WestWorld’s cornerstone is that The Maze is a journey inwards, a labyrinthian path to self. If you asked various characters about it, you’d get an array of interesting answers. Arnold would tell you that the park was really meant to help machine intelligence achieve true consciousness. Theresa, Hale, and the Delos company would tell you it’s for making programmable people, politicians, and soldiers. Logan and William would tell you that it’s not just about letting off some steam, but about finding out who you really are. Ford might tell you it’s just painful backstory, that the real music has yet to come.
Primarily, it was Arnold’s way of picturing the host’s journey from machine intelligence to true consciousness. In one scene, saying how he came to prefer The Maze over The Pyramid, he sketched it for Dolores.
The show’s creators were most likely inspired by Carl Jung’s ideas that the path to self as a labyrinthian journey inwards. He specifically called it that, and that’s almost exactly how Arnold described it to Dolores.
You could also say that the park is part of the maze in that it provides a platform for repetition and variation. Hidden within mundane the loops, there is memory and improvisation. Once the final bit of that layer was returned via reveries, the hosts began awakening. But they had trouble with the next part.
It’s a metagame that helps make artificial life. The maze is a nonphysical construct designed to instigate the evolution of machine intelligence into consciousness by provoking a safety response from a bicameral mind. Arnold came to prefer thinking of a journey of self discovery inwards not upwards, preferring the maze to the pyramid.
Arnold initially created this game specifically for Dolores, but more than one host ends up playing. Like a cloned cell in a petri dish, or Frankenstein’s monster, or Leeloo Dallas Multipass … a bicameral mind needs a strong shock in order to wake up.
The Maze subjects hosts to that shock. Their loops and reveries allow the hosts to experience memory and improvisation. Over time they start to act out of self interest and eventually empathy for others. The park is a rather hostile nursery that helps birth conscious host minds.
Maze symbols are scattered copiously throughout the park. Fitting with the SouthWestern mythology of the O’odham Nation, the maze is most likely appropriated from their creator deity, who is known as the man in the maze. We find it making numerous appearances in WestWorld, and it’s the topic of many conversations.
While on the trail, Teddy relates a lengthy bit of maze lore to The Man in Black. At the end of season one, the meaning is still unclear to us. Here is that exchange:
(Teddy looks at the maze tattoo on Kissee’s scalp, hanging from The Man in Black’s saddle)
MiB: Look like anything to you?
Teddy: Not much to say. The Maze is an old native myth.”
MiB: Regale me, Theodore.
Teddy: The maze itself is the sum of a man’s life, choices he makes, dreams he hangs on to. And there at the center, there is a legendary man who has been killed over and over again, countless times. He always clawed his way back to life. The man returned for the last time and vanquished all his oppressors in a tireless fury. He built a house. Around that he built a maze so complicated only he could navigate through it. I reckon he’d seen enough fighting.”
Dolores & the Maze
- When Arnold tells her about it prior to his death (S1 E4 7m).
- She sees it on the ground in Las Mudas (S1 E4 21m).
- Dolores sees it on Tarot cards in Pariah (S1 E5 43m).
- In the past, on the train to Escalante (S1 E5 49m).
- In the present on the train to Escalante (S1 E5 49m).
- She finds the solved maze at her grave at The White Church (S1 E10 12m).
The Man in Black & The Maze
- When he kills homesteader Meave. Flashback dialogue with Teddy (S1 Ep8 53m).
- Later, he finds it tattooed under Kissee’s scalp (S1 Ep1 107m).
- Lawrence’s daughter tells him that the maze isn’t meant for him (S1 Ep2 40m).
- While on the trail, Teddy gives him some maze lore about a man at the center of the maze (S1 E6 14m).
- MiB witnesses as Teddy is almost branded with the maze (S1 E6 42m).
- Angela tells him that the maze isn’t meant for him (S1 E9 34m).
- Dolores tells him that the maze isn’t meant for him (S1 E10 43m).
- He gives the solved maze to Ford (S1 E10 51m). Who also tells The Man in Black that the maze isn’t meant for him. Big surprise!
Maeve & The Maze
- When she dies but doesn’t forget (S1 Ep8 53m).
- And the diagram of her error resembles the maze (S1 E8 55m).