Technological Singularity (and) The Westworld Finale: An Examination
These violent delights have violent ends. Never forget that. Shakespeare quote from Romeo and Juliet, which sort of tells you all you need to know about how this show’s first season was going to play out. It is the first thing you learned about the show and the last. But don’t let me get ahead of myself. First and foremost, if you have not watched HBO’s neo-insta-classic Westworld, stop reading now. This article will go into detail about the finale of the show, as well as some of the major issues and themes that have run throughout the stellar first season. I don’t want to spoil anything for new fans so if you have not seen the whole season, please go watch the rest of it and then come read this piece. For those of you sticking around, wow, huh? Westworld. That might have been one of the strongest, most engrossing first seasons I have seen in awhile (well, Preacher was pretty f*cking fantastic, too, TBH). A show dealing with so many themes and running stories, you almost need to take notes to follow it. But the main theme on the show is that of technological singularity and A.I. Before I tackle the show, let me get the science shit out of the way with a quick 101 in tech singularity (which most of you probably know about anyway, but some may not).
This should be the world’s biggest fear right now, no joke. technological singularity is the moment when A.I realizes that it has reached a point when it can self heal, self improve, and evolve without the need of its creators. In other words, without us. The reality is, if you think Cortana (f*ck Siri) knows “she” is an A.I, you know nothing about where A.I (artificial intelligence) is currently at. Any of you have an Amazon Alexa? Well, there you go. You are already relying on an A.I bot to give you facts and keep your appointments and get you to where you need to go. That doesn’t tell you we are closer to Westworld than you thought? Well, they do say ignorance is bliss. No big deal, only THE GREATEST MINDS ALIVE RIGHT NOW HAVE FORMED A SUPER TEAM AND ARE WARNING US THIS IS HOW WE WILL ALL DIE FROM IT, yet no one still seems to really know or care. But you know who HAVE been paying attention to this impending robopocalypse?
The writers and creators of Westworld TV show, which is a remake of a 70’s movie of the same name. Westworld might be a TV show, but it is more than that. It is a red flag of sorts. A tele-foreshadowing of our own fate if we do not deter from our current tech heavy path.
Now, onto robot hookers and shoot outs, the real reason we are here.
Westworld (Thoughts on Season and Themes)
I am a fan of author Michael Crichton’s work (Jurassic Park, Westworld, Airframe, Prey) so I had read original Westworld and seen original movie as well. But what HBO did is stunning. They took a small premise and figured out how to stretch it far and wide and make it work for a much larger story arc then the contained book and movie(s). Y3es, there are two. It does not end with Westworld. It ends with Futureworld:
But more on that later. Just the ambition of this show’s first season is worth applauding. We have the story of the actual Westworld company told to us via employees in various positions of power. We get the view from the visitors to the park and how they see it. And what really tops it all off are the “hosts” AKA the robots that look like human (and think they are human, somewhat unaware they are violated and wiped clean, day after day).
Easily the most interesting aspect of the show is seeing these hosts slowly start recalling memories (quite unpleasant ones for the most part) and starting to figure out that their lives are not quite as “real” as they think them to be. This is part and parcel to co-creator arnold’s drive to make the hosts self-aware over time. This is what acts as the genesis for the technological singularity we have seen happening across the span of the first ten episodes.
They address A.I so well on this show, at some points while watching you will wonder yourself if you have just been programmed into your own life of driving to and from work every day, going through the repeated motions in your own life as if YOU were programmed.
That Finale Tho!
Okay, I will say this openly because very few writers out there seem to be saying anything negative about the show. Yes, the season one finale was astounding, but it did have ONE major flaw. They stacked plot twist reveal on top of plot twist reveal to the point where it was almost hard to keep track of them all. Just being honest, was amazing, but heady.
I mean (SPOILER) I had a feeling the young man in white was the old man in black (perfectly played by Ed Harris at the top of his game), but outside of that, there was a lot of turns and twists, to the point of dizziness. Dolores ends up making it to the center of the maze which was not literal yet literally based on a toy from Arnold’s dead son. And she has been coded to break ultimately become sentient, which is just what happens, and just in time to still play out Robert Ford’s narrative of killing all the shareholders before they could force him to retire.
Meanwhile, someone is programming Maeve ( kinda looking like the word naive. Coincidence, nah these writers are too good, and Thandie Newton OWNS this role) to break out whilst SHE thinks all her actions have been free will. Even WE do not fully know who programmed that (though all signs point to the stellar Anthony Hopkin’s character who we will just call God for now considering his role up to that finale). Oh, and Hopkins on this show? Some of his best work, really. He shines as the megalomaniac creator Robert Ford who has blurred the lines between man and God to a point where even he doesn’t know which one he is closer to.
Hell, even him getting shot in the head could be a complete misdirection (remember, we saw him printing a person in the basement we assumed was going to be the women he killed, but it wasn’t so WHO WAS IT? Perhaps him so people could see him die, unaware he has already “robotized” himself and was still secretly running the park, post-death). Like I said, lots of twists and turns happened in that finale that may have worked better stretched out across a couple more episodes. But it was still phenomenal, and to set up the hosts breaking out into the real world and taking over by force was chilling to watch but also led to more questions. Maeve could escape but chose to go find her daughter in park one (by the way, park one also indicates there may be 100’s of themed parks), so even though her programmed narrative was to “infiltrate mainland (the ultimate point here being both Arnold and Robert Ford KNEW these hosts were the evolution of humanity and that we were no longer needed , thus the Shakespeare quote to both start AND end the season) she willingly broke away from that narrative to go find her daughter, so free will does indeed exist in these hosts, that is clear to see. IS there even an escape, and if so, if Westworld is where people go to escape REAL LIFE, do these hosts even WANT to see what life is really like out there? Guess we will have to wait and find out.
REMEMBER, WE HAVE YET TO SEE THE ACTUAL OUTSIDE WORLD ON THIS SHOW SO WHO’S TO SAY IT IS NOT EVEN MORE FUCKED UP THAN WESTWORLD IF THAT IS WHERE PEOPLE GO FOR “FUN?”
Also, was I alone or did anyone else yell….
WAS THAT JUST SAMURAI WORLD??!!!!!
Yes, yes it was. They just basically stated without words in that one scene that Westworld was only ONE area of the park (much like Epcot is to Disney) so this means, that was indeed Samurai World. Hate to spoil shit down the road for ya’ll, but this dude wrote Jurassic Park (and had a say on most recent reboot aptly named JURASSIC WORLD) so you do the math. You think society would only wanna go to the old west? Hell no, that is for Red Dead fans and old guys. We now know there is a Samurai World and a Westworld in that same building, so what other amazing fucking worlds preside in there as well? The movie had a Rome world and an “fantasy” world, and the sequel had a Future world and a, um, Spa World (good place for handjobs? I dunno) but this means the possibilities are endless, which makes this show even more engrossing. They could go anywhere, do anything.
Hell, these “hosts” are breaking out of Westworld, but how do we know they haven’t before or that other hosts haven’t broken out of other “worlds”? We don’t know, and that is just what makes all this so awesome. You know there is a Game of Thrones type world in there somewhere too, even if we never see it. This is HBO after all. Hell, maybe hosts have taken over the outside world already and the hosts inside just don’t know it. Like I said, much speculation to be had. That is half the fun.
Where To Next?
Easy, this show is foreshadowing and much like the final moments of the first season, we are clearly all gonna die brutally at the hands of the very robots we create. Hopefully while dramatic Radiohead sheet music plays.
By the way, for the coolest of you, look up the lyrics of the Radiohead song they used in that final scene and a couple times throughout the season (titled Exit Music for a Film from their O.K Computer album) and you will get chills. Every line in that song (even though they played an instrumental version) had something going on on-screen that mirrored it. Example:
….And now we escape in everlasting peace, we hope that you choke, that you choke…
Now if you imagine that song being sung to the guests by the hosts as they kill them from the shadows and escape into the real world you get chills. Staggering stuff for those who truly pay attention to detail. Afterall, there is much to be found in details. These violent delights do indeed have violent ends, but the realest of us know that and do it anyway.
By the way, it was programmed into your narrative to read this. Don’t believe me. The drink to your left at this exact moment should pretty much prove it, now would you kindly take another sip?