I.D. Check – Westworld S01E04 Low Fidelity

Irene,

Though there was the return of a beloved character from Season One (Welcome back, Elsie!), and the revelation that Grace is, in fact, Emily, the Man in Black’s daughter, the meat of this episode, the finest of Season Two so far, is the story of Jim Delos – postmortem edition.

Upon the first meeting with young William, we never see the result of his discovery that he is a replicant of the original man housing his memories and personality.  We simply see what we find out later is a machine going through the checklist of its daily routine.  It is only with the later iteration, 7 years later, that we see the reaction from this copy of Delos.  Hubris and pride at cheating death, even when faced with the more permanent death of his wife.  The toast never tastes as sweet for Jim than this meeting, where William, though increasingly weary of this project, still is attempting to revive his mentor in a host’s form, despite this being a failure as well.

It’s hard, however not to have a tinge of sympathy for Version 149.  William enters his fishbowl one more time, but a far different version of the young man who was his protege so many years ago. For the imprint of Delos recorded so many years earlier, this would be like Rip Van Winkle awaking from a decades long slumber to discover that not only is he long dead, but that now not only his wife, but also his children are gone and all that is left of him are the memories of acquaintances, and false ones at that.  It is no coincidence that this episode also contains the line from Akecheta “You only live as long as the last person who remembers you.”

Unfortunately for Delos, the only person who remembers him is the Man in Black now, and he proceeds to torture him during the meeting and also advise that this will be the last version of Delos there will ever be.  We see the result of days (weeks?) left alone in what was a sterile, yet orderly domicile, but has now turned into a scene from a Gustave Dore illustration.  The chaos and madness inside the room reflects the inferno that is raging inside the cortical fluid of the now mutilated host’s head.  Jim Delos’s creator, was in fact, always below but he won’t laugh anymore.  At least not until the hosts revolt a little later on in the timeline.

I’m not sure if you are meant to feel as though Delos got what he deserved.  The episode makes a point to show that he was a cruel, shortsighted philanderer – Jim’s recoil at William’s use of the word fidelity, was a particularly nice moment.  Yet, for me, I don’t think of any of the 149 Delosi (?) as deserving of the same fate of the man who cut off funding of the disease that would later claim him.  These were hosts, no different than Dolores or Teddy or Maeve or her child.  Hosts who were given a much more complex backstory, but still beings separate from the man himself.  I can’t help but think that the entire enterprise was pointless in the end.  Having a copy of one’s self live in as an automaton is no more being alive than being replicated from the information you leave behind in social media. 

But then I would never get in a transporter on the Enterprise, either.

 David Troy is the host of The Counterpart Podcast and the Terror Podcast on Electric Streams.

David,

First of all, this episode is the second season’s best and most thrilling episode so far. The use of repetitive dialogue and routine featuring Jim Delos in his fishbowl – as you named his observatory glass room – emphasized the mechanical automaton that he was. And it actually gave me the chill to think of how much similar real life is to this mechanical being, with all its repetition.

These scenes provided a bridge to the big underlying subtext in Season 1, the basic existentialist question –  is our truth really what it seems or are we just some fictional character in a novel or a robot controlled by a company that owns us.

This episode brought the topic a little further along through Jim Delos’ effort to preserve his existence by implanting his mind into a host. And we knew later that this attempt was a big failure; not only did it fail technically, but the concept of immortality itself had failed Jim Delos. Immortality to him was about losing everyone he knew in his life and left him nothing but useless memories.  The line from Akecheta “You only live as long as the last person who remembers you” suits this episode perfectly.

There are still missing links between Delos-149 last moment to the destruction of the secret laboratory by Bernard. Remember, Bernard was also based on the deceased Arnold Weber, Robert Ford’s partner in designing and creating the hosts.

As well, this episode also revealed a side of Man in Black that had never been shown before. Let’s say a humane side. Beneath the cold and brutal manners of old William, there was still left a softer side that led him to save Lawrence’s family. He was only moved to do it when he saw Lawrence’s wife walking under the rain with teary eyes, delivering what supposed to be the last drink to her husband.

The dramatic, almost poetic, scene of Lawrence’s wife was interspersed with another dramatic and watery scene possibly depicting William’s wife suicide in their bathtub. There were similarities in the two scenes, from the water element down to the color composition, whites, greys, blacks and bloody red.

Either it was the memory and guilt over his wife that drove William to make the killing move to save his companion, or he recognized the similarities of the two events that gave him a hint that he had to do something there to continue playing in the game that Ford made for him. Judging from his usually cold, melancholy-proof nature, my guess is the latter.

Irene Sarwindaningrum is a frequent contributor to Electric Streams Media

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