Westworld: 3 Key Moments to Contemplate from the Premiere


If you’re puzzling over Westworld and want answers, you’re in luck. We break down three notable moments in Sunday’s series premiere.

Three days after it aired, the Westworld premiere is still rattling around in our minds, like a memory you can’t quite place into context. “The Original” was as rich with mysteries and Easter eggs as a late-season episode of Lost. At first, we were planning on doing a “questions we need answered” article, but the Internet is apparently already full of those. So, instead of speculating, let’s analyze. (If you’re looking for a more straightforward recap/review, you can find that here.)

Here are some scenes, lines, and other moments that stood out to us from Westworld’s debut episode:

Milk and blood

Timothy Lee DePriest in Westworld (2016), screenshot courtesy of HBO

As you expect from a show on HBO, Westworld is an aesthetic marvel. One memorable image in “The Original” that our recap didn’t mention is this shot, from when Teddy interrupts Walter and his bearded buddy’s raid of the Abernathy house. Teddy shoots Walter, and the milk that the two villainous robots carry around for some reason spills, mixing with the blood that’s pooling on the floor.

Head-scratching details riddle the episode, but the milk is especially bizarre. Is it just a quirk? Or does it have a deeper significance? My immediate assumption was that it’s religious, an oblique reference to the phrase “land of milk and honey” used in the Book of Exodus. Westworld is, after all, meant to be a place of opportunity and prosperity. That still seems like a stretch, though.

Later, during a discussion of the episode, someone proposed an answer that makes slightly more sense: perhaps, it has to do with sexuality. Walter’s habit of pouring milk on his victims after he vanquishes them appears to be a form of macho posturing, evoking, well, a different fluid. Also, the scene in which the Westworld employees deactivate Walter for inspection cuts to the shot of a Vitruvian Man model rising from a tub of white, milk-like liquid – a man being born. Walter’s (temporary) death illustrates this thorny link between sexuality, creation, and violence in a single neat image.

Ford’s evolution monologue

While discussing the malfunctioning robots with Bernard, Westworld co-founder Robert Ford gives a short speech:

"Mistake? It’s a word you’re embarrassed to use, yet you’re the product of a trillion of them. Evolution forged the entirety of sentient life on this planet using only one tool: mistake… Of course, we’ve managed to slip evolution’s leash now, haven’t we? We can cure any disease, keep even the weakest of us alive, and one fine day, perhaps we can even resurrect the dead, call forth Lazarus from his cave. Do you know what that means? That means that we’re done, that this is as good as we’re going to get."

On a superficial level, this is a blatant excuse to let Anthony Hopkins show off his thespian abilities. The idea that humanity has reached its peak and faces a future of regression isn’t new to science-fiction; Oscar Isaac made a similar prediction in the recent film Ex Machina. But the monologue does give us some clues as to the show’s setting (far enough in the future that people no longer die from sickness) and Ford’s motivations.

At another point in the episode, Lee Sizemore warns that Ford is going to “chase demons over a cliff.” Not surprisingly, the guy has issues. That begs the question: what if Ford knew what would happen when he added the reveries? What if he wants the androids to revolt, out of some combination of curiosity and nihilism? Humans might be done, but robots can still evolve; why not give them a chance? He’d hardly be TV’s first self-destructive genius.

The ending

Evan Rachel Wood in Westworld (2016), screenshot courtesy of HBO

“The Original” ends with a montage similar to the one at the beginning of the episode. But there are a few notable changes. First, with Peter gone haywire, Dolores has a new father, and he is the bartender at Maeve’s Millay’s saloon. That Dolores doesn’t seem to know the difference is quietly heartbreaking. Second, during the train ride to Sweetwater, Teddy touches the area on his chest where Hector shot him, suggesting that although his memories were wiped clean at the end of the day, some remnant of the incident lingers, even subconsciously.

Last, and perhaps most importantly, Dolores kills the fly to which she was previously oblivious. This means that 1) her programming, which prevents her and the other androids from hurting the park’s guests, is wearing off, and 2) she can lie. She responded, in her impassive robot voice, “No,” to Ashley’s earlier question, “Would you ever hurt another living thing?” Dolores and Teddy are probably unaware of what’s happening to them, but these developments should cause the Westworld staff some concern.

Next: Opening Credits for HBO’s ‘Westworld’ Released Online (Video)

What moments in “The Original” stood out to you? Do you have any theories or interpretations? Let us know in the comments below.

Westworld airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on HBO.