One of the overriding themes of HBO's new series, "Westworld," was touched on briefly in its premiere episode. And in Sunday's (Oct. 9) episode, titled "Chestnut," the series expands on its story canon with a simple, yet philosophical, question: Would you go white hat or black hat?
The basic concept, which was originally established in Michael Crichton's 1973 film, states that players of the game -- the Westworld guests, if you will -- are faced with a choice that will fully influence their gaming experience and ultimately dictate their identity and role during their stay at the park.
This light side vs. dark side conundrum is presented in the form of two friends William (Jimmi Simpson) and Logan (Ben Barnes). So far, we've seen the depths the really wealthy guests of the parks will go to in order to fulfill their "violent delights." But it's William's entrance to the story that helps add some heroic hope as he's probably going to be the one audiences connect with most.
If William -- with his white hat and good intentions -- is the conscience of the show, at least on the game level, then what are Dr. Ford's (Anthony Hopkins) true intentions? We ask this because, it's become quite clear that "Westworld" is a big show with big questions and symbolism lurking around every corner. It's a futuristic play on the classic battle of good and evil, but one that comes with a more dangerous methodology than any classic western could muster.
Ford, up until now, has been presented as the mere creator of the vast theme park. With the multiple conversations he's had with Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) -- filled with philosophical statements and godlike metaphors -- the good doctor has shown a plethora of wisdom befitting of his old age.
But when he steps foot onto the soil of the land he created, he's shown wearing a black hat. Sure, he's not a Guest of the park. He's most certainly not a Host (please don't make him a Host, that'd be a stupid "Blade Runner"-style twist!). But since he is the mastermind behind the whole thing, the rules his team put in place for those visiting the park must apply to him as well... right?
For anyone familiar with the original movie, you know that things will not end well for the Guests of Westworld. We're not too sure how things will go south in the series, but from what we've seen, it seems that Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) will have a hand in the inevitable robot uprising. How exactly Bernard's secret conversations with her will effect the outcome is still uncertain.
While the Man in Black (Ed Harris) is looking for the deepest level of the game, it's becoming clear that Ms. Abernathy might just be the real Judas steer in this equation. Not only did she explain that term to Teddy (James Marsden) in the season opener, we also learned that Dolores is the park's original Host. She holds seniority.
If she continues down this path to the "violent ends" she warned of in "Chestnut," then her actions -- wherever it takes us -- will surely be followed by the other Hosts in the park. She may have said she wouldn't hurt a living thing, but that smashed fly on her neck, the deadly visions she's been having and her newfound gun tell us otherwise.
And what of Bernard? On one end, it feels like he's up to no good. But if the final visual of the episode is any indicator -- with the color of one's head dress being indicative of their character and motives -- then we present to you this image of Dr. Ford and Mr. Lowe wearing two very different types of hats, color and all.
It could mean nothing... or it could mean everything.
"Westworld" airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on HBO.