"Because the presence or absence of the subjective, experiential side of consciousness determines our degree of moral responsibility." - this brilliant conclusion is actually the answer to how to deal with this:
"Searching for meaning can make us slaves to desire, or even moral monsters."
You did very good anylisis of a great show - finally, somebody risked to did a smart show about complicated topics. I enjoyed Westworld because it can be read easily on multiple levels (though some episodes could be shorter).
The concept of awakening is used rightfully here. But I'd also like to point out that it's easy to the true awakening with a false one ("We’re all familiar with this yearning for meaning. It’s why we go to churches, mosques, or synagogues"). The show shows the concept a fake awakening brilliantly - this is when Maeve realizes that her desire to escape was programmed as well.
When you sit on a sofa and have two chairs in front of you, how do you decide on which one you want to sit? Because finally you make a choice and select the right or left one. I would really know in seemingly pure imitation like this with zero external factors included the choice happens. If you place two identical pieces of food in front of an animal, which one it will take first? It's also true that the result has zero importance. We make choices when it's important, otherwise our brain works automatically (like chewing you don't need to think how to do it). The point is in distinguishing when to switch on manual thinking instead of automatic. That's the trick. At least for me.
I personally don't follow any kind of religion/belief/other spiritual stuff (and you?), but if you are interested in the topic about free will and consciousness, have a look at a book by Jed McKenna "Spiritual Enlightenment, the Damnedest Thing". I read half a year ago and stopped there. He discloses and unmasks all kinds of pseudo-beliefs and pseudo-cults and provides an interesting view on awakening, religions, our way of thinking and free will. It's pretty harsh, controversial and nihilist, but he doesn't make a propaganda for any kind of beliefs nor superiority of any of those traditions that exists already. It's rather a cold critical analysis.
By the way, did you see the original movie? (I didn't)
Another question, how come did you come up with an article like this? I mean, were you reflecting about this stuff before watching the series or you watched the series and it provoked you on this kind of reflection? (I mean, what was first, the chicken or the egg. :))