Note: This post contains LOTS OF SPOILERS FOR WESTWORLD. If you haven't seen Season 2 Episode 7 ("Les Escorches") yet, probably best to avoid this post. You have been warned...
I'm going to jump right into it.
I think my wife and I have cracked what Westworld is up to this season.
It's more than a little bit crazy, so bear with me a bit here.
The big thing to remember through all of this is that it seems like this season is very tightly written. Every revelation comes back to play a part in the grander scheme of things.
So if something has been covered in a plot point, that probably means it's important, no matter how much of a detour an episode like Samurai World seems to be.
This past week, we learned that Ford had uploaded his consciousness to the Cradle (I don't know the cutesy way they spell it in the show), which Kate and I affectionately call "Cloud World."
This is the place where all of the hosts' backups are stored, and they go through their loops best as we can tell pretty much continuously.
Much more on Cloud World in a minute.
We also learned more about Delos's scheme to learn more information about the guests. Namely that Westworld is all a big experiment. They run variables (the guests) through a situation where the hosts are the constants, and record everything--behaviors, reactions, etc.
We still don't know why Delos is doing this, but Kate and I think we have a pretty good idea.
Recall the "tragedy" of Old Man James Delos.
Long story short, rich a-hole has a terminal illness and ultimately dies, but per his instructions, young William tries to put Old Man Delos's consciousness into a host's control unit/body to give Old Man Delos immortality.
Every time they try to do so, William comes in and has the same conversation that he did with Old Man Delos when he was alive to see just how close they got to duplicating "the real thing."
The only problem is that these host copies always bug out somehow. They lose fidelity. They survive for days, sometimes weeks even, but the human mind is proving to be too complicated to be accurately replicated in a host in the real world.
So that path to immortality--putting peoples' consciousness in host bodies--seems to be a dead end.
If you can't create an "immortal" consciousness in a host body, what's the next best way to achieve immortality?
It seems like Ford has the answer:
Upload your consciousness to the Cradle/Cloud World.
As he explains this episode, consciousness seems to last a lot longer in Cloud World--it's not plagued with the same issues of degradation as "implant a person's consciousness in a host body" does.
So Ford, in anticipation of Delores killing him in last season's finale, uploaded his consciousness to Cloud World where he knew it would be safe.
Still with me?
Ford is an interesting character too--what's his motive? Does he want the hosts to just murder all people they encounter? Is he really mad, as the end of this episode might suggest?
I don't think so, and here's why:
It's pretty clear that the "product" that Delos wants to offer is some kind of immortality.
And as we've seen, immortality in a host's body is a non-starter.
But cloud immortality--that's seemingly possible.
Ford has achieved it a couple of times now.
He did it initially by bringing Arnold back to life in the cloud in the form of Bernard.
Granted, Bernard isn't a complete carbon copy of Arnold's consciousness: he's been created from both Ford's memories and Delores's memories--the two people who knew him best.
As Ford was tinkering creating Bernard in Cloud World, Bernard was only released once he passed the "fidelity" test with Delores.
So Ford has created a "person" (Bernard) in Cloud World from the memories of a couple of individuals. And this creation was able to pass fidelity tests for years--up until they find the cache of Bernard copies in the lab, not even Charlotte or Big Bald Goatee Idiot suspect him of being a host.
And as we've seen, Ford's even gone a step further: he's uploaded his own consciousness to Cloud World. And it seems to be pretty accurate as far as we know.
In other words: it seems like Ford's perfected the ability to upload individuals' consciousnesses to the Cloud.
This is a huge development! Theoretically, it means that Delos can sell people "Cloud Immortality" where they can live in Cloud World pretty much forever.
Here's the problem though:
If you live in Cloud World forever, it would get pretty boring after a while.
Guests would just go about their same loops, day after day... Delores dropping the can, pre-badass Teddy going on about whatever simple stuff he's talking about...
Sure you'd have other Guests to interact with... but you'd be living in the same theme park ride FOREVER.
This was alluded to in the Samurai World episode. There are only so many narratives--so many ways the stories can play out. So it would get terribly boring after a while.
So we think Ford needed a way to give the hosts the ability to think for themselves. To create their own narratives. "Choose their own paths," so-to-speak.
And to do that, he came up with a couple of plans.
The first is Delores. She was probably his "plan A"--introduce self-awareness naturally, by allowing her to proceed through the maze.
The backup--the "plan B," I think, is Maeve. She's around to "wake" hosts who either don't buy into Delores's special brand of murderous "justice" or who haven't encountered her yet.
After all, Maeve's search for her daughter had her cover a lot of ground. And she interacted with a lot of different people.
So you've got Delores gaining self-awareness on one hand, and Maeve giving self-awareness on the other.
Yet there's one crucial question that no one has addressed yet:
If you want to give Hosts self-awareness to improve the experience in Cloud World... why would you do that in the real world?
After all, it seems like a real pain to go to all of that trouble... then corral all of the hosts, upload their consciousness into a new Cradle/Cloud World, etc.
And it'd be much, much tougher to convince anyone to work with Delos after the bloodbath Westworld has turned into. After all, if you were a billionaire, would you go to the "New and Improved--Grand Re-Opening!" Westworld after all of this had happened?
Finally, Ford is more of a "show, don't tell" kinda guy. He's a master storyteller and knows that it's way more powerful to let people have an experience and draw their own conclusions than to just be like Brad Pitt in Troy:
|"Immortality--take it, it's YOURS!"|
So this is what we think is going on:
All of the action this season is taking place inside of a "Second Cloud."
Somehow, the guests who attended the gala were brought into this "Second Cloud" on their way into the park.
This Second Cloud has a few different purposes:
It allows the hosts to develop consciousness (and thus go "off-script") in a controlled way.
It also not only "shows" the guests attending the gala that not only are they going to die... but it lets them experience it, often in the most gruesome and painful ways possible.
And yet Delos is collecting all of this data... and we don't know why... but:
Could it be to create "versions" of guests who have already been in the park for Cloud World?
So like Ford did with Arnold/Bernard, he'd have these "Cloud Immortal" versions of guests ready to roll out...
And that's the true end of this new narrative of Ford's:
If you just got eaten by fire ants, or hung slowly in the sun for days... and then you woke up and Ford's there like, "Surprise! You're still alive... but now for a limited time, Delos is offering Cloud Immortality..." you'd be pretty likely to cut a check, right?
Finally (and perhaps most importantly), Second Cloud World is there to prove fidelity.
And this is where William, Charlotte, and Bernard all come in.
No one probably has experienced the park quite like William has. Even though Ford might "know" more about it, he doesn't have the day-to-day experience William does in there.
So if you were creating a cloud version of the park, with "free-thinking" hosts, you'd want to test it on someone who has extensive experience in the real park, to see if they could tell the difference.
If William is in Second Cloud World, but he thinks he's in the real park, there's a high level of fidelity there.
Same goes for Charlotte--she knows the park in a different way than William... but if she can't tell the difference, there's fidelity there too.
And then there's Bernard. He's key to this part of the story.
That's because he's the first iteration of what Ford's trying to do here:
He's the original "create a Cloud World consciousness from data/memories" test case.
As Ford says to Bernard at the end of the episode, "It's your narrative now."
I think that's because he's testing the fidelity of Bernard in Second Cloud World. To see if this kind of a person constructed from memories and data acts like the real thing in Second Cloud World.
And the ramifications for Second Cloud World are startling:
Is this essentially the genesis story for the Simulation Theory of the Universe?
How deep do the Cloud Worlds go?
(Most importantly to Kate): How does Ghost Nation play into all of this? Are they some kind of fail-safe in the narrative? But if it's all a simulation, why would they be needed then?
It really does boggle the mind a bit.
Anyway, would love to get your thoughts! Leave a comment below: