HBO’s Westworld is quickly becoming my new television obsession. Like LOST and Game of Thrones before, I am enraptured by the world this show has created, am reading fan theories and recaps, and I’m asking so many questions and trying to decipher every clue with friends. But this show is more than just presenting mystery for mystery’s sake. It is also a thematically rich show that asks a lot of questions regarding modern life and our obsession with stories and escapism. It’s great sci-fiction that has delivered two standout episodes. Last week, I wrote about how the show has a wonderful meta element in its storytelling. This week, I plan to dive into two theories that I’ve been thinking about since I saw the early released episode two, “Chestnut”, Saturday morning.
Will Teddy die in every episode?
I hope so. Call me macabre, but I enjoy how Teddy is dying so much. After being one of the leading characters last week in the pilot episode, Teddy, as played by the underrated James Marsden,was relegated to the background for much of “Chestnut”. Maeve (Thandie Newton) took the spotlight in her horrifying experience waking up mid surgery and experiencing horrid memories of her past programmed host life. Maeve was the lead this time and she had a humorous exchange with Teddy at the saloon saying that he has dealt with violence and murder when suddenly Teddy is slaughtered by a drunk tourist for no reason whatsoever. It’s a solid moment of black comedy that ends with another Teddy death.
When Teddy bites the dust, I started to wonder if this was going to become a running gag in the show, a simple way to show the lack of ramifications for a guest killing host through the show constantly killing and reviving a host. But I think the showrunners Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan are smarter than that. I think they will kill Teddy off many more times, maybe not every episode, to make a statement. In the first episode, we are introduced to the chivalrous Teddy and his affection for Dolores. He is set up as a protagonist, as a hero, before he is cruelly shot down by Ed Harris’ The Man in Black. Then Teddy is killed again later trying to protect Dolores during the park’s planned massacre. Then this week he is killed after a conversation with an “infected” host. Teddy is going to die, and die a lot, because he’s not supposed to die.
In most stories, the hero rarely dies. Unless it’s written by Joss Whedon or George R.R. Martin, the audience can expect that the hero of the tale will live happily every after. Teddy should be that hero. He is a handsome man with hints of a tortured and violent past who genuinely cares for the heroine of the story (Dolores). The show purposely creates Teddy in this image (even if he does wear a black hat) and we as the audience take the bait. Repeatedly killing Teddy will reinforce that this show has no typical hero. That the handsome suave hero of the story isn’t a hero. He’s a prop in an amusement park. He’s fake, he’s not real, he doesn’t exist. Teddy is a symbol for the type of subversive story the showrunners are aiming for. And although I think that killing him too many times will wear thin and lose its impact and meaning, repeatedly killing Teddy is an effective way to say, this isn’t a typical story.
Is that gun that Dolores finds real?
Yes. It’s a real gun. Of course it is. Unless it isn’t. Then I’m wrong. But for right now I’m saying that that gun she digs up in the middle of the night is real. As proven in the pilot, items brought in by guests can stay in the park without any of the park employees noticing. Since Dolores has access to past memories and builds, she probably learned of the gun’s hiding spot a long time ago. Maybe she hid it herself, maybe the Man in Black did, maybe Teddy did before he died in a spectacular fashion, maybe Dr. Robert Ford hid it. How that gun came to be buried and how Dolores knows about it is pure speculation and we aren’t given any hints that I can find that may point to us how and why that gun is buried on her land.
This displays the density and the history of the park. In the same episode we learn that Robert Ford is planning his own new story and experience in the park, we see that security is fine letting the Man in Black get away with pretty much anything, we are exposed to the horror of a host learning about the park’s inner-workings as we the audience see that the carelessness and ineptitude of some of the park’s employees. With all of that complexity and depth to the park’s architecture and host programming, I am not surprised that there is a hidden gun. The park of Westworld has so many secrets and so many hidden layers and stories that it is completely believable that a real gun was brought in, perhaps with some employees knowing and ignoring. I totally believe that the gun was placed there on purpose by someone integral to the story. It is literally Pavlov’s gun that will come to play a part in a later episode, perhaps it will shoot the shot heard around the world to start to start the robot rebellion.
If the gun isn’t real, then what purpose would it hold? Hosts’ guns are ineffective against the guests, but not against each other. So if Dolores wanted to protect herself against another host, then all she needs to do is pick up any old gun and use it against that host. But a real gun with real bullets? That’s a game changer, and as shown through Maeve’s tense trek through the park after her surgery, many humans are not ready to handle when a robot wakes up and threatens their actual lives.