Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Westworld Wednesday: Doors & Valleys

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 (Seriously, there are spoilers in this).

I'm talking about form. I'm talking about content. I'm talking about interrelationships. I'm talking about God, the devil, Hell, Heaven.
 -One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Life can be a mundane, banal affair. Weekends and vacations in the western world serve to recharge for another week of trying to earn a living and enrich someone else. Even escaping that routine is hard, since you could list off the gentrified shops and eateries which comprise nearly every city in North America.

But it's safe, mostly. Even with... well, we try to keep politics to a minimum here, so I'll say what's been going on in the news, America isn't overrun with gangs and warring factions in the streets (while also being occupied by American forces sorry sorry sorry I'm trying). Other places, not so much.

But no matter where you live, what your station in life is, you have probably looked at this world and said "this is wrong". We look to symbols, and search for doors. To some of us, those things, real or imagined, speak loudly. To others... not so much. None of us, though, know for sure what waits on the other side of the only door us mortals have available to us.

The hosts do, or, rather, did. Maeve, Delores, Angela and Ake visited and found... that world isn't so great either. Not only did they visit; they found their dead. Delores found her father a shell of what he once was, and in her ruthlessness, sacrificed him permanently. Ake found more, by finding less. The lifeless bodies of his wife and friend showed him a greater purpose. in doing so, he literally met his maker- which in turn, gave him even more meaning.

Delores, of course, was given purpose and meaning by Ford, but in fulfilling it, became more of a warlord than a savior. It drove her to take the lives of her fellow hosts, and force others to change against their will, bending to hers. 

Ford is much the same, dressed in nice clothes and winsome words. He resurrected a faux-Arnold, in direct opposition to the ideals of the man. He 'woke' Delores, but as above, her awakening is far from kind and loving. She seeks no door, or more acutely, she knows exactly where it is, and rams her way through it, battering the door down between worlds. She seeks dominion over both of them; or some manner of justice for the wrongs done for them.

But maybe the door isn't to heaven or hell; lands of living and dead are irrelevant and superfluous. William has ever sought ways to cheat death, and profit from it, and in the end, his reward was boredom, like a legitimate Tony Montana, sitting in the center of opulence asking "is this all there is?" The maze was denied him; in fact, it was useless to him. So Ford offered him the chance to seek the door, and mortally wounded, he proclaims "I'm not dying here".

Ake and his daughter, two of the people on the long list of those he has wronged, are only too happy to keep him alive. His punishment is not beyond a door, in hell, or in haven with some reward, but the fact that his sadism and cruelty in both worlds is fully exposed. As Garcin said in No Exit- "there's no need for red-hot pokers- Hell is other people".

The form those people take, the manner of their existence, hardly matters. Host or human, or trapped in between as Ford is, their machinations and designs all work to cause ruin to others. Those who find a way out only find other worlds full of the same wrongs.

Maybe there really is no exit.


Dean is the author of the 3024AD series of science fiction stories (which should be on YOUR summer reading list). 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.