TV Review: Westworld takes viewers inside a strange land of AI

“Westworld” is an HBO series set in a futuristic amusement park, where rich vacationers live out their fantasies with robotic hosts. According to the show’s description, “No matter how illicit the fantasy may be, there are no consequences for the park’s guests, allowing for any wish to be indulged.”

The series is based on the 1973 Michael Crichton movie of the same name and stars Anthony Hopkins, Ed Harris, Evan Rachel Wood and Thandie Newton. Our writers share some of their thoughts about the series.

Cece Keizer
Oxford Stories

My brother has wanted me to start watching the show “Westward” on HBO for some time, so I thought now would be a good time. The first episode was about an hour long, and it was confusing, so I watched two more episodes to get a better understanding of what was happening.

The show is called “Westworld” because of the wild west theme park. It’s hard to explain, because you learn new confusing information about the world in each episode. The show explains the character’s stories with flashbacks within flashbacks, leaving you to ponder the chronology.

Westworld is a futuristic amusement park that rich vacationers can attend for an outrageous price. The park is looked after by robotic “hosts” that allow visitors to live out their fantasies through artificial consciousness. There are no consequences for the park’s guests, not even death, allowing any wish to be fulfilled. Guests, without fear, know the hosts cannot retaliate.

The robotic hosts, however, can die, and when they do, they are taken back to the park’s headquarters, where they are put back together and sent back into Westworld. Each host has specific memories it retains when returning to the park, and their memory from dying is completely erased.

It is difficult to distinguish the difference between the hosts and the guests, but not so difficult when they get shot. There have recently been glitches in the present-day timeline that have caused some of the hosts to malfunction, and I think that is going to be a big upcoming storyline. These errors are taken care of by the workers and “game-makers” of the futuristic park. The makers and watchers over the park can control the robots’ thoughts, and they have the power to pause the “game” to adjust things they want.

The makers communicate with the hosts regularly about what they remember and what they do. Everything the hosts think, feel, or see is recorded for the makers to go back and look at. The headquarters of the park is ginormous, and there are tons of people who work there.

I don’t want to spoil anything, so I won’t say anything about what happens in the later episodes, but the guests seem to have a bigger reason to visit the futuristic world than to live out their fantasies. The show is fantastic. It’s strange and confusing, but totally worth the watch.

Mckaylan Gray
Oxford Stories

Ever since I can remember, I have been intrigued by odd TV shows with complex characters. My favorite way to spend my free time is watching the American science fiction western thriller, “Westworld.” Real people have created a new reality with fake people for real people’s enjoyment. Sounds simple, right?

Wrong. This complex thriller has been referred to as “a twist, within a twist, within a twist.”

Westworld is a theme amusement park with “host” humans made in a lab. Westworld is created for the enjoyment of the visitors or “guests,” who are allowed to do whatever they please within the false world without any violence from the hosts. Guests take a train into Westworld, where their unpredictable journey begins.

In the most recent episodes, one of the main characters, Dolores, remembers things from the past. She has frightening flashbacks. As she begins to realize she is different, another main character has discovered some things as well. This “host” has developed real feelings and even learned how to control herself.

An interesting quote I noticed from the show was when one of the “hosts” asks the creator, Ford, why they are different, and why he has fake pain, while Ford’s pain is real. He says: “There is no threshold that makes us greater than the sum of our parts, no inflection point at which we become fully alive. We can’t define consciousness because consciousness does not exist. Humans fancy that there’s something special about the way we perceive the world, and yet we live in loops as tight and as closed as the hosts do, seldom questioning our choices, content for the most part to be told what to do next. No, my friend, you’re not missing anything at all.”

Besides the fact of how stomach-turning and saddening it is to hear a person say that to another seemingly real person, this quote completely defies all the freedoms of being a human. I’m not sure what will unfold in the last few episodes, but this series is a huge hit. “Westworld” is a world in which the unexpected is reality.

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