westworld dialogue tree

I hope you’ve been enjoying our coverage of HBO’s Westworld half as much as we’ve been enjoying this show. Earlier today I posted our weekly Westworld theory article, if you haven’t checked it out yet, please do — it’s packed with interesting ideas, analysis, and tidbits. But for now, we should get to some news bits we were unable to cover in Westworld Bits. Primarily, how Christopher Nolan‘s Interstellar influenced Westworld, and in particular, a moment in this week’s episode. Also, you can learn about that and also read about a cool Westworld deleted scene which didn’t make it into the show which gives us a deeper look at Doctor Ford’s backstory.

westworld characaristic matrix

My favorite sequence of Westworld episode 6 “The Adversary, originally” has to be Maeve’s tour of Westworld’s behind the scenes facilities set to a beautiful and haunting orchestrated version of Radiohead’s “Motion Picture Soundtrack.”

But I also loved seeing the visualizations of how the hosts operated, from the dialogue tree to the 20-point attribute matrix which defines their characters. In an interview with EW, Jonathan Nolan reveals that that aspect was based on a concept he was working on for his brother’s film Interstellar:

One of the things I loved was the language tree of her dialogue, when her scripted dialogue plays out. Our visual department and graphics people developed this whole beautiful interface. It’s building a little bit on an idea I put in the Interstellar script where you had a robot in that film with various [attribute] levels like humor — it’s one of the aspects of AI that made Lisa and I want to do this show.

Nolan continues:

They look like human beings, but they’re not. Our wet-wear as human beings is still impenetrable. We’re only now beginning to discover about the way the mind works. We were talking to a neurobiologist at MIT and [he said we only understand] 5 to 10 percent of the human mind. When it comes to the hosts, we have to understand them, because we would have created them. And all of those variables have been carefully refined over years. The bodies themselves are sort of economy costs, they can rapid prototype a host body in a matter of hours. But their minds have thousands and thousands of person hours of programming have gone into honing their personalities … and now [the hosts are] getting a chance to tinker with it. For me personally, this is one of the ideas I get excited about by the show.

They did a great job with these visualizations, so clever and the design looks both believable and cool. If you’ve never had the chance to read Jonathan Nolan’s original script for Interstellar, you should search for it. I think it’s a better story in many ways. You can read my comparison breakdown of the Jonathan Nolan Interstellar script here.

westworld agave plantation

As for the deleted scene, the topic came up as the showrunners discussed the therapy aspect of Anthony Hopkins‘ character Doctor Robert Ford’s recreation of his childhood vacation. Here is the excerpt:

Lisa Joy: It also speaks to Ford’s character. He’s been here so long, he’s seen employees come and go, and friends come and go, and he doesn’t seem to have that much family life. Yet this family that was created for him is like a perfect time capsule — a strange, disturbing time capsule. In a weird way, his sense of company is his former self. And the weird things that must occur… if you could talk to a simulation of yourself as a child, what are the things you would say? Would it change you now? Would that change the child? It’s that fractal-like effect of looking at yourself through a different time.

Jonathan Nolan: We had a scene in episode 4 that we weren’t able to include for reasons of length. But in the beginning of the scene when Ford sits down with Theresa, and introduces the facility they’re in — it’s where the agave comes from, it’s where they make the house tequila. And he explains a little more about his personal life. He had been married but his wife expected to have children. But he already had children — the park was the world he wanted to build, and it was incompatible with the intimacy of a marriage and his own relationship. So he’s built company for himself here.

There are a couple of cool things here. First off, it’s interesting that the tequila in Westworld was produced in Westworld, which makes me wonder if all the food and drinks are produced in world as a self-sustaining ecosystem. Every time I’ve seen hosts down cups of hard liquor I’ve wondered why DELOS would waste that money on an artificial lifeform who would be unable to tell the difference between a costly alcohol and water. But I guess if, in the fiction, all the consumables from food to drinks to clothes, are produced within the world, what does it really matter anyways.

Secondly, this deleted scene seems to confirm that Ford has no real children. Of course, it’s a deleted scene, and thus if my Star Wars knowledge brings anything to the table, it means it isn’t canonized and thus could be rewritten sometime in future seasons. But interesting backstory none the less. It also seems like most of the episodes thus far contain at least a few deleted scenes, which I hope HBO releases at some point on blu-ray or something.

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