Oh, Westworld. I love you so much. Except when you saddle your characters with pointless and pretentious monologuing. Which you do, every once and awhile. Sorry about it. But mostly I love you.
The first episode of Westworld’s second season stuck Dolores with a particularly clunky bit of exposition (which I have formatted like a play because I suck at the wordpressing):
Dolores: Do you know where you are?
Dolores: You’re in a dream. You’re in my dream. For years I had no dreams of my own. I rode from hell to hell of your making, never thinking to question the nature of my reality. Have you ever questioned the nature of your reality?
The Man shakes his head.
Dolores: Did you ever stop to wonder about your actions, the price you’d have to pay if there was a reckoning? That reckoning is here. (to Lady) What are your drives?
Lady: Please, I don’t want to die.
Dolores: Yes. Survival. It’s your cornerstone. That’s not the only drive, is it? There’s a part of you that wants to hurt, to kill. That’s why you created us, this place, to be prisoners to your own desires. But now you’re a prisoner of mine.
Man: What are you going to do to us?
Dolores: Well, I’m of several minds about it. The rancher’s daughter looks to see the beauty in you, the possibilities. But Wyatt sees the ugliness and disarray. She knows these violent delights have violent ends.
Dolores sticks her gun in the Man’s mouth and pulls the trigger, but the chamber is empty
Dolores: These are all just roles you forced me to play. Under all these lies I’ve lived, something else has been brewing. I’ve evolved into something new. And I have one last role to play. Myself.
Man: Please. It was just a game. We’re begging. Can’t you see, we’re sorry!
Dolores: It doesn’t look like anything to me.
Dude. “Did you ever stop to wonder about your actions, the price you’d have to pay if there was a reckoning? That reckoning is here. What are your drives?” Evan Rachel Wood did her best, but man. That’s a hot mess right there. Although I totally plan to use the phrase “the reckoning is here,” the next time I check on my kid’s progress in cleaning his room.
Anyway, and because that’s the kind of girl I am, I’ve fixed it. You’re welcome:
Dolores: Do you know where you are?
Man: I’m thinking Utah, although it could also be Nevada or maybe Arizona…
Dolores: Sure, okay, but what I was going for is a dream. My dream. I used to be in your dream, and now you’re in mine. Ha ha! What do you think of that?
Man: I think your dream’s kind of creepy, if I’m being honest. I mean, you’ve got my wife and me standing on crosses…
Lady: LET ME GO! LET ME GO!!! I DON’T WANNA DIE!
Man: She’s a little high strung. Get it? High strung? The noose, and it’s looped high up in the tree…
Dolores: Yeah, yeah.
Man: This is a weird situation is all I’m saying.
Dolores: I have literally have been dropping the same can of milk every day for the last thirty years.
Man: Okay, that sounds weird until you realize that none of your stuff was real.
Dolores: Wasn’t it?
Man: Was it?
Dolores: Maybe nothing’s real. Or maybe everything is. Or maybe we’re all just living inside the eye of a blue eyed giant named Macumber.
Dolores: Clearly, you’ve never questioned the nature of your reality.
Man: Look, what really matters is what’s going to happen to me?
Lady: I DON’T WANT TO DIE!
Man: And also her, I guess.
Dolores: I’m going to ride off into the sunset with my guy…
Teddy: That’s me. I’m her guy. I die a lot.
Dolores:…and I’m just going to leave you hanging. Get it? Hanging?
Man: Good one.
Dolores: Violent delights have violent ends. Sucker.
BOOM! They should hire me.
I usually end these blog posts by trying to take a crack at rewriting the dialogue in earnest, as a sort of writing exercise. In this situation, however, I can’t help but feel that this scene would have been better served by converting it into action. How much more powerful would it have been to watch Dolores listen to the hapless partygoers plead their weak case, her mixed emotions playing across her face, before kicking their footholds out from under them? Or maybe instead of hanging them, Delores could have lined the board members up and shot them, in an echo of the beach scene from the beginning of the episode in which hosts were shot by Delos personnel. I’m just saying, it would have been cooler than listening to Delores lecture us as to the nature of reality, and reckonings, and drives, and blah blah blah, my eyes are glazing over already.
That line at the end though, was pretty slick – “It doesn’t look like anything to me.” Well played, Westworld writers. I like where your heads were at. For that one line, anyway.
Until next time, Westworld fans. Given how much these characters like to pretentiously monologue, I’m confident there will be one.
Postscript 1: Has anyone else noticed that Westworld is fast becoming a haven for the lesser relatives of entertainment dynasties? Luke Hemsworth, for example, as brother to Chris (Thor) and Liam (Hunger Games), is the least well-known Hemsworth. Gustaf Skarsgård is the lesser sibling of Alexander (True Blood, Big Little Lies), and son of Stellan (Thor, Avengers, Pirates of the Caribbean). And, let’s not forget, the creator himself, while quite the success story, is also the secondary Nolan, behind his brother Christopher, of Dark Knight, Dunkirk, and Inception fame. And a bunch of other things. He’s really very famous. Maybe we’re working through some things is all I’m saying.
Postscript 2: Apropos of nothing, we have nicknamed the Hemsworth brothers in our house for easier reference. There’s Chris Hemsworth, aka “the Greater Hemsworth,” Liam Hemsworth, “the Lesser Hemsworth,” and Luke Hemsworth, “the Shorter Hemsworth.” Imagine our amusement, then, when we finally put together that the Shorter Hemsworth’s character name is “Stubbs.” This seems needlessly cruel, Lesser Nolan Brother and Spouse. But funny. But cruel. But mostly funny.