Where is Westworld Going? (Again.)

It’s March 2020 and I’ve finished episode 1, season 3 of Westworld. Back in 2016 (was it really that long ago?) I wrote about my first impressions of episode 1 and 2 of season 1. Back then I was curious how and why the guns only killed the hosts and not the guests. This discrepancy seemed odd at the time (it was later explained away through story ‘magic’, a slightly meh high tech solution that didn’t really convince). This, and other inconsistencies, suggested that the whole resort might be a virtual reality experience.

Right now none of those weird inconsistencies bothers me because it seems like they’re technical details and not significant clues.

Another snag for me was… Why does a host allow a fly to walk across its eyeballs? Wouldn’t that creep out the guests? The answer is probably because it provides a powerful visual motif. It’s part of the visually dramatic storytelling.

It was obvious that the hosts would develop a ‘human-like consciousness’ and eventually rebel against the guests and the resort’s creators (along the lines of the original Westworld film from 1973). In 2016 I thought that the hosts and humans would work together and against one another in different ways, for and against host emancipation (much like the Planet of the Apes films). It was also clear that there would be other resort experiences as well — in the original 1973 Westworld it was Roman World, and Medieval World — like the samurai and British Raj experience (among others, we assume).

What about the outside world? In 2016 I wrote:

It’s likely that at some point the audience will be offered a glimpse of the world outside of the West World resort. What would that look like? It could be something of a shock; or it might resemble today’s world, in a mundane way; it could be a dystopian nightmare (suffering from pollution and repression); or a high tech world devoid of excitement and challenge.

I also noted a particular problem facing the writers… if these incredibly human-like androids are so lifelike and practically useful around the resort…

…why are they not being used in the real world as care assistants, oil rig workers, domestic helpers, cleaners, factory workers, etc, etc?

Westworld could have turned into a crisis management story (typical of the medical story, or war story) with the resort’s management constantly fighting for control over the resort’s rebellious hosts (who are also battling between themselves) with the external world being less important (a slightly technically more advanced version of ours). But that scenario could become boring.

The big problem with season 2 was that our empathy for the main host characters was killed off when they turned ‘evil’ and there was nothing to replace it. It didn’t help that the story was confusing.

So far, season 3 feels more influenced by Ex Machina and Blade Runner 2049. Is this where the series is heading?