Westworld: The Adversary

“The maze itself is the sum of a man’s life.”

After last week’s focus on Dolores, “The Adversary” moved the spotlight to Maeve, who made use of her considerable charms to acquire even more knowledge and power.

Maeve’s entire arc in this episode—convincing Felix to explain Westworld, taking the tour, blackmailing Sylvester, and upping her intelligence—was wonderful. Yes, it took a while, but I think the time spent was worth it to watch Thandie Newton knocking it out of the park (pun!) over and over again.

But Maeve, via her cat-named tech friends, isn’t the only one messing with her mind: someone higher up the food chain has already altered some of her characteristics, including paranoia. In other words, someone with high-level access orchestrated Maeve’s budding awareness.

That’s information that Elsie and Bernard need, but might not get. Last week, Elsie floated the theory that the satellite uplinks embedded in the hosts were “smuggling data out of the park.” I disagreed, and—as always—I am right: someone is using the satellite uplinks to manipulate hosts. That same someone (we assume) is also taking advantage of the old operating system within old hosts to modify their behavior.

Elsie implicates Theresa. If Theresa is doing anything, it’s probably for a corporate power-grab and not a desire to generate a robot uprising. Elsie also implicates Arnold, or someone using his login. Then she gets attacked in the creepy abandoned theater, because she’s never seen a horror movie before.

In the past few episodes, Arnold has become a looming specter: a figure from the past emerging into sharper relief. He is, in other words, akin to the memories that Dolores and Maeve are experiencing. Like those memories, the park’s history and the history of its founders are becoming more important to the present moment than we may have realized.

Especially since Dr. Ford may not have as much control as we thought. The Man in Black has been playing, or looking for, the “deeper game,” which is linked to the labyrinth imagery on the inside of some host’s skulls. Teddy knows about the maze—see the lead quote above—but Dr. Ford doesn’t seem to be the one planting that information: he is surprised to see the maze branded into the table, and has to look in an old journal (his? Arnold’s?) to remember where it came from.

That raises an interesting question: whose game is the MiB playing, if Dr. Ford’s new narrative isn’t linked to the maze imagery? The MiB added a bit to Teddy’s motivation (that Wyatt had Dolores, something we have seen is untrue). We know Dr. Ford recently added Wyatt himself to Teddy’s backstory. But where did Teddy’s new violent urges come from? It’s hard to imagine the sweet guy from a few episodes ago taking out an entire encampment with a Gatling gun. Even the MiB was surprised.

Back on the upper levels, the game of corporate intrigue continues. I must admit, this is the part of the story that I care about least: I love Bernard and Elsie and the Hemsworth (not to mention Felix the tech), but their stories are interesting to me only insofar as they intersect with the hosts and their growing awareness. That Bernard and Theresa are no longer sleeping together, or that a member of the board has watched Sizemore act like a fool…not so much.

But maybe it will all tie together. Maybe there is a real risk of a corporate-board generated robot apocalypse. Maybe all the different agendas will intersect and cause unforeseen chaos. I don’t know where this show is going, or even where I am supposed to want it to go, and that is an exciting place to be.

Reveries:

Westworld sure does love Radiohead, doesn’t it? Oh, who am I kidding. I think we all love middle-era Radiohead.

• In fact, the entire scene of Maeve walking through the lab was unbearably beautiful. This episode should win an Emmy for best direction (and Thandie Newton should win an Emmy for Maeve).

• The soldiers who tried to brand Teddy—was that brand a labyrinth? I couldn’t quite tell.

• Arnold built Dr. Ford a replica family, and Dr. Ford tweaked it so his father was an alcoholic. That’s gloomy.

• Little Dr. Ford killed his own dog because a voice told him to. That doesn’t bode well.

Three out of four Gatling guns.

Josie Kafka is a full-time cat servant and part-time rogue demon hunter. (What's a rogue demon?)

4 comments:

Sam Smith said...

Yes, that brand was the labyrinth. I think thats the fourth occurence of it in the park? It makes me wonder why the MiB had to scalp someone to get it. Also, that is a terrible idea for a cattle brand, surely some of the hosts must notice it.

Henrik Bennetter said...

Radioheads "Fake plastic trees"! Of course! Thankyou!

For a while I thought it was Robbie Williams "Come undone" - which would've been a pretty good fit too.

Love this show. Just as Mr Robot - I have NO idea where it's going.

Steve S. said...

Ok, I really liked this episode and it's now getting fun -- I agree that I have no idea where they're going or even what I want. I agree that the character arcs have to intersect and that will bring it all together. I'm more and more convinced that some of the characters we think are human are hosts. I just don't know which ones, but it's time to start finding out!

Meanwhile, the hosts are getting more "human", and it's always entertaining to consider what makes a human "human", and what is consciousness. It's not passing the Turing test. If it's the sum total of memories, knowledge and emotion, and then using all that to make your next move, then where do you draw the line between humans and off-script, improvising hosts? That's where the action is...

P.S. It's delicious that I have to click the "I'm not a robot" box to post a comment. Pretty sure a host can do that.

Logan Cox said...

I agree about the corporate angle. The humans are really only interesting in the way they interact with the hosts. Although, the Man in Black intrigues me as a villain, and so does William as what I'm guessing is an avatar for the audience. The only real reason I like Bernard is because I think he might unknowingly be a robot. Aside from that, the humans are smug, creepy bastards who all deserve to get taken down a peg. The park malfunctioning/robot uprising was horrifying in the original? Here it should practically be divine justice.

Thandie Newton is indeed fantastic as Maeve. Did the end scene of this episode kind of remind anyone else of Weird Science?