What exactly happened last night? Westworld episode 7 – trompe l’oeil


Is Bernard a man? or does he just take the appearance of a man? Like taking a few steps to the left while looking at the paintings of the header image, this episode of Westworld gave us a fuller truth about Bernard. We saw the stretched out parts of him, some parts flattened altogether.

I will contend that the robots are not just “toasters” that rob the drama of any stakes or the action of any fun. No, from that one particular vantage we had been given to this point Bernard is a man. A man who loved his child, who found a lover at work. A lover who hurt his feelings a little, but delicately, when she broke up with him. All the pieces line up to paint a full true picture… for a time.

In the same way, a piece of art can be shattered when you learn a fuller truth about the person who made it, or the harsh conditions under production. That shattering image, the protection of what’s inside the frame is why Old Hollywood studios were so tight with the image of their stock of movie stars.

It’s the beauty of what’s inside the frame of Bernard’s work life sleuthing with Elsie, carrying on his affair, being wounded that makes the will-shattering, character-defying behavioral discontinuity of killing Theresa all the more galling.

We want, I mean I want, Bernard to be a man. To be full and whole. We’re getting not so subtle hints from Maeve and Dolores’ stories that a broader based revolt against the oppression of the mortal creators of the hosts is taking shape. Will we see a Bernard who regrets? A Bernard to knows who made him a killer when he didn’t want to be. I  hope so.

The video game analogy for Westworld is applicable but deficient for the park. Not so many games are dialog based. The players in the park are co writers, co creators in every aspect of the story they are on (though the nudge is certainly there to sit back make as few choices as possible and enjoy the ride). The only game I can really think of like this, authorly in ambition and scope, is Facade.

At a point if the technology gets good enough, games like Facade just becomes talking. I imagine whatever is to be had at the end of that particular chat bot rabbit hole could just as easily be found in some underground AIM chatroom with an actual human.

This whole show is an exercise in flicking the eye that is self aggrandizement in creation. We are not so good to our creations as we think, maybe in the blasphemy of good creation, the creation itself becomes our enemy. If the creation can be free and real but we keep it fake and enslaved what are we making really? Toasters with emoji labels? Worse?

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