THREE GUYS AND… A SERIES
series created by Marvin Mercer and Nick Stephenson
“WESTWORLD S1E1: THE ORIGINAL”
written by Dominick Cappello
HUGE SPOILER WARNING!
Have you ever questioned the nature of your reality? After listening to the soundtrack a few days ago, I was inspired to revisit season one, now knowing what we know about certain characters and events and seeing how scenes play differently the second time around. For example, we now know that it is Arnold Webber and not Bernard Lowe (Jeffrey Wright) who is speaking to Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood). Interesting how Dolores’ father is featured prominently in episode 1, but we never get a good look at her mother. Why? Is it because the mother serves little purpose other than to be a dead body? It seems that if you visit Westworld and take a shine to the beautiful rancher’s daughter, you’re never going to meet her parents. If you want to be chivalrous, you can save Dolores from outlaws who drink milk. I like how they drink milk instead of alcohol before performing these violent delights. It reminds me of Alex and his droogs from “A Clockwork Orange” drinking milk-plus before a bit of the old ultra-violence.
As I said when I reviewed “Westworld” (1973), when first watching episode 1 of the HBO series, I assumed that Teddy (James Marsden) was akin to Peter (Richard Benjamin), the protagonist of the original film, and the Man in Black (Ed Harris) was akin to the Gunslinger (Yul Brynner), the homicidal robot and main antagonist. However, my expectations were subverted when it was revealed that Teddy was a host and the Man in Black was a guest. I thought that was brilliant and a perfect way to do a reboot. In the original film, the robots were mindless killing machines. The series has expanded on the concept, exploring the idea of artificial intelligence and making the audience sympathetic to characters who aren’t strictly human. The Man in Black is cruel and the enjoyment he gets from his actions borders on perverse. He is searching for a deeper level to this game. We didn’t yet know what that deeper level was and neither did he, but he was looking forward to the challenge. He had no qualms with scalping one of the hosts to find a clue.
When Thor’s other brother (Luke Hemsworth) asks Bernard if he has kids, you have to wonder how much of Bernard’s tragic backstory had already been programmed. Had Dr. Ford (Anthony Hopkins) fleshed it out years ago or did he add details over time? Dr. Ford is introduced having a drink with a decommissioned host (Michael Wincott), who was obviously modeled after Buffalo Bill Cody. A friend of mine didn’t notice, so I had to point out that the actor was Top Dollar from “The Crow” (1993). Asking “Shall we drink to the lady with the white shoes?” has become my polite way of telling someone they’re being repetitive and need to wrap it up.
The hosts had recently been updated with “reveries”, which seem to be causing some glitches. The sheriff spazzes out and one of the outlaw milkmen goes rogue and kills the rest of his gang while speaking to Arnold. This was before we the audience had any idea who Arnold was and we later learn that this milk loving host was avenging his previous deaths. Milk pouring out of his bullet wound was a gruesome version of something you’d see in a cartoon. Dolores’ father’s reaction to a photograph of a woman in the real world also sends up red flags. This photograph was a key detail in revealing the Man in Black’s true identity later in the season. Dolores’ father has what could be best described as an existential crisis and he recalls a horror narrative he used to be a part of.
The saloon heist is a highlight of the episode. Hector (Rodrigo Santoro) and Armistice (Ingrid Borso Berdal) are introduced as the player piano plays an instrumental version of “Paint it Black” by The Rolling Stones. They’re like the Bonnie & Clyde of Westworld. Teddy is killed again. It’s his lot in life. He’s like Kenny from “South Park”. Hector flirts with Maeve (Thandie Newton), the madam of the brothel. I’ll talk more about her character in my episode 2 review. Dolores reveals to Thor’s other brother what her father whispered to her earlier, “These violent delights have violent ends.” The episode ends sorrowfully as Dolores’ father and the milkman are decommissioned. We were told several times throughout the episode that the hosts would never hurt a living thing… until Dolores, the oldest host in the park, swats a fly. Who else got chills even the second time around because the episode was so well crafted? I was raving to my friends about “Westworld” last year at New York Comic Con, but I didn’t have a Sunday pass and couldn’t attend the panel. Fingers crossed that this year the panel is held one of the days I’m attending.
Until then, may you rest in deep and dreamless slumber.
– Dr. Jelly