Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Westworld Wednesday: Gods & Monsters

Welcome back to Westworld Wednesday, a series of essays/ramblings about the themes & philosophies of Westworld. NOTE: while we deal more with themes here, rather than plot, the emphasis is not on what happened this week; HOWEVER, if you are reading this and wish to avoid spoilers, you should be current on the show.

Death's decisions are final

the hour is coming when all who are in their graves will hear His voice and come out—those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment - John 5:28, 29

Death and taxes, it is said, are the only two certainties in life. No one is a particular fan of either, so far as I have been able to determine. Taxes themselves don't come up much in Westworld; death, on the other hand, is basically a constant, and its decisions, final.

William would know that as well as anyone, having lost everyone close to him. It does raise the question of who, exactly, was close to him in the first place. His wife, perhaps at one point. Everyone else we see him interact with - everyone human, that is - is there to use him, or be used by him.

Even if they are dead. Or supposed to be, as James Delos is. While he possess all the signs of life, lives, breathes, speaks, jacks off, which I don't know why that counts as a point of clarification, but it was in the show, so here we are. William enters the dwelling of his creation, bottle in hand - and offering to cheat the devil - and a smile on his face, no thunder and lightning, no arms raised in defiance of our own erstwhile creator, yelling "give my creation LIFE".

One has to wonder is zombie-Delos knew the being he was trying to cheat was the one who brought him the bottle.

Victor Frankenstein played in the domain of God, and while he was punished in his way, he never quite learned a lesson. William bankrolled others to do the same, and their lessons are... forthcoming? Perhaps? Ford certainly paid for his sins, if sins they indeed are, as did Arnold. Both received a perverse resurrection; Arnold lives on-ish in Bernard, Ford through his young host and, presumably, in the same manner as zombie-Delos (although we have to assume he solved the problem William couldn't - fidelity).

But punishments aren't lessons, and William is a man who has learned his, and doesn't care. In his first visit to Lawrence's home, he murders everyone in sight. In his return, he saves them. He lost his own wife, and while many are quick to point to his quote/unquote good actions as a return to his original white-hatted self, I'm inclined to believe it never actually left. He played a game, a game that was above him, with rules he thought he understood, but had no clue about. He thought he did what people were supposed to do - climbed the corporate ladder, met a nice girl, settled down. 

But then the rules were explained to him, in the middle of another game that he didn't understand at all. The rules were ruthless and cutthroat and meant stomping on those that got in your way - and yourself, if that got in the way. He figured out both games simultaneously, pushing himself down and strangling the voice inside to become the visage of death in both worlds.

But death isn't a living thing, no matter how many lives he directly or indirectly takes, or how many times he brings James Delos back to the brink of life, before snuffing its imperfect form out yet again.

But there is one life he has yet to take, one that means far more to him than he is willing to admit, possibly even to himself. One that no doubt sees him for everything he is, for the pain he has caused in two worlds, and one who follows in his footsteps.

His resurrection will tax him to his limit, and perhaps, mercifully, the toll will be less than his forebears. 


Dean is the author of the 3024AD series of science fiction stories. You can read his other ramblings and musings on a variety of topics (mostly writing) on his blog. When not holed up in his office tweeting obnoxiously writing, he can be found watching or playing sports, or in his natural habitat of a bookstore.