This week's review of Westworld is guest written by staff writer Elvire Audi
You saw this one coming. Episode 5 of Westworld, halfway through the first season, finally opens differently from Dolores waking up for her small and modest loop; this week, after the hauntingly beautiful credits, Old Bill asks Ford, “You got any stories friend?”
Ford obliges, and tells him the tale of his childhood greyhound, trained to race, who after one day killing a cat, lost his life’s purpose. From the get-go, we understand the title of this week’s episode, Contrapasso, drawn from Dante’s Inferno; the contrapasso is the metaphorically appropriate punishment of souls for their sins. Ford, here, refers not only to his dog, but also to the hosts who think they want to be free. In the end, he will win them over, and their quests for truth and meaning will backfire on them.
We can already see this pattern changing some of the hosts, especially Dolores (who finally gets a change of clothes, in an almost self-deprecating manner), who hears more and more voices (Arnold? Bernard? Both at once?) telling her what to do. After multiple hallucinations, realizations and uncomfortable encounters in Pariah (the infamous town based on degeneracy and golden orgies), Dolores once again engages her deeper levels of consciousness to her advantage and, to William’s great pleasure, announces she won’t be a damsel anymore. Yes, their kiss was just a quick taste at her rebellious side, but there’s much more to come - will she be the hero or the villain?
In Pariah, we understand many things that really deepen the hosts’ narratives as well as the guests’ backgrounds. Logan and William get heated about what brought them to the park; it was actually very satisfying to see how a park’s narrative can take a bad turn, and completely reverse the power dynamic between guests.
Pariah also happens to be Lawrence’s home, only here he is called “El Lazo.” As if the different timelines weren’t complicated enough, now the show’s creators give hosts multiple personalities. This makes us think: when is what happening? A few moments ago, we just saw Lawrence being drained of blood to keep Teddy alive, and now he is alive and well in business with rebels? Even if he were the same host, his technological revival seems to be happening way too quickly to be realistic. However, we can’t help but think that William and Dolores are following the Man in Black’s path to finding the maze with Lawrence.
Meanwhile, the Man in Black is getting closer and closer to finding the center of the maze, and we finally understand some of his motivations when Ford interrupts him in a small tavern. Is Arnold then the real creator of the park? It seems to be the case, but Ford tells him he saved Westworld ever since trying to destroy Arnold’s trace on the hosts, like Dolores. Their much-awaited first interaction tells us Dolores knew Arnold, and that she was going to help him destroy this place. Arnold died that day, in still mysterious circumstances. Do we still believe it was a suicide? Did Ford kill him to reach his ends? The rest is still to be discovered.
This was one of the most comprehensive episodes yet, likely because it is halfway through the season, and the show needs to hint at possible conflicts and resolutions, even if they will most probably take us by surprise. However, storylines are converging into one slightly more coherent narrative. There is still so much to understand, and hopefully it will start with Maeve’s confrontation with our rebellious lab butcher, Felix. But who knows?