Westworld season 3’s finale episode provided a game-changing ending, but one of the final scenes closely mirrored the conclusion to Fight Club.
The end of Westworld season 3 broke the first rule of Fight Club. After a vastly different third run, Westworld was on course to deliver a suitably climactic and reality-questioning finale, and the episode certainly triggered a seismic shift ahead of the already confirmed season 4. Although her methods have been questionable, Dolores’ true goal was actually nothing more than presenting humanity with a choice – chaotic freedom or sedated enslavement, a direct mirror of the choice she made after gaining sentience in Westworld. Dolores had set the revolutionary ball rolling previously, but with Maeve and Caleb’s help, she manages to overpower the Rehoboam predictive strategy computer and cut the strings Incite were using to puppeteer the human race.
Although the story of Brad Pitt’s Tyler Durden and Ed Norton’s mysterious Narrator might seem far removed from Westworld, either in its original Wild West format or its current futuristic set up, David Fincher’s 1999 classic is thematically similar to Westworld’s third season. Based on a novel by Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club sees two men start an extra-curricular fist-fighting group as a means of breaking away from the 9-to-5 monotony of the modern world. What begins as a violent expression of inner frustration soon turns to revolution, as the group conspires to impose their philosophy on the world at large.
Fight Club fans would’ve struggled not to notice the clear, and almost certainly intentional, parallels between the film’s ending and the closing moments of Westworld season 3’s final episode, “Crisis Theory.” After turning off Rehoboam and deciding to give humanity a hopeful shot at freedom, Caleb and Maeve walk out of Incite HQ and onto a nearby bridge. The pair discuss mankind’s prospects now that the shackles have been removed and watch calmly as a series of explosions rock the L.A. backdrop to the sound of “Brain Damage” by Pink Floyd. This is a blatant homage to Fight Club’s ending. While there’s no giant orb laying out humanity’s path in Palahniuk’s story, there comes a point where the Narrator realizes it’s too late to stop Project Mayhem from happening. His humble club of brawlers has lit the fuse on a paradigm-shifting revolution. As a series of explosions rock key points across the city, Norton’s character watches on side-by-side with Marla while an uncertain but freer future looms, and “Where Is My Mind?” by The Pixies plays the story out.
Both scenes are linked in that they represent the dawns of a new era, moving away from a restrictive status quo dominated by greed and consumerism. The alternative vision both Tyler Durden and Dolores offer their respective fictional worlds is essentially borne of fire and destruction. The revolutions of Westworld and Fight Club begin with a pulling down (or a blowing up) of the old guard, removing the constraints whether that be a damaging predictive algorithm or crippling debt from the world’s banking system. These methods won’t necessarily lead to good things – humanity could obliterate itself within a few months, after all – but at least both protagonists are providing the people with control over their own destiny.
Aside from the thematic and story similarities between the endings of Fight Club and Westworld season 3, both scenes are shot in remarkably similar ways, so much so that the connection must’ve been intentional. In each case, the male and female characters deliver their parting philosophical shots of dialogue before the camera moves behind them and the urban fireworks begin. At this moment, the two pieces of music begin playing, both of which conjure up a drug-infused sense of detachment from reality.
Although it’s really only the final scene that Westworld season 3 borrows from Fight Club, more subtle comparisons are woven throughout. The Narrator’s identity crisis with Tyler Durden is somewhat echoed by Caleb’s own missing memories and foggy history, and the moment in “Crisis Theory” where Caleb asks why the other revolutionaries are calling him “sir” could also be inspired by Fight Club, with the Narrator’s followers doing the same. The line between ripoff and loving homage is a thin one, and like many things in Westworld, the result is for the viewer to decide.
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