Everything that Westworld got Wrong

I love Westworld. I really do. When it first started airing I wasn’t sure that it would be able to hold the mantle of prestige television that Game of Thrones will be vacating next year. I was wrong. Westworld is probably my new favorite television show, and I can’t wait to see what the creators do in season two whenever that comes around.

Yet for how good the show is, and how much attention to detail the show runners keep, there are some mistakes.

1: The Photo

The photograph that Dolores’s father finds on the ground, which seemingly sets in motion the hosts emerging self-awareness, is a stock photo. The woman in the photo is an actress, and is a participant on America’s Next Top Model.

Why is this a mistake?

With all of the meticulous detail the show runners have invested in Westworld, this seems like a blaring error. It also tells us a few things. The first is that we will never see William’s fiancé, soon to be wife, in the show. At least not as a young woman. This probably does not bode well for Jimmi Simpson, the actor who plays young william.

But the second reason why this is a mistake, and the most important, is that it means the production either did not have the time or the inclination to create their own photo. Instead they used a stock image, which is surprising for an artifact that received so much screen time and played such a pivotal role in several characters and stories.

2: Photos Don’t Survive 30 years in the Dirt

This is sort of the nitpicky list, and in truth you can forgive the creators of Westworld for making a handful of mistakes. But as a former professional (and current amateur) photographer this seem to me a glaring error: the idea that the photograph of Williams fiancé would fall out of his pocket, land and be covered up by dirt only to be found by a host 30 years later relatively intact.

Setting aside the fact that this is a huge coincidence, and coincidences should generally be avoided when it comes to storytelling, photo paper does not survive 30 years in the dirt. That’s why we have to put them in frames.

Photo paper doesn’t even survive all that long in frames to be honest. Photo paper starts to yellow, especially the older types, and things like insects and UV radiation (sunlight) will deteriorate the paper pretty rapidly. In fact the Smithsonian is having a hard time preserving the many old photographs because of this.

But drop a photograph on the ground, and let it be covered in 30 years worth of dirt? There is absolutely no way that that photo survived. Some animal would find it and turn it into its nest, some insects would start gobbling it up, or hell just the gravel and dirt would turn it into pulp in the matter of weeks or months. And that’s not even getting into the problems of water and sunlight. Unless you’re telling me that that the park never received a single bit of rain in three decades, there is absolutely no way that that photograph survive.

Now of course this is the future, and maybe they’ve invented a new way of preserving photo paper. But frankly I call bullshit on that exclamation. Number one that would require the show runners to write a piece of throwaway dialogue explaining that new technology has invented photo paper that doesn’t deteriorate, and frankly that’s a waste of precious real estate when it comes to a show that’s airing on HBO.

I almost wanted to forgive the writers for this error but then I thought to myself “they are writers. They should know what happens to paper.”

The only possible explanation is that Ford planted that photograph. Which would make sense considering he is the mastermind behind the hosts’ awakening. But that begs the question: where’d he get the photo from?

3: Hector’s Magic Future Gun

In this season’s final episode we see Hector and Armistice face-off against park security. They steal some orange, futuristic looking guns and are amazed at their  capabilities. After all, to them these weapons are magic since their minds live in the Old West.

Actually, those guns aren’t all that futuristic, they are about a decade old. Those weapons are called P 90s, and they only hold 50 rounds, which Hector goes through in about three minutes.

What the show got wrong in this scene is the fact that Hector and armistice fire off about 100 rounds each. Not once do they run out of ammo or are shown reloading. And here’s the problem with that: guns have a finite number of bullets.

Now I know what you’re thinking, this is the future and maybe in the future they make guns that can hold 100 rounds. Well my answer to that is that we have guns today that hold 100 rounds. And you know what it looks like when a gun has 100 round drum on it?

Here’s the picture, and tell me if you can notice the difference. Neither Hector nor armistice have 100 round drum’s on their weapons. I don’t care how small the bullets are, I don’t care what kind of magic future technology those weapons or augmented with, those guns shouldn’t hold more than 50 rounds tops.

This is actually a pretty common trope in sci-fi shows so I shouldn’t give Westworld too much of a hard time for it. But as a general rule, when making any sort of action film or TV show, the show runners should be counting their bullets.

4: The Puzzle for the Puzzle’s Sake

Anyone who is a fan of the show will probably realize that this is a program that lends itself to fan theories. In fact the show runners encourage this by the way they tell the story. Westworld is full of mysteries, and part of the fun is unraveling those mysteries. I myself have a 50% track record with this season considering that I correctly guessed that Bernard was the host modeled after Arnold, but I incorrectly guessed that William could not be the man in black.

Another reason for this mistake was because I paid too much attention to certain editing tricks and certain storyline decisions that the show runners made.

In short: the reason why I thought William could not be the man in black was because the show runners showed us things that specifically contradicted this premise. Most of these were minor, but one glaring exception was when Stubs, Westworld’s chief of security, sent someone off to retrieve Dolores after she deviated from her loop.

Go watch that scene again: it is edited in a way to purposefully make it appear that William’s timeline is occurring at the same time as Stubs’ timeline. There’s just no way around it.

The problem with the way the show edited Dolores’s journey was not that it was bad editing, but rather it was bad storytelling. Here’s what I mean:

The misdirection used in young William’s and Dolores’ storyline was a puzzle for the puzzle’s sake, and not a puzzle for the sake of the story. Yes, everything can be explained by having Dolores reliving memories of her first encounter with William, and I’m actually fine with that for the most part. But there are several scenes that are written not to promote the story, but to confuse the viewer. Misdirection for the sake of misdirection is not good storytelling.

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Christopher James

Christopher James

The Founder of TPK Media.

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