We're three episodes into Westworld's inaugural season, and things keep getting weirder and weirder (and in many instances, creepier, too). It's answered exactly zero of the questions we had after the premiere, while new ones keep piling up. Here are all the new mysteries the show has added since the premiere.
Why, if Anthony Hopkins is so committed to realism, does the park reset every day?
Obviously Hopkins Dr. Ford is a genius, and his commitment to Westworld's verisimilitude borders on the insane. His robots carry on their entire day whether guests interact with them or not, they bleed when shot, and the Westworld "park" clearly stretches for many miles in every direction. So why isn't time included in this? Why does the day keep resetting, offering the guests the exact same experiences, as opposed to creating storylines that build over more than 24 hours? I assume this is so that if guests go on a killing spree, it allows the hosts to return the next day, so other guests may interact with them (or murder them yet again). But it's weird that the park is designed to be insanely realistic in all aspects other than this massive, fundamental one.
Say, why do the hosts carry on routines when guests aren't present?
I suppose it could be so that guests can randomly encounter them as they "go about their day" but it still seems like an enormous waste of time and energy. Surely with Westworld's incredible technology level the hosts could detect if guests get anywhere close to them, at which point they could start talking, doing chores, or whatever. Why program the hosts to have conversations with each other when no one is around to hear them?
Was Westworld really created with the intention that the guests could rape the robots?
There was a group of terrifying murderous cult members of some kind last night, but the really disturbing moment was when Dr. Ford implied that Dolores -- the good-hearted farmer's daughter -- was created specifically so guests could wander out to her farm, away from civilisation, and then enact their darkest desires on someone innocent. That is super fucked up. I understand the park is designed for guests to do anything, but there's a major difference between "we let our guests go wild" and "we are overtly providing the opportunity for our guests to commit sexual assault."
Why did that malfunctioning host bash its own head in with a rock?
I'm guessing that it couldn't cope with some of its "memories" that Dr. Ford's programming had unlocked. But if so, what memory was so horrible it caused the host to commit suicide? Or did it destroy itself to prevent itself from hurting Elise, the living Westworld tech, as sort of a last-ditch effort to obey its programming?
Why was that malfunctioning host also putting the Orion constellation into his wood carvings?
And is it really significant or just a meaningless bit of weirdness? I'm guessing it's the latter.
Who left the gun for Dolores and programmed her to find it?
Presumably it's the same person who left the photo for Dolores' "father" to find. Is the person sabotaging the hosts' programming the same as the person leaving these items? Do they have the same agenda? I'm also assuming that this mysterious person caused the gun to "disappear" from Dolores' drawer, i.e. removed it from Dolores' sight. But who knows?
Is that a real gun that can shoot guests?
I'm 99.5% confident it is and this, if nothing else, will be answered in a later episode.
Hey, if the hosts' guns shoot large BBs or whatever, how was Ed Harris' Gunslinger not at all affected?
Although the show has clearly stated the hosts cannot harm guests, and we have seen the hosts try to shoot at guests, and their bullets simply don't hurt them, last night a host outlaw shot Jimmi Simpson's character and it turned out that some sort of projectile was fired, knocking him to the ground. So something really incongruous is happening here. Does the gunslinger have some sort of special status? Was he given it -- did he pay for it -- or is it something he's figured out on his own? Or -- and I think this is unfortunately pretty plausible -- has the show contradicted itself accidentally?
Is it really only $US40,000 ($52,502) a day to visit Westworld?
That actually seems pretty cheap for a place that needs to rebuild dozens of murdered, unbelievably advanced robots every night.
What the hell was the deal with Wyatt's insane death cult?
As part of a new narrative being created by Dr. Ford, James Marsden's bounty hunter Teddy is given an archenemy -- a former army captain who turned into a homicidal maniac. As we learn when Teddy hunts Wyatt later in the episode, Wyatt's also a hell of a recruiter, because he also has a giant posse of fellow homicidal maniacs who wearing terrifying robes and masks and butcher Teddy.
Were the cult members guests or hosts?
It seems like Teddy shot many of them at close range, but they were unaffected by the shots. They were also carrying knives and axes, which the show went our of its way to tell us was something hosts could not do. Does that mean they were guests? Did that many people really sign up to just be completely depraved? If so, what's to stop them from harming other guests? If they're hosts, what the hell does Dr. Ford have planned for them? The show did say that a host could be programmed to pick up an axe -- it was the woodcutter who started malfunctioning -- so were these guys also programmed with the ability to use bladed weapons? And if that's the case, is the arrival of the cultists and the malfunction of Westworld's other axe-user? I'm guessing that's a big fat "yes."
What the hell is Dr. Ford's new narrative, anyway?
Actually, that deserves its own question. What the hell is Dr. Ford planning that it requires an utterly terrifying death cult running around, butchering hosts and scaring the living shit out of the guests? How is an insane death cult the first part of the narrative? Aren't the guests going to be unsatisfied if end up cowering in their rooms for their entire visit?
What is Dr. Ford going to do with that church?
Ford takes a walk with a little boy host to find what looks to be a derelict church, which is presumably an older part of Westworld that has fallen into disuse. Ford has plans for it -- maybe an HQ for a certain insane death cult?
How big is the Westworld headquarters?
Why does it seem like there are maybe 30 people working in a complex meant to contain thousands of employees? There's that shot of Bernard rising in the escalator, and it looks like there are dozens and dozens of floors. What's going on that Westworld needs all that room behind-the-scenes? Is it part of the "true purpose" of the park?
What is Arnold's role in all this?
After Bernard reveals that two of the malfunctioning hosts are having imaginary conversations with someone named Arnold, Dr. Ford reveals Arnold was his partner in creating the robots, and was desperately trying to create true artificial intelligence before he had some sort of "accident," the implication being that Ford died or was killed (probably in the catastrophic event of 30 years ago). There is literally no way Arnold is not involved in the problems Westworld's hosts are experiencing, narratively speaking. As always, you can't introduce a mysterious partner who disappeared under mysterious circumstances in the first act, and not have fire him in the third act, or something.
Who is secretly a robot?
Obviously someone in the Westworld staff is secretly a host. They probably don't even know it. There is no way a show -- or a movie, or really any entertainment about robots so realistic they can masquerade as real people can resist this reveal, and I know Westworld will not be the first.
Is Anthony Hopkins secretly a robot that Arnold has secretly been controlling?
Again, narratively speaking, the character least likely to be a robot will of course be the robot. Dr. Ford is my bet, and I'm guessing that Arnold is his programmer. Whether this means Arnold has been hiding in a back room for 30 years, or whether he's dead and set sort of a programming time bomb to destroy the park, I don't know. But Dr. Ford seems to be the only person who has been at the park since Arnold died, which makes me think he's the one who's carrying out Arnold's wishes, whatever they were. (And yes, I know Ford has gotten old, but given all the other tech happening here I have zero doubt that making a robot look like its ageing is within Westworld's capabilities.
Does Westworld really have answers for all of these questions?
There's no way it does. Or at least not good ones.
The way the show is piling on mystery after mystery -- and already seems to be contradicting itself in some instances -- is proof to me that its more interested in being mysterious than telling a story. I'm sure there are some explanations coming, but I also bet that for every answer we get, two more questions will be raised, and the show will keep peeling back layer after layer… until we realise there's no true answer. In that regard it feels like Lost to me.
However, I don't actually mean that in a bad way. While Lost didn't stick its landing, it was a wonderful journey while it was on, and I think Westworld will probably be the same. I think it's going to keep blowing our minds for as many seasons as it's on, but I don't think it really has an end in mind. So if you're hoping for even half of these questions to be answered, I think you're going to be quite disappointed. But if you don't mind where you end up, I think it's going to be one hell of a (very enigmatic) ride.