over again.

Meanwhile, Marsden probably isn't considered as important, at least not to Hopkins, so he gets to go get hatcheted in the face by cannibals. Hell, Hopkins seems to be kind of disdainful of him. 'You will never be with her, you will never live the life you want together.'
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Re: Westworld

Postby Masonator » Wed Oct 26, 2016 8:38 pm

So I just saw Sunday night's episode, Dissonance Theory.

Spoiler: show
And I certainly got my fill of the Man in Black. Now we have confirmation that Arnold (Dr. Ford's former business partner) created the maze. Also, the maze possibly leads to breaking the robots free, based on some of the Man in Black's lines this episode. Sounds like Arnold put this in there as a poison pill for Dr. Ford, who thinks he is God of his own private universe. Bernard also seems to be aware of the maze, as he vaguely references it in his interrogation of Dolores.

We also got the vaguest hint of who the Man In Black really is. Another guest recognized him and said the MiB's foundation saved his sister's life. So far, that's all we got. As a side note regarding the MiB's story, poor Teddy. That guy cannot catch a break. Ford obviously set him up to fail in his revenge quest against Wyatt, but rather than just killing Teddy, Wyatt's gang beats him half to death and leaves him to cook in the sun tied to a tree. Dr. Ford is quite the sadistic fuck. The MiB is on his way to meet with Wyatt as his next clue to the maze, so it'll be nice to finally meet the man hopefully next episode.

The whole 'ghosts in the machine' theme is continued in the opening scene with Dolores, in another secret conversation with Bernard. It's hard to say what Bernard's endgame is right now. He clearly wants to develop true A.I., but the reason is still unclear. A previous episode brought up his dead son, and I just hope and pray we don't go into an 'I want to recreate my dead son' motivation. That's a bit hackneyed for my tastes.

But if Dolores is taking baby steps towards recalling past events and breaking free of her story cycle, Maeve is taking giant leaps and falling on her face. She recalls one of her past deaths, draws a Westworld employee in his hazmat suit doing body clean up, and goes to her room to hide the picture underneath the floorboard. But, there are already several identical pictures there that she had previously stowed away. It seems like Westworld has a contingency plan of sorts for this kind of recall, since the native hosts believe in 'shades' that walk between worlds as part of their religion, who look suspiciously like the lab tech recalled by Maeve. I'm not exactly sure how that vague and unsatisfying answer is supposed to solve the problem of memory recall, but maybe this is another one of Arnold's easter eggs, but this one was designed for the hosts to unravel. Maeve is already wise to the fact that nothing she does matters, but considering the amount of pictures under her floorboard, it seems like she just keeps repeating the same events without getting closer to solving anything. Kind of like Lenny from Memento, except she can't tat herself up with clues.

I'm calling it right now: Theresa is a robot. I just don't buy it that Dr. Ford could have possibly learned that she visited Westworld as a child and knew exactly where she sat at the winery. He just programmed her memories and knows her backstory. Dr. Ford's speech to her about Westworld not being an amusement park but his private universe where he is God was absolutely amazing. The show did a great job of throwing you off with the first episode, where Ford comes off as the sympathetic aging creator of Westworld whose life's work is being taken over by a bunch of clueless suits that are going to get careless and unintentionally wreak havoc. Then we start to second guess that sympathetic old man facade when he chastises a tech for covering up a host as though it is a living being that can feel naked, cutting the face of the host just to prove his point. Suddenly it doesn't quite seem like he has respect for the hosts or weary of the possibility that they can obtain true AI. Now we see he's still very much in control of Westworld, seems like a megalomaniac, and definitely thinks of the hosts as his personal playthings. I am looking forward to what he's planning with his new story line.

William and Logan's scenes were pretty damn boring, compared to the rest. I hope this goes somewhere, because all we got out of this episode was that William is the good guy and Logan does not think of the hosts as people. In other words, more of the same. Though we did learn that Logan's family has some kind of financial stake in Westworld, but that's not exactly a game changing revelation. Hopefully we get to something interesting soon, because watching Logan be a douche and William be a whiny bitch is getting old fast. That being said, I liked the wink and nod to video game logic when Logan picked up the gun of a host he killed, called it an upgrade and threw away his old gun. Now if only they can eat an entire turkey off the floor to regenerate their health, I'll be happy.
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Re: Westworld

Postby KleinerKiller » Wed Oct 26, 2016 9:20 pm

Masonator wrote:So I just saw Sunday night's episode, Dissonance Theory.

Spoiler: show
I'm calling it right now: Theresa is a robot. I just don't buy it that Dr. Ford could have possibly learned that she visited Westworld as a child and knew exactly where she sat at the winery. He just programmed her memories and knows her backstory. Dr. Ford's speech to her about Westworld not being an amusement park but his private universe where he is God was absolutely amazing. The show did a great job of throwing you off with the first episode, where Ford comes off as the sympathetic aging creator of Westworld whose life's work is being taken over by a bunch of clueless suits that are going to get careless and unintentionally wreak havoc. Then we start to second guess that sympathetic old man facade when he chastises a tech for covering up a host as though it is a living being that can feel naked, cutting the face of the host just to prove his point. Suddenly it doesn't quite seem like he has respect for the hosts or weary of the possibility that they can obtain true AI. Now we see he's still very much in control of Westworld, seems like a megalomaniac, and definitely thinks of the hosts as his personal playthings. I am looking forward to what he's planning with his new story line.



Spoiler: show
Regarding the inevitable "human worker is really a robot" reveal, I'm leaning more toward Bernard than Theresa. The incredible scene between her and Ford is a bit suspect, but I'd easily buy it as just a demonstration of Ford's power and influence. What sticks out to me as more suspicious is the moment when we learned fully about Bernard's son, via Ford fleshing out earlier clues by saying "you miss your dead son, Charlie" or something to that effect. It comes off like incredibly awkward exposition and doesn't reflect anything someone would say in that situation, even someone as odd as Ford -- it sounds, and Bernard's reaction looks, way more like Ford is giving Bernard new or additional memories. And in this episode, Ford tells Theresa to be careful with Bernard, citing his emotional fragility; I couldn't read his tone and phrasing as anything other than a wink-and-nod that they both know Bernard is artificial. His secret conversations with Dolores could either be deliberately programmed by Ford to test the hosts, or more of Arnold's phantom influence leaking through.

Or, hell, maybe Bernard and Theresa are both robots and their relationship is one big private experiment on Ford's part.

Personally, even though it will happen, I'm hoping they don't reveal anyone (or at least, not more than one person) in the Westworld management as a secret robot. I'd rather they keep developing the "humans are just as easy to read and program as machines" theme that half of the story is pumping away at right now. It's way more interesting.
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Re: Westworld

Postby Masonator » Wed Oct 26, 2016 10:03 pm

KleinerKiller wrote:
Spoiler: show
Regarding the inevitable "human worker is really a robot" reveal, I'm leaning more toward Bernard than Theresa. The incredible scene between her and Ford is a bit suspect, but I'd easily buy it as just a demonstration of Ford's power and influence. What sticks out to me as more suspicious is the moment when we learned fully about Bernard's son, via Ford fleshing out earlier clues by saying "you miss your dead son, Charlie" or something to that effect. It comes off like incredibly awkward exposition and doesn't reflect anything someone would say in that situation, even someone as odd as Ford -- it sounds, and Bernard's reaction looks, way more like Ford is giving Bernard new or additional memories. And in this episode, Ford tells Theresa to be careful with Bernard, citing his emotional fragility; I couldn't read his tone and phrasing as anything other than a wink-and-nod that they both know Bernard is artificial. His secret conversations with Dolores could either be deliberately programmed by Ford to test the hosts, or more of Arnold's phantom influence leaking through.

Or, hell, maybe Bernard and Theresa are both robots and their relationship is one big private experiment on Ford's part.

Personally, even though it will happen, I'm hoping they don't reveal anyone (or at least, not more than one person) in the Westworld management as a secret robot. I'd rather they keep developing the "humans are just as easy to read and program as machines" theme that half of the story is pumping away at right now. It's way more interesting.


Spoiler: show
I had considered Bernard as a robot too, but I just can't square away the fact that his intentions with the robots seem to be the polar opposite of Dr. Ford's intentions. Like you said though, that might be a result of Arnold's tinkering.

I do have a concern that the show will overuse the human is really a robot reveal. I read the Attack on Titan manga for a bit, and it started to feel like every character was secretly a titan the whole time. It was just lazy when past actions made it impossible for one of the characters to have been a sleeper agent, so I don't know, give him a split personality on top of it. That'll explain it all away. Hacky bullshit it was. But I'm getting off topic.

You have inspired me to rewatch the scene where Ford is talking about Bernard's dead son. I thought the exchange was a bit clunky, but just passed it off as weak exposition. Now that we have a baseline to see how uploading new memories works (since Dr. Ford did it to Teddy in the third (?) episode), it might be easier to spot if that's what happened to Bernard when Ford mentioned the dead son.
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