TV

The ‘Westworld’ Confusion Index: Welcome To The Party, Ghost Nation


HBO

The Westworld Confusion Index is your guide to what we know, what we kind of know, and what we don’t know about Westworld, one of television’s more confusing shows. We will make mistakes, surely, because we rarely know what is happening or why (and whenever we think we’ve figured it out, they go and change it on us), but we will try to have at least as many jokes as mistakes. This is the best we can offer. Here we go.

What We Know

HBO

Westworld is How I Met Your Mother now

This is not a complaint. Let me be clear about that. This week’s episode, in which we met the Ghost Nation and had a rather impressive amount of backstory filled in for a few characters, was terrific. There have been a few pretty great episodes this season. This was my favorite of the more philosophical chunk of episodes, though. Westworld can sometimes curl up into a tiny ball of gnocchi and swallow itself whole when it does that, but this week’s episode managed to get very deep and meaningful while still advancing the plot in a digestible way. The show about billionaires humping robots is becoming a fascinating exploration of consciousness and what it means to be alive. Sometimes there are samurai massacres set to covers of Wu-Tang songs. Hard to complain about any of that.

But yes, How I Met Your Mother. The majority of the episode was presented through flashbacks, as the leader of the Ghost Nation, Ake, told a tale of sadness and lost love and how all of that led to questions that didn’t have answers and a subsequent search for those answers. Flashing back and forward through time is nothing new for Westworld, but the difference this time was that instead of just diving in and making us figure out where and when the hell any of it was happening, it was laid out in a linear fashion as Ake explained his journey to Maeve’s daughter. (I mean, “daughter,” I guess.) The whole episode was structured like an episode of How I Met Your Mother. The only difference was that it was explained by a robot warrior instead of Bob Saget. And that it wasn’t technically his daughter. And that all of this would make Ake the Ted Mosby of the show, which is impossible because Lee Sizemore is so clearly the Ted Mosby of this show that it makes me angry sometimes.

Otherwise, exactly the same.

The hosts are getting to the same place but taking different routes

When I say “the same place,” I’m not talking about the Valley Beyond, or Glory, or whatever it is anyone is calling it right now. That’s another issue for another episode or for your favorite subreddit. No, I mean the path to consciousness. Dolores got there, kind of, thanks to Ford’s specific programming and the whole Wyatt thing. Maeve started getting there through anomalies and then sped up the process by screwing around with her settings or seducing/threatening scientists into doing it for her. And now Ake appears to have gotten there, in a way similar to Maeve’s but more solitary, over a decade or so, with a push from Ford to make him curious.

Meanwhile, my beautiful buffoon Teddy had to be held down and forcibly re-wired because he couldn’t wrap his head around any of it despite repeated, explicit explanations by Dolores, occasionally supplemented with visual aides. Poor Teddy.

The security in the Mesa is a joke

Delos, a company worth many billions of dollars, built series of theme parks, which cost many millions of dollars (if not more), but apparently nickel-and-dimed the security budget to a degree that a host dressed like a Ghost Nation warrior was just able to, like, wander freely around the facility, poking his head in this room and that until he found the warehouse where the company stores the fully nude hosts it has taken out of commission.

Come on, Westworld. I would have accepted any one of the following scenes to explain this:

  • Ake hangs a high-resolution screenshot of the empty hallway over the lens of the security camera so it looks all-clear on the monitors
  • A member of the Ghost Nation hacks the system and puts the cameras on a five-second loop instead of a live shot
  • A montage of Ake dying three or four dozen times and studying the security system a little more each time until he knows the exact pattern of their movements and can tip-toe through their blind spots
  • An unshaven slob of security guard dropping his sandwich and missing the action on the monitors while he reaches to pick it up

Give me that level of respect, at least.

What We Kind Of Know

HBO

Logan just became the most important character on the show?

It is hilarious to me — deeply, profoundly hilarious — that the sun-poisoned ramblings of the hedonist Delos fail-son set all of this in motion. We already knew that Logan was an important figure in the park’s history, a little, if we want to go way back to him to him being the one who brought the whole “robots among us” thing to Papa Delos and him pushing William toward the Man in Black tendencies. But we know even more now.

All he wanted to do was go home to his life of absurd poolside privilege, but mumbling about that and whatever else triggered Ake and set him on a quest for another world. Ake might have gotten there anyway, eventually, through another probably less smelly message delivery system (Logan had to be ripe after cooking in the sun for long enough to look like that), but he didn’t, and now he’s on a maze-assisted journey with the rest of the Ghost Nation that puts him and them at odds with other factions on the island and answering to no one about any of it.

So here’s to you, Logan. You ruin everything you get your awful entitled fingers on and you probably got sunburn on your robot-humping parts but, God help me, I kind of love you now.

What We Don’t Know

HBO

What’s up with Maeve?

The episode ended with Maeve whispering this line — the same one Ake’s true love would say to him — to Ake via her Keanu Reeves powers, with Charlotte Hale and a Delos scientist hovering nearby in deep discussion about whether they should try to save her or just harvest her code to try to gain control of the park. It seems to imply there are two possibilities here:

  • Maeve dies and that last line in her message to the soldiers still in the field
  • Maeve is going to destroy everything in her path

I lean heavily toward option two, both because of what we’ll call The Elsie/Ford Rule (a character is not dead unless we see them die and even then they might just come back after getting shot in the damn head) and because I appear to be rooting for the robots in all of this — some of them, at least — and want to see the second thing happen.

I’m okay with it.

What’s up with the bodies in the lake?

I will keep listing this until the show explains it to us. Even when it’s not even referenced in the episode we’re discussing. I do this because it feels like an important thing that we are building to and also because I want to show you that I remember a thing that happened in the first episode. Look at me go.

What’s up with William?

The episode opened with William dragging his bullet-riddled body across the ground and it ended with his daughter taking him away from the Ghost Nation with a promise to “make him hurt” more than they would have. I’m sure her version of “hurt” will be more emotional or psychological than physical, either taking something away from him or forcing him to make a choice he doesn’t want to make, but it would be pretty funny if she just meant, like, fire ants. Millions of fire ants.

What did Sizemore mean when he said he never meant for “any of this” to happen?

Sizemore, my beloved British weasel, who to date this season had been about as useful to anyone on the show as a pay phone in 2018, saved Maeve. Kind of. He brought her into the lab and made a big deal about wanting her to survive, which is a major step-up from a few episodes ago when he more or less called her a very expensive adult toy. And in doing so he confessed that he never meant for “any of this” to happen. Which raises the question: Does he mean her getting shot due to him calling the calvary or does he mean literally any of it, dating back to the first words of story he wrote on his first day working at the Mesa?

It’s probably the first thing. But if it’s the second, and the entire next episode is a flashback to him in college as he weasels around telling everyone he’s going to write a novel and become a titan of literature like the most insufferable freshman in every English 101 class, well… no complaints here.

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