Westworld season 1 was as realistic and exciting as the park itself. Here’s a Westworld season 1 recap of the beginning of the adventure.
A journey inward
Some of the characters in Westworld spend a good portion of the season trying to find the center of the elusive “maze.” The symbol of the maze pops up in most episodes, whether it be on the scalps of the hosts, or in a crop-circle-like formation.
The Man in Black is intentionally looking for the maze, thinking that it’s Westworld’s ultimate quest. The park used to make him feel alive, but he’s grown weary of the constant victory. The game won’t be fun for him again until the hosts can fight back. He believes the maze is the key to that. Despite many hosts along the way telling him that the maze wasn’t meant for him, he continues his search, which eventually leads him to Dolores.
Dolores finds herself searching for the maze in multiple timelines because of what she believes to be Arnold’s voice in her head. We eventually discover, through Ford, that the maze was created by Arnold. He was inspired by a toy that belonged to his late son. Part of the reason Arnold created the hosts was to replace what he had lost, but he ended up doing too good of a job.
Originally, Arnold was trying to achieve consciousness in the hosts using a pyramid model. It began with memory, proceeded to improvisation, and worked its way up to self-interest. However, hosts continued to fail to reach the next step. They kept getting trapped in a loop at the bottom of the pyramid.
Finally, he realized that consciousness isn’t a journey upward, but a journey inward. He devised the maze as a test of empathy and imagination and led Dolores toward it before the park opens. He also updated her code with “reveries,” which allowed her to have certain memories even after she was reset. She didn’t gain consciousness in Arnold’s lifetime, but she got close enough that Arnold didn’t feel that it was ethical to open the park.
He pleaded with Ford, but his protestations were ignored. To make him listen, Arnold took drastic measures. He merged Dolores with a villainous character, Wyatt, and had her murder all of the hosts in the park (along with Teddy) and then kill him. Arnold had programmed Dolores to kill him when he uttered the prompting phrase, “These violent delights have violent ends.”
Despite his partner’s death, Ford went ahead with opening the park. Ironically, he was able to continue with his dream because Dolores met William/the Man in Black on a trip through the maze. After falling in love with Dolores and finding himself in the park, he became Westworld’s primary investor.
A journey outward
Maeve’s “journey inward” manifests a lot like a journey outward. Outside the park, that is. Her journey begins when she starts having “flashbacks” to one of her previous characters. In the past life, she had a daughter, whom she remembers being murdered. She also remembers dying at the hands of the Man in Black.
As she begins to gain more sentience, she starts waking up in the lab facility, under the park. She’s able to convince/threaten one of the lab techs, Felix, into telling her everything and changing her code to make her self-aware.
Eventually, she gets him to take the detonation device out of her spine, which will allow her to leave the park. However, she doesn’t do this before she recruits some help in the form of Hector and Armistice. Together, the three hosts take the lab by storm and Maeve ends up succeeding in her escape, leaving the other two behind.
Maeve believes that she’s doing all of this of her own free will, but she then discovers that her code has been changed by “Arnold,” and the whole thing has been pre-determined. She has been marked for “mainland infiltration.”
As she’s leaving the facility, Felix tells her where her “daughter” is located, which is a sector in “Park 1.” Maeve initially dismisses this, confessing that the girl never was her daughter, but at the last second she changes her mind and heads back into the park, making her first real choice!
The new narrative
Robert Ford’s “new narrative” keeps him busy for most of Westworld season 1. He and Bernard are constantly seen wandering around abandoned sections of the park, contemplating their use.
Much to the board’s dismay, the new narrative becomes very time and resource heavy. It completely goes against Charlotte Hale’s objective to simplify things. The narrative includes the need to repurpose dozens of hosts and vast quantities of land in the park.
It centers around a villain named Wyatt, which many hosts are seeking for revenge. Teddy’s quest eventually leads him to the knowledge that he was Wyatt’s accomplice, while Dolores’ journey teaches her that she is Wyatt!
In Westworld season 1, we actually got to see Dolores and Teddy live out the new narrative while we were watching Ford build it. The narrative was Ford’s way of bringing Dolores back to the center of the maze. He began this process by adding the reveries back into the hosts’s coding.
After 35 years, Ford finally realized his mistake. Where Arnold failed to help Dolores fully reach consciousness, Ford succeeded. He learned that suffering is what would lead the hosts to their awakening: “The pain that the world is not what they want it to be.” He achieved this with Dolores by showing her that William, who she’d actually fallen in love with, 30 years prior, was just as flawed as every other human that visits Westworld.
Ford’s plan works, and Dolores finally reaches consciousness when she realizes that the voice she’s been hearing in her head is neither Arnold’s nor Ford’s, but her own. She remembers what she’s done, and learns what she has to do.
Ford believed that he’d needed to give the hosts time to understand who their enemy was (humans), and to become stronger than them. When he presents his new narrative to the board, he says the narrative “begins with the birth of a new people, and the choices they will have to make.” He goes on to say that it “begins in a time of war with a villain named Wyatt and a killing. This time by choice.”
As he says this, Dolores steps up behind him and shoots him in the head, this time unprompted. This begins her killing spree of the attendees of the reveal, which includes several members of the board, although nobody that we’d come to know was seen dying! She’s joined by the lobotomized hosts, who were primed and ready to hunt in the woods. Their first victim is the Man in Black, who gets shot in the arm and smiles.
Hungry for power and concerned by Ford’s eccentricities, the Delos board spends Westworld season 1 making plans to overthrow the park’s creator. Together, Charlotte Hale, Theresa Cullen, and Lee Sizemore do everything in their power to guarantee a successful takeover.
The first thread in their belief of Ford’s unraveling is his inclusion of the “reveries” in the hosts’s programming. These are pieces of memory that will stay with a host even after they’re reset. They lead to some unexpected glitches in hosts that nearly turn dangerous.
When one glitch causes a host to nearly kill both Elsie Hughes and Ashley Stubbs, Elsie does some digging. She determines that the host was trying to transmit a signal outside of the park. She manages to find a hidden amphitheater, from which the order was delivered.
Elsie doesn’t just determine that Theresa was the one who programmed the host to transmit the signal. She also figures out that “Arnold” has been messing with the hosts’s code as well. She calls Bernard to alert him of this, but unfortunately, he ends up being her undoing.
Bernard, who’s actually a “host” and Ford’s tool (built as a recreation of his old partner, Arnold), stops Elsie from telling anyone by hurting her in some way. Soon after this, Ford ends up killing Bernard (although since he’s a host, Maeve is later able to revive him).
Bernard and Theresa were in a relationship, and he was with her when Elsie called. Seemingly simultaneous to Elsie’s attack, Theresa and Bernard go down to the secret room. Here, they discover that Bernard is a host. Ford appears and has Bernard kill Theresa.
Charlotte and Lee still plan to take over, but their fear is that Ford will erase all of his intellectual property on his way out. Their goal is to get the data outside of the park. When the transmission fails, they upload the data into the mind of one of the lobotomized hosts, Abernathy.
To shed more doubt on Ford’s competency, they program Clementine to act violently toward another host, seemingly on a memory. They claim that it’s the fault of the reveries. Bernard ends up taking the fall, but in the end, this is used as leverage for ousting Ford from his position.
When Ford finally reveals his grand plan to the board, Lee is in the hall of lobotomized hosts. He’s searching for Abernathy to remove him from the park, but he finds the hall empty, since all of the hosts have been freed to help with the bloodbath.