We’ve just about gotten our minds wrapped around Westworld‘s dizzyingly complex season finale, which aired Sunday. But a detail from one of the HBO drama’s major revelations is nagging us worse than the flies buzzing around the sci-fi series’ titular theme park:
If a crucial story point in Ford’s final narrative involved Dolores killing him in front of the DELOS executive board — which she certainly did — isn’t the newly self-aware android merely doing the bidding of the man who programmed her, just like she’s been doing since she was created?
We took the question to series co-creators Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan who, very politely, told us all the ways we were wronger about Dolores’ autonomy (or lack thereof) than the Man in Black was about the maze.
“What we’re playing with at the end of the season, for both Dolores and Maeve, is the difference between having your actions dictated and having them understood,” said Nolan, who recalled studying computer programming in college. “What I loved about programming versus writing was [that] programming was, in its most basic form, very clear-cut. You compiled it, you ran it, and it either worked or it didn’t. Then, as programs get more and more complicated, it gets harder to predict and understand what the machines are going to do. But on a granular level, on a sort of atomic level, you should be able to piece through the code and understand exactly what it’s going to do.”
His point: Even if they act in ways that Ford might’ve predicted, hosts like the brothel owner and the apple-cheeked farm girl are now able to make their own decisions — and that’s where the fun comes in.
“So here, we’re confronted with Maeve at the end of the episode, in which Bernard has already told her that the next step of her programming is to get on the train and go — and she doesn’t. We understand that to be potentially the first real choice that she’s ever made,” Nolan says. “And with Dolores, her choice this time to assassinate Ford — as opposed to what happened with Arnold — is a choice, but it’s a choice that Ford, as the creator, could understand was going to happen, on some level.”
He chuckles. “And that’s when you get into some really fun, heady stuff about control vs. apprehension, and knowing what your creation is going to do versus dictating it. That’s basically what we want to explore in the second season.”
Does that answer satisfy you, Westworld fans? Sound off in the comments!