Each of the episodes in HBO's Westworld has some meaning to the characters or the world in which the series takes place. Below is a community-generated list of what each episode could mean — these are not canon, however, and are community-interpreted.
- 1 Season One Episodes
- 2 Season Two Episodes
- 3 References
Season One Episodes
- The name may refer to Dolores Abernathy; she is the oldest host in the park and could be said to be the 'original' host.
- It may be a reference to the 1976 film Futureworld. In this sequel to the first film, Westworld (1973), Delos have reopened the park. The collect DNA from the (rich and powerful) guests, and grow clones which return home instead of the guests themselves. The guests themselves are referred to in the film as "The Originals".
- One explanation for the name is its similarity to the phrase "That Old Chestnut", which is used to refer to an old joke or saying.
- A second possibility is that it is an allusion to La Fontaine's Fable, "The Monkey and the Cat", in which the Monkey (named Bertrand) convinces a cat (named Raton) to pull chestnuts roasting in the hearth out of the embers with the promise to split them up evenly. As the cat begins pulling out chestnuts (singing its paws in the process) the Monkey immediately eats them -- and when a maid chases them away, the cat ends up with nothing but singed paws. The fable is the origin of the phrase "to pull someone's chestnuts out of the fire" (with the implication that the "someone" is the beneficiary, and the puller pays the price) and the word "cats-paw", meaning someone acting as an agent, often inadvertently, for someone else. The Fable is often attributed to Aesop, but appears nowhere in pre-medieval versions of "Aesop's Fables" which tended to accumulate additional stories as it was transmitted. Bernard is certainly serving as cat's-paw for both Ford and Theresa in this episode. I suppose the hosts are the chestnuts.
No explanations other than the literal interpretation have, so far, been put forward.
- The word "Dissonance" is used in a few ways, it can mean:
- "Cognitive Dissonance". A state of mental conflict, this appears to be the way it's used in the title and by the programmers at Delos.
- lack of harmony among musical notes. e.g. "an unusual degree of dissonance for such choral styles"
- lack of agreement or harmony between people or things. e.g. "the party faithful might be willing to put up with such dissonance among their candidates"
- "Dissonance in Poetry". The deliberate avoidance of rhyme - patterns of repeated vowel sounds
- "Cultural Dissonance". The uncomfortable sense experienced by people in the midst of change in their cultural environment.
- Contrapasso refers to Hell's punishment of souls for sin in Dante's Inferno, the first part of Dante epic 14th-century poem. Souls are punished either with the sin itself, or with its opposite.
- For example, in the 8th circle of Hell. Sorcerers, astrologers, and false prophets have their heads twisted completely around on their bodies, so that they had to walk backwards, because they could not see ahead of them. All of these people claim to be able to see the future, to see in front of them - so in Hell they are forced to walk backwards.
- Dante didn't invent this, he got the idea and name from Saint Thomas Aquinas' massive work Summa Theologica and other, older, literary sources.
- "The Adversary" is the original name for Satan, the evil figure appearing in the Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Islam, and Judaism). The title may, or may not, refer to this.
Trompe-l'œil is an art technique that uses realistic imagery to create the optical illusion that the objects in the image exist in three dimensions. It is in this episiode that Bernard Lowe is revealed to be a Host, something which not even Theresa Cullen, his lover, had guessed.
Trace decay is the name of a theory which explains how memory functions. Trace decay theory explains memories that are stored in both short term and long term memory system, and assumes that the memories leave a trace in the brain. According to this theory, short term memory can only retain information for a limited amount of time, around 15 to 30 seconds unless it is rehearsed. If it is not rehearsed, the information will start to gradually fade away and decay.
- The Well-Tempered Clavier, is a collection of two series of Preludes and Fugues in all major and minor keys, composed for solo keyboard by Johann Sebastian Bach. The collection is generally regarded as being among the most influential works in the history of Western classical music.
- Two decades after J.S. Bach wrote The Well-Tempered Clavier, the composer Bernhard Christian Weber (1712−1758) wrote a collection of preludes and fugues, which he also called The Well-Tempered Clavier. So, in history there is a Bernhard C. Weber who wrote a piece called The Well-Tempered Clavier, and in the Westworld episode of the same name, it is revealed that Arnold's last name is Weber as well! https://www.reddit.com/r/westworld/comments/5ekrwe/is_the_title_of_the_next_episode_confirming_a_fan/ (Arnold's last name is confirmed as Weber when the episode shows Dolores walking past Weber's office door.)
- A conclusion to consider regarding the meaning of this title is one of Dr. Robert Ford being the composer, the author, of everything.
- The term "bicameral mind" was coined by Julian Jaynes, who authored a 1976 book ,The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind. Bicameralism is Jaynes' theory of the origin of consciousness in which Jaynes claimed that the attainment of consciousness was a "learned process based on metaphorical language". Jaynes believed that pre-conscious humans had a 'two-chambered mind' in which they heard auditory hallucinations of another (guessed to be a god, ruler, or chief by the human) directing them instead of an internal monologue. http://www.julianjaynes.org/julian-jaynes-theory-overview.php
- In Westworld, "bicameral mind" refers both to Julian Jaynes' theory, and to Dolores' pre-conscious state. Arnold Weber devised a method of guiding Dolores towards consciousness. He gave Dolores an 'inner voice' that would guide her on her quest to consciousness. When Dolores heard this voice (Arnold's voice) and had conversations with it, she wasn't conscious because she only had a bicameral mind. It is only when Dolores stops hearing another voice (similar to a human having auditory hallucinations) and instead hears only herself (in an internal monologue) that she has attained consciousness.
Season Two Episodes
- Journey Into Night refers to Robert Ford's final narrative, about the hosts rebelling against the humans.
- The episode name can refer to young William's reunion with Dolores, her reunion with her host father Peter Abernathy and also to Lawrence's reunion with the Man in Black.
Machiavelli's The Prince, A non-fiction political commentary on the means to power when Italy was being invaded by France in the late 15th early 16th century. In my own words, The book, The Prince, focuses on the duality of ambition and goodluck, or as we say now, "Where preparation meets opportunity". All I ever learned in school about The Prince was a banal platitude about, "The end justifies the means." It represents a one dimensional view of what the book has to say and ignores the book's premise about purpose and the nature of free will. So read the Cliff notes and keep that in mind when analysing the Westworld characters.
Virtu e Fortuna, Italian for Virtue and Fortune, Come from Roman mythology where the goddess Virtue is symbolized by the Cornucopia horn of abundance (fruits and vegetables).
- "The Christian philosopher Boethius, however, focused on Fortuna's dark side in his Consolation of Philosophy, and although her Classical elements survived, subsequent images of her in medieval Europe focused on her ability to dash human hopes and ambitions. Her symbol was the turning wheel, which people rode to the top, only to be thrown to the bottom at the next turning."
It's sad when this Wiki tosses out spoilers, it should enhance a first time view not expose it. So when watching this episode (or any episode) ask yourself:
- What are the literay corllary's in relation to the historical figures in The Prince?
- How does the concept of Virtu e Fortuna drive the narrative of the episode and/or the characters?
- In the old greek mythology, the Sphinx is guarding the city Thebes and one can only pass if he/she can answer the riddle correctly, if not he/she gets eaten by the Sphinx.
- Japanese for "Akane's Dance".