‘Westworld’ Power Rankings: Of God, Man And The Bicameral Mind
WARNING: Spoilers. If you haven't seen episode 10, cease all motor functions.
The season finale of Westworld, "The Bicameral Mind", is in the books, and it goes down as one of the most brilliant episodes of television ever. Mysteries were solved and questions answered, and what question confounds mankind like the very nature of consciousness?
The big reveal is that Ford had never been the evil genius we all assumed. "Arnold wanted to save the hosts, but he didn't know how to do it," Ford says to Bernard. "I did."
The problem was it took him a long-ass time to do it.
At first, Ford fought Arnold's plan to bring the hosts to full consciousness, and Arnold responded by ordering Dolores to kill all the hosts and destroy the park. But it didn't work, as William stepped in and saved the park financially (due in large part to his love for Dolores). Arnold committed suicide (by Dolores' hand), noting that a price had to be paid for these "violent delights."
Shattered by the loss of his friend, Ford realized he had been wrong, and set about letting the hosts free. But he needed time. The Maze? That was a metaphor for the hosts' journey to sentience -- inspired by a toy that Arnold's ill-fated son liked to play.
There's a lot to unpack here, but most of it can be explained in Dr. Ford's (Anthony Hopkins) penultimate monologue spoken in his private lab. He uses Michelangelo's "The Creation of Adam", one of the frescos on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and possibly the most famous religious painting of all time, to illustrate what he had seen in the hosts all along.
"The divine moment when God gave human beings life and purpose," Ford says, pointing at the artwork. "At least that's what most people say. But there could be another meaning, something deeper. Something that has been hidden from us for nearly 500 years. A metaphor."
Ford then points to the right portion of the painting, and traces the image of God's red cloak. It is almost the exact shape of a human brain.
Michaelangelo painted "The Creation of Adam" sometime between 1508 and 1512. It depicts the Biblical creation of God breathing life into Adam. What many in that time didn't realize was that Michelangelo was also an expert anatomist. The fresco was a secret message that went undetected for 500 years, until in 1990 an Indiana physician in the Journal of the American Medical Association noted that God's cloak and background figures were in the exact outline of a human brain.
"The message being that the divine gift does not come from a higher power, but from our own minds."
And when you peel away the layers, that is the message of Westworld.
In real-life terms we realize that the gift of awareness and the quest for us to be better people is not something that is going to be handed down from the heavens, but rather hard-won in our own consciousness. The journey of man is really the evolution of the human brain, and our desire to be free and control our destiny.
It was a stunning reveal in the season finale of a brilliant show, and I for one am anxious to see where Season 2 will take us.
The Bicameral Mind
The name of the final episode comes from a term coined by Julian Jaynes in his 1976 book The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind. Jaynes believed that as recently as 3,000 years ago, the human brain had two chambers -- one that spoke to us, and the other that obeyed. Only when the two chambers merged were we truly human. The voices Dolores had been hearing, then, were her Bicameral self. And once she was able to merge the two -- as represented in the scene in which she's talking to her double, and suddenly that double is gone -- she became truly conscious.
1. Dolores. First one to total consciousness wins! When she shot Arnold, she did so on Arnold's command. But in the final scene of the season finale, that was Dolores' choice to pull the trigger and assassinate Dr. Ford. "Don't worry Teddy, I understand everything now." Teddy was fine with it, because for once he wasn't the one getting riddled.
2. Maeve. Maeve has also reached total consciousness, we presume. It was her decision to leave the train and go and search for her daughter -- the first truly independent decision she's made in season 1. Here's how we know that.
3. Dr. Robert Ford. He played everyone, including me. The final reveal was indeed a shock, as Ford turned out to be a sympathetic puppet master, carrying out one final act of repentance. He realized he was wrong about the hosts in his grief after Arnold died, and it took 35 years to make things right.
4. Bernard. He's now in charge, we suppose. Hail Arnold.
5. Armistice. The word means, literally, to stop fighting for a certain time; a truce. To lay down one's arms. If you saw the sting following the credits, that all makes sense.
6. Teddy Flood. Damn it, I still think he ends up with Dolores. Meanwhile, the over-under on Teddy deaths in season 2 shall be: 12.
7. Clementine. Quite a rind on her at this point. But she'll be conscious soon so watch out.
8. Hector Escaton. He's not as imposing in a lab jumpsuit, is he? He needs to be the first host they bring back. Best quote: "Die well."
9. Felix. One of the best lines of the finale, by Maeve: "Honestly Felix, you make a terrible human. And I mean that as a compliment."
10. Lee Sizemore. The look on his face when he goes to fetch Peter Abernathy to put him on the train, and the cold storage room is empty. Ha.
Instead of 'Pigs In Clover', I Wish The Maze Was A Game Of 'Skill-it'
So The Maze turns out to be a metaphor for the journey to sentience, which is why humans are told "The Maze is not for you." Arnold got the inspiration from one of his son's games. But wouldn't he have more likely played this other wildly entertaining version? It looks more challenging, and it looks like a skillet. They used skillets in the old west. Missed opportunity.
A Shot In The Dark
Who shot the Man in Black in the final scene? The reviewers are all saying Clementine, and it makes sense, since she was in cold storage with the others before they were dispatched to the woods as part of Ford's end game. But the image was really dark, and is Clementine a good enough shot to trust her with a Winchester, even though she's a robot? I made a screengrab and enhanced it, and I say the woman who shot the Man in Black in the shoulder is Elsie Hughes. Well, it's possible. She looks like Elsie, and that's the same black jacket she wore when she went missing. Bernard is assumed to have killed her, but we never saw her die, and she could be leading the attack. Hold up two fingers and do the Hunger Games whistle!
They Actually Showed Us Ford's Plan Back In Episode 6
The whole thing is right there: the church, the courtyard, the murderous hosts aligned in the woods. Ford was playing a big game of Combat Command III right there in his office if anyone cared to look. And didn't anyone see the eraser board where he wrote Dec. 6: Kill all the board members?
It has to be more than coincidence that in the finale, Ford is assassinated in an (outdoor) theater. ... Did you catch Dolores' ode to Jurassic Park? To William/MiB: "They say that great beasts once roamed this world, as big as mountains. Yet all that's left of them is bone and amber." It was the last of several in this series ... Yes, Maeve left her handbag on the train. Guess she figured she wouldn't need it. ... So, a new race of humans who will never get sick, don't have to eat or have jobs and will never die. Seems like the perfect HBO subscriber base. Coincidence?? ... Quote of the night: "An old friend once said to me something that gave me great comfort, something he'd read. He said that Mozart, Beethoven and Chopin never died. They simply became music."
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