Androids work to satisfy people’s dark desires in HBO’s ‘Westworld’

As a species, humans have reached the pinnacle of technology and science. We are all but creating intelligent species and playing God. HBO’s newest series, “Westworld,” explores these ideas, along with the themes of morality, identity and violence.

The series follows three groups of characters: the programmers of Westworld; the androids, or hosts, which are supposed to fulfill any pleasure of the guests; and finally, the guests who pay to experience the old west. The opening episode focuses on the first two groups of characters, while the second uses all three groups to flesh out their story.

The theme park of Westworld is one where anyone who can afford entry can experience life in the old west without consequences. People can tap into their darker urges for nothing more than a sense of satisfaction. This can include anything from murder to cheating on your spouse with a prostitute. The androids are specifically created for the fulfillment of others, their memory wiped at the end of each day.

The pilot episode is focused on a specific host, Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood), who after seeing her ‘father’ glitch from a photo of the real world, begins to question her life and its repetitive nature. The main staff of the park and lead programmer, Bernard Lowe (Jeffrey Wright), believes a virus in the newest software update is causing the problems in the host.

After encountering Dolores, Bernard’s desire to see these androids evolve is slowly unmasked. The only other person interested in seeing this occur is the creator of Westworld, Dr. Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins). He reveals to the staff that he has a new narrative for the guests to experience, foreshadowing things are going to start changing.

The final piece to the opening puzzles of “Westworld” is The Man In Black (Ed Harris), a mysterious veteran guest of the park searching for meaning behind the games. He murders, rapes and questions the hosts in an effort to find the entrance to some sort of labyrinth. The Man in Black is one of the more mysterious elements of the series. He may seem separate from the main story, but he will definitely become a key player later on.

The premiere does a good job of establishing all the players on the board, the way the theme park runs, how the hosts work and the tone of the overall series. Along with all of this, the pilot also provides amazing visuals and action sequences, scoring a violent and visceral robbery with an orchestral rendition of The Rolling Stones’ “Paint It Black.” The scene seems to be a fair representation of what “Westworld” boils down to. That is, a sci-fi epic wrapped in a violent and morally grey western.

“Westworld” masterfully blends tropes and expectations of science fiction with the western genre, creating something truly unique in the world of television. It is able to go down various rabbit holes of themes and ideas, throwing curveball after curveball to audiences.

Not only is “Westworld” an intricate and deeply creative series/movie reboot, it is also a careful study of the nature of humanity and technological development. The series is for anyone interested by even one of these factors.