I’ve never been more enthralled in a show since Lost. That is a testament of how well Westworld has been written and acted in this unique series of humans and hosts. Loosely a continuation of the not-so-great 1973 film of the same name (and the flop sequels Futureworld and Beyond Westworld, which are on my To-Watch list), the new HBO series has some extremely dynamic characters that are too intriguing not to discuss. So, congrats because you are getting a double dose of Character Of The Month!
The general premise of the show follows three types of people: the hosts, the guests and the employees keeping the adult western themed park running. With a star-studded cast, creative direction, and great acting, Westworld, at its bare minimum, is just an interesting subject. Something that I am glad survived through the last two decades, considering this series finally came to light. But enough about the show (that you should totally watch). This post is about two characters and there are some SPOILERS in here, so close this if you plan to watch it.
First off, I chose the two strongest characters who act on their strengths in different ways. One is Maeve Miley played by the very talented Thandie Newton. She is a host. The other is the mastermind (at least one of the two) behind the park, Dr. Robert Ford played by Anthony Hopkins. This was a tough call because Dolores Abernathy (played by Evan Rachel Wood) the Man in Black (played by Ed Harris) were also considerations but that was more about their personal plots being twisted than the characters themselves but when compared against Ford and Miley, I knew who I had to choose (though Harris’s storyline seems to still mystify).
A World Where You Can Be Whatever the F*CK You Want
Maeve Miley has a really unique backstory and in the most recent episode, “Trace Decay”, revealed her ability she holds over other hosts. She knows everything and is the most sensitive to feelings. But even before this revelation, Maeve has always stood out from the robot crowd, breaking the cycle of what she’s supposed to do in this storyline as the local owner of the brothel or her previous storyline as a prairie-like mother raising her daughter out in the middle of nowhere. She’s expressive and most importantly, she’s awake in every sense of the word.
Now we have a little issue with her origin since she’s a host built by the company. However, she does have an origin story – which was touched upon above. Whether she is an old model revamped into what she is now or completely part of the newer models is unknown.
Unlike one of the main hosts (Dolores, Teddy etc), Maeve is resourceful, quick and grows exponentially through the first eight episodes, with episodes often ending with her and a realization for the viewer. She’s the first to notice she’s truly living in a loop, tapping into memories of behind the scenes – being worked on by Westworld employees – and starts remembering beyond the next day, which is normally when the stories and hosts are reset. And of course, she takes advantage of this by swindling lab workers Felix and Sylvester to upgrade her brain and has no problem being violent. She has an end goal and it’s not to keep being a part of WestWord’s game.
A great scene that shows Maeve is badass!
Why she needs to be celebrated
Many of the hosts take control of their own lives, but Maeve takes the extra step and is the most real, most human. When she is brought in after the death of her storyline daughter, she is distraught, not answering any of the commands. When Ford steps in to calm her program, she complies – then jabs a scalpel in her neck. In her new role as brothel owner, she begins to become awake again, this time completely by herself. Maeve is a force to be reckoned with. She controls other hosts, keeps herself a few steps ahead of the park and builds strong relationships, especially with Felix to keep this power growing. With the end of episode 8 hanging her future in the balance, I have no doubts whatever her fate, she will overcome it or bring everyone down with her on the way out. She is more than just a revery, she’s a fully-functioning host with the emotion of a human and I can’t wait to see what she has up her sleeves.
Dr. Robert Ford
Not to break character here (hehe), but Anthony Hopkins still has it. Just when you think you couldn’t have a more unique and calculating character, Westworld brings you Dr. Robert Ford, one of the founding members and the current Creative Director of Westworld. And he’s not done yet. Although he was not the only one to build the theme park, getting helped from the infamous Arnold (who died in the park decades earlier), he controls all the pieces. Of course, the quote below really sums up him as a character:
However, just when it appears other players are moving across the board, Ford is lurking in the corner, ready to check them into place. And he’s very good at playing the game.
Ford is one of two, of the original founder and designer of Westworld and has a deep connection to the park, though not as strong as Arnold, but still enough to challenge the board that tried. Not too much is known about Ford, other than he has been there since the beginning, and like his old companion, does prefer the hosts over humans, however without the obsession Arnold had. Ford can identify the difference between the two and knows exactly how to use them to keep his control. One interesting part to his origin is the offline hosts that are a remake of his own family.
An example of his godly power.
Why he needs to be celebrated
Unlike the other employees in the park that require touchscreens, Ford can control hosts, both human-like and animal with his fingers and voice commands. This has been established many times but the most interesting scene is when Teddy graces the knife by the blade at the mere threat the Man and Black says to Ford. He has intellect, cleaning up problems such as Teresa, the ‘blood sacrifice’ (and Elise) using the ‘I can’t believe he’s a host’ trusted colleague Bernard. And probably many other horrific things yet to be unveiled. His control even spans to humans – specifically the employees and those who stand in the way of his grand scheme, which is ironic because Arnold’s grand scheme of creating consciousness in hosts never came to fruition due to his untimely death. What makes Ford most unique is he is cold, calculating, and controls every development, just like the god he appears to be.
Blunt force meets intellect
Both Maeve and Dr. Ford have unique challenges in Westworld that are unlike other humans and hosts. Dr. Ford is powerful, only to be undone by the already dead Arnold and his maze. Maeve’s undoing could be making the wrong move when she finally has the power to choose. They are both dangerous, not afraid to shed real human flesh, whether this is done by another host like Bernard, or by their own hand. They may hardly cross paths in the story, but their storylines very much parallel.