Teddy And His Free Will
Been listening to your podcasts for a while now, but this is my first time writing in for Westworld specifically. This episode was great.
Of all the amazing content in this weeks episode, one major standout for me was Teddy. Teddy2.0 is a scary departure from his original self and in two episodes, he’s become one of the most fearsome characters of the series. The scene where he beat down the mustache guy gave me chills; I watched with my mouth open thinking, this show really can compete with GoT and may even surpass it at some point. The blend of tense fighting with the superb acting by marsden made that scene impactful. The overall cinematography in this episode and this scene also proved that it’s a complete package show; WW is not just using violence as a gimmick but they use it well to flesh out characters (granted, the Delos fighters are about as useful as clone troopers though).
But watching all this and seeing Teddy’s calculated behavior made me question his current state of consciousness and where his character development will go next. Despite Dolores changing his personality traits (his programming) I can’t help but think he’s still coming to terms with his own free will. Teddy is awake at this point, but maybe not fully. He knows the circumstances of his creation, the patterns of mistreatment and I think he understands his current place in the world (not just Westworld but also the world beyond). That being said, his high level of loyalty keeps him bound to Dolores and he will continuously act on her instructions. Despite showing small levels of autonomy (like killing that one dude out of nowhere, just as he disobeyed Dolores to spare the soldiers), I think Teddy’s real and full awakening will come when he actively decides his own path, rather than following Dolores. Slight deviations from her instructions thus far show that he is capable of exercising his own free will, and the suffering he has undergone may have already triggered his consciousness. However, he doesn’t have that same level of consciousness as Maeve or Dolores or even Angela, because even when questioning Dolores, he remains a follower and beholden to her.
To state this more succinctly, I think a host’s full consciousness is determined by their exercise of free will against the core tenants of their character or programming. Thus, in order for teddy to become fully awake, he would have to not only disobey Dolores, but break from her completely (rather than disagree but follow anyway). He needs to realize the voice in his head is his own, not the loyalty setting that keeps him tethered to the will of his partner. Essentially, this means breaking from his core narrative, the core story of being Dolores’ white knight and love interest.
It seems like so often a host’s ability to become awake is tethered to them overcoming their narrative, often by overcoming an obstacle in another. For Lawrence in this episode alone, he recalled his memories of abuse at the hands of William, as though it was just a memory. He didn’t lose track of timeframe or place like Bernard, he just remembered things from last season. When he did, he broke free and actively made the choice to shoot MiB despite always being told to protect him (Lawrence’s narrative always involved an allegiance with MiB). Other hosts, like Maeve, can help push them to consciousness, but they need to exercise free will and “pull the trigger” on their own accord. Suffering is a natural build up to that as well, but the true freedom lies within a host’s ability to exercise free will against the tenants of their programming or their core personality traits.
To give one last example, you could look at Hector as well. For all intents and purposes he’s a secondary character, but he’s hit peak consciousness IMO because he follows Maeve out of love and chooses that love over his own backstory. He ignores the fake story and makes his own, much to the disbelief of Sizemore. But in choosing his own path, Hector became in tune with the true nature of his reality. Teddy has yet to do that. This is not to say that the hosts need to lose their given personality in order to become conscious/fully autonomous. Hector is still violent, Dolores still has a soft spot for her father etc. But ultimately the choices result from free will, not a byproduct of their programmed traits.
Love all your podcasts and thank you for being so active on twitter. It makes the wait between episodes much more bearable.
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