Everyone Should Watch ‘Westworld’ Right Now
It’s been a long time since I’ve grown attached to a show as quickly as I have with Westworld. It’s the perfect combination of the best elements from Lost, Battlestar Galactica, and Jurassic Park, while still being its own unique concept.
SPOILER WARNING: This article contains spoilers for episode one of Westworld as well as the original 1973 film.
So basically, you might like Westworld if you like…
The original 1973 film was written by Michael Crichton, so it’s not a surprise that there are similarities in tone. However, the comparison goes deeper than that. Do you remember the line from Jurassic Park where Ian Malcolm criticizes the park because “when Pirates of the Caribbean breaks down, the pirates don’t eat the tourists.” Well, Westworld is what would happen if all those pirate robots revolted and maybe – possibly – do eat the tourists (or at least hurt them very badly).
Instead of pirates, though, the show is set in a western-style setting and so far no guest has been harmed (that we know about, anyway). While the show hasn’t gotten to the point where the robots are actively harming guests, that was definitely a crucial part of the film and I expect the show will follow a similar path. The beginnings of a revolt are already starting to bubble to the surface, which brings us to the next comparison.
You might also like Westworld if you like…
There’s a large focus on AI, sentience, and what makes someone “human.” In Battlestar Galactica the Cylons look and feel like humans, but their ability to be downloaded into another body and ability interface with machines set them apart from humanity. There are also “many copies” of most models. There’s a large amount of resentment between the two species and a war and near extinction and, well, I’m getting carried away describing BSG, but it’s just so good you guys.
In Westworld the AI are unaware of what they are, but the question of their own sentience is a focal point of the plot. If something looks and acts human, but you know it isn’t human, how do ethics come into play? Do you treat them human? Do you treat them as a machine? If you hurt them and they can’t remember, does it matter? If their pain and fear is wiped away, is the harm you caused them unethical?
In a way, it’s also very similar to Dollhouse in how memories of previously “wiped” experiences come to the surface. They aren’t supposed to remember things, but sometimes they do. And there lies the main problem with the Westworld park. When humans are free to harm these humanoid creatures over and over again without consequences, it leads to an ugly side of humanity. How would it make them feel to suddenly know they’re basically punching bags for humans?
There’s a lot of room to explore these concepts and we are only on episode three so far. We’ve barely scratched the surface and I’m excited to see where they take these ideas.
J.J. Abrams is one of the Executive Producers of the series, so this is another case where it shouldn’t be a huge surprise that the tone is similar to an earlier work. The show is mostly attributed to creators Jonathon Nolan and Lisa Joy, though, so it’s less about the construction of the show and more about the attention to detail and ARG elements for viewers that want to add something more to their viewing experience. Westworld has a fantastic ARG. Seriously, go look at Discover Westworld. Talk to AEDEN. See what you find.
I also highly recommend checking out the Westworld Reddit community. The show has a great attention to detail and theories are already forming about the show. Back when Lost was on the air, I mostly got my theory fix from Something Awful, but here we are over a decade later, I’ve moved on to a different website, and I’m getting my need for really deep thinky thoughts satisfied from a different group of Internet nerds. But regardless of where you spend your day online, this show is an amazing chance to vastly over-analyze every single detail with your fellow fans. We might be way wrong, but it’s a fun journey anyway.
Watch Westworld. No seriously. If none of that convinced you, it’s got Anthony Hopkins in it. That’s pretty kickin’ rad, right? Go watch now. We’ll talk — over analyze together — later.
Stephanie “Angel” Wilson is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. She earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. She’s contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. She’s written for Friends of Comic Con and has essays published in Fandom Frontlines.