Aunty loves the show WestWorld from the ever amazing Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan — seriously two of the most friendly people working in Hollywood today. This show is currently in its fourth season on HBO. Aunty has watched all 4 seasons, and even watched the first season twice as research for a project.
We on the other hand saw a few episodes of the first season, missed 2 and 3 entirely and now have watched episodes 3 and 5 from season 4. We missed episodes 1, 2 and 4, which Aunty tells us disqualifies us from reviewing the series, well we will show her won’t we?
As we’ve mentioned before, Aunty is very good at spotting psychedelic content from a distance, much better than we are. For example it took us many watchings of The Zero Theorem to fully understand the true meaning, Aunty picked up on this immediately. We hated films like Synecdoche; New York or Mr. Nobody upon our first watching. Maybe it is our engineering focused mind, but somehow we tend to miss the deeper aspects of these works until Aunty gives us the right kind of eyes.
Back to WestWorld, Aunty loves this show so we decided to sit and watch a few episodes with her. We started with episode 3, but ended up skipping 4 due to work. When we sat to watch episode 5 she insisted that we first watch episode 4 as some important things happened in it. We decided to just watch 5 instead and see if we could fill in the blanks, or maybe make up an entirely new narrative to bridge episodes 3 and 5. Yes, we realize this is odd but this is the ticket we bought, might as well take the ride.
As we recall, episode 3 of this season ended with Aaron Paul’s character following Maeve into a new kind of game world centered around 1920’s Chicago. Even this is a lie as the actual purpose of this game world appears to be recreating the original WestWorld Slaughter event, which we guess was traumatic for everyone and happened in an episode we missed. They meet Delores and Teddy while in a lab-like area beneath the Chicago set pieces.
Yet, still in episode 3, even that lab scene is a false game… beneath this Maeve and Aaron Paul find Aaron’s daughter (?) in a cell and try to rescue her. Aaron ends up trapped in the cell, and his daughter turns out to be a host capable of infecting humans with genetically engineered flies that turn their brains into a kind of vibrating black goo. Then everything explodes and presumable all these people and hosts have died.
Mr. Paul does not appear in episode 5 which saddened us. Having survived the emotional hellscape that is Bojack Horesman only because of the light he bought to Todd’s character — we always love watching his work.
This show has clearly gone some places since last we encountered it. Buckle up, because this is only going to get crazier.
Let us try to paint the world that episode 5 opens up with, remembering that we did not see episode 4 and did not allow Aunty to tell us anything that happened in it.
Episode 5 opens into a world where apparently the hosts have become gods and live in a separate game world that is pure white and gold, almost heaven like in appearance. There is also seemingly a “Human” world where the humans with the vibrating goo for brains are forced to live out pre-determined loops. The hosts are able to go to the human world to torture or observe them, and some humans, or maybe hosts, are allowed to “Transcend” into the other world if they win some type of game.
With echoes of The Matrix running through our head we are shown a rather troubling scene where a character that Aunty calls “Charolette Hale” is torturing a small group of humans in a street. Another character we remember from the first season as “The Man in Black” is also in this scene, now apparently in service of whoever this Ms Hale is.
Ms Hale is apparently an all-powerful god in this game world, through what appears to be low frequency sound waves, she is able to force the humans around her to obey her every command. We see a pianist who has worn his finger to bloody stumps playing piano for her, yet he continues. The dancers fall with broken knees after dancing for too long. A small group forms a chair for her to sit in while she explains her boredom with this god-hood.
the goo-brain world
But all is not well in this world she has created. We soon learn that there is an anomaly infecting the goo-brained humans. She refers to these as “outliers”, humans who break the low-frequency brain control and are able to visibly see the giant white tower that is generating the sound waves.
Assassin hosts are sent to kill these outliers, including the Man in Black himself. Unfortunately Ms Hale explains that sometimes the hosts don’t complete their mission. Instead they speak with the outliers, learn “something”, and then self-terminate. It seems a number of hosts have done this and Ms Hale is worried she may be losing a grip on the two worlds she has created, at least we believe she created this scenario, remember we didn’t see episode 4, or seasons 2 and 3, or most of season 1, so we’re building our own narrative here.
While all that is playing out another important character from season 1 is also having a kind of awakening in the goo-brain world. Delores is apparently still alive, or has been recreated, and lives in the goo-brain world as its storyteller but that truth has been hidden from her. This may be another attempt by Ms Hale to torture a figure from her past, at least it seems that way from how they interact and from Ms Hale’s general love of torture.
Delores has a job in that world where she writes storylines for another company and has a boss who she does not get along with. Teddy appears suddenly in one scene and helps Delores realize that she is actually the real god in this world. He shows her that she can re-write the storylines of the humans around her anytime she wants just by thinking it. This realization makes her boss try to warn her about showing this new found power to Ms Hale.
We should mention there is a whole other storyline going on with some kind of desert rebel people who were looking for a weapon and are now trying to break into the goo brain world to accomplish some goal we aren’t sure about. This storyline did not resolve in this episode so we choose to ignore it for this review.
two gods, three gods?
So we have two possible gods now, this Charlotte Hale and also this Delores character, both seem to be all powerful but in different ways. Remember we mentioned the Man in Black being sent to assassinate one of these outliers? Well he is also “infected” with whatever is causing hosts to self-terminate as he also speaks with the outlier before killing them. The Man in Black however does not self-terminate, rather he returns to talk to another version of himself who is trapped in some kind of circular medical holding cell.
This other version of the Man in Black tells the host version to “Question the nature of his reality”, this is taken to mean that the Man in Black is actually the true god of this universe. So we now have 3 possible gods.
This is where the episode mostly ends, it was a great episode and well worth watching on its own as we did, or in the proper context if you are a true fan. Before we leave this space let’s consider some of the themes from this episode and how they relate to the usual type of philosophical thinking we do here.
Theme 1: A changing self
This is a theme Aunty showed us while trying to explain the rather complicated history between Delores and Charlotte Hale. It seems Ms Hale started out as a copy of Delores, but was given a different purpose, so she became a different thing entirely. Similar to the themes of nature vs nuture that occupy the evenings of many a Psychologist or Biologist, this makes us think about the impermanence of self.
Our “self” is changing all the time, simply from having watched this episode we feel like a completely different person. Identifying with a static self is a trick of the ego, if you follow this path you will end up a static person with unchanging beliefs and an unchanging mind. That isn’t to say we should strive to become Ms Hale, but she serves as a stark reminder that two people who start in the same place can end in entirely different locations.
THEME 2: DOES ANYTHING REALLY MATTER?
This may seem like a knock on the show, but it is not. The concept that nothing really matters is actually deeply ingrained in even the most ancient religious thinking we have records of. The concept of Maya being the first to come to mind. This is a Hindu philosophical concept where all of creation is an illusion and we are just gods playing in it, like a game.
In the concept of Maya we get really serious about the game and convince ourselves it is 100% real. We have to win this game at all costs. Underneath though, we are all truly gods, there is no game and nothing really matters. We just create this reality to distract ourselves from the boredom that is godhood. Any echoes of Ms Hale’s human-chair speech coming to mind?
Even in the Christian traditions it is allowed that you can do anything you want throughout your entire life, murder, steal, worship golden idols, eat shellfish — everything is ok. As long as you repent and accept their lord and savior at the last possible second, all is forgiven and welcome to heaven. How can anything really matter if those are the rules?
Theme 3: We are all god on this blessed day
In the philosophical concept of Monism, which now has good scientific support with the Big Bang theory, we are all actually one thing. We are all god just as much as we are all a single atom of Helium floating through a nebulae. When Delores “wakes” to her own godhood Teddy even says to her “You are god in this world”. Well you can say that to yourself anytime you want because it is true.
The human soul has both the power to create wondrous works of art, and also the power for complete and utter destruction and chaos. So too does each of us. With a few well placed words we can bring two people together just as Delores does, with poorly chosen words we can force them apart just as quickly. Sometimes it is difficult to see our own godhood, just has Delores has this difficulty, but if you just try you will see that you are truly capable of everything.
We hope that this “review”, or maybe more “reaction” to the 5th episode of season 4 of WestWorld was entertaining. We also hope it was not offensive in any way to the creators of the show. We fail to keep up with long running shows like these because of our work, not because we dislike them. If we had more free time we would love to watch the entire series.
If we’ve somehow offended a fan of the show with this review. Well, that’s actually great! We invite you to revisit theme 2 above and have a wonderful day.