Everyone knows that uncomfortable moment when you’re watching a show with either your parents or kids and a sex scene comes up. Imagine that, except with the sex scene being an orgy palace.
Then you have ten minutes of “Contrapasso,” better known as the sexisode of Westworld.
Fear not, though: HBO did more with this episode than remind the world that it can run unlimited nudity. We also got to learn a little more about the park and Ford’s place in it, and Dolores got a new outfit. Hooray!
We open with Ford deep in the lower levels of the park, chatting with the very old Buffalo Bill host. He shares a story about a greyhound he had as a boy that, when freed from its racetrack “loop,” slaughtered a poor cat in front of everyone. This seems to illuminate why Ford likes having the hosts on their loops, blissfully ignorant of their real existence. If that is the case, though, then what the heck is he up to with the maze and his new narrative?
From there, “Contrapasso” sticks with three main plotlines. Let’s go.
Our favorite ex-farmgirl is quite busy this episode. Still hearing a voice in her head, urging her to find him, she arrives with White-hat William and Logan at the city of Pariah. (Aside: I thought that the less-than-friendly pair split last episode, but I appear to have been wrong. Oops.)
Anywho, Pariah is the town that put the wild in Wild West -- people are having casual sex by the street, and you go, “oh, it’s going to be one of those episodes.”
There’s plenty sorts of revelry to go around in this place, though, and Dolores gets caught up in a Dia de los Muertos-esque parade before passing out and awaking in a “dream.”
That dream places her in the park Underbelly, being interrogated by Ford. This isn’t a friendly chit chat like we saw earlier with Bill; he’s got some questions for Dolores, specifically about the deceased(?) Arnold. That’s got a question mark because, despite Arnold’s supposed death over 30 years prior, Ford asks Dolores if she’s been hearing Arnold’s voice and talking with him.
Dolores says no, but after Ford leaves her, she says in private “He doesn’t know. I didn’t tell him anything.”
We now know the hosts can lie to non-guests. This is fascinating with Dolores in particular because she revealed to Ford that Arnold had planned to use her in a scheme to “destroy” the park. There’s still so much about this host we don’t know.
Back in Pariah, the bandit that Logan freed leads the group to an audience with his boss/crime lord -- who turns out to be Lawrence, the Man in Black’s prisoner (?!). We the viewers are surprised because (as we’ll discuss in MiB’s section) we’ve just seen MiB kill Lawrence a few minutes prior. Hmmm.
Since Logan wants to have a good time, Boss Lawrence sends them on a mission for the Confederados, ex-Confederate soldiers who work as mercenaries. The trio + freed bandit shoot up some Union soldiers driving a wagon with nitroglycerin (a.k.a. explosives). The bandit gets killed, and White-hat William draws his first “innocent” blood.
Oh, and Dolores loses the Alice-in-Wonderland dress for a cowgirl-esque outfit. Fun!
They’re rewarded with an invitation to a quaint little sex party -- with quaint meaning what would happen if Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish turned Versailles into a brothel. Time to send the kids away, everyone.
William and Dolores, unsurprisingly, don’t seem to enjoy the festivities, and William and Logan have a spat. Logan, who earlier revealed that the park is “hemorrhaging” funds and is ripe for a corporate takeover, tells William this really is a business trip and that William is a sad little weakling. William almost snaps but ends up just storming away.
Dolores, meanwhile, happens upon a fortune teller with her clothes still on. In a nevertheless trippy scene, the woman turns into blue-dress Dolores, and cowgirl Dolores has a vision of pulling the stringy material that makes up hosts out of her arm. It’s scary for us to watch, let alone her.
Fleeing the trippiness, she finds Lawrence and his men secretly switching out the Confederados’ recently-acquired nitro bottles for tequila -- it turns out that he’s with the “revolutionaries” down south that the Confederados are fighting. They’re pumping the explosives into the dead bandit’s body. Sooner than later, the Confederados figure out what’s happened and start beating up Logan for treachery.
William, who now just wants to leave the park, gets talked into staying by Dolores because, she says, the voice in her head tells her she needs him. Oh, and she gives him a nice kiss for good measure.
They flee the sexy party, with William ignoring Logan’s plea for help, only to be confronted by the main Confederado. In blatant violation of her programming, Dolores expertly shoots him and his few companions in mere seconds. William can’t believe it and asks how she did that.
“You said people came here to change the story of their lives,” she responds. “I imagined a story where I didn’t have to be the damsel.” Get it, girl!
They flee together and hop on a train carrying Lawrence and his very dangerous dead friend. Impressed by their spunk, he invites the pair to tag along with him. The casket carrying the body, it turns out, has the symbol of the maze on it. *Que plot thickening*
The Man in Black (MiB)
Not nearly as busy as Dolores -- but always fun to watch -- MiB is concerned that Teddy, who he found close to death, is much closer to it now. He slits Lawrence’s throat and puts his “blood” into Teddy to keep that host going. (Remember: this happens before we see Lawrence in Pariah.)
It’s there that the creepy little host boy happens upon them -- this is the kid we saw Ford talking to a few episodes back. Perhaps, then, it’s no surprise that at a saloon later on, MiB is greeted by none other than Ford himself.
Ford inquires how MiB got Teddy to tag along so far out of his set loop (it turns out that the right keywords -- in Teddy’s case, “Dolores” -- can make a host divert from its usual program). MiB counter-inquires if this Wyatt person will be a foe worthy of a true baddie like himself and if Wyatt’s a means to prevent him from reaching the center of the maze.
MiB says he believes that Ford’s old associate, Arnold, had one last secret to tell, and that there’s more to the park than amusement. There’s “something true” hidden in the nature of this world, and he’s going to figure it out. The man loves puzzles.
He also drops this factoid: He and Ford know each other.
Evidently, MiB was around when Arnold was up to shenanigans 30-odd years ago, and he may have actually stopped what Arnold had planned. Now, when MiB threatens to cut Ford open to see if something surprising is inside, the weak Teddy suddenly springs into action and grabs the knife from him. “Loyal pet,” MiB remarks.
He asks Ford if he’s going to hinder his quest for the maze, but Ford says it’s not like him to stop someone “on a voyage of self-discovery.” With a tap on the shoulder, Ford restores Teddy to perfect working condition and leaves the two to continue their little trip.
In the Underbelly
We’ve got two main characters to watch here in this episode. Elsie, for one, sees that the head-smashing rogue host is about to be destroyed. Blackmailing one of the Suits with video of a not-so-professional examination he did with a dormant host, she gains access to headsmasher’s body. Lo and behold, she pulls a large device out of his arm.
Presenting it to Bernard, Elsie says it’s a satellite uplink used to smuggle information out of the park. There’s something rotten in the state of Westworld.
Our other focus here is on a lowly Suit, Felix, with dreams of doing something better than patching up damaged hosts. In his off time, he’s secretly trying to fix a broken host bird.
At the episode’s end, he finally gets it to come back to “life.” He walks around the glass room as if he’s just cured cancer when he sees something wrong: The little birdy lands on the finger of a host that, while off minutes earlier, is now casually sitting up on the table. Yup, it’s Maeve.
“Hello, Felix. It’s time you and I had a chat.”
I can’t wait to see that chat
One of the many fun things about Westworld is how ripe it is for theorizing. A popular theory going around is the idea that we’re watching two different timelines at once -- one being the “current day” timeline and the other actually having taken place 30 years prior. Proponents of this theory think that White-hat William actually becomes the Man in Black over time.
Joanna Robinson, a writer for Vanity Fair, argues that the short time between Lawrence’s death and his appearance in Pariah all but proves the timeline theory (see her story here). I’m not sold on it yet, since there’s no real way to know yet that MiB’s storyline and the William/Logan/Dolores trip aren’t separated by a day or two. Still, it’s an intriguing possibility.
What do you think? Find me on Twitter @HJuncensored.
QUOTES OF THE WEEK
Dolores on the crazy town of Pariah: “It’s beautiful ... in its own way.”
Dolores, to Ford: “Are we very old friends?”
Ford, in response: “No, I wouldn’t say friends, Dolores. I wouldn’t say that at all.” He makes a weird, almost pained expression as he says this. I’m so excited to see their shared history.
MiB, to recently revived Teddy: “It looks like a couple gallons of Lawrence swirling around in you did you some good.” Eww.
Elsie just calls the young/dumb Suit she blackmails a “necro-perv.” Her character is just a delight.