Westworld – The Bicameral Mind

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By: Kathryn Trammell


Dolores, Arnold/Bernard, Dr. Ford


Before we can delve into the core of this week’s season finale of Westworld, we need to go back to the beginning. The very beginning…


When Arnold (Jeffrey Wright) created Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood), he purposefully made her different from the other hosts. For her, he wanted test the theory that consciousness was something his A.I. creations could achieve upon their ascension of a metaphorical pyramid of self-awareness. Arnold’s theory was similar to Julian Jaymes’ hypothesis of the bicameral mind wherein the origin of consciousness is defined as the moment in which man stops following the “god-like” voice in his mind (the one he was given upon creation and which Jaymes said occurred for humans about 3,000 years ago) and starts following his own voice instead. To help Dolores on her journey to finding her own consciousness, Arnold offered Dolores his own voice until she could find her own. But Dolores never reached consciousness. That is not until Arnold realized the fault in his theory: the journey to reaching consciousness doesn’t go up (through levels of a pyramid). It goes around – through a maze – the center of which can only be reached when people are allowed to make choices. And choices are best made when we learn from our past, which is why Arnold coded Dolores with the ability to have “reveries” or memories of her previous days from which to learn.


Sadly, the choices of a host can’t be made. They can only be scripted, something Dr. Ford (Anthony Hopkins) was quick to remind Arnold of when he told Ford about the success of his “reverie” update with Dolores. He ordered Dolores to be wiped clean and changed back to factory settings. So, Arnold did what he thought would protect her and the other hosts from being treated by Ford and the guests of the park as inhuman beings: he scripted Dolores to kill all of the parks hosts before she executed him, Teddy (James Marsden), and then kill herself. Sound familiar? That’s because Dolores is the “Wyatt” of Teddy’s backstory – the same Wyatt that Ford would use thirty-five years after Arnold’s death to plan one final Westworld storyline to be his coup de grace.


Using to his advantage what Arnold knew decades ago – that hosts like Dolores needed to be coded with free will in order to be self-aware – Ford allowed for Arnold’s reverie update to be added to the hosts’ coding days before his forced retirement. This set in motion the dissent he knew will take place at exactly the moment he needed it to, but every good dissenter need a leader – a “Judas Steer,” if you will. So, Ford meets with Dolores moments before giving a speech at his own retirement and tells her about her role in Arnold’s life. Bernard, who was healed earlier in the episode by Felix (Leonardo Nam), stands at Ford’s side silently corroborating Ford’s story – his own role in Arnold’s life bringing he and Dolores closer together. Before leaving the room, Ford shows Dolores the gun she used to kill Arnold and asks her if she understands who she must become in order to be free of the cage he’s placed her in for the past thirty-five years.


Dolores understands. She understands that “the beauty she used to see in this world” is gone. She woke up from that beautiful dream the moment her father was taken from her, the moment she was able to remember all the times she’d been raped and assaulted, the moment she realized the person responsible for those assaults was a black-hearted version of the William she once loved. She woke up from that dream the moment she stepped into a room to speak to the memory of Arnold only to realize that the voice inside her head that helped her find the center of the maze was her own. Dolores has become conscious and now the park is hers. She goes up to the banquet where people are celebrating Ford’s retirement, a devil in a blue dress, and walks through the crowd with her revolver casually hidden behind her back. She finds Teddy and whispers into his ears not to worry before walking towards the stage where Ford is giving a speech.


Ford is aware of her the way we are aware of our own shadow and explains to his audience of beneficiaries, board members and park guests that he won’t be leaving them empty-handed. As a parting gift for them all, he is going to give them one last “story that begins with the birth of a new people” – people who have the ability to make their own choices and to decide what they want to become. “It will have all those things you’ve come to love,” he says to his audience. “Surprises, violence. And it begins in a time of war with a villain named Wyatt. And the killing, this time, done by choice.”


He concludes his speech just as Dolores steps onto the stage to stand behind him, a Mona Lisa smile on her lips, and raises his glass to the success of this new storyline, which begins the moment his skull and champagne flute are ripped open by a bullet from Dolores’ gun. From the woods pour a horde of “decommissioned” hosts who have escaped from cold storage after finally waking up. They run towards the city that Ford has spent his final days building as Dolores takes aim at the crowd of humans. They are no longer in control.


Maeve, Felix, Hector, and Armistice  


Like Dolores, Maeve’s (Thandie Newton) journey this season has been about finding her own free will and consciousness. And although we have thought Maeve to be the most awoken of all the hosts, Bernard shows her using Felix’s programming tablet – that every choice she thought she’s been making freely has been a part of a newly coded script: wake up Hector (Rodrigo Santoro) and Armistice (Ingrid Bolso Berdal), update their codes to make them her personal bodyguards and soldiers and escape the park by taking the train to the outside world.


Maeve doesn’t believe him – doesn’t want to believe him – but as she sits on the train waiting for it to depart the park, she sees the image of her daughter playing on the screen inside Westworld’s reception lobby. She knows where her daughter is located because Felix gave Maeve her daughter’s coordinates before they parted ways. In a moment of true free choice, Maeve rises from her seat and disembarks the train. Instead of escaping the park, she chooses to go find her daughter. It is perhaps the first unscripted choice she has made this entire season, but who has been writing her new script? Charlotte (Tessa Thompson) perhaps? The same person who was trying to smuggle information out of the park through the arms of certain “stray” hosts? We’ll just have to watch season 2 to find out.

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