We’re at the halfway point of Westworld‘s debut run, and ‘Contrapasso’ was a confusing affair. There are a lot of separate storylines trundling away, so many in fact that it’s hard to keep up with what the hell is going on sometimes, but that doesn’t make Westworld any less compelling. This is my TV highlight of 2016.
Westworld is much like Game of Thrones (yeah, I made that connection once again) in that both of their debut runs are confusing. Without prior knowledge of the A Song of Ice and Fire books, Game of Thrones alienates viewers in its first season by introducing a score of characters, locations, and storylines that are seemingly unrelated to one another. The same is very much true for Westworld. Just how does Dolores, Logan and William’s jaunt to the town of Pariah tie in with the Man in Black’s desire to discover the centre of the maze, or Maeve’s recent showdown with Hector? It doesn’t. Yet. But by the final episode, everything will most likely begin to fall into place.
I say it every week but Evan Rachel Wood continues to excel. It’s in the one-on-one scenes with one of the controllers that her acting truly shines. She’s able to manoeuvre from the scared farm-girl to a calculated robot with merely a flutter of her lashes, and yet the viewer is completely convinced of her change. And her change within the Westworld park was entirely believable too. One moment she was running from visions of herself, scared out of her wits, and the next she was passionately kissing William and gunning down a criminal gang, claiming that she’s tired of being the damsel. This may have come across rather quickly (or not, if you look at the grand scheme of things over the five episodes thus far), but Wood manages to make you believe every word that Dolores says. She is sublime.
It’s nice to see William also going against the grain. He has his first kill this week, and he kisses Dolores back, despite having a ‘love’ back home. What this means for his future remains to be seen, but it’s undeniable that he’s falling for Dolores. He knows there’s something different about her. At one point he tells Logan not to talk about her not being real within earshot, because he knows that she knows. He doesn’t want to confirm it for her. Why? Because he’s falling for a robot, most likely.
Anthony Hopkins was also exceptional this week. There’s increasing talk of this mysterious Arnold, and I am desperate to know what he was hiding. Was Dolores lying to Ford when she said she hadn’t spoken to him for 36 years? Obviously. Maybe Arnold made an android of himself, which is somehow hidden within the park. Maybe he somehow managed to upload his mind into a Host (or the park itself). Either way, we’ll definitely see him before the end of the season. I did think that the Man in Black could have possibly been him, until…
Ford sat down for whiskey. Now these two clearly have a history. And surprisingly Ford isn’t that bothered about the Man in Black trying to find the centre of the maze. The Man in Black believes that Arnold hid something in Westworld – one final story he had left to tell. Everything is clearly building up to this as Dolores is also seeing the same pattern. What’s at the centre of the maze? I think it’s a path to consciousness. A way (somehow) of the Hosts ascending from advanced AI to true humanity. Probably not, but what else could it be?
Speaking of a path to consciousness, Maeve spent an awful lot of this episode in the labs, right? Why? The Hosts are usually sent back to the park every day, and yet she was down there for the entire episode. But she clearly knows more now, especially after the close of last week. I had a feeling she was going to kill Felix, but apparently she wants answers from him. Will she get them? Probably not. But I think Maeve is on the cusp of snapping and going on a rampage.
So while its sometimes hard to fathom what’s going on, Westworld continues to excel on pretty much every level. This is definitely a show that’ll require repeat viewings, but that’ll just make the overall product even more stunning.