This is a show about the death of God, one of the most deeply theological shows I have seen. It is in many ways a Gnostic myth, with Jones in the role of evil demiurge and the long-lost Arnold representing the true God of the Beyond who has planted a seed of transcendence in certain souls — and who becomes incarnate as one of his creatures. In staging the Gnostic myth as an encounter between humans and their supposedly sub-human creatures, though, it showcases the deep political subversion inherent in a pattern of thought that has often been tarred as escapist speculation. (And here we can note down another place I have been wrong in the past: my dismissiveness of Gnosticism.)
Hence Westworld is a work of political theology. It is also a deeply psychoanalytic show, on a much more profound level even than The Sopranos. As with the Gnostic myth, it stages the most challenging and easily dismissed aspects of psychoanalysis — the influence of the unconscious, the quest for the real memory behind the screen memory, the notion that personhood is definitionally founded in trauma — in ways that make them seem plausible and even inevitable.
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