Westworld 1.05: “Contrapasso” Episode Review

(Credit: John P. Johnson)

There’s a lot of underhanded business going on in the park that seems to be trickling down from the corporate top. Secrets, deceptions, and inappropriate behaviors are making the rounds. We’ve seen it from the upper levels, and now we’re getting more from the lower levels. 

The two techs—Lutz (Leonardo Nam) and Sylvester (Ptolemy Slocum), who had a run-in with Maeve after not putting her in sleep mode—are back. (I agree with Lutz, he probably did place her in sleep mode … she had just used her count-to-three trick to wake herself up.) They are again with Maeve, and Lutz is feeling a little more than creeped out by her presence because of last time.

After Sylvester leaves for lunch, Lutz pulls a bird from his locker and begins fiddling with it. When Sylvester returns, he reads Lutz the riot act for misappropriating corporate property, scolding him for trying to reanimate the robotic bird when he’s a “butcher” not a “coder.” 

I wonder how his budding coding skills are going to play into the bigger picture. In a later scene, he has successfully reanimated the bird. As he’s turning, watching the bird, he sees Maeve sitting up on the table, and she says: “Hello Lutz. It’s time you and I had a chat.”

Elsie (Shannon Woodward) is back on the woodcutter after she sees some techs wheeling the body past the glass cube where she’s working. After finding out that he’s being taken to the incinerator, she confronts another tech—Destin (Christopher Gerse), who had improper relations with a “deceased” robot—and blackmails him for access to the woodcutter.

A scan returns messages of corrupt data, but she notices something strange. At the base of his palm, under the skin, is a tiny device that lights up with a red beam running the length of the forearm. She removes it and brings it to Bernard (Jeffrey Wright), telling him it’s a laser-based satellite uplink. The woodcutter wasn’t drawing Orion, he was drawing a target. She concludes someone has been using hosts to get something out of the park. 

Of course, Bernard has his own secrets in meeting with Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood). While that doesn’t exactly come up in this episode, it is perhaps referenced when Dolores is quizzed by Ford (Anthony Hopkins) about being in contact with Arnold. Sitting alone following their encounter, she says, seemingly to herself, “He doesn’t know. I didn’t tell him anything.” Is she saying that for Bernard’s benefit or for someone else's?

Ford and Dolores’s session was quite interesting. Ford starts by asking Dolores where she is, to which she answers in a dream. He tells her dreams are the stories of who we could become, then asks if she’s dreaming of taking on a bigger role. He asks, “Tell me Dolores, do you remember the man I used to be? … But I’m sure you remember him, Arnold, the person who created you.”

He directs her to access the last time she spoke with Arnold. She tells him the exact time, down to the hour—basically over 34 years ago—and when pressed about the last thing he said, Dolores replies that he’d told her that she was going to help him to destroy the park. But she didn’t, and Ford infers it’s because she’s content in her loop. 

But then he poses another question, asking her if she had helped Arnold destroy the park, would that make her a hero or a villain? He ends their conversation by telling her that no one is left who was there, who understands as they understand. When she wonders if they are very old friends, he answers, “No, I wouldn’t say friends … I wouldn’t say that at all.”

The only one who doesn’t appear to have any secrets or hidden agendas at this point is William (Jimmi Simpson). But something is tripping inside him for sure. He’s put off by Logan’s (Ben Barnes) “immoral” conduct, but when pushed, William can become a badass.

He and Dolores ended up with Logan and Slim (James Landry Hébert) in Pariah, and to save their lives from Alonzo (Clifton Collins Jr.), they get involved with a plot to steal nitroglycerin from a Union shipment by playing the part of bandits. When one of the Union soldiers aims a pistol at Dolores, William easily slips into gunslinger mode and shoots three men point blank, then fires on the last one who’s choking Logan.

William is beginning to see that there’s more to Dolores—more than just robots underneath their flesh-like covering. Each conversation he has with Dolores about the “real world” makes her question further, until she realizes that he’s the one who can help her find whatever it is that’s been calling to her.

The way William talks, you get the feeling that he didn’t want to come to the park to begin with, and now he’s just trying to make the best of it. It appears that Logan and William are there on business, looking at it as a possible acquisition, though William’s rather subversive to the park culture and the two get into another spat with Logan calling William a pushover.

When it’s realized that Alonzo has double-crossed everyone, the Confederales capture Logan and try to ambush William and Dolores. Well, Dolores’s badass self comes out as she guns down a group of men, saving William. When he asks how she did it, she answers using his words, “that people come here to change the story of their lives.” She simply imagined the story where she didn’t have to be the damsel. When Logan begs for help as he’s being pummeled by soldiers, William says no, he’s done. And off he runs with Dolores to catch the train.

(Credit: John P. Johnson)

Alonzo is likely hiding something because, earlier, when Dolores attempts to save her companions by claiming she can help him in his search for whatever it is they all are looking for, he seems to ponder it for a moment before calling her a weirdo. But then, on the train, Dolores and William run into Alonzo next to a wooden coffin that carries that maze symbol on the lid. So he is also looking for the maze, but what will be his part in all this madness?

And, of course, we can’t forget the man in black (Ed Harris). This is the man who knows everything, except where the maze is. And yet, he’s not letting us in on what he does know just yet. He tells Teddy (James Marsden), who he’d rescued from dire straits, that when the park opened, it was beautiful inside. Then, they changed everything, claiming it would improve park experience—but the truth is, it was cheaper.

Later, as they take a table at a saloon, a man walks up with three glasses. The man in black tells Teddy it is a rare honor to be in the presence of the creator … Ford joins them. And, in some more interesting bits, we learn that the man in black has been looking for a worthy adversary, one that might even stop him from finding the center of the maze.

(Credit: John P. Johnson)

Ford asks what he’s hoping to find there. Something true, he replies, but the man with the answer died 35 years ago and almost took the place down if it weren’t for him. The man in black threatens to carve up Ford with a knife, but Teddy’s inner protocol takes over and he grabs the blade. The man in black asks if Ford is going to talk him out of his quest, but Ford says he’s not one to get in the way on a voyage of self-discovery.

And the moral of the week from Ford: a retired racetrack greyhound, after a lifetime of chasing an impossible target, is let off its leash and chases a cat. When it finally catches it and tears it to pieces, the dog doesn’t know what to do. Uh-huh ….

See also: Westworld 1.04: “Dissonance Theory” Episode Review


David Cranmer is the publisher and editor of BEAT to a PULP. Latest books from this indie powerhouse include the alternate history novella Leviathan and sci-fi adventure Pale Mars. David lives in New York with his wife and daughter.


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