Red Queen Theory
just wanted to give you props this week, particularly Ash, because I listen to a dozen westworld podcasts and comb reddit all week, and I didn’t see anyone bring up that Maeve was resurrected in this episode within the very saloon where she first woke up and became conscious in season 1, well, not the exact same one, but the copy. The whole hive mind at reddit and a dozen podcasts, no one mentioned that but you. Nice!
My theory this week is related to that red queen card Big D mentioned. We see it in the Temperance saloon when Bernard is doing the Maeve transfer. Bernard actually calls out Through the looking glass in this episode too, when talking about the brain scanners behind the mirror. The showrunners have admitted all the connections to Alice in Wonderland since season 1, starting with Dolores’ dress. The Red Queen is particular to Through the Looking Glass, because in that book, Lewis Carroll is using chess a lot in his metaphors. There’s the red queen on the chess board, and Alice is a pawn, and the red queen goes on about how you have to constantly move faster and faster just to stay in the same place. This has been picked up in evolutionary science to describe how organisms must always be moving (ie evolving) to compete with other organisms who are also evolving based on changing conditions in their environment. Essentially, you can’t rest on your laurels even if you’ve succeeded at establishing a nice niche for yourself where you’re thriving, because everything else is constantly moving still in evolution or in life. That’s what drives evolution as a process forward. There’s no “you won” and now it’s over. Every other species evolves in their niches, and some evolutionary paths are radically successful and challenge yours.
So, this, I think, relates to what’s happening with Hale and her children. She’s won. There’s nothing pushing them to keep moving, to keep changing. She wants them to evolve, but besides her wanting it, what would drive them to do it? Ford said way back in season one to Bernard how suffering was the key, because it motivates you to change. The suffering of the park drove the hosts towards consciousness. There’s nothing like that in Hale world. They seem to either hang out in host-city or hunt outliers, but there’s no challenge to any of it, no stakes. Hope seemed very frustrated that she had won the game, but it didn’t change that feeling. She still felt empty. Hale wanted to make the world safe for her children, but maybe she made it too safe? I think you described it as purpose, but it’s all the same, purpose, challenge, drive, need, something to make life have a point. Those very drives Ford spoke of, that means that humans don’t have free will, because they cannot change these drives, that all our cognition is built on top of those drives forged by millions of years of evolution, the hosts don’t have that, and maybe that’s key.
Everything is a choice they can make, including a rational choice to end it all, without emotion about it, without that drive to survive, that drove every ancestor species back to single-celled organisms, pushing back. There’s something interesting Frankie said to Bernard when he’s fixing Maeve. She says that hosts don’t feel pain, that it’s just a switch they can turn on or off at will, that “You can’t love or lose fully if it’s just a choice”. Maybe what they need is what Christina has, a bone deep feeling that something isn’t right with her world, something she has to figure out. Christina also spends a lot of time in episode 1 looking into mirrors (ie looking glasses). If Christina is Hale starting over and giving her hosts a world like that to challenge and push them, so that they bust through the chrysalis on their own, then she’s figured out the red queen’s dilemma. She may even send some Peter Meyers in there to shake Christina up, and stop by at lunch to question her, but it’s no more than Ford would do to push the hosts. The next episode is called “metanoia”, which basically means to change your mind and change your life. It’s typically used in a religious act of contrition, where you are adopting a new, more spiritual life, now that you’ve had an epiphany. Maybe we get that from Hale this Sunday.
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