Westworld “Contrapasso” Review (Season 1 Episode 5)

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On a game-changing episode of “Westworld,” some semblance of what might actually be going on began to emerge, revealing that there may be more to the show than meets the glassy android eye, in “Contrapasso.”

Of course, as tends to be the case with shows like this, theories abound online, but I’ve chosen to forgo them in lieu of some theories of my own, which may or may not line up with the ones online. I prefer to remain in the dark, thank you very much, but I do appreciate the enthusiasm with which some people seem to have embraced the show thus far.

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First a brief recap of the episode in question. Basically, things got a little too real for newcomer William (Jimmi Simpson), when his co-worker, superior and future brother-in-law Logan (Ben Barnes) dragged him into the wrong side of the law, as it were, to engage in some illicit kicks. Only problem was the fact that William isn’t really the tough guy type, even in a playing at being one version, like Logan, who I suspect wouldn’t talk so big if the stakes were real.

Be that as it may, he is certainly protective over Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood), rising to her defense when called for, at least, to the point of even engaging in a little gun-play finally. Interestingly, so did Dolores, who is becoming less and less of a shrinking violet at every turn.

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What’s more, she is clearly becoming more and more self-aware, noticing the off-kilter things Logan is saying in reference to Westworld being a theme park and the like, which the “hosts” aren’t supposed to pay attention to at all. (Note also the “fortune teller” scene, with its allusions to the “maze,” along with the marking of the same on the coffin.) This has also not gone unnoticed by William, who is beginning to suspect that Dolores might not be your typical android.

We get a possible reason for this when Dr. Ford (Anthony Hopkins) brings her in for a talk, and asks her if she recalls his former co-hort, Dr. Arnold, who you’ll recall died some time ago. She reports that the two haven’t talked since his death, which, of course checks out, but then we discover that she’s actually able to keep something related to Arnold away from Ford, despite the fact that she shouldn’t be able to do any such thing.

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Of course, as we know, Dolores is good at keeping secrets, even under duress- perhaps her being the first android has something to do with it. I don’t think Ford is entirely convinced, either, as evidenced by the compelling meet he had with the mysterious Man in Black (Ed Harris) at that saloon elsewhere in the episode, which gave even his previous little chat with Cullen (Sidse Babett Knudsen) a run for its money. It reminded me a bit of the scene with Al Pacino and Robert De Niro in “Heat,” where they meet in the diner before their big showdown later on.

In it, Ford told the Man in Black that he should continue his quest to find the “secret” of the park, aka the secret of the maze that he’s been tracking since the beginning of the show, which was the exact opposite of what the MIB expected.

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That said, Ford didn’t hesitate to show the MIB who the real boss was by not only having Flood (James Marsden) rush to his defense without saying a word when the MIB threatened him, but “fixing” an ailing Flood with but a snap of his fingers. Notice also how the music started back up when the two finished their conversation- I didn’t even notice it was gone till Ford snapped his fingers and it started back up again- a testament to how powerful the scene was.

These scenes, combined with the fact that William and Dolores went rogue, leaving Logan behind to an uncertain fate showed that maybe things don’t follow a set path as much as we were led to believe. There might be more of a wild card element in play here that we were led to believe- and not just because some of the androids are starting to realize something’s awry. (Note also that Maeve (Thandie Newton) has also figured out something is up, playing “dead” to amass more info about it.)

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My theory so far: I think Arnold planted some intentional defects in the android system, not unlike Ford’s “reveries” that were designed to present themselves over time- and that time is now swiftly approaching where more and more of the “hosts” are going to become more self-aware and take their fates into their own hands. I think Ford is onto Arnold and trying to get to the bottom of it, but somehow Arnold built in a fail-safe that allows the “hosts” to lie- even to Ford.

That’s why I think Ford is allowing the MIB to continue following his own path and get to the bottom of things- he believes that the MIB is onto something and that it might reveal the secret of what’s really going on in the park, and why things are starting to go sideways. I also think that Arnold might have gone as far as to implant his consciousness into one of the “hosts” in order to live on after his death- or perhaps even more than one. (Think something like “Lucy” or “Transcendence.”)

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The androids becoming self-aware is that consciousness starting to reveal itself, and once it does, they will be able to act of their own accord and do what they want. We’ve already seen Dolores and Maeve do so. Perhaps the “maze” symbols Dolores saw are also like “triggers” to set her off, to help along the process. I think more doing the same will be coming soon, and eventually we’ll see a scenario more like the one in the original film, where the “hosts” stop taking crap from the guests and start killing them outright.

I don’t doubt others have had similar theories, and probably some even more out there- I seem to recall having heard something in passing about various timelines taking place at the same time, which I haven’t got into, but which sounds interesting, at least in theory. But I’m sticking with mine for now- maybe when the season’s over, I’ll investigate further until the show comes back, especially if there’s indications I might be wrong.

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Until then, if you have any theories of your own which aren’t simply other people’s takes on things, feel free to sound off down below in the comment section. I’m just loving the show so far, and I think Wood and Newton in particular are doing some exemplary work here, acting-wise- perhaps even their best to date, and I say that as big fans of both, having followed much of their careers.

Of course, Hopkins and Harris are rock solid as always, but Simpson and Barnes are also doing good work with their respective roles, exploring both the light and dark sides of what Westworld has to offer and why one should or shouldn’t give into their darkest whims, even if there aren’t any repercussions. For one thing, there might just be some, before too much longer. We’ll see how much “fun” Logan is having then.

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Let me know what you think of the show so far down below, and I’ll check back in at the end of the season. Thanks for reading!