Westworld goes Eyes Wide Shut on us this week while its characters try to find their individual purposes in life. Most of all Dr. Ford, Dolores, and the Man in Black (whom we will now start referring to as MiB. Teehee). We’re also given some major clues about Arnold. Warning: I get super in-depth and fall into a hole full of my own theories. “Contrapasso” certainly lends enough information to do so.
We open the episode not with Dolores as usual, but with Dr. Ford. He’s sitting in the same basement as he was when we were introduced to him, reminiscing at Old Bill again. This time he recalls a memory of when he and his brother adopted a retired greyhound. One day, they let the dog off his leash. Almost immediately, it chased down a nearby cat and killed it. “That dog had spent its whole life trying to catch that thing and now it had no idea what to do,” Ford says. Very clearly Ford is using this anecdote as a metaphor on how he approaches things now — giving any sort of freedom to his “pets” would inevitably end in catastrophe. Keeping the hosts in their loops, like a greyhound running on a track, is not only a kindness in his eyes, but good business too.
Speaking of loops, Dolores is way off of hers. She, William, and Logan enter a decadent little town called Pariah. If you’ve seen the original movie from which this television series is based on, you’ll know that Westworld is one of three themed parks. Another park depicts Rome. I’m not exactly saying that Pariah is Rome. In fact, I’m pretty sure the town is located in “Mexico.” It’s the inside of the brothel/orgy party that makes me think of “Rome World.” Well…HBO‘s version of Rome. The orgy palace had a decadent atmosphere crawling with naked men and women covered from head to toe in gold paint. I half expected Hedonismbot from Futurama to show up.
Dolores is hearing the voice inside her head more and more. She’s even seeing herself popping up in the middle of crowds or right in front of her. The voice is telling her to find him. Presumably this is also the same person who told her to dig up her gun a few episodes back. As the episode progresses, I’m starting to think that the voice is the mysterious Arnold. We’ll get to that in a bit.
While first entering Pariah, Logan drops our first tasty tidbit about Arnold. That he’s a complete mystery even in the real world. There isn’t even a photo of him — at least one that can be accessed easily. First of all, how is that possible? For as brilliant and innovative as the man supposedly is (and for someone who co-founded a park run by realistic robots), surely there’d be at least one portrait lying around somewhere. Their real world that is beyond balls deep into the Information Age. Surely someone outside of Delos can scrounge up something other than rumors about his mysterious death. We know at least one exists (assuming the second guy in the portrait actually is Arnold)!
In a conversation with Dolores, William makes a reference to the “real world” and Dolores immediately latches onto that. Hosts, as we and the guests understand it, are supposed to blank out whatever references the guests make that has nothing to do with Westworld‘s reality. It makes us wonder just how advanced Dolores’ thinking has become at this point. If William were to explain to her what Westworld really is and that there is a whole different world outside, would she understand? She talks about having some cosmic purpose (of which she may not know yet) and a yearning to discover all of what’s outside her little town of Sweetwater, yet we don’t entirely know what she means just yet. She could still be the sheltered romantic who longs for adventure, or she’s being literal.
It’s so hard to pin down Dolores because it seems as though she’s walking in and out of “dream states” without even realizing at first. The parts where she is aware make her think she’s going crazy. Dolores spots a vision of herself walking with the Day of the Dead parade. She follows, but is then overwhelmed and faints. Next thing we see is Dr. Ford sitting with her in the basement. Seriously, how and when are these Analysis Mode interviews being conducted? I get that the park is like Disney World, where employees can quickly travel from A to B (and back again) unnoticed and pop up out of nowhere, but there has to be a limit. Right? I get that the park seems huge, but is it really? Are we seeing an optical illusion to trick us into thinking that the size of the park is much bigger than it is through the magic of editing?
Or are there really two of each host where one is a receiver of all the information gathered by their duplicate outside? Are there two Doloreses??? Ugh, but then why do we only see one of Peter Abernathy when he’s being put in cold storage? SO MANY QUESTIONS!
Anyway, Ford drops another clue about Arnold in the form of a question to Dolores: “Tell me Dolores, do you remember the man I used to be? … I’m sure you remember him — Arnold, the person that created you?” In print, it seems as though Ford might be referring to himself as Arnold. In audio, Ford just seems to be jumping from one question to another. If the former, one has to wonder what the hell he’s talking about. Is there really a second person named Arnold, or is he just referring to two aspects of himself from 30 years ago? But then THAT question leads to another question: if Arnold is Ford, then who’s the man in portrait (above)?
My brain hurts. I’m just gonna believe Arnold is an entirely separate entity who died a mysterious death 34 years ago.
The reason why Ford asks Dolores if she remembers Arnold is because he wants to know if he’s been speaking to her somehow. If you remember, Arnold had tried a program that tried giving the hosts the concept of God. However, the hosts took the disembodied voice in their heads too literal and went crazy. Since Dolores is the oldest member in the park, and apparently the very last person to see Arnold, it’s reasonable to believe that she was instilled with a similar program.
Dolores tells Ford that Arnold has not spoken to her since his death. Presumably, she’s telling the truth. However, that hinges on the belief that the voice talking to Dolores is not Arnold. Or…it is Arnold, but she (or some part of her) doesn’t consider or identify this voice to be Arnold.
She goes on to say that Arnold told her that she was going to help him destroy “this place.” As disturbing as that sounds, Ford ponders about the 34-year delay. After Ford leaves, Dolores sits in the dark and says, “Don’t worry. I didn’t tell him anything.”
I have a theory about Dolores and Arnold. We know that towards the end of his life, Arnold preferred the company of the hosts than with humans. We also know that he wished for the hosts to be free-thinking and have their own agency as humans do. Given what we’ve seen happening to Dolores now and what (little) we know about these two characters so far, it’s entirely possible that Arnold has found a way to take/replicate his consciousness and hide himself inside Dolores’ mind. Yes, we’re going full-on Ghost in the Shell here. We don’t know why Dolores is only just now starting to hear “Arnold,” but we can at least guess on what triggered his release: The virus.
At this point, I’m 75-percent sure there’s a virus going around. Someone somewhere is messing with the park, a fact that Elsie has been noticing since the glitches. We get tangible confirmation this week when Elsie finds a transmitter inside the woodcutter that nearly killed her last week. Her best guess: someone is using hosts to smuggle data outside the park. So whoever is doing this must also be responsible for the glitches that caused three hosts to go violent. This could very well be part of Arnold’s long con to destroy the park, but I’m thinking someone else wants it to tank as well.
Why do I say that? Earlier in the episode, we hear from Logan that his company is looking to buy the park. Apparently the park, or the company in general, is hemorrhaging money. This explains why Theresa is so concerned about how much Ford’s new narrative is costing them. Like with any prospective buyer, they want to know what they might be buying into. Hence the transmitters discreetly sending data. One could say that the transmitters are interfering with some of the hosts and, thus, causing the glitches. However, the “violent delights” phrase clearly implies intent. What if this same buyer wants to tank the park’s stock even more by causing these glitches so they can buy the park at a significantly discounted price? Maybe that’s why Logan’s there. So the company can have a first-hand account of how “poorly managed” the park is when the shit finally hits the fan. Whether or not Logan himself is aware of this fact doesn’t really matter.
While we’re talking about businessmen’s fondness for manipulation, what has MiB been up to this week? Not a whole lot until he gets a rare visit from Ford himself. There’s a definite familiarity between the two, business wise. MiB made a comment saying that he saved the park from financial ruin at one point. Having come to the park so many times, MiB seems to have designated himself as the arch villain that Ford never bothered to design. That doesn’t mean he hasn’t noticed a change in the narrative. He has, and he wonders if this Wyatt guy is a worthy adversary created to stop him from reaching the center of the maze. That’s not all that interests him, however.
MiB also knows about Ford’s former partner, Arnold, and the mysteries that surround him. “Maybe he left something behind,” says MiB. “I wonder what I would find if I opened you up,” and threatens Ford with a knife. Teddy instinctively grabs MiB’s knife. This is that “Samaritan Reflex” we heard about in a previous episode. If a guest moves to harm another guest, a host will automatically jump in to block it. Given this fact, however, it doesn’t lessen the effect Ford demonstrated last week: he is god in this world and, therefore, invincible. “Far be it from me to get in the way of a voyage of self-discovery,” says Ford to MiB, referring to a PR-friendly service the park provides for its guests.
Back in the basement, body shop tech Lutz has been using his free time to secretly practice his coding skills on a bird host he took from the park. At first he is unsuccessful getting it to function properly, but he eventually figures it out. Maeve’s body has been in the same room with him during this time, in sleep mode while the techs worked to extract all the bullets from last week’s shootout. Lutz pays no attention to Maeve until the bird lands on outstretched finger. To his horror, Maeve is awake (again!) and sitting upright. She’s also not freaking out like last time. In fact, she wants to talk to him.
Maeve is definitely the one to watch out for next week. Remember when Stubbs comments that the hosts are one line of code away from hurting people? Well Lutz may have inadvertently deleted that safety net in Maeve. One indicator would be that the bird, in Lutz’s earlier attempt, bit the other tech when he tried to catch it. Now this alone doesn’t confirm whether or not Maeve is affected by Lutz’s self-taught coding skills. The town of Pariah, as well as the stage-coach heist William, Logan and Dolores participate in, show us that guests can be harmed by hosts to an extent. However, a preview for next week suggests Maeve is on a mission to take the park down from the inside. Also, let’s not forget that Maeve was also affected by the “violent delights” phrase.
- I’ve concluded that MiB is basically a Disney Bounder.
- MiB killed Lawrence and used his blood to revive Teddy. We next see the convict in Pariah setting up William, Logan, and Dolores. I presume he was given a new storyline that might ultimately connect him to Wyatt. We already know he’s somehow connected to the Maze. We’re actually reminded of that fact when Dolores finds that one of his coffins full explosives is marked by the maze’s symbol.
- What is up with this host kid?
- “Don’t you get it yet? There’s no such thing as heroes or villains, it’s just a giant circle-jerk.”
- “Your humanity is cost-effective. So is your suffering,” said MiB, explaining to Teddy that early hosts used to be made up of thousands of working metal parks inside. He pessimistically guesses that the real reason why the hosts now have “flesh and blood” is because it was cheaper to produce and maintain.
- Dolores is tired of being the damsel. She ditches the dress and puts on a pair of pants. While trying to escape some angry Confederados, something in Dolores clicks and she’s now an adept gunslinger.
- Contrapasso is a term mostly associated with Dante’s Inferno. It’s the idea that the damned in Hell are punished in a way that mirrors or resembles the sin that put them there in the first place. The literal meaning in Latin is “suffer the opposite.” I’m sure that, given more time, I’ll understand what that means for this episode.