‘Westworld,’ Tell Me Who The Heroes Are

As much as “Vanishing Point” (S 2 E 9) may have finally answered some questions, it opened others, and left me with this profound sense that I have no one to root for. Bernard, I suppose. But I don’t know who’s the hero in this story, and there aren’t even any dark knights whose victories you can secretly enjoy.

But let’s not forget, Charlotte Hale put code in the host network to kill them all. We weren’t told how that would play out, but it could easily have been in Bernard deleting his Ford code, taking control of his fellow AIs and having Teddy end his own life. I’m not sure, and I’m still trying to find a reason to care.

Westworld has a very dark view of humanity. That darkness is not just in people, but the humanoid robots they create out of human consciousness. I don’t know what the message is here, except that humans are very bad, and there isn’t much to redeem them.

Unless that’s the truth of humanity inside the park — but maybe not outside, where life could be idyllic or at least more complex in its range of human emotions and experiences. That’s why it was compelling, for about 30 seconds, in “Vanishing Point,” when we saw William and Emily’s home life in flashback.

Turns out the story outside the park — that I was so anxious to see — isn’t that deep or compelling after all. Basically, William is a bad guy. Made everyone miserable. His wife couldn’t handle it. He felt guilty. Came into the park, where he’d become obsessed with the characters and storylines.

Which comes to the question of whether William is, or is not, a host. I’m not sure it matters, because by this stage the lines between the humans and the AI have become blurred. Maybe that’s the point.

As for Charlotte’s program to eliminate the hosts, let’s think back to Star Trek: TNG (S 5 E 23, “I, Borg”), when they saved an individual Borg and planned to use him to infect the entire collective with an algorithm that would result in their self-destruction. At the end of that plotline, they decided that to use one Borg that way would be unethical. But they went on to reason that the experiences of independence the one Borg had had while detached from the collective would do the same kind of work. When the one Borg, Hugh, went back home, he’d bring a new sense of identity with him. Eventually, the entire Borg would be infected by that identity, and thus understand the concept of “I.”

Let’s hope the minds behind Westworld are planning something equally as interesting for the finale as that classic bit from TNG.

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