Posted by Katherine Recap | Hollywood, TV

[For Westworld‘s “The Original” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

HBO Summary:
At a remote park, guests pay to share wild west adventures with android robots.

Anthony Hopkins – Dr. Ford: Westworld’s Dr. Frankenstein
Evan Rachel Wood – Dolores: “The Original” android; cheerful at first…
Jeffrey Wright – Bernard: Westworld’s programming head
Ed Harris – Man in Black, (MIB): Sadistic gunslinger who never loses
Thandie Newton – Maeve: Madame at the saloon, a smartass hottie
James Marsden – Teddy: The gunslinger who loses, hung up on Dolores
Simon Quarterman – Lee: Storyteller who fears the androids will rebel
Shannon Woodward – Elsie: Programmer assigned to help fix droid bugs
Rodrigo Santoro – Hector: “Wanted,” hottie bandit off wanted poster
Sidse Babett – Theresa: Westworld’s operations manager – creates order
Ingrid Bolsø Berdal – Armistice: Relentless warrior in bandit’s clothing
Angela Sarafyan – Clementine: Gorgeous and popular lady of the evening
Luke Hemsworth – Stubbs: Head of Westworld security, practical and solid

Westworld, “The Original,” opens as the head of security, Stubbs, talks to the android Dolores. “Tell us what you think of your world,” he says. Dolores explains that she chooses to see the beauty and believes there’s a grand purpose to “our days”. Stubbs then asks what she thinks of the guests and Dolores says, “You mean the newcomers?” before remembering what her father taught her, “That at some point or another we were all new in this world. We all need a place to be free,” and thus we learn the relative philosophy of Westworld. It’s a virtual playground for adults all dressed up in western gear but that’s just for show. The real fun – screwing and shooting – don’t require dressup clothes. Westworld offers freedom without consequence. This perfectly parallels the creative world of all artists. Storytellers and android creators, like those in Westworld, have freedom to fulfill their vision but what are the consequences when they make that vision real?

In the pilot episode, “The Original,” cracks start to climb the walls of Westworld’s creative facade. Even though android memories are purged after every storyline’s conclusion, a recent update by Dr. Ford keeps remnants of them – reveries. Thus tiny new “non-standard” gestures and behaviors start cropping up among the droids. Some are minor, like the way gorgeous Clementine sweeps her pinky over her lips. But others are more troublesome; the town Sheriff has a disturbing stroke and a “homicidal by design” bandit pours gallons of milk on the victims of his murderous rampage.

This greatly upsets Lee, our storyteller character. Because, much like any narrative game, the stories within Westworld play out along the same scripted lines each time with only slight variations aroused by guest interaction. Lee writes those stories and now, with yet another random element thrown in to screw with his stories, he’s pissed. A prime example of how it’s “supposed to work” is Teddy, played by James Marsden, as the loser-in-hero-pants role. He longs for the lovely Dolores and dies trying to save her with every variety of storyline that comes along. Alas, he simply can’t save her anymore than he can save his own sorry ass. He’s programmed to fail. Ed Harris as The Man in Black points this out to Teddy time after time, wearing his literal AND figurative black hat.

In “The Original” MIB shoots Teddy in the heart for what’s likely the zillionth time and then drags Dolores by her glorious tresses into a barn. This is where we see the most beautiful shot of the episode, through Teddy’s eye. In fact, it’s lovely because the shot uses the center of his pupil as a frame for the barn door with MIB and Dolores inside. Still hovering on this shot, we hear the voiceover ask Dolores what she thinks of the newcomers. Voiceover Dolores says she loves them. They remind her how grateful she is to be alive. Then the barn door slams shut.

Later we’re in the android factory where the scientists worry about the inherent dangers every time they roll out an android update. It scares some that the droids might somehow rebel after an update. Stubbs, particularly fearful given that he’s head of security, leads Bernard into a storage facility where old droids stand in ghastly shadows, like waxen zombie mannequins. In the back room of the facility they find Dr. Ford chatting with an ancient cowboy over a drink. This cowboy’s name is Bill and when he lies down for his android dreamless slumber it’s in a white body bag that he zips over his own head. Then Bernard and Dr. Ford discuss the reveries and Ford is quick to call his work on them a “mistake”. Ford even refers to how the beginning of our experience as sentient beings on the planet was also the result of a cosmic mistake. This is classic foreshadowing because in the final shot of the episode we’re going to see the first inkling that, in fact, the droids are becoming sentient beings as well.

As the episode winds down we return to the loop of Dolores in her dream state as Stubbs asks her the questions about her father, Peter. It turns out her father is one of the updated droids gone rogue. As Bernard says about Peter’s state, “We’re miles beyond a glitch here,” because he’s spouting Shakespeare, enraged, and downright scary. This is all off script, of course. Suddenly Peter’s a robot with awareness. In the end he takes Dr. Ford’s head in his hands and says, “You don’t know where you are, do you? In a prison of your own sins,” and then they turn off Peter’s creepy vengeful ass. Ford and Bernard realize the droid’s remnant reveries came from old “builds” meaning storylines he’d run on before. Ford finds this comforting but it doesn’t console Bernard. It felt real because the droid wasn’t just spouting lines. Peter expressed relevant revenge with terrifying intensity.

In the final scene Stubbs finishes his interview/nightly wipe of Dolores and then explains to another scientist that she’s is the oldest host/android in Westworld. He says they don’t need to worry about Dolores because she’s been repaired so many times she’s practically brand new. They put Pete in the warehouse with the waxen figures and grant Dolores a new Daddy for her Groundhog Day morning chit chat on the porch. But the last bit of the episode veers off script too when a fly lands on Dolores. Flies played a role throughout the pilot episode to show that the androids don’t feel anything. It’s the Old West, so of course there are flies galore. But the droids let them walk across their eyes without even noticing, usually. They’re robots, after all. Except in this final shot, a fly lands on Dolores and she smacks at it. Uh oh, the girl’s got feelings.

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