It’s become a common TV theme, recently, that every show worth viewing has to come with a big twist, or reveal, in some sense. In the world of high concept, genre television, it’s almost a given that audiences will be blown away by some trick or detail that, up until it hits, has been overlooked.
For some shows — we’re looking at you “American Horror Story” — it has been successful, as, at its Season 6 core, the promotion relied heavily on speculation on the show’s theme. But, whether it’s “Mr. Robot” or “Black Mirror,” the expectations of the next big twist have begun to overshadow the shows themselves.
This brings us to “Westworld,” HBO’s newest must-watch Sunday night series. Based on Michael Crichton’s sci-fi cult classic, the show is rife with symbolism and secrets. And while these secrets are setting us up for some intriguing plot twists, something tells us they won’t be as blatantly obvious as say… making Bernard Lowe a host.
Going into its fourth episode, there are many theories floating the Internet that discuss everything from the Man in Black’s (Ed Harris) true motives to Dr. Ford’s (Anthony Hopkins) evil intentions. But, with the brief backstory into Dr. Ford’s old partner, Arnold, many have begun believing the notion that Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) is really a host.
Yes, “Westworld” is filled with elements reminiscent of other genre classics. And while the divide between guests and hosts reminds us of the replicant/human divide in Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner,” we think it’d be too convenient — and even low hanging fruit — for the series to tap Bernard as a robot in disguise.
How would this theory work in the story? Quite well, actually. We’ve seen Bernard still dealing with the trauma of his son’s death. And while that’s a very human reaction to such an event, what if it’s all a part of his narrative?
After Dr. Ford and Lowe communicated last week, in a conversation involving the possible consciousness of the park’s hosts, Ford asks Bernard if there’s anything else bothering him. Following up that question with the statement, “I know how that brain of yours works,” it’s hard not to connect the dots to the possible reveal that Ford created Lowe.
Previously, it’s been revealed that Bernard and Theresa Cullen (Sidse Babbett Knudsen) are having an affair. Asking her to stay the night, they discuss how the robots continue talking at night — their way of “error correcting,” according to Bernard. But asking her to remain with him in bed, was that an example of his own effort to error correct?
And what of his secret conversations with Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood)? As we’ve seen, her reveries have brought on previous memories from narratives, long past. If she’s just beginning to go down the rabbit hole, what’s to say that Bernard hasn’t already done the same? This theory posits the simple notion that Bernard — who seems to be going down a similar trajectory that the elusive Arnold did before him — is discovering his own consciousness and looking to relate it along to the hosts he helps design.
It’s a brilliant theory. Yet, it’s also something that is easy to predict. After all, the world of “Westworld” is new to television, but the influences that make up the imaginary park are deeply rooted in hard sci-fi’s past.
Whether it’s “Blade Runner,” the “Terminator” movies or even “Battlestar Gallactica,” we’re treading some familiar territory of seemingly harmless A.I. discovering some unexpected sentience. Doing so leaves the show open to make some original and unique choices in how the story plays out. And while putting Bernard Lowe in the position of, say, a Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) — if you’re unfamiliar with the replicant twist of “Blade Runner,” we’ll leave that up to you to discover — the theory just seems too a bit too convenient.
2016 may be the year of big reveals and unexpected twists on television. But with a show like “Westworld,” the biggest reveal has already been presented to audiences: It’s the park. All other details, adventures and plot devices should simply unfold organically from there.
“Westworld” airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on HBO.