If Greek Mythology had a show bible, Westworld would be its pilot series. From the disembodied eye with a vision, the skeletal hand creating music until it plays itself, to the manufactured hosts being manufactured in a mechanical paradise, the imagery of the opening title sequence lets us know that this show is a Philosopher’s Kallipolis.“Weaving the old into the new” is one of my favourite lines from the show, which sums up its concept: within this Sims like reality, emotional creation is evolution, and within the midst of it all, love is found. Contemporary? Very. New? Not even close. HBO’s bold new show is innovative but the structure is as old as Aristotle’s Poetics.
The brilliant Anthony Hopkins plays Dr. Robert Ford, (the Zeus father-figure), suffering from a private existential crisis having met his creations. His character spends most of his time trying to guide the ‘gods’ amongst him as he contemplates what’s real. Theresa Cullen, played by Sidse Babett Knudsen, (Hera) has an important secret love affair, which is always commonplace to any Greek mythological story. The Man in Black, beautifully played by Ed Harris, represents Hades, the other god suffering from the same reality crisis as Zeus. Once he truly understands the fingerprint style map he’s obsessed with, he’ll have a revelation of epic proportions, much like Zeus himself.
The futuristic lab is like Mount Olympus, and every so often Dr. Roberts and his gods descend to the park to fix their creations, which tease unsuspecting ‘new comers’ on an adventure in hopes they’ll discover their ‘real selves. The show’s freshness comes from the mashup of the wild west landscape with future technology and also the perspectives of the AI. Greek Mythology is this brilliant show’s foundation, yet it also weaves in the quintessential Judeo-Christian belief in an extremely clever way to keep it contemporary. Interestingly, with backstories created and changed to suit the “ongoing narrative”, Westworld exposes humanity’s dirty little secret about the concept of belief. The Westworld Park is Eden, designed to fulfill every desire known to man, and though it’s all an illusion it’s real enough to expose the ‘true self’. Philosophers will recognize the alchemic imagery scattered throughout the show like the scene between Dr. Ford and Bernard Lowe. They’ll also appreciate the deeper philosophical questions driving the show: Is imagination just cognitive dissonance? In other words, who am I really?
Psychologically Westworld is a testament to understanding the belief system of the Ancient Greeks, and possible ancient scripture itself.
Wondering where the show will go? Consider Westworld as a metaphor for our world, and imagine the premise that Zeus’ master plan was to introduce the concept of religion not only as the ultimate backstory, but a way to truly free the minds of his creations– And The Man in Black wants the same thing but is going about it through other means.
If you can step outside the concept of Westworld you can grasp at the metaphysics behind it, and perhaps understand the truth behind existence itself: We are the creators, the new comers, and the robots, and similarly to all three, art is what inspires us, love is what moves us.