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Let’s Stop Pretending We Know What’s Going on in ‘Westworld’

It’s time to surrender to utter confusion

HBO/Ringer illustration
HBO/Ringer illustration

There’s a train in Westworld, or near Westworld, or around Westworld, or maybe the train actually is Westworld. I don’t know. I mean, it shouldn’t be a thing of mystery — it’s a train — but Westworld is a thing of a mystery, which means that everything in it is a thing of mystery, too. So I don’t know, exactly, about the train. Is it old? Is it new? Where does it go? (Westworld, presumably, although how can anyone really know?) Is the train actually two trains? Three trains? One train? I can’t say for sure. But I will say on record that there is definitely a train in Westworld, or near Westworld, or around Westworld, or maybe the train actually is Westworld. Of that, I am certain.

There are people in Westworld, too. They are also things of mystery, and possibly the greatest mystery. I’m not all the way sure who is a person and who is a robot, or even if the robots are actually called “robots” and not something else; maybe something like “Fancy Robot” or “Fancy Android” or possibly “Fancy Android Robot.” I mean, I know they’re called “hosts” in the show, but they’re still just robots, and “robot” feels almost like a derogatory term when talking about Westworld robots. Probably because they’re so advanced. A robot to me is Johnny Five. A robot to me is Chappie. A robot to me is not Dolores, the show’s most human nonhuman (played by Evan Rachel Wood), even though I know that Dolores is definitely a robot, probably. I also know that she is definitely my favorite robot, probably. Of that, I am also certain. Probably.

Related: Are there two Doloreses in Westworld? In the last episode she saw herself walking in a parade, but, I mean, seeing a thing in Westworld doesn’t actually mean that that thing is really in Westworld. (That’s the one non-train-based thing I know about Westworld.) I hope there are two Doloreses. I’m very pro-Dolores. I don’t know how the show is going to end (or even what’s going to happen in the next episode), but I hope that she wins somehow.

Related to the related: What’s the proper plural form of Dolores? “Doloreses” feels right. But maybe it’s “Dolori,” which is dumb, sure, but a dumb thing in Westworld is actually a brilliant thing in Westworld, or so I’ve been led to believe.

I watched the one episode of Westworld where the main robot girl kills Oscar Isaac and then escapes off the compound and it was really good. That was probably my favorite episode. It was funny when Oscar Isaac danced. Oscar Isaac is such a good actor. I wish they’d have let him be in more Westworld episodes before killing his character. I’d have liked to know more about him.

This is what’s happening in Westworld, as I understand it at this moment, or at least as I’m guessing to understand it: Dolores is a robot. She’s trying to gain sentience because if she does that then she’ll be allowed to go free (although she doesn’t know precisely what “free” means yet). The Man in Black (Ed Harris) is the older version of William (Jimmi Simpson). He wants to find a thing called the Maze and solve it, which is not going to end super great for him because the Maze is a thing that the robots have to solve to prove their sentience. A person named Arnold built the Maze. Arnold was killed 35 years ago after one of the robots in Westworld solved the Maze, gained sentience, then killed Arnold because he (or she — probably Dolores) was mad. Dr. Ford (Anthony Hopkins) knows everything. Ford controls everything. All of the glitches, all of the missteps, all of the underhandedness, all of everything. It’s all been put in place by Ford. Because guess what: It was Ford who killed Arnold, not the sentient robot. The whole gaining sentience thing is a trick. The robots can’t actually do that. Some of them are just programmed to think that they can. It’s a big Fuck You to anyone who thinks it was Arnold who was the genius behind Westworld. Ford is God. Or something. I don’t know.

Really, I guess what this all leads to is that I just have the one main question about Westworld: What the fuck?

I recently read an article on The Ringer about how there are possibly a few different timelines happening on the show at the same time. Is that true? It’s very confusing to think about, but not actually that confusing to think about, so that means it’s probably true. My wife and I were watching one of the earlier episodes and a thing happened and she turned to me and said, “Bernard is a robot. They’re going to reveal it later. Watch.” When she said it, I said, “No way. That’s way too obvious.” Now, to be clear, I didn’t say, “That’s way too obvious” because it was obvious to me that Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) was a robot — in fact, I had no idea at all that Bernard was a robot. I said “That’s way too obvious” because that’s what I always say in situations when someone is saying a thing to me that I’d never considered before because it’s like an intuition smokescreen. So in this most recent episode when it was revealed that Bernard actually is a robot, she leaned to me and said, “I told you.” I said, “I can’t believe they made it so obvious,” and then I sat there and tried to not visibly freak out after learning that Bernard was a robot.

A different thing that happens when we watch Westworld is every few minutes I lean over to her and I say, “Hey … what’s going on in this show right now?” It’s the same thing that happened when we watched House of Cards. I spent half of the time leaning over to her saying something like, “Hey … what’s a caucus?” or whatever. My favorite thing on House of Cards is whenever Frank Underwood looks into the camera and then explains exactly what’s happening and what’s about to happen. He’ll zoom his eyes into my living room and say something like, “Looks like I’m going to have to fight the leadership tooth-and-nail on this one, just like back in Gaffney,” and then I’m happy because I know that he’s going to fight the leadership tooth-and-nail on that one, just like back in Gaffney. I hope that the robots start looking into the camera and talking to me for the final three episodes of Season 1. That would be very helpful.

Disclosure: HBO is an initial investor in The Ringer.