Imagine an amusement park where you can live like a cowboy in the middle of the Wild West. You get to shoot a gun, ride horses, capture bandits and no one cares if you kill the man next to you. Why? Because they’re a creepily lifelike robot whose sole purpose is to help you live out your wildest fantasies.
“Westworld,” which started its first season on HBO at the beginning of the month, is a show that explores this very idea. The robots, which are referred to as hosts, were invented to look just like real people to make the theme park seem like the guests have travelled back in time to the days when cowboys ruled the streets and the saloons. While guests are at the park they are allowed to do whatever and be whoever they want to be without any consequences. The park was purely designed for guests to leave ethics at the door and live a lawless life.
Running an amusement park with machines that can easily break and ruin the entire experience is no easy task, so “Westworld” also shows what goes on behind the scenes of the park, where the engineers and designers work to make the hosts even more humanlike and get rid of any possible viruses that may arise in their programming.
The biggest draw to “Westworld” isn’t the beautiful scenery or the elaborate backstories of the hosts but instead the ideas that it delves into about what normal, everyday people are able to do when they are given a world where their actions don’t have consequences. It’s easy for audiences to forget that a host isn’t a real person when they have just been shot and are bleeding out while guests are laugh at their pain. The hosts are programmed with heart-wrenchingly real emotion — they cry, laugh, scream and hurt just like real people.
The guests don’t see how hurting the hosts is like hurting a real human; they see the park as their time to kill the hosts and pillage towns and do what they can’t do in society because it goes against regular human morals. “Westworld” leaves viewers with some complicated questions after each scene: If you were told you had no rules, how far would you be willing to go? What are you capable of? Who could you hurt?
However, a show where everything runs according to plan is no fun. While guests are having fun running rampant throughout the park, the engineers are trying to figure out how to not allow the artificial intelligent hosts run out of control. While the show is still in its early stages, it’s opening up questions about what happens when you give too much power to a machine and too much power to a human and what will be left in the aftermath.
“Westworld” is the sci-fi show that can appeal to everyone. It has romance between hosts and guests, mystery, realistic technology, corruption and a possible host revolution in the making. Despite the fact that there’s only been three episodes so far, “Westworld” holds much promise in the following months as it answers questions to thoughts we didn’t even realize we had about ourselves and our dependency on technology. “Westworld” is only beginning to reveal its secrets.
Tune in at 8 p.m. on Sundays on HBO.