Westworld Season 1, Episode 5: “Contrapasso”

Have you heard the one about the Man in Black and a robot walking into a bar?

The big punchline is that it doesn’t end with someone getting murdered. The same can’t be said for a lot of other hosts on Westworld tonight. Rebels and soldiers, thieves, Maeve again. But no one stays dead for long. Sometimes they come back, in surprising new ways.

But nothing was quite as satisfying as watching Logan get punched in the face. Finally.

Hey, Old Bill is back, and on Devil’s Night, too! Oh, my ’90s crush. From Top Dollar in The Crow to a retired gunslinger, I love Michael Wincott. I’d definitely pull him out of storage to hear his gruff drawl. But Ford obviously likes him for other reasons—Old Bill is Ford’s Chief. He doesn’t want a conversation; he wants to hear himself work through his own thoughts. And where is Ford’s mind after threatening Cullen over lunch last week? Having warned off the money-men, Ford seems to be turning his sights on the park’s internal threats, namely uncovering Arnold’s parting gift and checking in on The Man in Black’s journey of “self-discovery.”

How I wish exposition wouldn’t come in torturous little drips.

The biggest Arnold-related reveal that had me sit up a little straighter was that Dolores was present for Arnold’s death 34 years (and 48 days and 7 hours) ago. Arnold tasked her with helping him bring down the park. Only she didn’t. Yet. It seems that Ford has only kept Dolores around so long because she has pure memories of Arnold walled off somewhere in her consciousness, and he needs to access them for his larger plans. Is Ford’s “we’re not friends” attitude because he in general doesn’t think of the hosts as worthy of friendship, or is he wary that Dolores is an adversary?

Dolores’ reverie glitch is leading to hallucinations and conversation with Arnold. To say nothing of what Bernard is up to. I can see Dolores’ burgeoning sentience leading to catastrophe for the park. But I can’t see any good reason why this would have been 34 years behind Arnold’s. What’s Arnold’s game? And who will be cast to play him? It’d better be cool.

ed-harris-as-man-in-black-credit-john-p-johnson-hbo

You’d think Ford would consider the Man in Black a nemesis, but they didn’t even seem to disagree on much. I was excited to watch two great actors face off, but it wasn’t quite so dramatic. The Man in Black still doesn’t have a name. We know that he saved the park from Arnold’s destruction in some way and he loves the idea of finding a greater meaning to the “Great Game.” This is like the game of thrones, right? You win or you die? So was Wyatt planted to keep the Man in Black from finding the maze? Ford seems pretty confident that the Man in Black will not succeed, so why bother stopping him too hard, I guess?

Ford’s hubris must be pretty high. Can’t see why he’d keep all these threats in the park.

HBO Westworld 105 William Logan

Photo credit: John P. Johnson/HBO

There’s threats from outside, too. Not just the money-men, but they’re definitely a concern. Every week we learn a bit more about William and Logan. It’s kind of irritating the way info is being held back. Oh, they’re co-workers; oh, wait, they’re future brother-in-laws, too; oh, and they’re on the board of the park; oh no, wait, they’re on the board of a competing company with interest in buying the park? I think?

The only constant is that Logan is such a button pusher that he finally riled up William enough by insulting his general manhood: “You’re not a threat to anyone, that’s why I picked you. And why my sister picked you.” Damn, cold. Still, William got all in Logan’s face, but let the double-crossed Confederados punch it.

And, inevitably, he got in Dolores’ face, too. It was clear that kiss was coming, but I liked it anyway.

evan-rachel-wood-as-dolores-abernathy-credit-john-p-johnson-hbo

Best of all was Dolores telling William, “You said people came here to change the story of their lives. I imagined a story where I didn’t have to be the damsel.” Hell yes. I’m super excited to see Dolores become more unchained (and more unhinged) in the back half of the season. Now let’s figure out what that massacre at the church was all about.

The other thing that made me go “Hmmm…” was the revelation about episode 3’s head-smashing host feeding GPS coordinates to someone outside the park. That’s a huge discovery, even if I’m a little bummed it sidelined my whole Westworld-is-in-space theory. Who planted that tech? Discount Ellen Page is so, so doomed. She’s uncovering something too secret.

Lastly, we didn’t spend much time with Maeve until she woke up on the table at episode’s end, but she seemed a lot less terrified this time around and knew the surgeon’s name. What’s up with that?

Final reveries:

  • “Contrapasso” is Latin for “suffer the opposite,” used in Dante’s Inferno as a punishment by resembling or contrasting with the sin being punished.
  • So I guess this episode’s orgy was the reason behind that controversial leaked casting consent form? I didn’t think it was anything that extreme for HBO. I’ve certainly seen nastier things in Littlefinger’s brothel.
  • The music for the orgy was an orchestral version of “Something I Can Never Have” by Nine Inch Nails, because nothing says sexytimes like Trent Reznor’s breakup angst.
  • Didn’t that one skeletal reveler look like Maeve? Blink and you’ll miss her, but I could’ve sworn. Maybe Dolores isn’t the only one hallucinating.
  • How did Lawrence go from being Teddy’s blood-bag to leader of the rebels in Pariah? Why the fake name? With the maze stamped on those coffins, maybe the Man is Black was wrong about Lawrence and he does indeed have an important path leading to Arnold. But time is too fuzzy. The hosts’ loops are confusing. Was Lawrence’s backstory re-written by Ford?
  • Next week: “The Adversary.”

Westworld airs Sunday nights at 9PM E/PT on HBO.

Theresa DeLucci is a regular contributor to Tor.com covering TV, book reviews and sometimes games. She’s also gotten enthusiastic about television for Boing Boing, Wired.com’s Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast and Den of Geek. Reach her via pony express or on Twitter.

22 Comments

Subscribe to this thread

Post a Comment

All comments must meet the community standards outlined in Tor.com's Moderation Policy or be subject to moderation. Thank you for keeping the discussion, and our community, civil and respectful.

Hate the CAPTCHA? Tor.com members can edit comments, skip the preview, and never have to prove they're not robots. Join now!