Season 1, Episode 6: “The Adversary”
Directed by Frederick E.O. Toye
Written by Halley Gross & Jonathan Nolan
* For a review of the previous episode, “Contrapasso” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Trompe L’Oeil” – click here
Maeve Millay (Thandie Newton) is honestly my favourite character in this entire series. He struggle comes as intense; this episode is no change. She walks through a day not noticing men shot around her, not noticing all the horror of Sweetwater. “Fake Plastic Trees” by Radiohead plays on the player piano in the saloon. Maeve and Clementine Pennyfeather (Angela Sarafyan) talk their dialogue, they drink their drinks, they go about the programmed day, as “newcomer” guests show up for their various adventures and paid storylines. When Maeve takes one of them upstairs for a romp in the sack, taunting him when he’s unable to please her. She puts his hand around her throat though, and it’s a different story. She welcomes it, wanting to die. All to wake up out on the table in the lab, the technician in front of her.
At the same time, Elsie Hughes (Shannon Woodward) talks with Bernard Lowe (Jeffrey Wright) about her recent discovery. The hosts at Westworld are being used for “industrial espionage” and now things are getting dicey. Seems that the host who went berserk on Elsie is an older model. However, this requires Bernie to head downstairs – Floor B82, strictly confidential with tight security. It’s a sketchy-looking place, shaking lights, old computer systems. Lowe gets into things comparing data to find an anomaly. Not only that, there are others. Hosts which “aren‘t registered with the new system.” So what exactly are they all doing? And how long until something worse than what happened with Elsie happens?
Dr. Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins) freezes the little Mexican town, having a gawk at his real estate and planning for new, big things. A simple “carry on” and everything gets moving again; an entire world built on his command. He notices the carving of a maze on a table nearby. Cut to his office, full of host faces and all kinds of interesting little things. Ford has a sketchbook, containing lots of drawings, including one that looks to be who I assume is Dolores Abernathy (Evan Rachel Wood), as well as a house, his church, so on.
But most importantly? The maze.
Elsewhere, The Man in Black (Ed Harris) rides with Teddy Flood (James Marsden). The latter tells his new buddy about the maze being a Native American myth, involving a man who can’t seem to die that eventually builds a maze only he can solve. Interesting; sound like somebody? Poor Teddy only wants to find Dolores.
The technician talks with Maeve about her character, what she was made to do as a host. He tells her there’s a distinction between being “born” and being “made” and that there’s also little recognisable difference between humans and hosts. Except hosts are terribly smart. When they’re controlled. What I dig is that Maeve seems outside of that control, somehow. The technician pairs his device with her to show the process of what she’s said, the way the program assigns her dialogue, shows her entire thought process and where improvisation happens. Then suddenly it overloads her mind and it looks like there is trouble. After a bit of programming he brings Maeve back. Problem is she wants to see what’s outside the lab. She witnesses the entire operation, the washing of the bloody host corpses, the moulds of the hosts being created and pumped full of blood, the skin coming alive; a truly gorgeous sequence yet sad in tone. Amazing stuff. We, alongside Maeve, get to see the animals created, life made at the hands of technicians and other robotics. Then further on are the simulations where hosts are programmed to their specific roles. What Maeve sees is her literal entire existence fabricated before her eyes. After she witnesses a commercial, seeing herself there onscreen, they head back downstairs. How will this ultimately affect her? Will she remember more? Well, right now she winds up taking hostage the other technician who shows up threatening to bring his colleague to QA. She… changes his mind.
Theresa Cullen (Sidse Babett Knudsen) brings Bernard to the attention of Dr. Ford knowing they’re together. She decides their “indiscretion” is finished. She accuses him of an inability of being impartial, with everybody including Ford. Sort of cold. Brings to mind the idea of the difference between human beings and the hosts: the hosts are a lot less cruel, even the worst of them, than the humans. I feel like Theresa is someone that’ll go off the rails soon enough. She feels highly reactionary as a person. We’ll have to wait and see. She goes to see Lee Sizemore (Simon Quarterman), who’s on leave, complaining about Dr. Ford and his latest work which has displaced hosts. There’s venom in Theresa, as she doesn’t make any better friends with anyone, continually fighting to stay at the top. What’s she going to do to stay there?
Back with Black and Teddy, they’re on the search to locate Wyatt. They use a couple soldier uniforms and pass through a camp, where Wyatt’s left his bloody mark. Along the way someone recognises Mr. Flood and pulls a gun. This turns into a nasty situation for the pair of gunslingers, even Black can’t hold off that many soldiers.
Lee lounges and meets a woman. After a bit of chat she questions him about “control” and he, in a drunken state, goes off about the whole thing being a “vanity project.” The bar cuts him off by request of Ms. Cullen. I feel like that lady at the bar will turn up again.
Elsie wants Bernie to keep helping her with heading off the espionage happening with the hosts. She wants to use the whole thing to get herself ahead. I feel for Lowe. He seems to be consistently stuck between a rock and a hard place. He heads in to a place labelled Sector 17, full of trees and fields. He soon tracks down a house where he sees a man picking up a pile of wood from out front. Inside, he comes across a man and his family. He can’t seem to control these robots, either. They only respond to Dr. Ford, who shows up quickly. “Survivors of the wreck of time,” he tells Bernie; they are “first generation hosts“. Ford gives his friend a tour around the robotics, which is pretty damn awesome visually. This was a vision built by Arnold, one from the memories of Ford’s childhood. Something the doctor worked on over the years. And all of it makes Lowe wonder. But can’t he understand? Surely he can, someone in a way seeking methods to reignite the past. Maybe seeing those things in another person makes him realise how foolish and possibly dangerous they can become. This all sends Lowe on a quest to find out the names of first generation hosts out there.
Teddy’s about to get branded. He remembers himself walking through a town with Wyatt, killing everyone in sight. Then he and Black make their escape. Teddy ends up on the machine gun, again killing everyone in sight. He makes The Man in Black look like a kitten: “You think you know someone.”
There’s espionage going on from within. Elsie reports to Lowe, and he starts worrying about her safety. Uh oh. I like her a lot, she’s smart. That probably means nothing good, for her. Looks as if the high tech futuristic technology can be undercut by older, less traceable technology from previous systems. And who’s the culprit? Is Theresa behind it, or somebody else entirely? Elsie traces a signal to find a relay setup by whoever’s doing the spying. It takes her to a musty old room filled with artefacts from other stories Westworld likely tried once upon a time. There she manages to open a box where the relay provides her – hopefully – good information.
Bernard goes to see Theresa about some of the things he’s stumbled upon. He tells her about his doubts re: Ford. He gets a call from Elsie, confirming Theresa as the spy. Ah, I fucking knew it! I knew it! But I’m concerned for Bernard.
With the technicians, Maeve tries to make a couple changes to her character makeup. The greasy technician tries talking her out of it, but she’s aware of other options due to her new relationship with the other technician. She does get her “alterations” and I’m quite interested in what’s about to happen next. The technicians see there’s somebody else already making changes to Maeve. Someone higher up. Nevertheless she convinces the technicians to make her more perceptive, less receptive to pain. Oh, my.
More info from Elsie. It isn’t only Theresa. Someone else is retasking hosts, old models specifically. Big time modifications to “prime directives” that could possibly allow violence from hosts against guest. Who does she believe did it all? Arnold. Motherfucking Arnold. How’s that possible?
In a lab Ford has the young boy from his host fantasy world answering questions. It’s, in fact as I’d imagined, a young version of himself. Little Robert. He killed an animal, which disturbs the older version. “A voice” told him to do it. It was Arnold.
Just as I suspected, Elsie finds further and probably damning evidence. Yet someone’s lurking in the shadows, now they’ve got her.
This was another solid episode. Plenty of intrigue that I find exciting, plus they’re never giving up too much. Bits and pieces with every chapter. Next is titled “Trompe L’Oeil” and it’ll be of interest to see particularly what goes down when Maeve heads back into Sweetwater all pumped up. Yowzahs.