“The Adversary,” the 6th episode of Westworld’s first season, was the most tense episode yet for HBO’s new drama. But while the tension was thick, the answers (well most of them anyway) we so desperately want stayed elusive at the hour’s conclusion.
Yes, we got tantalizingly close to finding out who’s been whispering to the hosts in the park. And I wouldn’t expect the show to reveal the solution to its biggest mystery with so much of the season yet to play out.
But the longer the answer to that central question is delayed, the greater the expectation will be for that answer to blow our minds.
So here’s hoping “Westworld” can deliver when all this heightened tension reaches its conclusion.
Let’s start this week’s recap with Maeve, who decided it was time to make some “changes” in her life.
Maeve’s journey of self-realization continued this week as her guide Felix pulled back the curtain on Westworld for the host. The first discovery Maeve makes is that she can say nothing that has not been programmed into her by a human. That bit of information was very important towards the end of the episode.
After getting the VIP tour of “upstairs,” from Felix, Maeve requests “changes” to her programming. She wants a little less loyalty (or a whole lot less actually) and pain, but a whole lot of wit and perception.
But Felix’s buddy (well not really much of a buddy) Sylvester walks in and is ready to spill the beans on Felix’s unauthorized work. That is, until Maeve holds a knife to his throat with a little side of blackmail. Turns out, Sylvester pimps out the hosts at headquarters for lonely guys (like the one Hughes blackmailed last week).
So Maeve gets the changes she wants. But she’s not the only host we saw make a bit of a transformation this week.
The Man In Black
I liked how “The Adversary” had a unifying theme for most of its major story arcs. The only exception to this was the MIB and his continued march to find the maze with Teddy.
Their next stop is to find Wyatt, the new villain whom Teddy holds a significant grudge against. But what we discovered is Teddy was not so innocent when it came to Wyatt’s many slaughters throughout the countryside. He was right there with his commanding officer taking out any who would get in their way. And to think, we used to feel sorry for Teddy early in the season when he was dying every single episode.
A group of soldiers Teddy and the MIB run into have just been attacked by Wyatt and his crew. But one of them recognizes Teddy and means to tie him up and brand him. But Teddy breaks free, takes hold of an old timey machine gun and blows all the troops away.
The MIB ends the scene speaking for all of us when he says, “You think you know someone.”
Bernard Lowe and Elsie Hughes
Bernard, whose spent weeks with his head stuck somewhere covering up his ears anytime anybody suggested things are anything but hunky dorey in the park, finally wised up and started looking into the questionable behavior of the hosts. And what his investigation produced was some of the best acting Jeffrey Wright has provided the series so far.
With the help of super sleuth Elsie Hughes, Lowe begins investigating whose been stealing data from the park.
First, he heads “downstairs” (just how many dark and mysterious rooms does this park have?) because the hosts being used had to be original models (I won’t go into how he figured that out or new he had to go down there to find his answers because I’m not really sure. Let’s just say it was something sciency).
But while down there, Lowe notices several hosts in the park that are not registered in the system. Lowe goes to check it out, only to find a family of hosts that only Dr. Ford can control. The little boy we’ve seen wondering around a couple of episodes is there with his family. And that little boy in none other than Ford as a child (anybody else out there besides me predict that earlier in the season?) The hosts representing Ford’s family were supposed to be a gift from Arnold. Lowe doesn’t like unmonitored hosts running around, but Ford insists they’re no danger.
Speaking of danger, Elsie Hughes took the information Lowe found earlier (once again, more sciensy stuff) and discovers a place in the park where someone’s been communicating with the hosts. She finds the computer in a dark room with lots of creepy props lying around. I’m sure there’s no danger here at all.
When super sleuth finds the computer, she discovers that two people have been using it to communicate with the hosts. The first is Theresa Cullen. She’s the one whose been sending data outside the park. She also happened to be spending this entire episode on her “Make Westworld Great Again” tour making preparations to remove Dr. Ford from his position. It also appears Lowe was blind to it because of the sexual relationship he shared with Cullen.
But Hughes found another set of communications on the computer. And those are the ones that have Elsie the most concerned.
Who in the Name of Arnold?
I loved the way three different groups in three different settings all came to the same conclusion at the same time in tonight’s episode.
First, there’s Elsie discovering that “Arnold” has been talking directly to the older hosts. The changes can cause these hosts to hurt guests and lie to humans.
And right on cue, we get our second realization coming from Dr. Ford after he finds little Ford’s dog is dead. The little Ford lies to Dr. Robert at first about the cause of death. Turns out, “Arnold” told the boy to kill the dog so it “couldn’t hurt anyone else.” Dr. Ford is very concerned about this, which means everyone else in the park should get out of there as fast as they can.
The third realization comes from Sylvester and Felix. When they are changing Maeve’s programming, they notice someone else has already been doing it.
Now, did anybody else out there scream at their television for Elsie to get out of that room? Of course, super sleuth stuck around too long and got herself snatched in her last scene of the night.
-While robot revolution has been the direction of season one from the start, tonight’s episode made very clear that only another human can truly direct the carnage. This means that no matter what actions the hosts take, they are always going to be acting at the behest of someone else.
-Dr. Robert Ford seemed to recognize the maze on the table in the little Mexican village he visited with construction people as a design in one of the books in his office.
-Tonight’s worst first impression award goes to Tom Sizemore, the head of creative whose idea was 100% rejected by Ford several episodes back. Apparently, he’s been taking sick leave since then, drinking all day by a pool at the Westworld resort for guests when they are not out in the park.
But not only does Sizemore hit on a very important executive at the pool, he pees all over the park map at headquarters in front of that same executive, Charlotte Hale.
-It was interesting to watch the MIB take a back seat as Teddy directed the action in their scenes together this week.
-Apparently, Maeve’s previous story (where she’s a mom raising daughter out on the plains) is “just a tweak” from being the madam at a brothel. Really, that change was just a tweak?
-This is also the third straight week where the last line of the episode was uttered by Maeve: “Now boys, we’re ready for some fun aren’t we?”
-Who is playing the part of “Arnold” and what is their purpose in whispering to all the hosts?
-Who snatched Elsie and what will their identity reveal about the larger thing going on with the hosts in the park?
-Who does Bernard Lowe trust now that he doesn’t think he can trust Dr. Ford or Theresa Cullen?
-What does Charlotte Hale have planned for her visit to Westworld and how will it affect the future of the park?
Just four episodes left in the first season. I’ll see you here again next week.