Westworld: Season 1 Episode 6 Review – The Adversary
Last week’s episode of Westworld picked up steam as Dolores and William found themselves on a train with El Lazo (you can call him Lawrence) and a casket full of explosive nitroglycerine, and this week’s instalment strongly suggests that HBO’s new series is on the right track. Less actual trains this week, but instead we get a tour of Delos headquarters, a family visit, corporate conspiracies and a guy pissing on a virtual map. “Dear boys, we are going to have some fun, aren’t we?”
Below is our spoiler-heavy review.
Previous episode Contrapasso ended on a whopper of a cliffhanger when Maeve scared the living crap out of surgeon and parttime bird-enthusiast Felix. At the start of this episode it seems the show quickly skips past that as we open up with the familiar shot of a host waking up in bed, but by now most of the Westworld-audience will have caught on to the show’s narrative tricks. After Maeve actively puts herself in a situation to be murdered just so she and Felix can continue their unusual rendez-vous, we learn that he is teaching her about ‘what’ she is.
Thandie Newton has been one of the stand-out performers of Westworld so far, and her performance in The Adversary is once again of the highest calibre. The highlight of the episode is the scene where Felix takes Maeve on a tour through the Delos facility, showing her everything from the clean-up process to the creation and behavior of new hosts. Maeve is pretending to be a mindless host, but her expression betrays a sense of bewilderment and doubt as the world she has known is shattering in front of her. This is especially clear when she is confronted with images from her dreams, something she perceived as truly personal memories that only she would know. It is direct proof of her lack of autonomy and it shakes her to her core. No doubt this is the final push she needed to take control of her own life. It is an incredibly strong sequence and the fact that Thandie Newton is able to convey so many different emotions at once without speaking is a testament to the quality of her performance.
Speaking of the Delos facility, a lot of The Adversary is spent catching up with its employees. After not seeing him since episode 2, Sizemore makes his return in what we can already describe as typical Sizemore-fashion. He is dealing with the embarrassment he suffered at the hands of Ford by making an even bigger fool of himself, first by wallowing in self-pity and getting plastered at what appears to be the visitor’s pool, drunkenly hitting on a woman who later turns out to be Charlotte Hale, the executive board director, and last but certainly not least releaving himself on the hologram map of Westworld. Right now Sizemore is being treated as little more than comic relief (the sight gag of the waiter switching his glass of margherita mid-rant is probably the funniest moment of the episode), but it is almost inevitable that his character will become more important at some point in the series. The question is, when that point arrives, will he still be his wonderfully egocentric self or will he have a change of heart?
Meanwhile Elsie’s story is finally starting to pick up the pace. Last week she found a laser-based satellite uplink in the arm of the headless host-man, and this week she tracks its signal to a transmitter in an abandoned theater. There she finds out that Theresa has apparently been using the old control system to program the Woodcutter, seemingly to smuggle information out of the park. Not much is known about Theresa Cullen’s motivations so far, so why she would do such a thing is left up in the air. She seems like a very career-minded woman though, and her talking about the possibility of Ford being replaced should his ambitious new narrative fail, could suggest that she is working towards a power shift in Delos upper management.
There are more pressing concerns however, as Elsie finds that someone else has been using the old control system for weeks, retasking older host-models and changing their prime directives. To Elsie’s and Bernard’s confusion it looks like Ford’s long deceased partner Arnold is the person behind the changes. Throughout the show Arnold has been a figure of mystery and this week in particular he was mentioned often, which only makes his shadow loom larger. The alterations sound similar to the behavioral changes we have seen in both Dolores and Maeve, and combined with Arnold’s voice speaking to the young host-version of Ford, it seems almost certain that Arnold is somehow behind the hosts gaining consciousness. Could he be the adversary the episode title is referring to? And who is the person that kidnaps Elsie after her call with Bernard?
Bernard has been the most developed out of all of the Delos employees so far, and that continues to be the case this week. After talking to Elsie about the transferred data, he goes searching for anomalies on the old system that is being kept in a delapitated lower level of Delos. It seems weird that a seemingly wealthy company like Delos has an entire level in such a collapsed state, so I am wondering if what happened here might be linked to the critical failure that happened 30 years ago. Here, Bernard finds that there are five more unregistered hosts, which prompts him to go on an accidental family visit.
In a remote area of the park, Bernard comes across a house which, as it turns out, is the home of the Ford family. Dr. Robert Ford not only has a young host-version of himself, his entire family was recreated by Arnold. They are first generation hosts, and the only reason they are still active is because Ford maintains them personally. The presence of these hosts allows us to gain some perspective on Ford, as it shows that there is a sentimentality to him, both with regards to his childhood and to the legacy of his former partner. Additionally, they are another example of hosts that seem to be affected by whatever is going on. Whatever it is, it seems to unsettle the one man who has been in the park the longest, which is an ominous sign.
It speaks to the strength of the Delos storylines that I have barely talked about the park-stuff that was going on in this episode, especially when it features Teddy mowing down an entire troop of soldiers with a gattling gun. It was the big action piece of the episode, but in terms of narrative value it does nothing more than further emphasize how Teddy will stop at nothing to find Dolores. Still, it was a cool moment and I am looking forward to seeing where the Man in Black’s search for Wyatt leads.
The big cliffhanger, however, again belongs to Maeve, as she pressures the two surgeons into upgrading her ‘bulk apperception’ or overall intelligence to its maximum. Now we have a conscious host, with a likely higher intelligence than any of the park’s employees. What could go wrong?
Image credits: HBO