‘Westworld’ Recap 1×06: Fake Plastic People

Thandie Newton and Ptolemy Slocum in Westworld.

Thandie Newton and Ptolemy Slocum in Westworld. John P. Johnson/HBO

Vinnie: Hey, if there’s any futuristic code-writing experts out there–preferably one who was struggling to bring a bird to life last week but is now really, really good at this(?)—can you do me a favor and crank my “bulk apperception” waaaaaaay up there? Because holy dead robot dogs, Drew, I have more than a few questions, and “The Adversary” answered approximately negative fourteen of them. Actually, this seemed like the first Westworld episode that was less concerned with building a mystery and more actively trying to be annoying. If one more character was like “Oh man, this BIG. This is the BIGGEST EVER I’ll give you details later” I was going to pull a Lee Sizemore and pee all over the map, too. (Yes I have a full-scale Westworld map in my apartment. I built it. I am a somehow more depressing Robert Ford).

Drew: We definitely learn some BIG THINGS in this episode. Mainly playing on the theme that hosts and humans aren’t so different after all (no, d’oi) except the robots are WAY smarter, and that they are good at blackmail. Also, that the redheaded engineer is named Sylvester, which AH-mazing. (But said like Jimmy from You’re the Worst.)

It’s also hi-LAR-ious (see above) that the engineer’s response to a host suddenly waking up and talking to him is “Shit, you caught me! Time to tell you everything about your existence!” Haha, no dude. Go get help! This is so above your paygrade!

Though this was dealt with in last week’s episode, where we see that the engineer’s “experiments” with bringing a dead bird to life is not exactly above board, so it makes sense that he might originally be hesitant to report Mauve’s malfunction. (Or whatever.) That still doesn’t equal “Reveal all the information to this computer processor about it’s own perception of reality.” Has this guy never seen Terminator or Blade Runner? Or read that xkcd comic? Robots do not, in general, like finding out they are being manipulated by powers beyond their control. Neither do humans, actually! We have soooooo much in common!

Vinnie: My first question–and it’s a big one if this entire episode is to make sense–is why Ginger Doctor…

Drew: SYLVESTER!!!

Vinnie: …and his partner Professor Hugo Strange don’t just, like, turn Maeve off? So okay, Maeve is super-cognizant of her robot-ness now, getting herself purposely choked out by Guests so she can wake up on the operating table all over again. And she’s aware enough to hold a scalpel to someone’s throat, and threaten to ruin his Sleeping Robot Sex Business. Fine, cool, whatever. But she’s still a…robot, correct? These two doctors are still holding an iPad with her entire consciousness uploaded on it, right? At that point you don’t even have to turn Maeve OFF, just, I don’t know, crank her Bravery or Intelligence down to zero. Ctrl-Alt-Dlt that shit. Unplug her and plug her back in. Blow into her cartridge. There are options! Does this show have any actual rules?

Ptolemy Slocum, Leonardo Nam and Thandie Newton in Westworld.

Ptolemy Slocum, Leonardo Nam and Thandie Newton in Westworld. John P. Johnson/HBO

Drew: Yeah, it’s pretty unclear how Mauve not only remembered this “dream” world that is supposed to get wiped clean every…day? Or something?…but how she also learned how to navigate it and take control so quickly. We do get a throwaway line from either Tweedle Dee or Tweedle Dum near the end, that somebody has been messing with her attributes, but that could be Arnold, Dr. Ford, Elsie and Ashley (who both took turns increasing her aggression and…something else, I forget), or some other, yet unknown force.

WAIT: I just realized: Sylvester and Lutz…who loves BIRDS! So: Sylvester and TWEETY!

We do learn from Elsie that some of the early Hosts have had their core messed with, so they could possibly override their prime directive to NOT KILL PEOPLE. Did Dr. Ford do that? Did Arnold? Elsie’s claim “He’s a pretty fucking prolific coder for a dead guy” made me LOL a lot, but it also made me think, you know? Because isn’t Dolores the oldest host in the park? And though we didn’t get to see her at ALL this episode, we did see Teddy start acting particularly unTeddy-like.

In conclusion, “blowing a host’s mind by showing them all their word trees on an iPad” seems like the LEAST effective way to shut down a Host, but at least that worked…momentarily?

Vinnie: Actually, does Westworld THE COMPANY have any rules? I’m surprised nobody has noticed Maeve is missing for this long, much less someone is giving her a guided tour through the facilities. I mean, this sequence was kind of beautiful, in an “android realizes how the buffalo sausage gets made sort of way.” There were violins. I like violins.

Drew: Someone help me out. I’ve watched this episode twice now (NBD, just doing my job, folks!) and I STILL can’t figure out what famous pop/indie song the violins were playing in this scene. Though it did lead to an amazing conversation with you this weekend, where I asked “Is that Katy Perry’s ‘Firework?’” and you said “Is it?” And then I said “I don’t know.” And then you said “General consensus over here is it’s Firework by Katy Perry.” And then I said “No it’s not.”

Help, my improvisation loop is broken!

Update: Our own Noam Cohen pointed out it was yet another Radiohead song, “Motion Picture Soundtrack.” And the episode opened up on “Fake Plastic Trees,” which is notable in that it’s Josh’s favorite song in Clueless.

Update 2: Drew’s dad is AMAZING:

My dad is AMAZING!

A photo posted by Videodrew (@videodrew) on

 

Did you also notice how random it was for Westworld’s wall-playing advertisement to feature an extended sequence of Mauve’s previous storyline? Is ANYONE going to Westworld to see a mother and her child frolic in the tall grass? Like, I keep thinking about it, and the only way this would be of interest to anyone was if it was some kind of human safari/hunting expedition. Like before you put in the quarters for Big Buck Hunter and it just shows you all the peaceful, grazing animals you will have the ability to shoot.

Vinnie: But those office walls are still made of glass, and yet Maeve and Lutz are strolling around like Harry and Ron under the Invisibility Cloak. The only way this makes sense is if everybody, not just the Hosts but the employees, are robots. Which, actually, I have another question…

Drew: Well, first of all, I assume that part of being a Westworld employee is that you can just program a host to follow you, instead of having to carry it around everywhere, so as long as Mauve can keep herself affectless, it doesn’t seem THAT weird? But GO ON…

Vinnie: Why does Westworld bother hiring real, human employees? I mean, yeah, you need top-level management with real-life brains, but wouldn’t it cut costs by like a bajillion dollars to whip up some low-level workers capable of handling a scalpel or a hose? Lutz said it himself, the Hosts already have hardware way more advanced than the normal human, the only drawback being they’re completely under our control.….Wait, IS that what’s happening? There’s hints. Maeve asks how Lutz knows for sure he’s human, and he says “I just know. I was born and you were created,” which is EXACTLY what I would make a robot think if I wanted it to perform unpaid labor.

Drew: Yeah, Lutz let a couple interesting deets slip in his convo with Mauve. First of all, he’s not rich enough to go to the theme park he works for, which is SO DEPRESSING. Why doesn’t he get an employee discount?

Secondly, yeah, it’s becoming apparent that since the hosts don’t realize their hosts, there’s a good probability that some people working for Westworld are also not entirely human, and just not aware of it. My money is still on Theresa, but who knows!

Vinnie: You know what? Fuck it. Everyone’s a robot. That’s my new theory. I am the Oprah Winfrey of the Westworld Reddit page. You are a robot. You are a robot. You are all robottttttttts.

Drew: I am not a robot.

Also worth noting: Lutz tells Mauve that the hosts have the capacity to be like, a BILLION times smarter than humans, but the tradeoff is that “You’re under our control..well, their control.” Which is an interesting word choice, and also indicative of just how low on the totem pole the engineers are at Westworld. We’re already seeing that, despite Ford’s affinity for Bernard, the engineering and behavioral units are treated like garbage by corporate. Maybe because they are assumed to be under Ford’s thumb, or because, at the end of the day, Management isn’t interested in the little theme park as much as the broader implications for Hosts. In which case, yeah, Sylvester and Lutz can’t force a host to do very much at all, beyond show them their scripts, which they didn’t even WRITE. (Assumably, that was Sizemore’s job, which makes sense considering how often Mauve says “Fuck.”)

Jeffrey Wright in Westworld.

Jeffrey Wright in Westworld. John P. Johnson/HBO

Vinnie: Yeah, so some other stuff is happening, too. Elsie, through some slick off-screen tech-detective work, finds out that those voices inside the Hosts heads belong to…someone…broadcasting secure information through the satellite she and Bernard discovered last week. The culprit? Partly Theresa Cullen, who clearly has secrets, man, BIG secrets. But mostly, as far as Elsie can tell, the low-key Host Hack is being orchestrated by Arnold. The problem here is that Arnold, in scientific terms, is dead as fuck. (Allegedly)

So, naturally, Elsie does what any young, enterprising scientist would do and travels out to Westworld’s spookiest abandoned theater by herself to gather information, where she’s promptly attacked by someone who is terrible at sneaking through old theaters quietly.

Drew: God, I hope this isn’t the end of Elsie. She’s my favorite, and also had the BEST lines this episode.

Elsie: So instead of our hosts going insane, they are being used for industrial espionage. Does that make this a glass half full or half empty situation?

Bernard: We’re engineers. It means the glass has been manufactured to wrong specifications.

All the nerds watching Westworld:

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Vinnie: Meanwhile, on the corporate side of all this mayhem, Westworld’s board of directors are looking to get rid of Ford because A) He’s showing the classic signs of someone who has gone batshit bananas crazy and B) He’s played by Anthony Hopkins, and ain’t no one needs that amount of creepiness in the workplace.

And, as Bernard finds out, the board has a pretty good case. Ford has been keeping an off-limits cottage all to himself, where he stashes a group of robots designed to look exactly like his family, lil’ Robbie Ford included. That’s…strange, especially when Ford admits these particular robots were designed by Arnold, as a gift. I don’t even like when people tag me in photos on Facebook. If someone was like “here’s an exact replica of you as a child Happy Birthday” that person is no longer allowed within ten miles of me. The Ford Family Robots are old-school, too. “What our new designs gained in efficiency they lost in grace,” Ford said, because Ford’s idea of grace is when something’s face opens up like the Predator.  

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Drew: Right, but here’s the CRAZY thing about these O.G., off the grid hosts: they don’t respond to voice commands. They have the ability to lie, which seems to unnerve even Ford when he runs diagnostics on baby-himself, and finds out that Arnold made him the culprit in the murder of his favorite dog, The Greyhound That Eats Cats.

We know Dolores was one of the original hosts. Does that mean her face can open up like a predator? Does this also explain why Mauve is able to ignore her core directives?

Vinnie: Finally, we check in with the continued adventures of Teddy and the Man in Black. The border is closed because of “trouble in Pariah” (which we’re totally supposed to believe is the business with Logan and William, but I don’t buy that for a second), so Teddy and the Man in Black have to go through the Mines of Moria instead (or, something like that).

Unfortunately, the way through is blocked by a garrison of soldiers, all of which coincidentally think Teddy is a mass-murderer. Now, he actually might be? He suddenly flashes back to the day Wyatt murdered his whole platoon, but in this particular vision he definitely looks like he’s aiding in all that murderin’. Either way, it sparks something in Teddy, that part of him that’s less “constantly dying hero” and more “slaughtering fools with a rail gun.” It’s a good look, tbh. “You think you know somebody,” the Man in Black laughs.

“You don’t know me at all,” Teddy says.

The problem being, again, six episodes through and I don’t know anything at all, really. Teddy’s explanation of the maze isn’t helping: “The maze itself is the sum of a man’s life…there at the center is a legendary man who’s been killed over and over again countless times.” He’s pretty much describing himself without knowing it, right?

Drew: Actually, Teddy’s exact words are something like “He designed a maze so complicated that only he could navigate through it.” Which is basically self-plagiarism, Nolan-style. Jesus Christ, it’s even the SAME MAZE.

Inception.

Inception. Warner Bros.

Westworld.

Westworld. HBO

Also, one time I saw Shannon Woodward (who plays Elsie) out in L.A. with Ellen Page, which is funny because Page’s character from Inception is the obvious prototype for Woodward’s Elsie. Life imitating art imitating itself! Cray!

Vinnie:

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Evan Rachel Wood as Dolores.
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