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From Westworld:

Dolores: What is real?

Arnold: That which is irreplaceable... That answer doesn't seem to satisfy you

Dolores: Because it's not completely honest

Why was Arnold dishonest here, and what was the honest answer that Dolores wanted?

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  • Because HBO is banking on keeping people watching by purposely setting up as many mysteries as possible rather than focusing on good storytelling.
    – Broklynite
    Jul 14, 2018 at 11:30
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    That is self-evidently nonsense given the very first season not explaining so, so many mysteries and instead of addressing them in the second season, inserting yet more mysteries instead.
    – Broklynite
    Jul 14, 2018 at 11:50
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    Ah, so they’re pulling a „Lost“ on the audience?
    – flq
    Jul 14, 2018 at 14:31
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    @Broklynite - ...I think you should stop watching the show... it does not seem healthy for you to have watched two full seasons of bad storytelling...
    – Odin1806
    Aug 5, 2018 at 14:59
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    @Gaius - I think I can answer your question for you, but I would like to rewatch the scene again to make sure. It has been a while since I have watched... What was this episode number?
    – Odin1806
    Aug 5, 2018 at 15:02

1 Answer 1

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TLDR

  • I believe this scene includes Bernard, not Arnold; even if it was not my answer still applies!
  • Dolores is looking at the question and his answer like a computer, strictly through definition and logic.
  • They are not discussing the dream by that point however, Dolores was asking if she was real.
  • Dolores does not know what the answer is; that is why she asked.
  • Either that, or she was expecting one of two answers. To finally be told:
    1. "Yes, you are alive." or
    1. "I don't know."

There are a lot of twists, cut backs, and hidden meaning in this show, but YouTube had the scene to refresh my memory of the full exchange. If I recall correctly this scene includes Bernard, not Arnold... BUT it is important to understand that we can only interpret this show while having and remembering all the necessary details... and its possible we don't have them all yet or that I forgot something!

I understood the scene to be a kind of twist on the Turing test. In Westworld the hosts are so complex and advanced that they are indistinguishable from humans (case and point: Bernard). That is what I see as the premise for the entire show. Are the hosts sentient and is it right to create (or imitate) life and give it the worst experiences you could imagine - and not just once, but over and over again?

As a computer Dolores sees the dream Bernard had as information. Information has meaning. Information also typically has some sort of application. Therefore the information from Bernard's dream should be understood so that it can be applied correctly. At this point they are still talking about the dream...

But once Bernard says his dream is not real Dolores sees the metaphor for her own situation and takes the opportunity to ask what makes something real. Bernard recognizes the question within the question and attempts to give her a simple answer, which is obviously difficult.

When Bernard says things that are real are irreplaceable he is telling her that life is irreplaceable. Once someone loses their life they have no extra lives to replace it and thus they themselves can not be replaced; i.e. "they be dead!"

Dolores questions this point, because she believes she is alive and from her own knowledge she has lost her life countless times and still comes back. The important thing to understand is that she knows she has lost her life before, yet she is still alive... Therefore disproving his definition.

The reason Dolores says this is not "completely" honest however is because there is some truth to what Bernard said. Dolores is lucky because she has a wireless download that saves her most recent state upon her "death." Therefore, without such a link, she would "die" the next time she was killed. I do not remember her learning this fact directly, but I think either she has been informed of this at some point or she has deduced the situation herself, similar to Maeve.

In the end I think Dolores was looking for one of two answers from Bernard. Either for him to come right out and admit "Yes Dolores, I think that you are just as alive as I am*" or for him to tell her "You know what Dolores? I have no clue what it means to be alive anymore. You have made me revisit what we have always understood to be the definition of 'alive.'


*Technically this is true regardless of whatever position you hold...

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