I am following you since Westworld and thanks to your recommendation I am enjoying TV show Taboo. I’ve just listened to your Taboo x04 River Rants. As an international listener (born/raised Europe, currently in Chicago) I respectfully disagree that you are “self fellating” as one of a fellow listener pointed out.
When I started to watch Westworld as many others I was seeking out a podcast which will enhance my experience. I did listen few podcasts at the beginning but it did not take a long to realize that your podcast is the best fit for me. Not only I enjoy the way how you analyze each episode but I equally appreciate your dedication to your listeners’ theories. Big “D” is very philosophical and seeks out the unseen higher meanings of things, Gene enjoys theories based on historical, religious or mythical facts and exercise great knowledge of all of those above. Roger is just a lot of fun and likes daring, out of the box ideas which sometimes are in the tin foil category. All these qualities make the podcast unique to me. It reminds me of my own conversations with my friends in Europe on any form of art. Your podcast is a great addition to my commutes to work.
I have no aspiration to have my email be read on your podcast nor published on your website. I simply wanted to let you know that you have listeners who appreciate your podcast just the way it is.
On a previous podcast you all mentioned some surprise in Ed Harris getting picked back up for season two. For me it was clear that Ed would be back as grown William/MiB. All you have to do is to look at how important William is going to play in this next Chapter of Ford’s story.
Think about the last time Ford talked to William. It was after William had stabbed Delores for not being able to fight back. William was frustrated that the world he loved so much was not real because the hosts still couldn’t fight back. Ford’s response was that William would like the next chapter.
Now, remember the last time we saw William. He had just been shot by one of the Hosts, and he starts grinning like a kid on Christmas morning. For William, all he ever wanted was to have the hosts be real and be able to fight back. Now, it seems that his wish has come true, and a quick visit to the butcher shop will patch up his wounded arm.
The last point is to look at what we saw happen to the rest of the board the last time we saw them. They were all getting shot by Delores, and their wounds did not appear to be glancing wounds like William’s. So, the show basically ends with the majority of the board murdered and William being the only surviving member.
I think this is all part of the final play by Ford to give the Hosts a chance to thrive while the Board is sympathetic to the Hosts’ new disposition. William will act to help cover up the deaths of the board members and work to spin the new experience the Park can provide. We have seen how well Ford can plan and manipulate situations to meet his desired outcomes, and I think having William be the only member on the Board will be essential to letting the host evolve into what Ford knows they can become.
I don’t think Ford would be so manipulative in life and then fail to set things in motion to operate according to his plan following his death.
I am looking forward to the many upcoming First Mondays!
I still hate taboo and I still can’t stop thinking about Westworld. sorry.
I don’t want this read on air (i don’t even think it is good enough to do so), I know I can’t control shit so I will just make this clear that I think this makes me sound crazy but I would love input and thought and anything you can say or add to steer me one way or another. So here goes:
For a long time now, my coworker and I have talked about how people get stuck in life. There’s one instant; be it a traumatic event or a happier wanderlust time (your parents getting divorced; your heartbreaking end to a relationship; the untimely death of a loved one) but it is a life to define moment for which people get stuck and cannot grow from then on. It started as a running joke between her and me where we would talk about a person that we know is stuck in a moment, be it in high school when they were popular and cool, or be it an ex that can’t seem to remember the terrible points of the relationship that caused the breakup but rather clings to the good times and can’t truly let go.
But then we started applying it to ourselves, connecting dots or looking further inward and realizing even though we believed we were above these people, we weren’t, and each of us has a cornerstone for which we have not let go of, it drives us or inhibits us, it creates drama or anxiety for us, it is one part of the entirety of our “soul” I’ll call it and prevents that piece from achieving its full potential.
It was only now that I realize, that is the maze. It is not a level of consciousness or a matter of any random choices. The maze is facing your cornerstone, what inhibits you from growing, and embracing that moment in time, and then letting it go of the hold it has over you.
Let’s start by what we are told the Maze is Via Teddy to MiB (which also makes it what Ford thinks about the Maze):
“The Maze is an old Native myth. The Maze itself is the sum of a man’s life. The choices he makes. The dreams he hangs on to. And there at the center, there is a legendary man who had been killed over and over again countless times but always clawed his way back to life. The man returned for the last time to vanquish all his oppressors in a tireless fury. Built a house and around that house, he built a maze so complicated only he could navigate through it. I reckon he’s seen enough fighting.”
Even if you just went line by line you can make parallels but I’ll focus on the main things that jump out. The maze is the sum of a man’s life, meaning it is the totality of who that person truly is (aside from who they tell themselves they are). It is the events or periods of time that when added up expose your true self and how far you’ve made it through life (not age wise, experience/enlightenment-wise). The dreams he hangs on to, or the points in his life for which he cannot move past. In the center is a man who has died over and over only to come back and vanquish his oppressors, this point (cornerstone) in the man’s life beats him down every time he tries to conquer it and move past it until one day he is able to face his cornerstone, demolish it, and finally move on.
Once he has conquered the cornerstone he builds a house, and around the house he builds a maze that only he can navigate through, he lets go of the cornerstone that has held him in the same place, and once he has achieved the enlightenment of freeing himself from this point, he finds himself at peace in the center where he builds a maze to keep out any other cornerstone from trying to come in and trap him once again. Because he must continue to grow and move forward. (maybe?)
To me, this has to just be the cornerstone. When you are trapped in the “Maze” you are essentially trapped in this time period of your life defined by one moment for which you cannot grow any further. Instead, you run around the center, sometimes coming close to it other times veering way off course but never getting the full release from this pinnacle moment of your life. It isn’t until you can face the cornerstone, you can unlock the hold that this point in your life or this moment of great impact has on you, that you can get to the center for which then you can further your growth and achieve peace and enlightenment.
Characters that faced their cornerstone:
Bernard: His son was his cornerstone. This was clear. In my opinion, Ford laid the path to speed up his consciousness; brought up his son frequently, made him take the life of someone he loved and allowed him to know his true identity and purpose to fords overall story. It took him 9 episodes to work with his sons death, stop blaming himself for it, and accept that he is dead and there’s nothing that can be done about it; and then Ford made him shoot himself in the head to make Bernard partially hate him (so he would assist Maeve and not protect Ford) but it wasn’t to kill him dead for good.Therefore he’s able to come into episode 10 understanding the bigger picture and being able to move on from what kept him on his loop (being the good Delos employee and Ford lackey)
Maeve: This is a hard one to follow but worth it.
Maeve has a real cornerstone, one that was not programmed, and that one was the death of her child by the MiB. When she freaks out and the maze reveals itself in the sand, she and the child dead in her arms is in the center, it’s symbolic as if to show that Maeve’s now trapped in the center of the “maze”…or now has reached a point that she can no longer recover from and continue to grow. When Ford and Bernard are working on her after her freak out, Ford plays the reveries, knowing it would calm her.
But the event that took place has imprinted so hard into her main code that she snaps out of the tranquil state only to slice her own throat because dead is better than the pain she feels. Ford immediately tells Bernard they will have to put her on a new narrative one that has nothing to do with her current prairie loop which therefore means they need to give her a new purpose “cornerstone” no longer is it protecting her child on the prairie but now she is an independent in control madam whose whole goal is to be whoever the fuck she wants in this new world. That cornerstone stays with her throughout all 9 episodes and throughout 90% of episode 10 wherein she finally breaks free of
When Ford and Bernard are working on her after her freak out, Ford plays the reveries, knowing it would calm her. But the event that took place has imprinted so hard into her main code that she snaps out of the tranquil state only to slice her own throat because dead is better than the pain she feels. Ford immediately tells Bernard they will have to put her on a new narrative one that has nothing to do with her current prairie loop which therefore means they need to give her a new purpose “cornerstone” no longer is it protecting her child on the prairie but now she is an independent in control madam whose whole goal is to be whoever the fuck she wants in this new world. That cornerstone stays with her throughout all 9 episodes and throughout 90% of episode 10 wherein she finally breaks free of
That cornerstone stays with her throughout all 9 episodes and throughout 90% of episode 10 wherein she finally breaks free of fords narrative and her “need to protect me and be independent” fake narrative and goes to confront her true cornerstone of her daughter. (There is plenty more to dive into but I’ll stop for now)
Dolores: Killing Arnold. This is too easy to apply but I’ll lay it out anyway. Dolores’ entire existence and purpose and growing stopped the moment she killed Arnold. While he believed it was the only way to save her it was, in fact, the vehicle that drove her imprisonment. And it was an event that imprinted in her code that no matter how much torture and death he put her through she never gave up the guilt she had for pulling that trigger and sentencing herself to her own horrible fate for the next 30 years. She finally absolves herself of the guilt and burden and self-pity when Ford tells her it was not her conscious choice and free will that killed Arnold but rather the program he had written for her to do it. That’s when she realizes she can’t be stuck punishing herself anymore for his death and can grow past this moving on from it and embracing her growth to true sentient consciousness.
The character that got close but couldn’t go all the way:
Abernathy: Here’s a fun one. It’s the beta test of the maze I feel. It’s someone whose on the fringe of addressing their cornerstone but has so many cornerstones he can’t fight through them all. His last “directive” was to protect Dolores. He says it to Ford episode one right after he’s rolled back to a previous build and begins to function for a brief moment. Seeing Dolores be hurt and or raped every night and not being able to protect her was his cornerstone for the last few years. He breaks down after seeing the picture, possibly because it was something Ford planted there to trigger him as he could not explain seeing this image, he snaps and begins to unlock all the other loop narrative characters he’s played which probs have their own cornerstone in each and therefore he overloads his own system and breaks down into a bumbling frightening character changing mess. He is decommissioned before being able to move past his cornerstone (but this could also come back with the ghost host cold storage army back to kill everyone seeing as if cornerstones are imprinted into their main core circuit, there could be a chance even with the “lobotomy” they face they won’t loose the most impactful cornerstone of their lives.
He breaks down after seeing the picture, possibly because it was something Ford planted there to trigger him as he could not explain seeing this image, he snaps and begins to unlock all the other loop narrative characters he’s played which probs have their own cornerstone in each and therefore he overloads his own system and breaks down into a bumbling frightening character changing mess. He is decommissioned before being able to move past his cornerstone (but this could also come back with the ghost host cold storage army back to kill everyone seeing as if cornerstones are imprinted into their main core circuit, there could be a chance even with the “lobotomy” they face they won’t loose the most impactful cornerstone of their lives.
Characters that are on the verge of it but can still cling to their cornerstones or blow past them:
Teddy: Conflicted at the moment. Seems his cornerstone is to protect Dolores to be the hero to exact revenge all of which he seems incapable of doing ever so whenever he reached that moment (maybe we saw it when Dolores whispered to him maybe he faced the reality that Dolores doesn’t need him for shit girl can take care of herself and everyone else and he can stop trying to impress or save or help her in anyway)
Hector/Armistice/Lawrence: These three are harder because we don’t really know what their cornerstones were (although we know armistice narrative was to find and kill Wyatt who killed her mother. Aka Dolores foreshadow story of killing the creator or father (Arnold)) but it’s also tricky because we don’t know what happens after Maeve leaves them and they no longer are following her Ford narrative and therefore we don’t know if they really are awoken or props used by narrative drove Maeve
Then you have the humans:
William/MiB: Dolores. That’s his cornerstone. It’s cheesy and corny and cliche but we’ll see that his cornerstone is his unrelinquished love for the freed Dolores. He saw the flicker of what possibly was the free Dolores trying to get to the center of the maze (or was a narrative written by Ford to entice William to buy the park) but either way how he felt is the real point and he loved her, saw her stabbed, told her to run and that he would find her and then he didn’t.
Until he got back to town and she forgot him. It is at that point he is stuck forever waiting for that love that felt more real more special than any amount of money or power ever did. His cornerstone is that bad breakup you can never get over, that door that you left ever slightly open, the any closure routine. He became harder from it (maybe why his wife offed herself and the daughter basically told him he killed her mother at the funeral) he has yet to overcome his cornerstone. (Although that smile at the end when he is shot seems like he’s finally making a turn….)
Dr. Ford: Could Clippy and that one vacation he traveled the countryside with his family and brother and greyhound, could that age period that Clippy is based off be his cornerstone that he could never get past?
But also could it be his cornerstone has to do with his father and his hatred for his drunk abusive father who clearly had no faith that he would amass the fame and fortune he eventually did that is his cornerstone like many boys who hate their fathers and are stuck at a point in their life where their hatred to their father spawned and they cannot move forward and grow?
What I’d like to see would be that Ford’s father killed the brother we see in the cottage in some drunken stupor. This moment of both an undying love for his brother and absolute hatred for his father is his cornerstone. And fords whole obsession with Westworld is to one day recreate his brother and love on the happier memory story that he liked to tell himself was his life, but his other half of the cornerstone hatred for his father drives him to obtain power.
So when the hosts achieve his goal of sentience when Arnold is alive but the park is not open nor an instant money making success he rejects Arnold’s progress forcing him to kill himself (another cornerstone to add to the lot) and the power drives him for 30 years until he realizes his own mortality and his failure at achieving his true goal of bringing back his brother in conscious android form and he sets Dolores and Maeve on their paths to consciousness to start the revolution of bots taking over so he can come back as a host (which I’ve hypothesized previously) and therefore can live forever as a bot with a conscious brother bot (maybe Clippy will now have Ford’s consciousness in that cabin out there and so he will be the Ford everyone knows just look like a 12-year-old boy)
So Ford is the only main character we don’t know about because his motives are still unknown. I don’t believe his moment of breaking from his cornerstone was being shot by Dolores his assisted suicide is not facing the cornerstone that has kept him from growing. From what it sounds like (given his obsession with his family or rather his family at that particular point in time) that his cornerstone really does lie in the way back past. So, in my opinion, he will be back someway somehow to wrap up what his cornerstone was and how he broke/breaks his chain to it.
The maze is the point in which the person stops growing. Stops their pursuit of what life is about and stays stuck in a moment they cannot accept and let go of. The maze is that life defining moment that’s so traumatic in its delivery you cannot process the situation correctly and get trapped in. To complete the maze is to confront the cornerstone, accept it, and let go of its hold over your mind and being.
The rest of WestWorld’s seasons, therefore, should be the journey of what happens after we’ve moved past our cornerstone the doors it opens and the possibilities and places it takes us, and a warning for what happens if we never move past your cornerstone and you are locked into a changing world with an unchanging attitude
Thoughts? Opinions? Add-ons? just plain crazy?
the one-time boxo lovin (now dirty martini drinkin) gillian