HBO’s Westworld: Exploring Humanity’s Endgame

Westworld isn’t your standard amusement park. It’s aimed at those with money to waste, and time too. In essence, rich vacationers go to this park to live out their dreams. Westworld is looked after by robotic hosts and allows visitors to experience their fantasies through a vessel, or an artificial being. It’s a dystopia disguised as a utopia. No matter how dark or twisted the fantasy, as long as you pay, you get what you want. There are no repercussions for Westworld’s vacationers, allowing for any request to be exploited to the max.

Westworld is place where you can’t tell androids from humans, as they are becoming more emotional as their consciousness increases. This is represented in direct contrast to humans who are slowly but surely losing their humanity and embracing inhumanity. In this regard, it’s reminiscent of Channel 4’s Humans with their conscious synthetics storyline in season two. Human actions have no consequences and machines evolve by observation and self-learning thus we have the student defeating the master.

Evan Rachel Wood gives a stunning performance as Dolores
(Westworld, HBO)

With big names from film and television joining together, I knew I had to pick up this one. From writers Jonathan Nolan (Interstellar) and Lisa Joy (Burn Notice) and based on Michael Crichton’s 1973 movie, Westworld is a keeper. It has some heavy hitters, including: Anthony Hopkins (Nixon), Thandie Newton (Half Of A Yellow Sun) and James Marsden (X-Men). These aren’t relative to A-list status but to lesser known and upcoming talents as well, including: Ben Barnes (Sons Of Liberty), Jimmi Simpson (House Of Cards) and introducing Evan Rachel Wood (True Blood) as Dolores Abernathy. The newcomers exhibit equivalently great performance as the A-Listers.

In my opening paragraph, I gave a basic premise of Westworld. Even weeks after the finale aired I can’t begin to tell you the ins and outs of the show in its entirety because it’s a jumble of stuff that somehow make some sense in an interesting and thought-provoking way. The best way to understand Westworld is not to read someone’s review but to watch it for yourself. If 2016 has taught me anything, it’s that critics’ opinion means nothing next to the thoughts of everyday people. So, I urge those who have never seen Westworld to watch it in its entirety and compile your own thoughts and opinions for yourself.

James Marsden plays Teddy in HBO’s new Science Fiction-Western drama
(Westworld, HBO)

One of the recurring questions that viewers had throughout the season is, what does it mean? This made me think, does Westworld really need meaning? Not everything is made to be understood. Sometimes, you just have to roll with it. Westworld is the pinnacle of determinism. Events in which we partake are being controlled by external variables like the humans who control the narratives, but then who controls the humans? Humans are creatures of habit and in this way, it’s a reflection of humanity’s day-to-day lives. If one variable interrupts the flow, our routine turns to mush and everyone loses their minds.

Westworld is Theatre of the Absurd. It’s a groundhog day, there is meaning to its meaningless, if you read between the lines and observe the world around us. It pokes fun at humanity’s role in this world and shows us that each of us is in an existential crisis thus shaking hands with Samuel Beckett’s Endgame. The endgame metaphor comes from chess and when two kings are left at the end, one player either loses by bowing their king or both players shake hands and agree a stalemate (draw). But neither king will yield (human or AI) and will forever be making the same moves to avoid losing. By acknowledging the stalemate or bowing your king, players are acknowledging the concept of determinism. Even when you win, you lose.

Thandie Newton gives an Emmy-worthy performance as Maeve Millay in Westworld
(Westworld, HBO)

What’s more, it shows an accurate depiction of humanity, one of the best I’ve ever seen. It shows us what humanity is like in the 21st century world. Are we conscious now or are we just perceptions of our own perception of consciousness? What is morality? What is humanity? Westworld explores all these things and the grey areas that lie in all the decisions we make. What’s the difference between human consciousness and artificial consciousness? Judging by the first season, there’s a lot that’s different but there’s also a lot that’s similar and it shows that humans are just as artificial as the original meaning of AI and that conscious beings show more humanity than humans themselves.

This show critiques capitalism and how he it impacts everyone, as we see with The Board and science. They’ve industrialized science, not much different to what has been going on with Britain’s NHS. Westworld is not only a television, it’s life, and it should make us take a long look at ourselves and what humanity is. If the first season is any consolation, humanity needs to change. Westworld is not so science fiction but something that could happen in the future human history. Our arrogance is under constant review by Hollywood writers and Westworld is only the latest potent review of it.

Anthony Hopkins plays Robert Ford, and gives another grand performance
(Westworld, HBO)

Season premiere “The Original”, is slow throughout and the pacing is almost dead but from,”Chesnut”, Westworld is a rollercoaster ride filled with: plot twists, excellent performances and a breathtaking musical score from Ramin Djawadi (Game Of Thrones). By the end of the season, you will have a favourite character, even if they do consistently die in every episode. All in all, it’s a great show that really makes you think critically. Come the Emmys 2017, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a battle between Westworld and The Crown in all the major categories.

Humanity’s endgame under the microscope

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