Westworld Recap - S01E02 - "The Chestnut"

One of Philip K. Dick’s most recognized novels, which was the basis for the movie Blade Runner, debates the difference between humans and androids. It’s titled Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? And the answer is: they don’t dream at all. Or at least, the Westworld ones don’t.

(Spoilers beyond this point.)

As the programming department’s up-and-coming star, Josie Hughes (played by Shannon Woodward), explains to her helper, dreams are bits of memories that the brain replays while we sleep. The Hosts have a concept of dreams – especially nightmares – as a way to process diagnostics and repair sessions, but they don’t have memories to process while sleeping. Which is a good thing for people running the park, because God knows what would happen if they remembered what the guests and employees did to them.

And it’s starting: we see clear signs that Dolores remembers the bloodbath from the premiere. And now she started spreading the seed of her consciousness: the phrase "These violent delights have violent ends." The "virus" seems to be spreading like a meme. Its new recipient is the brothel madam, Maeve (played by Thandie Newton). Maeve, like Dolores’s father Abernathy, is a repurposed Host, who served a different function in the park’s storylines. She started out (as far as we can tell) as a single mother on the prairie who was created to die during a scripted raid by Native Americans.

(Who, by the way, are designed in a terribly offensive manner; whatever the Board is paying the Sizemore and his morons from Narrative, it’s too much.)

And now she’s starting to remember her previous life, which is interfering with her set purpose. At the end of the day, after multiple attempts by park employees to fix" her, she remembers all of it in a dream. Or, more accurately, a nightmare she wakes up from using the technique she described in a pre-recorded exchange with another Host (counting down from three)... only to wake up to a pair of techs cutting her up, because one or more of the guest left a little bacterial gift in her organic parts. Her budding consciousness has beat being put into sleep mode. Humanity is screwed — but most of it has it coming.

Not all of them, though. This episode finally introduces the main character from the movie, William (played by Jimmi Simpson). William is a first time visitor in Westworld, brought here by his acquaintance, Logan, whom he very clearly doesn’t consider a friend. And it’s easy to see why: Will doesn’t abuse the Hosts, doesn’t objectify a female android early in the episode, and he refuses sex from another one, explaining there’s someone waiting for him back home. Heck, he actually helps some of the Hosts. In a world of hedonistic assholes, he’s a breath of fresh air and a reminder that not all humans are terrible. Though it makes you wonder why he’s hanging out with Logan, who’s only a 30-year long murder and rape spree short of being the Gunslinger. He even dresses all black, unlike William, who wears a white hat (not a subtle symbolism, but I don’t mind).

Speaking of which! Our "friend" in black makes another discovery in his search for the next "level" of the game, and we get more of an insight into him. He’s not only a psychopath who gets glee from murdering whole swaths of Hosts unable to hurt him, he’s also a nihilist, considering the real world a purposeless mess, unlike Westworld, where there’s a clear narrative. But even with that, he’s bored out of his skull; he’s what happens when you allow a serial killer to do whatever he wants for a few decades. He’s done everything that’s possible, and craves something new. And the park employees allow it.  In fact, when after murdering one group of Hosts he starts another bloodshed, head of security Stubbs tells his people to allow it because "this gentleman does whatever he likes." So that’s another mystery in this show.

Yet another one is Dr. Ford, the park’s Director (played by Anthony Hopkins). The man is planning something, and I highly suspect he might the source of the "virus" that’s awakening his creations, especially as he seems to be disgusted by how the guests use them. He’s building something in the middle of the park’s desert under the guise of working on a new storyline demanded by the Board. To that end, he brutally cuts down Sizemore’s new story idea. I swear Sizemore is a personification of every terrible premium cable writer who sacrifices quality in the name of titillating the audience. Like, say, Game of Thrones’ Weiss and Benioff. Ford’s evisceration would seem brutal if it was aimed at anyone other than Sizemore and his typical sexist, pulpy crap of a presentation. In fact, I’m going to quote it all below:

Ford: What is the point of it? Get a couple of cheap thrills? Some surprises? But it's not enough. It's not about giving the guests what you think they want. No, that's simple. The titillation, horror, elation... They're parlor tricks. The guests don't return for the obvious things we do, the garish things. They come back because of the subtleties, the details. They come back because they discover something they imagine no one had ever noticed before, something they've fallen in love with. They're not looking for a story that tells them who they are. They already know who they are. They're here because they want a glimpse of who they could be. The only thing your story tells me, Mr. Sizemore, is who you are.

Sizemore: ...Well, isn't there anything you like about it?

Ford: What size are those boots?

We’ll see where it all leads next week in "The Stray." I’ll see you then.

Dominik Zine is a nerdy demisexual lad from northeastern Poland and is generally found in a comfy chair with a book in hand.