Westworld (Season 1)

After watching the trailer plus one episode, I would say Westworld reminds me of two other sci-fi productions.

Westworld reminds me of Bladerunner (1982) because the “hosts”, the synthetic people who inhabit the Westworld theme park, are, like the replicants, starting to want to protect themselves and choose their fates. The difference is in the hardware: the replicants are genetically engineered, not built by robotic 3D printers and controlled by wireless signal receivers like the hosts.

Westworld also reminds me of the show Dollhouse (2009–2010), which is also about an expensive service that gratifies rich clients by supplying them with realistic but fake people. One difference is that the dolls are not fundamentally artificial; they were and will again be people with their own pasts and futures. Their brains and bodies are simply borrowed during their contracted time. Another difference is that the dolls go out into the real world and pass as people, whereas the clients of the Westworld park only interact with the hosts within the park itself… at least as far as we know!

There’s also an element of repetition reminiscent of Groundhog Day (1993) or Edge of Tomorrow (2014), but the loops are not actual loops in time, just loops in the behavior of androids who have been programmed to behave the same way over and over.

I’m interested in the philosophical questions the science-fiction premise raises:

  • Could an android become human by having experiences?
  • How should we treat androids for our own sakes, if not theirs?
  • Could we be downloaded into replacement bodies, and thus live forever? If so, would we still be human?

What I don’t like about the show is that it has violent scenes with a real tinge of horror. I get that the show is trying to be raw and disturbing. Reining back the violence would lessen the drama.


Update 13 March 2017: After watching all of Season 1, I can say that the show is thoroughly bloody, and yet philosophically interesting enough to hold the attention even of a squeamish person. Free will vs. determinism, good vs. evil, humans vs. artificial intelligence. Captivating.