In the old-timey bars of Westworld, conversations of men thunder like the commandments of gods. These mere mortals lord over their contrived surroundings, control the behavior of their robotic disciples with the flick of a wrist, and leave a player piano dittying long after they've sidled off for a whiskey. Compared to the hosts (and the viewer), visitors and game-makers in Westworld live in the clouds, but in "Contrapasso," the fifth episode of HBO's sci-fi series, two god-like men descended to our level.
We still know very little about Dr. Robert Ford and "The Man in Black," the park titans who crossed paths in Westworld's version of the Heat diner scene. Ford's the genius roboticist who set out to create mimicking A.I. with his partner Arnold, who died tragically in an early iteration of the park. Precisely 34 years, 42 days, and seven hours later, Ford remains enigmatic, spouting psychobabble while cooking up a new narrative that could either fulfill Arnold's dying wish -- to evolve a host android's bicameral mind to a level of true consciousness -- or derail it. There's a sinister edge to Ford's ambition. Is he good or evil?