HBO Builds A Solid Foundation In Westworld: The Original.
This is my Westworld recap of season 1, episode 10 entitled “The Original”. Sunday night, HBO treated us with a 75 minute world premiere of Westworld. At this point, I must warn you that there are spoilers ahead so you may not want to continue reading if you have not seen Westworld. Set sometime in the near future, Westworld is a technologically advanced theme park, beautifully designed as a western town called Sweetwater. The theme park is populated entirely with synthetic androids called “Hosts”. Human visitors pay forty grand a day to visit the park where they can set their humanity aside and indulge in any activity without the fear of retaliation from the hosts.
Somehow synthetic android life in Westworld was created by its benevolent creator Dr. Robert Ford. His assistant, Bernard Lowe is one of the few characters I’d like to have drinks with. Bernard comes off as so incredibly interesting that everything he utters seems to be absolutely truthful. Together, these two support a foundation of rich characters in which the android hosts and human visitors interact. Now here’s what happened in this episode.
Early on, some Host’s begin to experience odd behaviors when Robert unbeknownst to Bernard tweaks a recent software update so that the Hosts seem more real. Anyone with Windows 10 will likely sympathize. These glitches as Bernard discovers begin to manifest themselves in some of the hosts in this episode. Initially, the sheriff malfunctions. Theresa Cullen, the park operations manager, learns of this problem and meets with Ford, Lowe and others to discuss a solution. Shortly after, another Host malfunctions and slaughters a number of other Hosts, ultimately convincing Theresa to pull all of the updated Hosts out of Westworld.
While Theresa seems genuinely concerned about the Hosts, she comes across more concerned about any potential corporate loss. The Android Hosts are programmed with specific storylines, or narratives, which is what the park staff calls them. When a host deviates too far from its narrative, park staff naturally becomes concerned. The park narrative creator is Lee Sizemore, a quick witted profanity spewing Aussie. Lee manages all the narratives and when Hosts go off script, he must rewrite the storylines for them. Lee and Theresa introduce an element of corporate intrigue when they discuss the narratives at sunset.
At nightfall, Host, Dolores Abernathy, the hopelessly optimistic farmer’s daughter, returns to the Abernathy farm where she discovers her father, Peter dead from a gunshot. A few bandits attack Dolores, but are quickly gunned down by Teddy as he quietly approaches. From the shadows, enters the Man In Black who first guns down poor Teddy and then sexually assaults Dolores in the barn. Not so surprisingly, these are events that seemed to have occurred many times before. Ultimately, the experiences like what Dolores just had will have little lasting impact. Because at the end of the day, all the Hosts are automatically disabled, repaired and then have their memories wiped before they’re put back to serve another day.
The next day, the Man In Black, outside of town, maliciously tortures one of the Hosts for unknown reasons. After scalping the Host, the gunslinger notices a curious marking under the scalp. Meanwhile, back at the Abernathy farm, Dolores, back in service, notices her father, Peter Abernathy, behaving strangely after he discovers a picture of the outside world. Dolores is alarmed and goes to town to meet with her friend Teddy to request help.
At that moment, Lee arranges for a gang of bandits led by the ruthless Host Hector Escaton to attack the town and kill all of the updated Hosts so that they can be safely removed. Gun play erupts, but Escaton is eventually shot and killed by a park visitor. During the gunfight, Teddy is also killed and Dolores is deactivated by a verbal command from a staff member.
Back at the lab, Robert decides to personally question Peter, while other staff members look on. Peter seems determined to warn Dolores about the true nature of Westworld. Louis Herthum, who plays Peter, delivers a nearly premiere stealing performance while being questioned by Robert. During questioning, Peter begins having an emotional breakdown, which spirals down into an android version of multiple personality disorder. The Westworld scientists call it “breaching” because Peter exhibits signs of having multiple personalities. While addressing Robert, Peter combines two Shakespeare quotes when he magnificently proclaims:
“I shall have such revenges on you both. That all the world shall. I will do such things. What they are yet I know not, but they shall be. The terrors of the earth.”
Notably the first quote was spoken by Pistol in “Henry IV” and the other was spoken by Lear. Robert dismisses the odd behavior as Peter begins reliving previous personalities that he was programmed with years ago, but were supposedly erased from his memory. In another lab, Dolores is questioned by Stubbs, who’s head a Westworld security, but she does not show any strange behavior. We also learn that Dolores is the original Host in Westworld. Dolores is put back into Westworld with a new father while the malfunctioning Hosts, including Peter, are put into a cold storage unit. In the end, while experiencing another day, Dolores casually kills a fly, which was supposedly against a Hosts core programming.
I enjoyed Peter the most in this episode. His fatherly love for Dolores seemed original and genuine, and his stark hatred for his creators was bone chilling. I also continue to hum the theme music from Westworld, which I’ve included below.
Next weeks episode is entitled “Chestnut” and it airs on Sunday, October 9 at 9:00 PM ET/PT. Check out the Westworld Episode Guide for more details on Westworld: The Original and other episodes.