Review of Westworld 1.9

Half-Truths and Old Friends

nominated for 22 Emmys 2017

Another episode of Westworld  -- 1.9 -- just breathtaking in its philosophical insight and daring. The series, brilliant from the outset, just keeps getting better.

The agenda is set in this ninth episode with what Maeve, now in control of her android programmer, tells Bernard: truth is "like a good fuck -- half is worse than none at all".

We've known less than half the truth about Bernard, until the eighth episode, when we found that he was a host aka android. Now we learn that that was not even the half of it.

Because, in another standout conversation between him and Ford, in which Bernard pushes Ford to tell him the truth about Bernard, and Ford presumably obliges, we find that Bernard is not just any host. Not even just any host put in charge by Ford to program and oversee the other hosts. No, Bernard is a host programmed by Ford in Arnold's image.

Well, not just his image, but, presumably, with something, maybe even a lot, of Arnold's mind. Further, according to Ford, Arnold and Ford had two different ideas about how to build the minds of hosts -- two different approaches, both of which co-exist, to some degree in each of the hosts we now encounter. This is one iteration of Jaynes' bicameral mind.

The other iteration is that Arnold's idea of consciousness is that one voice within the mind talks to the other, and consciousness emerges as the two are in some way blended or brought into synch. So, if this represents Arnold's idea of a host's consciousness, and it co-exists in the hosts' minds along with Ford's, we have a bicameral mind within a bicameral mind. All of that assuming, of course, that Ford was telling Bernard and us the truth -- not a thoroughly reliable proposition, since Ford plays with Bernard and tells him half-truths and other-sized fragments in every conversation they have.

Hey, I told you the philosophical insight was daring. And I'm not even 100% clear what we saw in this episode means. But I'm pretty sure that in this penultimate episode of the first season, we've received at least half the truth of what's going on. Or maybe not, but let's go with that assumption. It was certainly, to get back to Maeve's declaration, a movable feast for the intellect.

And the other half? Well, I doubt we'll get all or even most of it in the Season One finale, since, after all, this is only the first season. But I'm looking forward to whatever little shred of more we'll get.

Paul Levinson
Paul Levinson

Paul Levinson's novels include The Silk Code (winner Locus Award, Best 1st Science Fiction Novel of 1999) & The Plot To Save Socrates. His nonfiction including Fake News in Real Context has been translated into 15 languages. 

Now Reading
Review of Westworld 1.9