Westworld Season 1, Episode 6 “The Adversary”

Lines are definitely drawn in the sand tonight as enemies from within and outside of the park make their presence—if not their full intentions—known. I’m fully aboard the Westworld train now, through hostile Indian country, Confederado battlegrounds, and straight on ’til my final destination: conspiracy message boards on Reddit.

My black cowboy hat is lined with tinfoil.

I’d like to wrap some characters up in tinfoil, too, for their own protection. Delos doesn’t seem like the best fit for employees that are naive. But, like many a workplace, the dumb ones sure seem to emerge unscathed from a literal corporate pissing contest.

I suppose I’ll start with poor Discount Ellen Page because my gut instinct about her was spot-on from episode two. Never assume that a company built on selling illusions will offer you a cookie and a job promotion for highlighting a suspiciously huge security mistake. While we can’t be 100% sure at episode’s end that she’s dead, the ominous music and the show’s lack of much to feel happy about points towards plucky lab girl being dead.

shannon-woodward-as-elsie-credit-john-p-johnson-hboWhich is a huge shame because she was one of the few characters who had some snark. Is the future void of jokes? While I’m highly against demanding women (or anyone) to smile, a little levity would make Westworld even better. Robot cowboys shouldn’t take themselves so seriously all the time.

But all hail Queen Maeve, who is ready to have a little fun, after she goes all Flatliners so she can get to her “afterlife” and demand some answers. And a killer upgrade. Lady deserves it for all she’s been through, to get to Delos and get some clarity on what she suspected about herself. While not as frightening as watching Maeve wake up during her surgery, it was still super creepy to watch her react to the hosts’ treatment behind the scenes. Her dawning comprehension that Delos “knew her dreams” of her daughter when she saw herself on the Westworld park’s welcome video sounded like denial at first, but by the time Felix showed her her literal “scripts” and she spoke in time with it… well, you can really see why her mind broke there for a minute.

I thought it was kind of hilarious to watch Felix “OhshitOhshitOhshit” his way through fixing existential crisis code. How, in a workplace filled with glass walls, did not a single higher-up see something fishy going on with Maeve and the surgeons? Whoever initially logged into her personality and upped her paranoia must be covering their tracks very well.

Tonight we learned that low-level employees can’t afford to visit the park and they can’t even enjoy some time at Delos’ staff Mesa bar. Then again, Lee’s there, so why would you want to be there, too?

tessa-thompson-as-charlotte-hale-credit-hbo

I don’t care how allegedly good Lee is at writing for the park when he always acts like a whining, leering … insert your favorite British derogatory descriptor here. How does he never get fired? Just his interactions alone with Cullen would make me toss him out of an airlock if I was his boss. It was kind of hilarious to watch him hit on Delos’ executive director of the board, Charlotte Hale. (Remember loving her a long time ago, when she used to be friends with Veronica Mars?)

Bernard’s serious digging around uncovered five unmonitored hosts in a restricted sector, among various other fuck-ups slipping all over the park. It seemed conveniently easy for Bernard to stroll into Sector 17, no? Considering what was discovered there—hosts made in the image of Ford’s family, including young Ford himself. How very creepy that Ford is okay with doing maintenance on his own family. How very creepy that Arnold built these for Ford as a gift. “Great artists always hid themselves in their work.” I knew Lil’ Ford was a developer Easter egg.

anthony-hopkins-as-dr-robert-ford-and-oliver-bell-as-little-boy-credit-john-p-johnson-hboGlad he’s not the burgeoning sadist I worried about after the discovery of his dead dog. No, Arnold told him to kill the dog to put it out of its misery, it was made a killer and killing it would prevent the dog from hurting others. Foreshadow much?

While Bernard can’t in good conscience destroy Ford’s only happy childhood memory, he can tell Cullen about the activated relays transmitting directives privately to the hosts. Only it’s Cullen herself giving those orders. But she’s not the only one using the bicameral controls to reprogram the woodcutter, exposing corporate sabotage. Someone else is reprogramming those first-gen hosts, i.e. the unmonitored ones Arnold himself built (like Dolores and very likely Maeve), changing them to break loops, make them capable of lying, even removing their Prime Directives not to kill guests.

You don’t need an optimal perception rating to figure out that Arnold might have transcended his physical body after death, but lives on in his hosts that still hear his call. Or perhaps we’ve already met Arnold. Talk about playing the longest game. But like so much on Westworld, those answers remain around another corner of the maze.

james-marsden-as-teddy-credit-john-p-johnson-hbo-1
Final reveries:

  • “You run a whorehouse, not an orbital launch facility.” Hmmm. Another hint for Westworld being off-world?
  • Meanwhile in Maze-Land: Teddy says the maze is a Native myth, about a legendary man who dies again and again and claws his way back to life until he returns a final time to “vanquish his oppressors.” Gee, will Teddy, the Kenny to Westworld’s South Park, be at the center of this maze? This sounds like some Matrix Chosen One stuff.
  • ICYMI: Westworld released a 5 song soundtrack, featuring some of their cool, anachronistic covers which you can listen to here. I particularly loved tonight’s score though—very moody, especially within Delos. This week’s piano tune: a pitch-perfect “Fake Plastic Trees” by Radiohead.
  • I loved watching the robot sausage get made. Watching the bodies pink up with “blood,” the assembly lines of hosts on wheels, the programming tests of prostitutes and poker players, and all of the animals. The animals got to me as everything in Maeve’s world is shown to be an illusion, right down to the horses.
  • Can we take a moment to recognize that the actor who plays the red-headed, pervy Delos surgeon’s real name is Ptolemy Slocum? That is just frigging incredible.
  • Next week: “Trompe L’Oeil.” Trompe. Trump. I can’t. I’ll just be watching Westworld screeners until this election is over. I’d invite you all over, too, but then HBO would get Logan to come to my house and annoy me to death.

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.

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