Previously on Westworld, “Dissonance Theory”
Westworld – S1E5 – “Contrapasso” | Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Evan Rachel Wood, Ed Harris, James Marsden, Thandie Newton, Jeffrey Wright, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Rodrigo Santoro, Simon Quarterman, Luke Hemsworth
Contrapasso (or, in modern Italian, contrappasso), from the Latin contra and patior, “suffer the opposite”: refers to the punishment of souls in Dante’s Inferno, “by a process either resembling or contrasting with the sin itself.”
Looking at the definition of this week’s episode title, “Contrapasso,” the audience wonders which character is, or will, suffering the opposite or similar. The obvious choice would be Ford, who seems to believe his dead (maybe?) partner, Arnold, is communicating with the Hosts to destroy the world they created. Or perhaps it’s The Man in Black, who has spent the past 30 of the park’s 35 years raping and killing his way through Westworld while maintaining the image of a magnanimous philanthropist in the real world. Either way, I don’t think either of these men will have a happy ending, and they will most definitely be served by the objects they created/tortured.
It’s almost impossible to continue to review this series without addressing one of the more popular theories surrounding Westworld. If you don’t want to read about it (in case it’s true and therefore a spoiler), just skip past the bulleted list below for the rest of the review. Everyone else: The first bullet is the exact theory, and the rest are the reasons why I don’t believe it’s so after watching “Contrapasso.”
- Theory: The Man in Black and William are the same person, and we’re actually watching two separate timelines that are 30 years apart.
- Of all the episodes, “Contrapasso” has the most events that both lean towards the theory being correct and also completely debunking it. The reveal that the Host we’ve known as Lawrence is also El Lazo (also, Lawrence to his friends) might suggest to some that we’re seeing the first time young TMIB (William) meets him with Delores, and it’s why TMIB seeks him out and speaks as though they’ve known each other years later. However, Kissy is the one who leads him to Lawrence in “The Original.” And it’s possible that whatever went down between TMIB and Delores in that barn is what led him to Kissy.
- Arnold died shortly before the park opened, 34 years ago. The park had only been open for a few years when TMIB began to visit. He says on his first visit he opened one of the Hosts to see what they looked like inside (we’ve not see William do that, nor does it seem he would), but he also mentions that they were not as advanced and didn’t look so lifelike. We know Old Bill was the second Host and he definitely moves like an android. Why would the technology be so advanced if William and Logan are in the park 30 years in the past?
- We’ve seen Stubbs approve an intervention with Dolores when she’s speaking with Lawrence’s daughter, and we also see him approve the explosive request from TMIB. So, unless Stubbs is a non-aging android, they have to be the same timeline.
- Logan tells William the story of the missing partner, and speaks of it as if it happened a long time ago.
- If there are two separate timelines, Stubbs is a Host and TMIB is not William.
Okay. Now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk about the episode proper.
William, Dolores, and Logan finally make it to Pariah, a town whose goings on make the Mariposa look like Sunday school. Dolores continues to have visions which suggest she’s been there before, and a voice instructs her to “find me.” When she asks how, we don’t hear the answer, but she turns towards Pariah with purpose.
Meanwhile, TMIB continues on with Lawrence and Teddy, the latter close to death, in search of Wyatt. Considering Teddy’s past with Wyatt, TMIB decides it’s more important to keep him around, and slices Lawrence’s throat to drain his blood and give it to Teddy. To keep Teddy committed to his cause, TMIB tells him that Wyatt has kidnapped Dolores.
Ford is once again hanging out with Old Bill and tells him a story of his childhood dog, a greyhound, that had been trained to chase a felt rabbit its whole life. The first time it was off its leash, it killed a cat that might have looked like the rabbit. Once it was done, what else was there? Ford could be talking about himself, spending his whole life trying to reach this god-like status and now that he has, what does it mean? What else is there for him to do? And how does his upcoming narrative play into it?
For the second week in a row, Westworld has given Anthony Hopkins the opportunity to deliver some truly chilling scenes, and this week he does it twice. First, he has a sit-down with D0lores (his first that we’ve seen, I believe). D0lores sees herself walking through Pariah, and follows her through the crowd, losing her right before discovering a fortune teller. It’s possible that she was pulled from the park/game for this encounter. The next day, she tells William she had troubling dreams. Either way, when she’s sitting with Ford, he grills her on communication with Arnold, and she claims the last time he spoke to her was the day he died, 34 years ago, when he told her she would help him destroy Westworld. As they talk, Ford is roughly squeezing her hand and feeling along her arm. This will be important later. He also asks her if she remembers the man he used to be. Considering we learn from Logan that no one is able to locate so much as a photograph of the mysterious, dead partner, it makes me wonder if Ford is Arnold.
When he leaves her alone in the dark, she says out loud, “He doesn’t know. I didn’t tell him anything.” Is she talking to “Arnold” in her head? Or Bernard?
Elsie blackmails her way into some alone time with the Woodcutter before his body can be destroyed. She finds a transmitter running along his arm down to his palm. Could this be what Ford was checking for in Dolores’ hand? Elsie reports her finding to Bernard, and suspects someone is using the Hosts to learn park secrets. The most obvious suspect would be Theresa Cullen, who refused to let Behavioral examine the body before having it incinerated.
That next morning, in Pariah, William, Logan, and Dolores finally meet El Lazo, and it’s the same Host portraying Lawrence. Presumably, this is why he wasn’t available to meet with them the night before; the park was still fixing him up for this role. The trio accept a mission to rob a Union transport of nitroglycerin for the Confederados (Confederate soldiers who refused to surrender after the war). When the mission ends in gunfire and a Host nearly choking Logan to death, we realize that activities this far beyond Sweetwater really are more dangerous. Unfortunately for them, El Lazo pulls a double-cross (he takes the nitro for himself and gives the Confederados fakes) which results in Logan getting a beatdown (and left behind on purpose), Dolores killing a few Confederados, and William and Dolores hopping a train out of town… with El Lazo and the nitroglycerin.
Ford pops into the park to pay TMIB a surprise visit when he and Teddy stop at a tavern. There’s so much to mine from this conversation. TMIB wonders if Ford is trying to stop him from reaching the center of the maze, but doesn’t answer when asked what he hopes to find there. Ford suggests if he wants the moral of the story, deeper meaning, just ask. TMIB counters he’d need to dig Arnold up and ask him, and notes that Arnold’s death almost did the park in, but thanks to him it didn’t. This might imply that TMIB is an investor (we speculated this on the podcast).
TMIB believes Arnold left behind secrets and wonders what he’d find if he opened Ford up. Turns out, Teddy isn’t just made to die; he’ll also grip your ass up if you threaten his maker. I wonder how many other Hosts in the park have that added function.
Before Ford leaves he says to Teddy, “Mr. Flood, we must look back and smile at perils past, mustn’t we?”
Dude just couldn’t say goodbye? I’m convinced that was some hidden command. Or I may have fallen too far down the rabbit hole of theories.
Twice now we’ve heard Ford ask Hosts if they imagined a new life for themselves and what type of role they’d play if they did. Well, Felix (Leonardo Nam) the tech who forgot to turn off Maeve’s sleep-mode (though, he didn’t) seems to see himself as a programmer and has been secretly working on coding a stolen bird when he’s not patching up Maeve for the umpteenth time (including at the top of the episode after her death at the end of “Dissonance Theory”).
Just as he achieves success, he’s surprised when his bird lands right on the hand of Maeve, who’s awake, naked, and ready to have a chat.
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Westworld S1E5 = 9.8/10