"I wonder if I've been changed in the night? Let me think; was I the same when I got up this morning? I almost think I can remember feeling a little different. But if I'm not the same, the next question is, 'Who in the world am I?'"
This passage from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland takes on a brand new meaning in the wake of Westworld, the latest episode of which was written by David T. Thomsen and co-creator Lisa Joy. It's a passage that's been used in television before to accentuate a larger theme at play - namely Lost - but it's one that shapes the HBO series' existence.
Westworld's third episode could well have just revealed the key to its secrets and, thematically speaking, they could all boil down to the same thing most things projects associated with JJ Abrams are: that age-old battle between good and evil. In what will be the most discussed scene so far, the viewer learns of Dr. Robert Ford's (Anthony Hopkins) original partner whom he created Westworld alongside - a man named Arnold. The story is simple: he and Arnold resided in the park for three years perfecting their creations - only, his enigmatic partner's obsession with creating artificial consciousness led to the dissolution of their working relationship.
In the present, Ford is proceeding with a new narrative which bears a striking similarity to his own. Plucking Teddy from the park and into his labs, Ford provides him a backstory (not to mention James Marsden something more to do than get shot). Ford's story starts "in a time of war, rooted in flames," Teddy is told, before being handed a foe named Wyatt, a former comrade turned fearsome cultist who once claimed he could hear the voice of God.
Ford and Arnold's historic rivalry is clearly being lined up as a blueprint of the series, and its inclusion presents many theories, chief of which is - could Arnold himself have been a host created by Robert? Could the creator have equipped Arnold with an obsession of the Bicameral Mind - a conscience theory designed by Dr. Julian Jaynes. "He died in the park," Ford readily tells an inquisitive Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) who knows full well, via Dolores, that the hosts are overriding their programming. Perhaps Ford destroyed Arnold for becoming too sentient.
Whatever the case, Ford's becoming too confident. The hosts are clearly accessing fragments of Arnold's code, and if this is happening during the doctor's increasingly violent new narratives, the guests are a few episode away from becoming shooting practice for these androids. As head of security Ashley Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth) tells programmer Elsie (Shannon Woodward), "The only thing stopping the hosts from hacking us to pieces is one line of your code" - terrifying when considering the lunatic could well be running the asylum.
Westworld, Tuesdays, 9pm, Sky Atlantic & Now TV
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