This post contains spoilers through the fifth episode of Westworld, "Contrapasso." Head to our Westworld show hub for more reviews, theories, and deep dives.
Westworld's fifth episode, "Contrapasso," features a true Real World moment, when William, Logan, and Dolores finally find out what happens when people stop being polite and start acting real.
The fun starts in a graveyard, when Dolores diverts her attention from passing notes with the voice inside her head to sociopath Logan, who needs to explain where they're going: Pariah, one of Lonely Planet's top cities for "outcasts, delinquents, thieves, whores, and murderers."
"That is one humdinger of a story, partner. Shall we drink to the lady with the white shoes?" Join Old Bill and me as we walk through this humdinger of an episode.
The self-important outlaw Slim assures Logan, William, and Dolores that his boss, El Lazo (aka "the loop" in Spanish! SYMBOLS!), will give them all sorts of medical and social-emotional benefits for his safe return, and so they head toward Pariah, walking past a Union Army encampment that essentially acts as border patrol.
Once in the city, crows fly overhead -- in case you were in need of even more war and death symbolism. Meanwhile, on the ground, people are either having sex in carriages, dressed up like skeletons for Dia de Los Muertos (note: is this a Halloween tie-in?), or shooting things. As they take in the city, Ol' Dirty Bastard fan Logan mentions how, while some of the park feels like it was market-tested and "designed by committee," these parts on the outskirts are "raw."
Logan also drops some insider business information: he's heard that his company is considering buying Ford and his group out because Westworld is hemorrhaging cash. See, he explains, it started as a partnership, but right before the park opened, "one of the partners killed himself," and that sent the park into "a free fall." William mentions something about lawyers, and that's when it gets weird. Logan claims that the lawyers who came to check it out "came up empty." And somehow Arnold is "a complete mystery -- not even a picture."
Consider this for a moment. How is it possible -- especially in some future world in which, you'd imagine, an increase in technology would also increase one's technological footprint -- that someone could just cease to exist without leaving a trace? Had Arnold so thoroughly invested himself inside Westworld that he'd stopped living in "the real world?" Could you even do that? Who was paying his water and electric bills?
This is also a good time to point out that the line about the lawyers is likely an homage to original Westworld creator Michael Crichton's obsession with (and loathing of) lawyers in his stories. Remember in Jurassic Park, how the entire reason Dr. Grant is there is that lawyers tell Hammond that he must get an outside expert to approve the park for insurance reasons? Then a T. rex eats the lawyer while he's sitting on the toilet.
The other big point from this scene is introducing a bunch of drunk hosts in grey uniforms who seem to have tied up a large group of women hosts to lug around as their prisoners. These fellas are the Army of New Virginia, aka the Confederados, a bunch of ex-Confederate soldiers who refused to surrender after the war and now just work as mercenaries below the border. Logan believes these guys are the key to the "biggest game there is: war" and wants to make friends with them immediately. William, who just read the book Killer Angels, isn't so sure.
After a quick scene in which the Man in Black transfuses blood from Lawrence to Teddy, and tells Teddy he liked him better in the old days, when the machines were made up of a million little pieces and not flesh and bone, we're back to Dolores' next vision. We see her stare into a casket at a dead person -- the result of a massacre by the church.
William breaks Dolores' reverie by asking if she's all right. This time she doesn't even pretend not to be disturbed. The host just looks back at the casket and walks away with White Hat Willy. Dolores engages him in a somewhat elevated conversation, telling him that lately she's wondered if in every moment in life there are many paths, choices hanging in the air "like ghosts," and if you could just see them, "you could change your whole life."
Will goes on about how that is why people come to Westworld, because "whoever you were before doesn't matter here" and you can change the whole damn story of your life and be really into murder or sex or shooting Teddy in his knee for no reason and "no one will judge you, no one in the real world will even know."
Dolores stops him there and is like, "the real world? WTF you mean by that?" and Will is shook because he thought hosts weren't supposed to notice that stuff. But Dolores is shedding her host skin fast as hell. "Why wouldn't I," she responds. "Recently it seems like the whole world is calling to me in a way it hasn't before."
Willy interprets this as a romantic moment, and grabs Dolores's hands so they can stare at each other in a sexual manner until Logan comes along and ruins the moment because he is jealous of real intimacy -- he only knows orgiastic violence. As a Dia de Los Muertos parade goes on, Slim tells them that they can meet up with El Lazo tomorrow but for now they should just get in on some brothel action ("I know a place with a contortionist!" Logan adds helpfully), but William feels like really weird-angle sex might not be interesting to Dolores.
Logan is pissed because Willy is in love with a robot and calls Dolores a dog. Will asks if he'd kindly stop saying that around her because he feels like "she understands." Logan pouts and goes to have sex with the contortionist.
Meanwhile, Dolores finds herself overwhelmed by the parade of skeleton-clad people before fainting and waking up talking to Ford, who asks her lots of questions about Arnold. She tells him the last time she had contact with Arnold was 34 years, 42 days, and seven hours ago -- the day Arnold died.
The last thing Arnold said to her was that she was going to help him destroy this place. But Ford taunts her: "You didn't, did you? You've been content in your little loop." Dolores asks if they were old friends and Ford responds strangely, "No, I wouldn't say friends, Dolores. I wouldn't say that at all."
I'm not sure what that's supposed to mean. Did Ford kill Arnold because of Dolores? Were Arnold and Dolores mean to Ford? Is he merely referring to the fact that she's a robot and he's only friends with the old broken cowboy robot running on the battery of an original Microsoft Zune? The best part comes right after Ford leaves and shuts out the light. In the dark, sitting naked in that office, Dolores drops a line that gives me R.L. Stine-level goosebumps. Quietly, she says to herself (and that voice inside her head, aka Arnold), "He doesn't know. I didn't tell him anything."
The robot revolution is coming, friends.
This brings us back to yet another scene starting with Willy bothering Dolores about the way she's been acting. She tells him that she had a bad dream. Then they meet El Lazo -- who is Lawrence! And the fact that the Man in Black just killed Lawrence in a parallel storyline gives credence to our long-held theory that Willy is in fact the Man in Black.
Logan tells El Lazo that he wants to meet the Confederados, but some lady thug behind El Lazo punches him and takes his gun, which makes me think that the normal rules of safety for guests don't quite apply in Pariah. Things are going badly until Dolores has yet another triggered memory and goes off about how she knows El Lazo is seeking something. El Lazo is like, "OK, go steal this nitroglycerin from the Union soldiers and bring it back here and I'll introduce you to the Confederates, but Dolores has to wear normal cowboy gear."
Lo and behold, in the next scene, our newly formed quartet wait behind a boulder for the Union wagon, Dolores now in upgraded Wild West threads. Everything is going smoothly until Logan decides to enact the sociopath clause in his internal contract, and the Union men fight back, killing Slim, and beating on Logan. One of the soldiers grabs a gun and is about to attack Dolores when something clicks in Willy -- he shoots the Union man dead. Then he kills another unarmed Union soldier. Then the one choking out Logan. Logan, when he realizes he's not dead, is psyched and tries to celebrate with William. "That's the spirit! I knew you would get into this place!" Willy is considerably less psyched. Dolores looks sexy as hell in her new cowboy gear, but also troubled.
They bring the nitroglycerin back to El Lazo and he whistles, which is the obvious signal for the Confederados to show up and give him a bag of gold. They're about to take the nitroglycerin when El Lazo suggests that they celebrate their impending victory over the Union with some prostitutes covered in gold paint. El Lazo says he'll hold on to the nitroglycerin while they go have sex. He's totally not going to do anything with it. Totally. Although it's unclear if any of the prostitutes are contortionists, Logan still likes this suggestion, and they head off to a party.
Skipping ahead through a scene where Bernard's assistant is sad that a host with a giant penis can't seem to pour whiskey straight, finds a laser-based satellite uplink in the arm of the dude who smashed his own head by blackmailing a technician who is having sex with broken hosts, and tells Bernard someone has been using the smashed host to smuggle data out of the park, we're back at the Pariah party.
Lots of naked girls and guys with body paint of all colors are all hanging around and having a giant orgy, though Will, Dolores, and the Confederate leader all sit on couches awkwardly. When Logan comes over, the leader asks if they’ll fight with him and Logan agrees, but Willy isn't having it, and tells him he's "not going anywhere with these psychopaths" and that he'd really just like to watch Jurassic Park in his room with Dolores.
Logan, who is pissed likely because contortion sex is now just a normal thing to his debased mind, seizes on this moment. He and Will finally have it out. Logan claims there aren't "heroes and villains here, it's just a giant circle jerk." Will responds that this is Logan's own philosophy, so his buddy sticks the knife deeper, and twists, telling Will that he probably thinks he's on this trip because he views himself as some "type of contender, some threat to me" but he picked him precisely because "you will never be a threat to anyone."
Logan chaffs his future-brother-in-law with the notion that his sister probably picked him for the same reason and he makes fun of the day he reached the pinnacle of his career trajectory and made Executive Vice President. The last straw is calling William's black suit cheap. He slams Logan against the wall to proclaim that the suit was actually a discontinued Hugo Boss cotton and mohair suit, and that it breathes really well in hot weather. When no more physical violence occurs, Logan further provokes. "Right, buddy... That's what I thought."
But this is a turning point of sorts. For one, all the cards are now on the table with Will and Logan. Also, Logan appears to be somewhere high up the corporate food chain (because his family owns the business), while William is stuck in upper-middle management (though also engaged to Logan's sister), thus partially helping to explain why Will has been loath to just tell him to fuck off and do his own thing. You can't do that to your boss/brother-in-law. Though now that the gloves are off, anything goes, I guess.
Meanwhile, Dolores has wandered past blow jobs and naked dudes in gold paint and orgies involving fire to find a woman in all black reading cards. She selects one and it's the maze card! When she looks back at the woman, she's looking at herself, who tells her she must follow the maze. Then she finds a weird thing with a string in her arm unraveling (more laser data transmitters?). She's freaked out and starts to run back through when she notices that El Lazo is taking the nitroglycerin and feeding it into Slim's dead body and putting tequila back in the bottles.
This would be all well and good, but the Confederates like nothing more than playing hot potato with bottles of nitroglycerin. When they don't die after the bottle hits the ground and breaks, they're pissed and take it out on Logan. Dolores and Willy see Logan getting beat up and mouthing "help me," but Will is done with that -- no one makes fun of Will's suits! "No more pretending," he says, and pulls Dolores along. Weirdly, Logan seems to smile when he sees this happen.
Unfortunately for Dolores and Will, they run into more Confederates, who, using troubling logic, claim that not giving them explosives is actually a declaration of war. William manages to shoot one of them before they seize him and he shouts for Dolores to run. But Dolores doesn't run anymore.
In one of the best scenes of any episode so far, our girl shoots all of the Confederates and then holsters her gun as if she's one of those badass gunslingers from that Sharon Stone western The Quick and the Dead. Willy is stunned. "How did you do that?"
"You said people come here to change the story of their lives," she says, chillingly, almost. "I imagined a story where I didn't have to be the damsel."
Even her voice is lower. She is officially a badass, and as a badass, also seems to know just what to do next, so she tells Will they have to catch a train, and they do. But upon entering the train car, they see El Lazo pointing guns at them, but Dolores knows all the tricks, so she points a gun at Slim's casket filled with nitroglycerin and El Lazo gives up and is like, "Damn, OK, well, now that we're all friends, you can call me Lawrence," further twisting the parallel narrative idea. And then Lawrence tells them to settle in for a long ride to the front.
So... the war front? Are they still going to war? Is Logan dead? If Logan is dead, could this be the beginning of the incident that the current-time Westworld workers keep referring to? And could this also explain how William gets out of upper-middle management and becomes enough of a baller to have a foundation, if he truly is the Man in Black?!
Just before the scene ends, Dolores looks down and sees a maze symbol on the casket and tells that voice that she's coming. There are no more smiles. That's not in her new narrative loop.
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