Westworld Tours the Background and it Pays Off

(HBO)

Westworld ignores the maze and remembers its characters. Corporate espionage materializes as a definite threat and hosts claim their lives at the expense of Delos’ interests. And as the company seeks to control the situation, the line between friend and enemy gets blurred

Westworld: “The Adversary”

(HBO)

(HBO)

Charlotte Hale, Executive Director of Delos’ Board, arrives at the Westworld Campus to oversee Ford’s handling of the park’s disruptions. But Ford, having successfully scared Theresa away from Bernard, prefers to spend his time on his personal frontier, while searching for his elusive white church.

Maeve conducts a search of her own. Having figured out that aggressive guests willing to kill her during sex is the key to Felix’s repair shop, she builds a rapport with him that removes layers from the mystery that is her existence. He takes her on a walk about the campus, revealing the secret lives of hosts and how her memory as a mother is used to advertise the diversity of the wild west. Sylvester, realizing Felix’s obsession with Maeve is officially unprofessional, threatens to out him to Quality Assessment. In a bid to save Felix–and herself–Maeve threatens his life and convinces the repairmen to remove the operating barriers that keep her from tapping into her free will.

According to Teddy, the maze is a Native myth, an allegory for the trials a man goes through life and how he reconciles his past with the world around him, not a physical place. The Man in Black disagrees and takes them both closer to Wyatt. Having to pass a group of Union soldiers, they don disguises to move forward unseen, but Teddy is spotted by his former brothers in arms as a killer under Wyatt’s command. Set up for torture, Teddy recalls his to his past narrative and massacres those stationed at the outpost before riding on to meet his old friend.

(HBO)

(HBO)

Bernard and Elsie look deeper into the woodcutter’s satcom geo cache. He tries to find the recipient of its transmissions, leading him to discover a family of 1st gen hosts Ford has been hiding in the park from the rest of management. They were designed by Arnold, making them something Ford could not part with, so he modified them, made them respond only to his command and left them to be as free as they could.

Elsie, driven by ambition, searches for the satcom’s recipient on her own. The woodcutter had been communicating with a Delos satellite, which has Theresa’s fingerprints all over it, implicating her in an espionage plot driven by code Arnold had left behind. After telling Bernard all of this Elsie waits for him to meet her in the caverns of the campus, only to be abducted.

Ford reunites with his Robert, the small boy from Arnold’s family, and asks him to join in on a game of catch with his pet dog. Robert, however, has killed his dog, coerced to do it by Arnold, whispering from beyond the grave.

(HBO)

(HBO)

From the outset the maze McGuffin felt like a bad place for Westworld to start off considering the wealth of material that was all around it. It might pay off in the end but the B and C stories in “The Adversary” point to what should be the actual focus of everything that’s going on in this wondrous park.

While we don’t know the full extent of what Arnold has left behind (or is still doing) we do know that his impression is starting to unfurl in ways that spells a future filled with promise for hosts and a crisis of for Delos. Is Theresa really a corporate spy for another corporation? Perhaps she, like Ford, is on the search for what he buried there and it all ties in to the glitching of hosts.

Teddy seems to be responding to that bad signaling, though Ford’s interference has to be a factor in the change in his narrative. But how much is scripted and how much is Teddy’s willful reaction to the Wyatt memories that have recently been unlocked?

Real questions with tenuous threads leading somewhere exciting. We’ve finally got that thanks to the shift in focus. But more important than that is the machine awakening in Maeve.

(HBO)

(HBO)

Though we started out with Dolores (missing this week) as our guide on the path to self-awareness, she’s been bogged down by nebulous murmurings from people unseen that, as of yet, don’t point to anything of substance. Maeve, sticking to some thematic points Dolores first explored, takes a different direction, one she decides to take. And like the painful pangs that lead up to birth, she stares death in the face every rotation so she can die and be born again on Felix’s table, each time coming away with another piece of reality affixed to her consciousness. It makes her self-aware status a bit more meaningful than Dolores’, who’s been something of a marionette, tugged this way and that by people around her and those refusing to reveal themselves.

We’re also gifted with a host’s vantage of the Westworld campus for the first time. It’s very different from Bernard’s familiarity with the place or William’s wonder at gazing upon it for the first time. Through Maeve we get a glimpse of Delos being a corporation that makes it the Apple of a Ghost in the Shell kind of universe. Some of the more arresting cyborg birthing scenes are already in the show’s intro, but what we see from Maeve’s tour (also from Fred’s expedition) makes we want to see more of the manufacturing process.

As someone who’s needed to be convinced of this show’s direction week to week, if they can manage to keep these subplots at the forefront, flesh out the man/machine conflict, and throw some interest in the direction of corporate nastiness as artistry and calculation fights for the souls of hosts and man alike, I may actually become a full convert.

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Written by Daniel Rodriguez
Daniel Rodriguez is a freelance writer and author from New York City.

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