Image Credit: HBO
HBO’s Westworld causes you to question the very nature of your reality. In this world, humans interact with AI intelligences, hosts, for the experience of a lifetime, but at times it is challenging to decipher who’s a host and who’s human. In many instances, the hosts seem more human-like than the real humans. What does it mean to be a conscious being?
00:06 Natalie Dowzicky: Welcome to Pop and Locke. I’m Natalie Dowzicky. Landry, bring yourself back online.
00:15 Landry Ayres: Is this real? Is this now?
00:18 Natalie Dowzicky: Freeze alll motor functions. Today, we’re going to talk about the exclusive theme park where those who have money to burn can live without limits. Delos Inc. Has created the ultimate experience where guests can interact with human-like AI droids who are programmed to fill every guest desires. What could possibly go wrong in Westworld? With us today is Senior Editor at Reason, Elizabeth Nolan Brown.
00:38 Elizabeth Nolan Brown: Hi.
00:38 Natalie Dowzicky: And Features Editor at Reason and co-host of the Across the Movie Aisle podcast, Peter Suderman.
00:44 Peter Suderman: Hello.
00:45 Landry Ayres: First, have you ever questioned the nature of your reality?
00:51 Peter Suderman: Is that a question for me?
00:54 Landry Ayres: I think it’s a great place to start but what makes Westworld so great or not great if you feel that way? Why do you like the show?
01:03 Peter Suderman: I like the show a lot. I’m not sure I would call it great. I find it tantalizing and interesting and also very frustrating at times. In part because I’m constantly questioning the nature of it’s reality and the show withholds so much information from you in a way that it’s not even clear what information it’s withholding and so a big thing about this show is that it has not just a naughty timeline that is often… The show is splitting up timelines and you’re never quite clear on which one you’re in and in the first season, of course, this turns out to be a big reveal which is that Delores finally understands that the man in black and the young man who she’d been interacting with much earlier in her life as an AI park bot are both the same person and so there’s a narrative device that is behind that but the show doesn’t really tell us when it’s set or what the outside world is like or whether it’s set in something that’s essentially our reality or something else and there’s always this sort of ambiguity, this vagueness where it spawns not just one or two or three theories that are like “Here are how all the puzzle pieces could fit” but you have to do a lot of almost fan-fiction speculation about what’s really going on in the show, whether the whole thing is just a series of nested, simulated worlds, whether everyone has been uploaded, whether we’re all…
02:33 Peter Suderman: The second season raises the possibility of copying your consciousness and putting it into one of the robots and so the show is in many ways, very interesting and asking a bunch of these questions about how reality works, whether people have free will or whether robots have free will? What free will is? What it means to be a person or an individual and to make choices? And yet, it also just drives me nuts all the time in it’s absolute refusal to answer really basic questions about what’s going on with the plot and why people are doing things and where and when we are.
03:18 Elizabeth Nolan Brown: That part that you mention now, I think it’s interesting that it does make you question the nature of your own reality. I don’t know, I don’t mean it in a necessarily really serious way but especially during the first season, they introduced the concept of the loops. Part of the way they programmed the robots in the park and part of the way they end up gaining consciousness, ascendance over time is by just repeating these same actions. They’re on their loops, they have their core drive and they have their functions that they do every day and you start watching that… I started walking to work every morning and thinking, “This is my loop.” I’m really just… Just in the same way that Delores was in Westworld going to the market, it’s just like you do get on your loops and the first season started right as… I think it started in 2016. Did the show start in 2016?
04:01 Natalie Dowzicky: Yeah.
04:01 Elizabeth Nolan Brown: Yeah and so it started during a particularly crazy time in American politics and public life and just general and everybody was joking and started joking about the simulation and the simulation malfunctioning. That became a pop culture meme at the same time as Westworld was on. So it was interesting. It did all come together and make you think about that.
04:21 Natalie Dowzicky: Yeah and I’m a fan of the show and I enjoy watching the show like Peter said but at the same time, I also felt like in order to enjoy this show, I had to put homework into it. I wanted to know what all different theories everyone had based on the timelines or who… If you are unfamiliar with the show, a lot of the characters have multiple names, have died and come back as different people or their consciousness is put into a different body so a lot of that I wanted to make sure I had all of the information, so I felt like I was watching correctly. I don’t know, there were some times where I’m like “Am I watching this correctly or am I totally missing it?”
04:56 Elizabeth Nolan Brown: It’s gotta a Lost vibe and I didn’t watch Lost ‘cause I was really frustrated by Lost fans but I feel like now I’m that person with the show.
05:02 Landry Ayres: I’m in the exact same boat. I never saw Lost but every time someone starts to describe the struggle and the challenging nature of enjoying Westworld like I do, which is, I think… It’s not a satisfying show in a clean way but I enjoy the slog of it. Much like grinding a videogame.
05:25 Peter Suderman: They’re not putting that on the DVD.
05:30 Peter Suderman: Alright, that’s not pull quote.
05:30 Landry Ayres: I enjoy the slog.
05:30 Elizabeth Nolan Brown: It needs a puzzle. Yeah, it’s always a puzzle.
05:33 Landry Ayres: It’s like grinding in a video game or something like it’s… I’m fighting against it and I’m having fun and even when I reach a certain point and I’ve accomplished something, it really just opens up more possibilities.
05:45 Natalie Dowzicky: Yes.
05:46 Landry Ayres: It doesn’t give me a satisfying answer but I still enjoyed the process of game.
05:51 Peter Suderman: The show, I should say, is really driven by video game logic and [05:55] ____ I know you’re a bit of a gamer. I play a bunch big, open world videogames and the show really draws a lot from that style of play where you’re playing a single player and named yourself avatar or you are sometimes playing a character who is scripted and who has lines that you either control or in some cases don’t. But you’re interacting with this big open world filled with non-player characters who are the hosts in this show and it’s interesting the way… In some ways, I think Westworld is the most successful video game show or movie ever made, even though it’s not actually based on a video game. Just in that, it seems to kind of capture that in a dramatic way or in a way that it scripted sense better than actually a lot of movies that are just straightforwardly based on video games.
06:56 Landry Ayres: We’re gonna do Sonic the Hedgehog next.
06:58 Natalie Dowzicky: No, we’re not. [laughter]
07:03 Natalie Dowzicky: Another thing that really stuck out to me about the show, especially in Season 1, was that the… I guess the show creators all assume that once there’s no rules and you can pay as much money as you want to get into this world, that you’re ultimately gonna be super violent and that like the… Especially towards the beginning that a lot of the guests we saw enter, they were like, “Oh you can shoot whoever they don’t care.” I’m just wondering why they made that choice ‘cause even if I went into a world like this, the first thing isn’t… I would think of when there’s no rules so to speak, is… “Oh yeah, I’m just gonna go shoot the host.”
07:40 Peter Suderman: Here again. I think the video game logic really applies because you do see this in video games that have big open worlds and that where they don’t require you to do something. You’re just sort of… You can go on certain specific and certain quests and you can engage with a story but you can also just sort of wander from town to town or village to village, depending on the type of game and in some of those games, you have the option to kill literally every character in the game, even characters that are nominally quite important to the story and people do that.
08:08 Peter Suderman: On the other hand, you also see in many of those games a big challenge that players will make for themselves is to play the game killing no one and this is a big thing in the gaming community is that there are a lot of people who are like, “Let’s take a game that’s kind of inherently violent, where the idea of violence is built into the game and let’s avoid that entirely and see if we can still beat the game.” and Westworld does a less good job of engaging with that impulse.
08:33 Elizabeth Nolan Brown: I mean especially in the beginning of our season, we do see a lot of people just tangentially that are in there to just do other things but I think also, we’re supposed to understand it, even though the park’s been open for 30 years, that it’s still sort of expensive thing, that it’s still a luxury trip in a very specialized vacation or maybe in space or something, we don’t even know but a somewhere sort of remote…
08:55 Peter Suderman: It’s not in space.
08:56 Natalie Dowzicky: That would be quite impossible, to be honest.
08:57 Landry Ayres: That’s the most scary. We’re gonna save that sound byte. We’re gonna prove you wrong someday.
09:04 Elizabeth Nolan Brown: You have to have a lot of money and I feel that you have to have a lot of strong desire to get there so that might attract a certain sort of people too, people who are more likely to wanna go there so they can murder and rape and pillage…
09:12 Natalie Dowzicky: Rebellious.
09:12 Elizabeth Nolan Brown: As opposed to just like, “I could go to an amusement park and play a game” where they could maybe just take a less expensive vacation to do that.
09:19 Peter Suderman: Jesse Walker, our colleague, actually has done some interesting writing though on crisis and when social order breaks down and you see this a lot in movies, where it’s like, “Oh, the government has gone away, there’s no social order, there’s been a catastrophe or an apocalypse” and suddenly everybody goes nuts and there’s riots and there’s murder everywhere.
09:39 Natalie Dowzicky: Suddenly, it’s the purge.
09:40 Peter Suderman: And in fact, what Jesse banks a pretty good argument, pretty convincing to my mind, is that for the most part more often than not, social order develops without rules and that people end up looking after a crisis, they look to help themselves and frankly, I grew up in the State of Florida where there were hurricanes every year and what happened after a hurricane and everybody lost a bunch of property and there were trees falling, that had fallen down on to people’s houses and on broken cars. People didn’t go around like stealing from each other, instead they walked around. The guys who had chain saws would help each other out and you would go to your neighbors and rake their yard and that sort and like… Social order does develop and people don’t always just sort of say “Oh here’s an opportunity to break all the rules and be horrible to everybody around me.”
10:27 Natalie Dowzicky: Right and I think that’s really important ‘cause the social order element, it seems to be almost missing from the show but as Elizabeth pointed out, those who are fortunate enough to be able to afford this experience maybe are going there because there is no social order and they think that even elevates their status. Mind you, we don’t know what the world outside looks like so we don’t know if they come back and brag to all their friends that they had this great out-of-this-world or out-of-body experience, whatever it may be. I guess I just thought it was interesting that they always assumed violence would be something everyone would jump to first.
11:06 Landry Ayres: There is an element of cynicism about human nature certainly inherent in the show and I think it goes beyond just the indulging in our darkest desires that seemingly happens very commonly in the worlds of West.
11:26 Landry Ayres: I think it also, it comes to fruition as really distilled towards the end of Season 2 in something that you also brought up, Elizabeth, when you mentioned the loops in human nature when the Forge is personified as the Logan, Delos’ son and he is going through and distinctly says there really is no difference between humans and the hosts because we’re all following algorithmic loops and going about our lives in the same way. Do you think that that is a flaw in the show and that perhaps a more optimistic or hopeful outlook would be something that could help benefit it or what do you make of that?
12:11 Elizabeth Nolan Brown: I think I like that part and you know, he shows in the books and he’s like human’s code is really simple but he’s referring to the DNA and he’s sort of just… And I think that part is kind of cool and I don’t think that’s necessarily pessimistic but I do think that’s separate from what you were saying before about, they just have a really negative view of human nature in general and I don’t like that. Yeah, I think it could benefit from a little bit more of a character who’s otherwise… And we get glimpses of that like at the end of the second season when there’s this screenwriter for the theme park who’s just been in this cowardly bad guy the whole time and then he ends up sort of making a big heroic gesture to help save and sacrificing himself at the end and we do get glimpses of that but yeah.
12:28 Peter Suderman: Isn’t that cynicism partly because the show is told… If it is told from a specific perspective, it’s from the perspective of the hosts who have been effectively enslaved by humans and so in some ways, the show adopts their perspective and their view of human nature.
13:11 Elizabeth Nolan Brown: Right, which is that that’s really rare. For them, it’s actually really rare to have a human sacrifice themselves or even going out of their way at all to do something for a host, ‘cause that’s not… So that’s all they see, I think yeah.
13:22 Natalie Dowzicky: Yeah, I agree with Elizabeth in the sense that, generally there’s a cynicism towards human nature throughout the show but I think more specifically, the loop example was almost something that made the show relatable so we could… Like Elizabeth was saying, she goes to the market and she finds herself on a loop and a lot of us have loops or have these organized schedules that we tend to from week to week. I think that made the show relatable and almost… Not that the show is incredibly unrealistic.
13:49 Natalie Dowzicky: We have AI that works and all that kind of stuff but I think elements like that made it seem a bit more tangible. Like “Oh, we might be talking in a world that’s semi-similar to this one.” You know what I mean? ‘Cause they needed to have little Easter eggs in here or there that brought us back to “Oh, this is maybe tangentially related to our world.”
14:07 Elizabeth Nolan Brown: Right. It puts you in the place of the host too. Instead of just being like “Oh, could this happen? Do we have this technology to make this other thing?” It makes you think like how close am I to this other thing, I think more so than… Yeah.
14:19 Natalie Dowzicky: I think that’s also an interesting element ‘cause we’re relating to a robot, not a human in the show, which is…
14:24 Elizabeth Nolan Brown: Yeah, you definitely relate more to… I mean, I feel like I relate more. I think they want you to relate more to the robots than the humans.
14:30 Peter Suderman: Yeah, it’s a show about questioning what makes someone human, what makes them sentient, what makes them…
14:38 Elizabeth Nolan Brown: A moral being.
14:39 Peter Suderman: Right, a moral being in a person in a lot of ways and one of the tricks that pulls is to make us sympathize, empathize, feel more connection to the hosts than to the actual human characters in many cases and to give the hosts and the humans overlapping and similar traits in some ways so that it sort of collapses the difference between them.
15:07 Elizabeth Nolan Brown: Because yeah, they also toy with you with the robots too. I mean, there’s the while I think season two sorta sets up where, really especially the beginning that the hosts are maybe superior to humans, especially Dolores is just kind of coming outright in saying that all the time because she’s had all this experience with them but then at the end, she ends up… The big conflict between her and Teddy, her boyfriend turned, I don’t know, robot killing person whose brain she warps but you know, when he doesn’t like who she made and he doesn’t like who she’s become, she’s sort of indiscriminately killing people at the end and he’s like, “We don’t wanna take over this world just to become the same as them.” and I think it does, it gives you that too.
15:44 Natalie Dowzicky: Yeah and I think one of my bigger questions is what was the purpose behind Westworld? And I guess that delves from the fact that I don’t necessarily understand the world they’re in. I was thinking, ‘cause in the first season, it’s hinted at largely that Westworld is a business venture, right?
16:04 Elizabeth Nolan Brown: Just a park.
16:06 Natalie Dowzicky: Yeah, exactly. It’s a business venture, they’re gonna make a lot of money and then in the second season, I got more of the sense that Westworld is a scientific experiment that they’re also making a lot of money off of by inviting guests in.
16:17 Landry Ayres: Yeah, it’s secretive and sort of clandestinely collecting data on all of the park guests via their interactions and observation and also…
16:27 Peter Suderman: Via their hats.
16:28 Landry Ayres: Via the hats which was a very subtle reveal towards the end that I was kind of like, “Okay, I think I get it.”
16:36 Elizabeth Nolan Brown: Yeah they glossed over that a little bit.
16:37 Landry Ayres: Yeah and it seemed a little, for a Westworld reveal, it seemed a little too simple. For me, it just kinda was like, “By the way if you wear a hat, we’re getting stuff from you.” And I was like, “Oh, okay.”
16:49 Natalie Dowzicky: Well then, well wasn’t it in season two they did the little nod and he pointed to his hat but wasn’t it in the first season pretty early on when one of the original perfect female droids was walking young William through the Guest Prep Center, she was like, “Oh pick any hat you want.” And they really emphasized that scene, though I didn’t, when I was watching it, I was like, “Oh he’s just getting a costume.” [laughter]
17:11 Peter Suderman: Well in that scene it’s a choice between a black hat and a white hat and so it’s the idea of choosing whether you’re going to be a good cowboy or you’re going to be a bad cowboy in cowboy world and here this is… We talked about video games already but the show also draws a lot from our experience with social media and the idea that in some ways, Facebook might be drawing for example, might be making a huge amount of money off of just selling ads or taking a cut of whatever the stuff you’re selling is on Facebook Marketplace but in fact, the actual money maker off of Facebook is taking your data and then figuring out a lot of stuff about you. Building profiles and selling that and using that to do whatever else it can be done with that and so the show does do an interesting… I’m not sure it’s always completely successful but it’s an interesting kind of collage of fears about technology.
18:08 Elizabeth Nolan Brown: I was gonna say, watching it again, I was re-watching big parts of the second season again though and that stuff really just jumped out at me again. More and more, I think that that’s a big… Or at least maybe it’s just a thing that really interests me throughout. But I mean, it really… I love the way they set it up the first season, like you said though. It’s just supposed to be like, this is a theme park, robots are cool, AI. That’s it’s own sci-fi thing. You’ve got AI, you can come here and play with it. What would humans do with that, whatever and then we’re making money off of that. People indulging their base desire is what we’re talking about and then on the second season, it just flips it on its head and it’s like, that’s not actually… That’s the smoke and mirrors, that’s the mirage and it’s a really fun allegory for social media at large or the internet.
18:47 Elizabeth Nolan Brown: We have created this place with the social media, where people can come and they can try on different identities, they can be anybody they wanna be. There doesn’t actually seem like totally real consequences and stuff. It seems very much like the span of our… And then all of a sudden it’s just like everybody’s like, “Oh wow! Actually, this wasn’t the real point all along. The real point was this other secret stuff.” and so…
19:06 Peter Suderman: Yeah, the end of the second season really inverts the idea in the first season that you can make a choice and the hat sequences about, you can choose who you want to be, which is of course a big thing in video games, which is a big part of… Online, nobody knows you’re a dog, right? Online you could be anything you want to be and then what season two does at the end is say, in fact those choices didn’t matter.
19:06 Elizabeth Nolan Brown: Yeah, we’ve been watching the real you all along. [laughter]
19:06 Peter Suderman: Right and there’s this… I mean they highlight this explicitly. There’s an actual dialogue about this. You have the older version of William, the man in black say things like, “What is a person but a collection of choices? Were any of these choices ever truly mind to begin with?” And then, you have Dolores say to the James Marsden character, “We’ll be the first people in this world to make a real choice.” And that’s after she has run through her revolutionary murder spree throughout the world and is about to get to the end goal and accomplish what she wants, to take over is that she thinks that she will be free because of her choices and the show is in some way saying, “Oh, your choices don’t matter. They don’t make you free because they’re not really choices to begin with.”
20:24 Natalie Dowzicky: Can we delve more into that? What else has the show… ‘cause this is all a larger discussion about free will, which is like… It slaps you in the face in the show, right? They’re heavy-handed but in a good way. At least, I think. What other times did the show come up with, whether it be dialogue or characters really questioning their free will? I know Bernard, who’s really Arnold… Has quite a few instances when he’s finding out that he is a host. Like “Is this a dream? Is this real? Am I real?” We get a lot of stuff like that. What other scenarios did you see where free will really came into play?
20:58 Peter Suderman: In right around that same sequence, there’s a bit where the older man in black encounters what appears to be his daughter, who he’s somewhat estranged from and he simply refuses to believe that it’s his daughter. He thinks it’s the guy who has been sparring with about what the park should be. The Hopkins character being the guy who thinks that this is a place to tell stories and the man in black thinking, “This is a place to harvest data on people and run experiments so that I can upload my consciousness and live forever.” Which is in fact, an interesting divide in the world of elite technology and storytelling. It’s like “Some people are just there to tell stories” and some people are like “Nope, I’m here to make a billion dollars so that I can live forever or that my consciousness will live on.”
21:48 Elizabeth Nolan Brown: And you have the people like William who is a character at the beginning who was like “I’m gonna do this because I wanna change the world and give people a chance to whatever” and then who becomes something different over time. Very Zuckerberg-y in a figurative… Perhaps.
22:02 Natalie Dowzicky: Well, William is obviously a very interesting character and I think what… I mean, the best scene is obviously after the very, very, very end of Season Two. The credits role and then we see William is actually in the experiment, I’m gonna call it an experiment.
22:18 Landry Ayres: The Fidelity Test.
22:19 Natalie Dowzicky: Fidelity Test that he had Delos doing earlier on which… Oh, my gosh! The fan theories on this like literally 20-second cut to the end of the Season Two is crazy. What do we think about that experiment? Would you wanna live forever? Would you go on this quest to destroy your life and hope of finding immortality?
22:42 Landry Ayres: This actually reminds me of another conversation we have when we talked about Black Mirror and the discussion about whether you would install your consciousness in a cookie and have that live on forever and use yourself as this digital servant. So that was the first thought I went to is maybe… At first, I would be like “No, that’s inhuman. I couldn’t do that, absolutely.” But if you could create a really good life for yourself and take care of yourself, I think that’s a little bit more optimistic and not quite so… I don’t think that would happen in the show Westworld but I mean.
23:17 Peter Suderman: I’m pro-radical life extension and anti-digital cookie slavery.
23:22 Elizabeth Nolan Brown: On the free will, examples of free will thing though, just to come back to that real quick. There was one that I was watching again today too, this morning that I thought was interesting where the one group of robots, led by Dolores, our host, wants to go and burn it all down and the other one led by Thandie Newton or Maeve wants to just go and find her daughter and live off in a cabin in the wilderness and just be at peace and just drop out of the outside world instead of pushing back against what they see as this corruption and for a minute, Dolores and her gang are about to stop them and be like “No, you have to come with us. All of us have to be on the same side.” And then she says something about like “If you’re fighting for liberty, then you have to give me mine.” and then she stops and she lets her go her own way and I thought that was interesting because so many times in the real causes in the world, you have people doing this but then saying, “If you’re on the right side, you have to be with us 100%.” And not accepting that other people have their own free will and agency, even if they’re the same as you in some fundamental ways.
24:18 Peter Suderman: Or do they?
24:19 Elizabeth Nolan Brown: Right. “Or do they?”
24:21 Natalie Dowzicky: That question you could ask throughout the entire show is like, “Oh, secrets.” Okay, “Or do they?”
24:26 Landry Ayres: Or do they?
24:27 Elizabeth Nolan Brown: Or are they?
24:29 Landry Ayres: Yeah.
24:29 Natalie Dowzicky: I thought Maeve was a very interesting character. Particularly, for those scenes and also that she seemed like the most… I don’t know if it’s sentient or she seemed the most relatable to me partially because she had this very real experience that many… I’m not a parent but many parents would obviously have with this longing to save her daughter and seems like she really feels like she has familial ties even though technically it was in a loop of a memory she remembered from way back when and they destroyed her and put her in a new character but I think in a way, the one scene, Maeve is in the experiment room, she’s on the counter and I believe it’s Ford talking to her and Ford was explaining to her how she is the closest thing he’s ever had to a child or wanting to save a child and he said how he sympathizes…
25:32 Natalie Dowzicky: I don’t know “sympathize” is the right word, sympathizes with her because her whole goal was to go after her daughter and save her daughter and we can argue whether or not she was actually making those choices on our own ‘cause it was also in her code, whether or not she was gonna escape Westworld but I thought that scene was really interesting, partially because it showed us that the droids and the humans had very similar goals and I interpreted it as Ford, Westworld is his baby. Not necessarily Maeve in particular, like Westworld, the thing, is his baby and he’s just trying to protect it but then, it brought it back to when Maeve was like “I just wanna protect my child.” and that was a very humane and realistic thing for a droid to want instead of going off and being a killer robot essentially.
25:33 Peter Suderman: I mean, again this is an example of the show making the robots more human than the people because the robots are… They care about individuals and they have recognizable human feelings about other individual intelligences. Whereas, the lords of the park, the humans who rule it are not really concerned about the individuals who are… Whether they’re human or whether they are robots, they are concerned mostly about themselves and about their big corporate creations.
26:54 Natalie Dowzicky: To get involved in this business at all, they probably left a little bit of their humanity behind in order to create this world where…
27:02 Peter Suderman: That’s certainly The Man in Black’s trajectory, is that he’d estranged himself from his daughter and lost his wife to… As a result of his inability to care about his family.
27:14 Landry Ayres: And then that spurs, I think, his whole turn, really even after, while he was somewhat cruel and using hosts in this sort of way, that’s, I believe, when his sort of the series of killings of Maeve begin and so it represents this switch flipping to put it in sort of robotic sense, where that was a breaking point that caused him to devolve into this sort of monstrosity villainous character.
27:42 Natalie Dowzicky: I think we’re also forgetting too that originally, Arnold didn’t wanna open the park because he realized that the original Dolores droid got to a certain sentient value or a certain intelligence. That she was in fact, conscious and that’s a part I think gets forgotten a lot ‘cause he was like “We can’t do this to them.” To them as in the hosts but then Ford obviously went ahead and trudged forward with the plan and they opened up the park. But I think that was also something that gets forgotten in the show, that was one of the more humane times or where humanity came in and it gets kind of like bulldozed over for, like we said, corporate interests, the money at stake, those kinds of things. ‘Cause once they realized the technology they had, then they were like, “Okay, whatever we can do to get this up and running” and they stopped caring about all the hosts as beings.
28:35 Elizabeth Nolan Brown: I don’t think it comes down so much on the side of humanity, per se, is good or bad and that humans across the board are as… That they can’t change. We don’t see characters that are portrayed as good characters become bad. I mean aside from really William but then he’s got that whole speech in the end of season two, where he’s like actually, “this darkness was inside of me along” and I thought that like…
28:55 Landry Ayres: That’s a great scene.
28:56 Elizabeth Nolan Brown: Yeah so I mean. I don’t… I guess I mean, maybe it’s a little grapples with this question some but you have the people like Delos.
29:01 Peter Suderman: It certainly asks the question of whether people can change and it suggests that at minimum, it’s very hard.
29:07 Elizabeth Nolan Brown: Yes.
29:08 Peter Suderman: It’s not as easy as, for example, taking an iPad and flipping your switches right?
29:12 Elizabeth Nolan Brown: Right.
29:14 Peter Suderman: So that suddenly you’re smarter and more aggressive or whatever it is, which you can do with the hosts.
29:17 Natalie Dowzicky: Which almost makes them more perfect humans right.
29:21 Natalie Dowzicky: Or that’s what the show is trying to suggest, that by the end, the host are, in a sense and Dolores I think even says something like this towards the end of season two, something about like she is more perfect than the human that she’s fighting. She’s talking about how they purposely designed her to be perfect and now the humans are not going back on their word, but going back on their creation, which is something we see in a lot of sci-fi films. I think you had written this down, it’s like Frankenstein. You create this thing that you then are like, “Oh shoot! I did this.” and then are like “Now what?” Now there are killer robots coming after us that you created.”
29:56 Peter Suderman: I don’t know if any of you guys have seen the movie Blade Runner, the Harrison Ford film from 1982, the somewhat oligarchical ruler of the… Not ruler but the owner of the Tyrell corporation which makes the extremely human robots who end up, of course, going on a robot revolt and killing their masters. You know, you sensing a theme here?
30:18 Natalie Dowzicky: As you do.
30:18 Peter Suderman: Right. He says… He has this really famous line, “more human than human”, right? “That was our goal.” and both Blade Runner and even more Westworld, are really retellings of the Frankenstein myth and the idea that the tools that we make, the creations that we create, are going to be amazing and are going to be very impressive and they’re also going to turn on us and everywhere in Westworld, you see this. Not just sort of explicit, kind of, Frankenstein-ism which is that “Oh! I created a life and then it came back to kill me” but just the idea that technology and tools and that all of the things that we use and we rely on and that we invent, they’re all dangerous and there’s just this, there’s so much danger built into technology and so much expectation that it’s gonna turn on you and that you are going to be killed or ruined or made monstrous by it.
31:09 Elizabeth Nolan Brown: Michael Crichton is kind of obsessed with this though.
31:10 Natalie Dowzicky: Yeah. [laughter]
31:11 Elizabeth Nolan Brown: This is the guy who also brought us Jurassic Park and all that. [laughter]
31:14 Peter Suderman: So Micheal Crichton, so just for for listener’s purposes, Michael Crichton wrote the original Westworld and was heavily involved with that.
31:21 Elizabeth Nolan Brown: Which is a lot of fun, the movie. It’s a totally different vibe.
31:24 Peter Suderman: It’s very cheesy and again there’s a notable reversal in the original Westworld, The Man in Black was the killer robot and that was… The Man in Black was the… Played by Yul Brynner was…
31:35 Elizabeth Nolan Brown: Supremely creepy and awesome.
31:37 Peter Suderman: Was super great and if you’ve seen say, things like Terminator 2, with the T-1000 like the super intense like robot walk, that all comes from Westworld. Westworld is… It’s a kind of a cheesy movie in a lot of ways but it really invented a lot of the modern cinematic language for how we think about killer robots and robot revolts which turn out to be a thing that we have a lot of. We have a lot of very popular entertainments that deal with this, from the Terminator movies to the Matrix to.
32:05 Natalie Dowzicky: I, Robot. I Am Legend.
32:06 Natalie Dowzicky: Yeah. All that stuff.
32:07 Elizabeth Nolan Brown: I mean this really, I mean this is a killer robot movie but again, it’s like the real thing, it’s like we’re all so worried about killer robots and then it’s like “Haha it was actually the humans who were collecting all your data and your soul like… ” So it’s kinda, it flips the whole like “Be afraid of the killer robots,” on its head a little bit.
32:24 Landry Ayres: If you could go to a world that Delos ran, is it Westworld? Is it Shogun World? Is it the Raj? Or maybe there’s one that we don’t know about yet that you have sort of dreamed up. Where would you wanna go?
32:24 Natalie Dowzicky: There are six of them, right? They hint at that there’s six.
32:24 Landry Ayres: I think six or seven is mentioned at one point but we don’t know all of them. The Raj, Shogun and Westworld are confirmed.
32:24 Elizabeth Nolan Brown: I would…
32:24 Landry Ayres: And there’s a few theories about some other ones but…
32:24 Elizabeth Nolan Brown: I would go, have you guys done the movie Midnight in Paris?
32:24 Natalie Dowzicky: Yeah.
32:24 Landry Ayres: Yes. [laughter]
32:24 Elizabeth Nolan Brown: I just want one where like where… It’s a Woody Allen movie and he… Who’s main guy?
32:24 Landry Ayres: Owen Wilson.
32:24 Elizabeth Nolan Brown: Yeah, sorry. I was about to say Matthew McConaughey.
32:24 Elizabeth Nolan Brown: Owen Wilson.
32:24 Landry Ayres: I would watch Matthew McConaughey in Midnight in Paris.
33:08 Elizabeth Nolan Brown: Owen Wilson ends up in 1920s Paris where like… But where everybody is there at once who was ever in 1920s Paris is just all there at once and I would go to that. I want that to be a Westworld.
33:20 Peter Suderman: I think I would go to the Roman World that you see in the original Westworld movies. The third act of the film, they end up running through a bunch of additional worlds. So they go into to the guts, the machinery of the theme park as Yul Brynner is chasing the protagonist and it’s like this brief tour of the other worlds that we’ve started now to see in the series as well and an all-day toga party where you can do anything you want sounds kinda great to me. I’m there for that for a week of toga bacchanalia.
33:54 Natalie Dowzicky: Peter “all day toga party.” Me, I just wanna drink with Hemingway-bot.
34:00 Natalie Dowzicky: I don’t know if I would even want to go but part of me is because it’s like a warning story for William, right? William was not on this Westworld train. He was like “Oh, I’m not gonna find myself here. This is kind of BS.” And then he gets stuck in this world, loses his family outside and is so invested in the adventure and the mind games that he thinks Ford is playing on him, that he wants to win. I’d be a little hesitant about getting stuck there and losing myself in a sense, whether it’s in 1920s or whether I’m sitting with Hemingway.
34:38 Elizabeth Nolan Brown: Hemingway toga party!
34:39 Elizabeth Nolan Brown: The Hemingway toga party.
34:41 Landry Ayres: Hemingway robot.
34:43 Peter Suderman: Hemingway robot toga party is the name of my band.
34:49 Natalie Dowzicky: Anyway… But I think if I had to pick, I don’t even know. I don’t…
34:55 Landry Ayres: See, I have trouble picking one. There’s a few. I am interested in Westworld ‘cause I… I’m from Texas originally but I never considered myself very southern or anything until I left and now I have this mythic vision. I’m like “I’m from Texas. I’m a cowboy” which I’m not…
35:17 Natalie Dowzicky: “I’m from Big Texas.”
35:17 Landry Ayres: I am not at all but there’s…
35:17 Peter Suderman: Now you own snake-skin boots so you’ve… [chuckle]
35:19 Landry Ayres: Yeah, I do own boots now which I did not own until I left the state for many years but there’s a part of me that just wants to go around and say, “Lawrence… ” any time I can, like Ed Harris. But no, any of those worlds that they have seems a little like, am I going to slip into some sort of darker desire there? Not even concretely but they all sort of… And I think this is definitely something the show runners were trying to hint at and it’s a little heavy-handed but all of the worlds tend to be weird imperialist playgrounds. We have the expansion of the West and the villainization of Ghost Nation.
36:00 Elizabeth Nolan Brown: And colonial India.
36:01 Landry Ayres: Colonial India. Even… I guess Shogun World a little bit less so but it still plays on the like, “Go to a foreign place and blend in with them.” So I always am kind of hesitant to dream up a place that I wanna go. Maybe if it was Dungeons & Dragons World.
36:20 Landry Ayres: And it’s like… But it’s like…
36:22 Natalie Dowzicky: I’m rolling my eyes.
36:23 Landry Ayres: Well sorry about it but if it like…
36:25 Landry Ayres: It’s a little bit leaning into that hyper-Western Europe trope but if there’s magic, I can’t pass that up.
36:33 Peter Suderman: Game of Thrones Worlds, basically?
36:35 Landry Ayres: I’d be interested. It’s varied enough that I’d go.
36:38 Peter Suderman: So Natalie, you mentioned this idea that you would worry you would get lost in it.
36:44 Natalie Dowzicky: Right. So if I created this, think about it. If you’re creating this world that’s optimal for you to go hang out in, why would you ever wanna leave?
36:52 Peter Suderman: This is a thing that happens to people playing video games.
36:56 Peter Suderman: I’m only slightly exaggerating but there’s people who just get completely lost in Grand Theft Auto V or EverQuest or Destiny 2 or these game… There are now games that are designed for you to play 1000 hours plus in the course of a year and that’s crazy!
37:12 Natalie Dowzicky: Well, like it’s…
37:13 Peter Suderman: Just a huge… It really is. If you all are familiar with the old weird second internet, The Second Life, which was supposed to be the… Basically a graphical community overlay on top of the internet. It didn’t work the way exactly it was promised but it was an interesting idea that has informed a lot of our sense of what the internet could and should be and these big video game worlds do end up being that in some ways. I mean Fortnite, you have people now that are… They go to go to play the game but a lot of teenagers are just there to hang out with their friends. It’s really a social…
37:46 Natalie Dowzicky: Yeah, they’ve created these communities.
37:47 Peter Suderman: And communal experience. And in fact, in some ways that’s a good thing but it’s also, it’s something that really tempts people and lures people in and you can get trapped.
37:58 Elizabeth Nolan Brown: But presumably, most people who go to Westworld just come back okay, just like the vast majority of video gamers or whoever come back okay.
38:05 Landry Ayres: You would think it wouldn’t be as successful and still running, it would not.
38:08 Peter Suderman: You presume that but The Man in Black talks about at the end right, his heart is actually there and that’s where his real life is.
38:12 Elizabeth Nolan Brown: I think he’s like [38:13] ____. He’s like the guy, like we’re always saying. Yes, some people get addicted to this or that or that but it’s not…
38:18 Peter Suderman: This is true.
38:18 Elizabeth Nolan Brown: If it’s not the technology, it’s the underlying person’s flaws but sorry, just again, with Midnight in Paris ‘cause it’s sort of the same thing. People can pick these past Worlds they go to in the end, it really explores that and so the person who’s in 1920’s Paris which he thinks is the golden era and she’s like, “What? I wanna go back to the Belle Epoque” and then they go back there and they’re like, “What?” And they wanna go back to the Roman Times actually and stuff and it’s this idea that we have this idea of golden eras but they’re never… Once you’re anywhere, you get used to it. So I feel like with the parks and stuff, most people, it’s like once you were there long enough it would become your ordinary and then you would wanna… You’d either go back to a game or you develop a normal community structure there as opposed to be just be like, yeah.
38:57 Peter Suderman: You would fall into a loop?
38:58 Elizabeth Nolan Brown: Yes, you would fall into your own normal healthy loop, if you’re not someone like William, who just couldn’t hack it.
39:07 Landry Ayres: Or would you?
39:07 Peter Suderman: Whoa!
39:07 Natalie Dowzicky: It’s okay, music here.
39:07 Elizabeth Nolan Brown: Is this real? Is this now?
39:12 Natalie Dowzicky: Well I also think too, like Landry was saying a lot of… I mean, we would create different worlds than they created obviously but their worlds have, like I hinted at earlier, a lot of violence. If you think about it too, the robots are slaves and we didn’t get into this yet but in Westworld, I don’t know if they showed it in other worlds but specifically in the one that’s like set in cowboy west…
39:39 Landry Ayres: Westworld.
39:41 Natalie Dowzicky: Westworld. [chuckle]
39:42 Landry Ayres: The World of West.
39:43 Natalie Dowzicky: The World of West. I got it, thank you. They have a Madam who’s Maeve and she’s running a brothel. Yeah, I guess that’s the time period. So it’s just brothel then. She’s running a brothel and I thought a lot of those… I know Elizabeth is gonna have opinions on this one.
40:00 Natalie Dowzicky: I thought a lot of those scenes are interesting because the women didn’t have… The women hosts didn’t have this sense of like “Oh, I’m being used” they were like “Oh, they’re just here to make the guests happy” and because they’re on this loop, I’m very interested in what your thoughts on this this sex robot work… Sex work for robots.
40:22 Elizabeth Nolan Brown: I don’t know, I actually…
40:23 Natalie Dowzicky: And if they’re aware that they are sex working robots.
40:26 Elizabeth Nolan Brown: I don’t think that their situation is very much different than in the other ones in Westworld, right? Because they’re all just sort of given their… They’re pleasing humans sort of a thing, they do it through sex and there’s some people who are just there to be literally shot again and again and some who are there to pour their drink. So I feel like I don’t know. I mean feel like it’s they all kinda have the same sort of drive.
40:48 Landry Ayres: Yeah, I think that’s kind of… That we wanna legitimize that idea of and that type of work so much that I think conceiving of it differently is part of what other sex workers, in general but if you sort of… It seems a little odd to just be like “Oh they’re not like any… Or they’re like any other host.” But I think that’s the case too.
41:13 Elizabeth Nolan Brown: One of the things is interesting is the tension between the hosts of different… Like the different types of hosts. There’s the Hispanic villages and then there’s the White villages and then there’s the Native American villages and they all fight each other too. So within this colonialist or whatever sort of world, you also then have within that these… It’s just like the Hispanic settlers and the Native American settlers. There’s these whole clashes and the hosts are actually sort of racist against each other too.
41:42 Natalie Dowzicky: There’s different pecking orders that exists in the different hosts, let’s say communities or so to speak and they each have a… I mean they’re assigned a role, I’m gonna say that each have a role but the whole obviously, the whole show is about how they didn’t choose the role they were given.
42:00 Elizabeth Nolan Brown: Right, they are all programmed to have these sort of old-fashioned or recreate reality sort of alliances but it’s interesting how that played out.
42:07 Peter Suderman: Yeah, this goes to the imperialism idea which is that the over-classes abused the under-classes and one of the ways they do that is by pitting them against each other and by not allowing them to kind of come together by refusing to let them be intersectional, right?
42:27 Elizabeth Nolan Brown: We need intersectional robots.
42:30 Peter Suderman: Intersectional robots is definitely…
42:32 Natalie Dowzicky: Just put it on a little poster.
42:35 Peter Suderman: Yes. But the sex worker stuff is kind of interesting because it starts from the presumption that the robots who are assigned that role, don’t have choice and so this is a big theme in your work Liz, is that sex work is a consensual choice and that’s why we want to decriminalize and legalize it and de-stigmatize it but it is understood to be abusive because they are programmed to do this. They are programmed not to remember the abuse that they receive and because they have no real ability to do otherwise and so again, it goes to one of the show’s big questions that it often underlines in ways that are kind of very obvious but what is choice? How does choice define us? Can we make our own choices?
43:24 Natalie Dowzicky: Yeah and I think even if you’re going off of that consent and choice idea, opting in voluntarily, then you can make the argument that all of… We’ve already made this argument, that all of the hosts are enslaved ‘cause none of them made the choices to be shot and then keep reincarnating or continue to throw your drink on someone for an ever lasting loop which sounds absolutely terrible. That guy got really got the short end of the stick on this one.
43:54 Peter Suderman: Right. Robot sex trafficking is real in Westworld.
43:56 Natalie Dowzicky: Right.
44:00 Elizabeth Nolan Brown: I just like to say that it all takes place in space, because Peter hates that.
44:03 Peter Suderman: It’s the worse theory. It doesn’t happen in space.
44:06 Natalie Dowzicky: How do you know?
44:08 Peter Suderman: Why would it happen in space? There’s no reference to space, to other planets, to a kind of extra-planetary.
44:14 Natalie Dowzicky: They say that she actually beams out the other world to another thing. She says something like, “I beamed it out to a…
44:20 Elizabeth Nolan Brown: Yeah, when they show that big light thing.
44:21 Natalie Dowzicky: Place where no one can ever find it.”
44:22 Peter Suderman: But that’s information to satellites or something. It’s not…
44:25 Natalie Dowzicky: Satellites, where?
44:26 Peter Suderman: There’s no…
44:26 Natalie Dowzicky: Where do satellites reside, Peter?
44:28 Elizabeth Nolan Brown: In space.
44:29 Landry Ayres: And also somebody had to put that satellite there so if nobody can find that satellite, who put it there?
44:36 Peter Suderman: It’s not in space.
44:38 Natalie Dowzicky: Do you guys think we’re in a certain year? Because there are a lot of things I was looking at people were trying to make fake timelines where the years could kind of be…
44:46 Landry Ayres: Well, I will say. It was something that Peter mentioned earlier, is like you have to do digging outside of the in-world information that you’re given in the show but there is extra behind… Featurettes and things that the producers and showrunners have released in the world, websites they’ve built that sort of… There’s a Delos website and there was a video that somebody uploaded that had clips from the show and one of them was tagged as like 2052 or something.
45:11 Landry Ayres: So people take all of these tiny little bread crumbs and can sort of arrange them but the thing that’s interesting to me is that the one that I’ve seen that a lot of people seem to be as more legitimate is that William and Logan and the sort of start of Westworld before Delos purchased it or whatever they did, is by that timeline is seemingly happening apparently right about now or within the next year or so. It sort of suggests that we’re already on the tracks to Westworld.
45:11 Natalie Dowzicky: I think I was probably looking at the same thing as that, I don’t necessarily associate anything that happens in Westworld with certain years that I’ve lived through or we’ve lived through but I kind of find it funny that people try to be like “Oh this is, this is definitely in 2032.” And I was like, “How in the world do you know this?”
46:11 Landry Ayres: That’s gonna… If we’re gonna move into talking briefly about Season 3, some of the new trailers do build across timelines and show, there’s a data visualization of historical events and then there is like…
46:26 Natalie Dowzicky: Peter is shaking his head right now. [chuckle]
46:27 Landry Ayres: There is an event that they had called The Divergence and all this stuff and I don’t know how it’s gonna work out but I want there to be at least a slight bit more distance from right now. Start it at 2030 even and I’ll be like, “Okay, that’s far enough away that I don’t have to think about it right now.”
46:46 Elizabeth Nolan Brown: But the Park has been going on for 30 years. If it had started, we say that 2016 was the year the Park started, then we’re still…
46:53 Peter Suderman: There was an old episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation in which…
46:58 Elizabeth Nolan Brown: In space?
46:58 Peter Suderman: Which happens in space [laughter], unlike Westworld.
47:02 Natalie Dowzicky: Or does it?
47:04 Peter Suderman: Start in which Captain Picard goes into the Holodeck, which is a virtual reality room that can simulate any environment and faces off against the Holodeck’s most interesting character Moriarty, from the Sherlock Holmes series who is smarter than other Holodeck characters and has sort of more self-awareness and Moriarty becomes aware that he is a character in a Holodeck play and then uses his intelligence to do something that Holodeck characters shouldn’t be able to do, which is he leaves the Holodeck and you see the portal into the normal Starship Enterprise hallways up here in the middle of Moriarty’s layer or whatever and he walks through it and sort of it’s like this huge triumph for AI and it’s just like “How did this happen, what’s going on? Has he gained sort of… Has his self-awareness translated into some sort of corporal physical change in his reality?” And of course, the reveal at the end of that episode, is that the Starship Enterprise aspect was just simulated in the Holodeck, just like everything else and what he done was trick everyone else into thinking the Holodeck… That what the Holodeck was showing them was the real Enterprise. They’d never left the Holodeck, they were on the Holodeck the whole time. I think that’s what’s going on with Westworld.
48:18 Peter Suderman: We are gonna find out that it is all one big simulation somehow or another and that all of these, all the different worlds both the park worlds but also the stuff that is happening outside is all somehow or another, in some sort of simulation and that maybe even the people who are interacting with it don’t know this in some cases but that everyone is in some sense uploaded, that all the places and spaces and times are not real and that’s why the show refuses to give us any hard and solid clues about what is and isn’t real is because none of it is.
48:52 Natalie Dowzicky: I’m not gonna make any expectations or predictions on the new season, just because I really have no idea where they’re gonna take it. I’ve watched the trailers that they’ve put out and I’m just, I’m gonna be happier not having expectations.
49:07 Landry Ayres: I’m kinda with you. I’m curious but I don’t… Teasing it all up beforehand I want it to unfold in front of me and enjoy the process.
49:16 Natalie Dowzicky: And then do all the background research for what I just watched to make sure I actually watched the same thing I thought I was watching.
49:21 Landry Ayres: It’s about the journey, not the destination.
49:23 Natalie Dowzicky: Yeah, right.
49:23 Peter Suderman: I’m just on it for the really nice textures on the clothes and in fact, this is one of the things that I do really love about this show is that it’s about a place that may or may not be virtual but certainly is unreal in a sense and yet the physicality of this show is so incredible. It just, it looks beautiful but in particular, all the stuff in the show just has a weight to it, a textured thickness and even stuff that isn’t physical stuff. You mentioned Ed Harris’ voice. It’s so great. He just has a great voice but in this show, in particular, it goes out of its way to emphasize just the deep graveliness of being an old man who’s had his soul ripped.
50:04 Peter Suderman: I can’t do it because I’m not Ed Harris and I don’t have a super cool voice like he does. I hope that some day I’ll get old enough and smoke enough cigarettes to get there but it really, really just has a kind of a physicality and a texture and a weight to it that I find very pleasurable to get lost in, even if the actual writing and story-telling on the show is sometimes frustrating.
50:25 Natalie Dowzicky: Yeah and I think HBO, and yes we know that HBO spends lots and lots of money on, especially on Westworld and these shows and I think they do pay particular attention that and the costume artists pay particular attention to the way the show is filmed as well as the costumes and the backdrops and all that kind of stuff which may…
50:42 Elizabeth Nolan Brown: The music.
50:43 Natalie Dowzicky: The music. Yeah, the music’s really good in the show as well, which makes this unreal world seem even real-er and I think that’s obviously intentional, right?
50:54 Landry Ayres: Yeah, one thing you were talking about this sort of aligns both the sort of textured and detailed-ness of the world and also Ed Harris’ voice is, I was watching a video, maybe we can link to it in the show notes where Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy were breaking down some of the scenes in the Fidelity Test room with Delos between both William and Ed Harris and they talked about one of the whiskey bottles that he keeps bringing to Delos. They created separate labels on all of them that show over the course of the different tests, the years aged that the whiskey is, changes.
51:29 Natalie Dowzicky: You would never pick up on that.
51:31 Landry Ayres: You see it and they show a clip of it. You can’t see it, even in the screen caps. Like I don’t care how big of a TV you’ve got and what quality you’re watching this video, you’re never gonna be able to see that but they took that amount of detail and then also as they show William progressing in, they do the first test with him and he’s very young and pretty much the William that we’ve seen in the second test, they are taking Ed Harris’ voice and his… And they did the same line reads and they spliced them together. The sound editors…
52:03 Elizabeth Nolan Brown: Oh I didn’t know that’s how they did it.
52:03 Natalie Dowzicky: Yeah.
52:03 Elizabeth Nolan Brown: It’s really cool how… The effect.
52:03 Landry Ayres: Yeah, they were able to literally cut out syllables and then mix them together to where you get the transition of his voice from the young William to later and it’s so well done. I think it’s really, really great.
52:03 Natalie Dowzicky: My dream is have you do that to our voices and you can merge them and we can just…
52:03 Landry Ayres: I need you to say Lawrence like Ed Harris right now. One, two, three, go.
52:03 Natalie Dowzicky: I can’t. I can’t. Lawrence.
52:03 Natalie Dowzicky: I can’t. It’s terrible. I think that’s the worst I’ve heard.
52:03 Natalie Dowzicky: It’s all right. That’s all right.
52:03 Elizabeth Nolan Brown: I’m not even gonna try so…
52:03 Natalie Dowzicky: Landry did his Yoda impersonation on our Star Wars episode.
52:03 Landry Ayres: No, Yoda came into the studio. That was him.
52:03 Natalie Dowzicky: No, it was you. Don’t listen to him.
52:03 Landry Ayres: Hmm, very good to see you again.
52:03 Landry Ayres: Oh my gosh, Yoda, you’re here.
52:03 Natalie Dowzicky: Stop, stop, no more Yoda.
52:03 Landry Ayres: He’s been hiding in the studio this whole time.
52:56 Natalie Dowzicky: It’s a good time to go around and talk about what we’re currently watching, besides Westworld because I did just re-watch that whole thing.
53:04 Landry Ayres: So what are you…
53:04 Natalie Dowzicky: In preparation for the new season.
53:06 Landry Ayres: What are you locked into?
53:07 Natalie Dowzicky: Besides the Bachelor, which I brought up last time, I have had a weird experience coming back to the Survivor shows partially just like putting them on in the background, when I’m cooking or doing other things.
53:20 Elizabeth Nolan Brown: I forgot about that show…
53:21 Natalie Dowzicky: And like…
53:21 Elizabeth Nolan Brown: Entirely.
53:21 Natalie Dowzicky: I used to watch it all the time with like…
53:24 Elizabeth Nolan Brown: Block it out.
53:24 Natalie Dowzicky: With my family. It used to be like Wednesday night, we watch with my family when I was like under the age of 10 or something like that and then I saw on Hulu they had like all… They only had 35 season, I guess there’s 40 seasons now. So I’ve been like kind of just watching this. I was like, “This is mildly entertaining.” Completely different than Westworld but like a good show to have on in the background, when you’re doing other things and you know? It’s all about… I love the good lying and back stabbing and everything else that goes on in the show. It’s been entertaining for now. I’m sure I’ll get into something else soon. How about you Elizabeth?
53:56 Elizabeth Nolan Brown: I’ll also say something old, because Rick and Morty. I was just in New York at an AirBnB with some friends for five days and we just like… And all the time we had down time we just watched Rick and Morty and I thought I hated the show! I refused to watch it. My husband loves it. Robbie Suave, who we work with at Reason, is always talking about it and it reminded me of Ren Stimpy, the 90s cartoon which I just like thought was really gross when I was a kid and I was like, “Nope Rick and Morty looks like Ren & Stimpy. Hate It.” And then I watched it and I was like “Oh my God! This is my new favorite show.” I’m obsessed with it.
54:26 Peter Suderman: Yeah, it’s so good.
54:27 Elizabeth Nolan Brown: It’s also got like an intergalactic.
54:28 Natalie Dowzicky: It is good. Space?
54:29 Elizabeth Nolan Brown: Dimensions, like also space! Yes this is space happening so Sci-Fi happening. It’s a good Westworld compliment show too.
54:37 Peter Suderman: Just because other shows take place in space doesn’t mean Westworld does.
54:41 Elizabeth Nolan Brown: Isn’t that how shows work?
54:42 Peter Suderman: Rick and Morty is really great.
54:43 Elizabeth Nolan Brown: I think so.
54:43 Peter Suderman: In the way that it deals with like, the idea of copying yourself and multiple versions of yourself actually and in some ways, I think it’s even more sophisticated about that than Westworld is.
54:52 Landry Ayres: Yes. I agree.
54:52 Elizabeth Nolan Brown: Actually it does, it does explain more.
54:55 Landry Ayres: Yeah.
54:56 Peter Suderman: I’ve been playing a video game, The Outer World, which is published by Obsidian Entertainment, one of the great role playing game manufacturers of the last decade or two and The Outer World is really interesting because in some ways, it’s sort of an anti-corporate satire. It takes place in a solar system that is ruled by a single kind of a government like corporation and then every or a board of corporations, there’s just a couple of corporations that are all part of this and it’s like, here is a corporate-owned dystopia except what you see in all of these different places that you meet and this is a really story-heavy game, as you go all these places and you meet these different factions and a lot of ways, all of them are trying to escape from corporate rule and are finding ways to express to you this is actually, I have a different world view. I have a different ideology and so the corporations aren’t really corporations so much as just governments.
55:52 Peter Suderman: They have basically a monopoly on force except in the one place that has like staked out itself as an outpost of basically small business that is free from big corporate interference and it’s a really interesting portrayal of what corporate domination would be like which is that it basically admits it’s governments and it has all the problems that government has and then what happens is that individuals and small bands of people get together and try and do their own thing.
56:24 Landry Ayres: I’ve also been playing a game recently, kind of similar. It’s called Over Cooked 2. In which you and a team that you assemble are all essentially line cooks in a kitchen solving sort of various… In various kitchens that are on top of volcanoes or in space and you have to make all these different…
56:44 Natalie Dowzicky: Space!
56:44 Landry Ayres: Yeah it’s in space and while it is very cute and it’s all these tiny little characters that are running around and like chopping like vegetables and cooking them in pans, it may ruin my relationship with my fiance so…
57:00 Peter Suderman: Have you ever worked…
57:00 Landry Ayres: So if wedding gets called off…
57:02 Natalie Dowzicky: It can’t because…
57:03 Landry Ayres: It’s because of this game.
57:04 Natalie Dowzicky: I’m actually, I’m doing live commentary for his wedding.
57:08 Peter Suderman: Have you ever actually worked in a kitchen?
57:10 Landry Ayres: No and this game is just cementing the idea that I never want to.
57:13 Peter Suderman: It’s very intense. I’ll just say.
57:14 Landry Ayres: I believe it. I could barely take it in like four minutes spans where there’s no stakes other than me sitting in front of my couch.
57:23 Natalie Dowzicky: No stakes.
57:24 Landry Ayres: No stakes, well there are steaks in the game.
57:24 Peter Suderman: It’s a vegan restaurant.
57:24 Landry Ayres: But not stakes.
57:25 Natalie Dowzicky: It’s a vegan restaurant, yeah.
57:29 Landry Ayres: I’ve been playing a lot of that and because I was on a Westworld kick, I started listening to this album by this like sort of new country music singer named Orville Peck that I really like. He has a very low sort of classic country-western baritone voice but he wears a like Lone Ranger mask with long fringe the entire time and a big wide hat. But he has kind of that mid-’80s, New Wave Punk kind of vibe to him.
58:01 Natalie Dowzicky: Did you put your snake skin boots on to listen to it?
58:03 Landry Ayres: I did not.
58:03 Natalie Dowzicky: Okay next time.
58:04 Landry Ayres: But I think it’ll really add something to it.
58:06 Natalie Dowzicky: It will.
58:06 Landry Ayres: But his album ‘Pony’, something I really, really enjoy. So if you’re feeling in a western mood after you watch some Westworld I highly recommend it.
58:19 Landry Ayres: Thanks for listening. Sadly, this violent delight has come to its violent end but that doesn’t mean you can’t get more from us or let us know what you think of the new season of Westworld when it premiers on March 15. Just follow us on Twitter @PopnLockePod. That’s “Pop” the letter N, “Locke” with an E, Pod. Make sure to subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you listen. We look forward to unraveling your favorite show or movie next time.
58:53 Landry Ayres: Pop and Locke is produced by me, Landry Ayres, as a project of Libertarianism.org. To learn more, visit us on the web at www.libertarianism.org.