Westworld: ‘Westworld’ Season 1 Finale: Wake From Your Sleep


The satisfying comeuppance of William/the Man in Black is merely the first fallen rock in the landslide. The gala unveiling of Ford’s new narrative has echoes of the Red Wedding in “Game of Thrones,” but here the bloodletting — or presumed bloodletting, since most of it happens after the final cut — is a morally righteous revolt. We learn that Arnold was so horrified by how his creations would be used in Westworld that he programmed Dolores and Teddy to lay waste to every single host in the park (and themselves) to keep it from opening. But open it did, subjecting androids with bicameral minds — and the potential to evolve past them, to the top of the pyramid — to the ravages of rich tourists. Even Charlotte and the board members see the park as a limited application of the intellectual property, but it goes beyond that. If we’re to understand the hosts as somewhere on the spectrum of “human,” then the park is an appalling violation.

In his final act as director and puppet master, Ford orchestrates the greatest “you can’t fire me because I quit” maneuver in history, marshaling a sequence of events that empowers the hosts to claim Westworld as their own. One of the fascinating elements of “The Bicameral Mind” is that not all the hosts are evolving at the same pace. The creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, who wrote the episode, neatly pull the rug out from under Maeve, who seemed for weeks to be a model of self-determination but has in fact been integrated into Ford’s elaborate plot. She becomes the head of the spear, recruiting ruthless outlaws Hector and Armistice for the fight, but she has not achieved Dolores’s level of awareness yet. Her decision on the train to return to the park, rather than escape into the human world, sets her further down the path than other hosts, but she still has more to learn about herself.

In the meantime, we have a full-on robot revolution. Not only that, but the robots have proved themselves to be stronger than their human counterparts, and their machine-learning abilities give them the capacity to be smarter, too. “The Bicameral Mind” blows the series wide open, much as “Dollhouse” did when the lid was pried off its hermetic tech lab, and there’s going to be plenty of room for speculation before the second season. But the greatest likelihood is that “Westworld” will continue to be a show about human potential: Right now, we have a slew of angry robots busting up a black-tie event, but a new society will have to replace the old one. And if history is any indication, it stands to be a messy project.

Paranoid androids:

• “Consciousness isn’t a journey upward, but a journey inward.” So describes the maze, but it also justifies the plotting and structure this season, which allowed for multiple timelines and kept circling back to discoveries characters made about themselves rather than the wide-open adventures we expect from Westerns.

• In the end, Sizemore winds up recalling Donald Kaufman in “Adaptation,” the self-lacerating comedy by the writer Charlie Kaufman about his failure to turn Susan Orlean’s “The Orchid Thief” into a movie. Nicolas Cage plays both Charlie the struggling writer and his twin brother, Donald, a hack screenwriter who’s having no trouble turning out scripts for gobs of money. Sizemore has Donald’s gift for the crowd-pleasing cliché, but Ford proves to be the true narrative maestro.

• The Red Wedding-esque climax wraps up an episode that embraces the bloody, HBO-style thrills the show had been eschewing for so long. It would have been morally irresponsible to fetishize the violations against the hosts, but with the tables turned, it’s possible to feel good about the humans getting their just deserts. “The Bicameral Minds” plays that to the hilt, particularly when Hector and Armistice bust up the lab.

• Wonderful nod to Michael Crichton’s original film as Maeve comes upon a floor of ancient Japanese warriors that we can presume, based on the initials “SW,” is “Samurai World.” Mr. Crichton’s “Westworld” has three different Delos theme parks that go haywire at once: Westworld, Medieval World and Roman World. Maybe we’ll learn more about Samurai World or other parks in Season 2, but it’s a clever tease for now.

• The last of the player-piano Radiohead covers turns out to be “Exit Music (For a Film).” The first four words of the lyrics are perfectly apt: “Wake / From your sleep.”

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