Many viewers of HBO’s Westworld have grown frustrated with the show’s lack of answers to its many, many questions. Episode four, “Dissonance Theory“, was a cerebral headscratcher. Episode five, “Contrapasso“, was filled with religious imagery and questions of faith and morality. After two deep, thought-provoking episodes, viewers needed a little break. Thankfully, this week’s episode of Westworld, “The Adversary“, was much more straightforward than its predecessors. For a more in-depth play-by-play recap, check out the Westworld wiki page on the episode here. Warning: spoilers ahead.
The most prominent question in this week’s episode regards its title: who is the adversary? There are many different forces at work within the park and behind the scenes, but no one clear antagonist has been named. The Man in Black is certainly a contender, though he doesn’t spill much blood this week. Dr. Ford himself is a possibility, with his erratic behavior and new story that is wreaking havoc in the park. There’s also the possibility that Arnold is the adversary, his consciousness uploaded into a computer somewhere, broadcasting messages to the hosts who are now behaving badly.
Bernard and Elsie have been trying to determine who is spying on the park through the satellite uplinks, which may also be the cause of the host’s weird behavior. Elsie discovers that Theresa has been using the uplinks and tells Bernard while he’s in the room trying to warn Theresa about possible corporate espionage. She ended their affair because Dr. Ford knew about it, but Bernard clearly still cares for her enough to try and protect her. Instead, she is the mole. He also warns her about Dr. Ford’s bizarre behavior. Bernard discovers Dr. Ford interacting with four of the original units in a closed-off section of the park. One of the units is the little boy that has been wandering the park regularly – the one who watched the Man in Black drain Lawrence’s blood last week.
We find out that the little boy is actually a robotic version of Dr. Ford as a child. This makes a lot of sense, given the child’s behavior and accent. Dr. Ford has the boy open up his face to reveal the robotic components beneath and explains that in making the hosts more lifelike, they lost some of their grace.
The rest of the hosts in the cabin are approximations of Ford’s family when they went on vacation when he was a boy. Arnold created the hosts for him as a way to reclaim the one happy memory from his childhood. When Bernard says that this concerns him, Ford quickly manipulates him. He asks if Bernard would want to see his son again, if he could. Ouch. Everyone seems to be manipulating Bernard these days. The only person that is straightforward with him is Elsie, and she gets captured by a mystery person right after she discovers someone or something is broadcasting “voices” to the older hosts. Could it be Arnold? For a dead man, he sure has some reach.
Apparently, Arnold has even been whispering to young Robert. Dr. Ford meets the boy and wants to play a game of fetch with the old family dog, but young Robert has killed him. He tells Dr. Ford that a voice told him to put the animal out of its misery after the dog killed a rabbit. He explains that the dog is a killer, and must die because of it. If Arnold is giving the hosts reasons to kill, could some of the guests be next?
Maeve purposely gets herself killed this episode in order to wake up on Felix’s operating table and ask him more questions. She is able to “wake up” whenever she wants now, using her counting back from three method. She questions Felix about her existence, and when he shows her a tablet with her programming on it, she shorts out. Imagine discovering that your every word was part of a program, that you had no original thoughts. It’s enough to crash any computer and likely even a human brain. After her existential crisis, she asks Felix to take her upstairs to see where the hosts are made. He obliges, though is concerned about being spotted. Maeve looks on as the hosts are created, tested, and hosed off after being killed. She begins to understand the very fabric of her being and isn’t happy about any of it.
Felix’s partner in the lab comes in while Felix and Maeve are discussing things and Maeve nearly slits his throat with a scalpel. She then blackmails him into helping her, explaining that she knows about his little side-project prostituting unconscious hosts. While Felix and his partner set about to adjust her various personality levels, Felix notices that someone has upped her paranoia and survival instincts. Someone with “much higher restriction levels” than he has. Is it Arnold, playing with the hosts from the beyond. Is he readying them for war, for a battle against their very creators?
Maeve has Felix lower her ability to feel pain (smart) and her loyalty. She also has him turn her intelligence all the way up – then knowingly smiles and tells the boys they’re going to have some real fun. Maeve is prepping herself to be one scary robot.
Speaking of scary robots, the creators of Westworld gave fans a tiny glimpse of Yul Brenner’s character from the 1973 film the show is based on. In the film, Brenner’s Gunslinger is a host who goes mad and starts killing off the guests. It’s been hinted throughout the series that the hosts will eventually rebel against their creators, so perhaps each of them is the adversary. Maeve is certainly ready to kill whoever crosses her, and Dolores had no problems mowing down bad guys with a pistol last week. It’s not just the ladies, either. This week, the usually sweet Teddy showed some gumption and took out an entire camp of Union soldiers with an old-fashioned machine gun. The Man in Black was even surprised, commenting that “you think you know somebody…” to which Teddy replies “you don’t know anything about me”.
Teddy doesn’t seem to be “awake” in the same way Dolores and Maeve are, but he’s certainly on a mission. Whether or not Dolores passes on the phrase that unlocks the host’s mind or not will be up to her. She can “save” Teddy, with just a few words written hundreds of years ago.
Westworld hasn’t given viewers many answers to the myriad questions it poses, but it keeps things interesting. Hopefully, a few answers will come soon, before viewers get too confused.
- Maeve’s interaction with a guest in the brothel. She mocks him and taunts him until he chokes her to death, allowing her back on Felix’s table. Watching Maeve be a sass queen is one of the greatest joys of the show, and she does it here with aplomb.
- Watching Teddy be in control instead of being a victim was refreshing. Poor guy can’t seem to catch a break.
- Lee Sizemore, the head of narrative, gets very drunk and proceeds to urinate all over the model of Westworld, shouting that it’s “raining in Sweetwater”. He does this in front of Theresa Cullen and (oops) the Executive Director Charlotte Hale, whom he was trying to impress at the bar when he thought she was a guest.