“Everything will be what it isn’t,” Bernard says to his son in the penultimate episode of Westworld’s first season. If it bears repeating, surely there’s something it applies to. A riddle to be solved that will offer some revelation.
If there’s anything we have learned from the 9 episodes of Westworld so far, it’s that it could apply to anything you want. So far, the show has been so bewilderingly meta the idea that any line, action, theme or destination leads to more tantalising uncertainties to unpack.
It’s an inviting contradiction that Westworld so far has managed to defy and deliver on its promises. In most other shows the episode before the season finale would put all its efforts into building tension for the all-go-no-quit conclusion. It’s not that The Well-Tempered Clavier doesn’t do any tension building, it’s that judged on this alone all 9 episodes have been piling on expectation. By the same token, Westworld has also managed to lean on the tropes of the Western without ever really being one. While it manages to give a few nods to the gunslinging we’re used to, it’s managed to holster up the clichés by giving time to the elaborate threads behind the curtain of this Stetson wearing Oz.
Even more meta is that Westworld is a story about stories, and more so how they are told. There’s the obvious narrative of what we’re presented with. Peel off a few layers and you can sift through sub-texts, philosophies and cautionary tales. Go a few layers more and you’re back to the start. Maeve’s awakening has been a dangerous emancipation fraught with possible danger. The consequences of her release into the real world is just as unsettling to us as humans – the ramifications endless. Yet rather than side-stepping the obvious allegories of a sci-fi robo-revolution, you could see it as a metaphor for the familiar “Posse Up” and gather a team of cowboys to ride into Delios’ town. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.
Gladly, the producers are careful to not go the way of Lost and beat the audience into submission with heavy handed mystery. While the origin of Arnold was finally uncovered, more credence was given to the multiple timeline theories and the narrative wagon train kept rollin’ rather than circling.
4* – Mo’ Meta Blues