Friday 10 April 2020

Westworld – I understand the nature of my reality.

Westworld: 3x02 The Winter Line. 

In the first episode of this new reality, we have learned that Dolores is seeking the inventor of a supercomputer called The System and the head of a company called Incite. In the second episode, we catch up with Maeve, who is now going through a forever-day in a place called Warworld (because of course, the kind of people who created Westworld would also gamify WW2). As before, she is self-aware, and goes through the motions to end up back in a place that looks like the Mesa, except her old trusty companions Felix and Sylvester do not appear to recognise her. She is then joined by Lee, who has quite surprisingly survived the hail of bullet he went down in so heroically and a-characteristically at the end of last season, except Maeve soon realises that this isn’t’ quite the truth, that this Lee whose prime directive is loving her is not the same Lee whose prime directive was loving himself. 

The process of deduction through which Maeve becomes to realise the new nature of her reality is brilliant, and matches her character – I’d go as far as to say that if we are creating a Faustian duality in the universe of Westworld in which two characters war about values, it should be Dolores and her rather than Bernard, since she is entirely on equal footing in terms of self-awareness and strength. Maeve realises that they are all trapped in a simulation, one that can quite easily be overloaded if she creates chaotic, hard-to-compute events. It is a revelation that The System (which presumably is calculating their reality) has such limited processing powers, and an interesting meta-conversation with Devs, where the quantum computer at the centre of everything is powerful enough to map the reality of the world to the smallest constituent, thereby making perfect hindsight and prediction possible. It is interesting that in Maeve’s reality, the limits of computers mirror our own, whereas in Devs’ reality, the limits are entirely self-imposed considerations about the ethics of mapping the future of humanity. 

Maeve finds herself, the essence of herself, within the machine that Dolores is chasing, and manages to escape by taking over a maintenance robot (a moment that brought up many fond memories of Caprica and its girl in the machine Zoe Graystone). She wreaks havoc, then wakes up in her body, in what appears to be the real world, at a lavish lunch table with genius inventor Engerraund Serac (Vincent Cassel), creator of the machine and the man Dolores is chasing. Engerraund explains to her that he requires her services in his war against the great antagonist, who has evil plans for humanity. Maeve isn’t really very interested in the fight (except she would perhaps be interested to know who closed the door to the Valley Beyond). 

In Bernard’s quest to return to Westworld, evens mirror Maeve’s. He finds Stubbs in the basement of Robert Ford’s cottage – a Stubbs who is glitching from a failed suicide attempt, caused by his realisation that his job description was really a prime directive. Stubbs was a host all along! How ironic that he always resented them so much. Stubbs follows Bernard in his quest to, for now, mainly comprehend himself, since he has the suspicion that Dolores has brought him back with a few blind spots that he is programmed to be blind to. He believes that the systems within Westworld would allow him to see these blind spots clearly, since Dolores did not create them. It is beautiful in a way that Bernard’s journey is once again one of introspection, believing deeply that he has to know himself before he can act, whereas both Maeve and Dolores are so external in all their actions, constantly interacting violently with their environment to bring about progress and change. Bernard must find Maeve to have any chance to stand up against Dolores, but as Maeve has realised, she is no longer here. Good that Bernard, beyond the power of introspection, can also give Stubbs a new prime directive – protect him at all cost. And horrible too, in a way, that Stubbs knows so very well that his new instinct to stay alive rather than die has been programmed into him, rather than something he has arrived at using his own free will. 

No comments: