The highly anticipated HBO series, Westworld, broadcast it’s premiere episode this evening. It is a smash-up of the old west, the future, sci-fi, with some murder, sex, and intrigue sprinkled in. The series is based on the 1973 Michael Crichton novel and filmed, which he also directed. Westworld is an amusement park (sound familiar Dino fans?) that places the park goer into the world of the wild west, where they can experience cattle drives, shoot outs, whiskey bars, and brothels. Dr. Robert Ford (Hopkins)is the creator of this reality, of which he takes great pride in, but something is wrong. The abused animatronic inhabitants of the artificial west begin to become self-aware, developing conscience, and begin standing up for themselves. That spells bad news for the patrons of the park.
Beauty is not only skin deep
Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) is a beautiful ranchers daughter. Her beauty extends past just the physical as she is friendly, generous, and kind. She goes into town as she does everyday, wishing her father well as she leaves. She has the pleasure to see her love interest Teddy (James Marsden), who accompanies her home. But he house is under siege by bandits who murder her parents. Teddy, gets the jump on them but a mysterious man in black (Ed Harris) takes out Teddy and brutally assaults Dolores. The thing is, it’s all fake. The only real person in this entire scenario is the man in black. This reality is a uber-realistic video game. Dolores, Teddy, and the rest of the town are sophisticated androids who play along a script according to the actions of the player. The androids are then repaired and have their memories erased at the end of every gaming day, so they return to the arena good as new and ready to fulfill the players fantasy the next day.
What are you doing Dr. Ford?….
Just as with every technological advance the human race endeavors on, eventually upgrades are needed. To provide an even more realistic adventure for his clientele, Dr. Ford has inputted a new code into the residents of Westworld, but something is wrong. Bernard Lowe (Jeffrey Wright) is in charge of the system maintenance and well being of the android population. He notices that some are beginning to exhibit concerning behavior, going off script, and posing a threat to the paying customer, which of course should never happen. This culminates with Dolores’ father finding a left behind photo souvenir left by one of the guest. The confusion brought on by this glimpse into the real world causes a cascading effect in him, forcing Lowe to take the androids off line for repairs and decommissioning dear old dad.
Part of a larger game
The man in black is after something larger than the normal shoot-outs, train heists, and brothel ladies. He feels that the game goes much deeper that a wild west experience. He kidnaps the saloon’s piano player to interrogate him, draining all but 3 liters of his blood to make it impossible for him to fight back. The answers do not come, so MIB takes matters further, scalping the robot ivory tickler, to discover a sort of plan design under his skull cover. This man is going to be a nightmare for human and android alike.
Westworld is being pitched as the heir apparent to take over for Game of Thrones as the premier HBO program and the first episode is off to a great start. In what could have been a confusing mess, Jonathan Nolan lays out the drama with surgeon like precision, making the audience care about sweet Dolores, gallant Teddy, fierce brothel madam Maeve (Thandie Newton), and to hate the man in black. It is a mix of sci-fy and western so deftly performed, the transitions between the arena and the real world are seamless. My biggest problem will now be, which do I watch live, this or The Walking Dead?
4.5 bottles of milk out of 5
Now that we have seen the pilot, what are we looking for out of season 1?
- What is Dr. Ford’s reason for altering the android code and what is his end game?
- What is the man in black really after and how far will he go to achieve his objectives?
- Is Dolores the robot equivalent of “The One”?
Let us know your thoughts on the premiere and how you think the season will shape up.