It appears to be very important to HBO that you, omnipotent viewer, regard its newest series, Westworld, as late 2016’s answer to Game of Thrones. This is apparent in the show’s aggressive marketing, its gargantuan budget, its sprawling narrative, its quaking desperation, its profligate rape scenes, its Madonna-whore complex, its thing where it’s like, “Violence is bad and you are bad for liking violence, but here is soooo much violence for you!!!!”
And you will watch Westworld in the same way that you watch Game of Thrones: sometimes joyfully, always confusedly, occasionally stoned, usually feeling vaguely sick in the back of your soul for reasons you can’t quite pinpoint. As such, we will recap it in the same way that we recapped Game of Thrones: derangedly, often frighteningly so. “But Game of Thrones is still on, and it will be for several years, so why do we need another Game of Thrones ...” you say? Shhhh. Shhh. Don’t ask too many questions. Just lay back and let the robot-fucking wash over you, like a robot, uh, fucking you.
Westworld’s first episode begins ominously in that it reveals itself to be 68 minutes long. Robot Jesus, help us all. The very first shot is of an ass-naked woman, because of course it is. This is how we’re introduced to our main B, Dolores, a robot with the generic and inexplicable cheerfulness of a Disney princess and a fly crawlin’ all over her perfect face.
Dolores is being interviewed by Bernard, one of Westworld’s producers, who’s asking her classic first-date Qs like, “Have you ever questioned the nature of your reality?” She’s like, “No, I am lovin' life, do you wanna split a pitcher of cow’s milk?” As the two chat, we get a glimpse into Dolores’s reality, which presents as a cross between Sad Amish–ness, a particularly sexless Nicholas Sparks adaptation, Laura Ingalls Wilder with daddy issues, and the beginning of Beauty and the Beast, where Belle is bending over backward in order to enable her father to be fucking useless.
Bernard asks Dolores about her feelings on the “newcomers,” a.k.a. the park’s guests, one of whom is named Teddy and who is James Marsden. James Marsden is thoughtfully looking out a window on a train headed to
Hogwarts Westworld while a bunch of frat bros dressed as old-timey tourists talk about “going full evil.” James Marsden waltzes into Westworld resplendent in a black hat and his James Marsden face, smiling joyfully at a pair of kids who stick a scorpion onto an innocent man’s head and at a bartender who is kind of a dick to him for no apparent reason. James Marsden is too wrinkle-free to give a single fuck about scorpion terrorism and rude waitstaff.
James Marsden encounters a pair of prostitutes, one of whom is Thandie Newton and the other of whom says “not much of a rind on you,” a phrase that will haunt me until my dying days. He turns them both down because underneath his pants lies nothing but smooth, plastic Ken-doll underwear. Then he spots Dolores, who is deeply engaged in her daily routine of walking around buying cans and dropping them in the dirt.
James Marsden hands Dolores her dropped can, and the two exchange a bit of Sparksian dialogue that, were he to happen to tune in, would drive Ryan Gosling to suicide. James Marsden and Dolores, it would seem, have a history, and Dolores was waiting for James Marsden to return from wherever he goes for his pore-destroying chemical peels. James Marsden follows Dolores home on a horse, the two flirt in front of a herd of filthy animals, and then don’t make out because Dolores interrupts the moment by talking about her #daddy. Everything is as it should be on the Western front: quiet, horse-filled, demonstrably incestuous.
It’s dark now, and James Marsden and Dolores return to her house, where everybody — daddy, a mom who literally never speaks — has been violently murdered by a guy who loves (1) milk and (2) pouring milk on people he has just violently murdered. Who doesn’t love milk? I get it. The Milk Man and his friends casually discuss raping Dolores’s mom, who, again, has no lines in this entire episode and is only shown as a milk-doused corpse.
Ed Harris, playing a man dressed in all black who has indecipherable motives — wow, he’s so mysterious and interesting, what COULD he want from Westworld’s mindless inhabitants — shows up out of nowhere and shoots the Milk Man. James Marsden tells Dolores to “stay put,” then goes and gets murdered by Ed Harris, whom he shoots but cannot actually harm. Dolores screams “DADDY!!!” over her daddy’s corpse. Ed Harris drags Dolores offscreen to rape her. HBO wants me to say “thanks for the restraint in not showing the actual rape!” but I am going to drink this milk instead.
Dolores’s beautiful day starts over again. So does James Marsden’s. Two women gossip about James Marsden’s poreless visage and it is made clear that James is not a guest, but rather, a robot, doomed to enter the park day after day and watch his true love Dolores get terrorized in some unholy manner, then die. Westworld’s groundbreaking thesis, so far: Being a robot suuuuucks.
Now we’re in some kind of lab/fancy tech start-up, where the robot-sausage is made. Scientists are assembling horses and humans from scratch. Another prostitute robot walks around with her tits out. This is important to the story. Must remember: These robots have good, realistic tits. A male robot slings his gun. Must remember: Male robots are good at guns. Bernard and his coworker, Elsie, are examining one of the earlier prostitutes, who's, yes, naked, and rubbing her lip suggestively and staring off into the distance like a good hooker with a heart of gold. She’s experiencing a “reverie,” a new robot “gesture” that mimics human memory, which is totally going to fuck everything up for all the robots and subsequently the entire human race, but Bernard and Elsie don’t know this yet, even though they should, because this is their fucking job, and it’s totally obvious because it has happened in literally every other A.I. narrative in the history of science fiction.
Elsie makes out with the robot prostitute when Bernard leaves the room. OK!
Theresa, the head of something or other, berates Bernard for some “unscheduled” activity in the park, i.e., that thing where that guy poured milk all over Dolores’s family and lover. Theresa is a Career Woman Who Does Not Have Time For This Shit. No, She Does Not Have a Family. Yes, She Smokes and Yells at Men. A basic-looking random man tells Bernard that “kids and robots all rebel eventually.” Theresa and Bernard banter about how they are “overdue” for a “critical failure.” I wonder where this show is going. Where is this show going? Does anybody know? If so please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bernard pays a visit to the basement of the office, where a bunch of naked robots who critically failed are standing naked and motionless in long lines. “The cooling system has been down for weeks,” random basic man tells Bernard. La dee da dee daaaaaa, that’s probably fine, thinks Bernard, whose job is, again, to make sure robots don’t ruin the world. Just sweaty, wet, naked robots who’ve been discarded for eternity, standing around in a warehouse, seems great to me.
In the back of the warm robot cemetery is Anthony Hopkins, a.k.a. The Boss, who is encouraging a malfunctioning Willie Nelson knockoff to end his own life. Willie Nelson zips himself into a plastic bag while Bernard and The Boss have a little chat about the Good Old Days, when robots were shittier and men were rapey-er and happier and nobody could really do much about either because the internet didn’t exist yet.
Meanwhile, across town, Dolores is about to leave for her daily can-shopping. She and #daddy have a chat about how she is the reason for his entire life, which is fine, everything is fine. Meanwhile meanwhile, across across town, James Marsden is beginning his day of hat-tipping and Satan-worshipping. He spots Dolores, but is interrupted by a needy tourist, so Ed Harris picks up her can instead and says some shit about being too busy to rape her today. He is too busy because he has to go to the saloon and fuck up another robot.
A group of tourists and robots are hoofin’ around in the hills, looking for Hector, the robot bandit who’s been terrorizing the town of late. But the sheriff robot begins malfunctioning in the middle of the quest, which freaks out the tourists, who just wanted to spend a lazy afternoon killing a stranger. Back in the laboratory, a British man named Lee yells at Bernard about this. He is British and Wily. He Will Yell at Americans and Say Fuck A Lot. He is Ambitious and Godless and Will Stop at Nothing to Get to the Top. Bernard says he will do a “diagnostic” to figure out why his recent update is messing up all the robots, and Theresa says they need to pull all the updated robots, and Lee starts yelling because that will fuck up his narrative, and Bernard says, “Theresa, can I record your angry face for another new robot update even though this one is a total shitshow, you are nothing but an object to me, I am soulless, be suspicious of me.” Theresa is like, “Men cannot DO ANYTHING UGHHHHHHHHH” and stomps off in her clicky heels.
More robot tits. The total count of robot tits at this point is “all of them, all the robot tits.” This time they’re fucking tourists in a bathtub. Two of these tourists are talking about how the “real demented shit” gets going out in them thar hills, and that James Marsden knows all about it. James Marsden! But his face is so fresh! A fly sits on James Marsden’s face and he does not slap it away.
Dolores is painting a horse near a river as she stands next to a horse near a river. A family of three stumbles upon her and ruins her vibes, but she’s too nice to say anything. The little kid repays her generosity by telling her she “isn’t real.” Dolores is like, “Welp, gotta go, the sun is almost down,” even though it is literally high-ass noon. Back on the ranch, #daddy finds a photo of a woman in Times Square, and it fucks him right. up.
Daddy asks Dolores what she thinks of the photo. “Where is she? You ever seen anything like this place? Why would anybody go here? Doesn’t she know she is about to be accosted by a grown adult in a superhero costume? Water is $5! Somebody is going to shit on her shoes.” Dolores says she thinks nothing. She is a robot, daddy!!!
Theresa is smoking on the Career Woman section of the roof. She has had a long day and can’t wait to get home, get in the bath, drink vodka straight from the bottle, and drunk-dial her ex. She'll deny it the next day, of course. Theresa doesn’t have time for love. Theresa is Damaged. Something happened to Theresa to make her this way — A Career Woman — but she doesn’t want to talk about it, why are you making her talk about it? “Butt dial,” she’ll text her ex in the morning, waxing her legs to the sounds of CNN.
Anyway, Lee approaches Theresa and apologizes for “coming across as aggressive” (Theresa laughs ruefully; if only Theresa had a dollar for every time a man called her aggressive, Theresa wouldn’t be working with these godforsaken fuckboys) then makes an argument that the robot producers should really try to avoid the Uncanny Valley because only bad things happen in the Uncanny Valley. But Theresa isn’t hearing it, Theresa has GOALS, Theresa Has To Keep Moving, Don’t You Understand, Theresa Still Doesn’t Have Time For This Shit. Lee raises questions about The Boss’s real motives and Theresa tells Lee he’s right about management being shady as fuck, but that he’s too stupid to understand why, then extinguishes her cigarette on his dick and walks away.
Back at the saloon, the gambling robot is packing up for the night. Ed Harris shows up, grabs the gambling robot, and slits his throat. Ed Harris! Shortly thereafter, he drags the gambler into the hills and questions him about the “deeper level to this game” they’re all playing. For some reason nobody is looking for this robot, even though the park appears to be monitored to a degree that is unreasonable.
In the lab, Bernard is diagnosing the epileptic sheriff when Elsie tells him “there’s a problem with another one of the hosts.” It's the Milk Man, pouring milk all over dead people again and freaking out the tourists. Really it’s just a waste of good milk at this point. Elsie, Theresa, and Bernard show up and stop him in his tracks. Theresa is like, “We are pulling all the updated hosts. DO I HAVE TO DO EVERYTHING MYSELF.” Bernard is tasked with sharing this with Anthony Hopkins, who really doesn’t seem that mad. Bernard’s like, “This is awkward, but like, you did this when you gave the robots memory ...” And Anthony Hopkins is like, “Yeah, totes, sorry.” He makes a li’l speech about Lazarus and playing God and how the human race is “as good as we’re gonna get” and yeah we all know where this is headed, thanks Anthony.
Dolores wakes up again to run her can errands. Unfortunately, Daddy is still on the porch from the night before, still questioning the nature of his reality, still unable to understand why anyone would willingly transport themselves to the middle of Times Square. He begins to malfunction, telling Dolores to leave town because “hell is empty, and all the devils are here [in Times Square].” Dolores yells for her mama to help, but mama doesn’t show up, because all mama knows how to do is die in a puddle of milk. Dolores gallops off to find a doctor, leaving poor daddy on the porch, brain-deep in a midtown Manhattan–induced existential crisis.
In town, Dolores bumps into James Marsden for perhaps the millionth time, this time telling him to come help her fix her daddy. But the bandits have just arrived in town, and are shooting everybody all willy-nilly, so James Marsden tells her to stay put. In the laboratory, Lee explains that he sent Hector to town a week early to distract all the tourists from the fact that 200 dysfunctional robots were just removed. The Rolling Stones’ “Paint It Black” starts playing because there was leftover classic-rock budget from Vinyl. Hector, who is the hot dude from Love Actually, kills a fuck ton of people, including James Marsden, and poor Dolores is just plum tuckered with grief. Finally, a tourist kills Hector, and Elsie shows up and graciously shuts Dolores down and drags her off to be raped I mean sorry back to the lab to be diagnosed.
We’re back at the intro now. Dolores is naked again (robot problems!!) being questioned by Basic White Dude, who wants to make sure she’s not ruined like her daddy. Speaking of which, daddy is in real bad shape. He’s naked, too, and stuttering bleak Shakespeare quotes; Anthony Hopkins is trying to figure out why he’s all fucked up, which is rich, considering Anthony Hopkins has done his fair share of stuttering bleak Shakespeare. Anthony asks daddy to access his “previous configuration,” whose “drives” are “tending my herd, looking after my wife, and my daughter, Dolores.” (It should be noted that daddy failed hard at all of these drives, seeing as his wife was milk-murdered and his daughter sexually violated by Ed Harris on the daily.) Daddy stutters that he “has to warn Dolores” about “the things you do to her,” threatens to seek revenge against Anthony and Bernard, then grips Anthony by the shoulders and tells him he’s “in a prison of his own sins.” Same! Anyway, daddy is lobotomized :(
Anthony explains away daddy’s weird behavior by explaining that he’s merely accessing “prior builds,” like the time he was a cult leader who liked to quote Shakespeare. Everybody knows one of those guys. Dolores reveals to Basic White Guy that daddy whispered “violent delights have violent ends” into her ear, which is a quote from Romeo and Juliet, which is another classic story about robots rising up and decimating the earth. Dolores — who’s revealed to be the oldest host in the park, i.e., she’s been raped 10 zillion times — confirms that she would never hurt a living thing, so she’s wiped and returned to her little house on the prairie.
Dolores wakes up again. She walks out onto the porch, preparing herself for an exciting day of can-buying. “Morning, daddy,” she says. Her daddy is no longer her old daddy; instead, he is a newer, creepier redneck daddy who looks like he would not be out of place in The Hills Have Eyes. She does not seem to register this. James Marsden wakes up on the train again, ready to spend another day getting indiscriminately murdered. Ed Harris stares at his brand-new robot scalp. A fly rests on Dolores’s neck. She slaps it away.
The singularity approaches!!!!! Hide your milk.