Westworld S01E06 “The Adversary” REVIEW
Essential Plot Points:
- Maeve is back in the saloon, and takes a “rough” customer for Clementine. Just when we think she’s being considerate towards her staff, she goads the customer into throttling her – thus ensuring she dies…
- “Now then. Where were we?” she says to Felix when she opens her eyes in the lab.
- Meanwhile, Elsie and Bernard are pondering who the satellite transmitter buried in the stray’s arm could have been broadcasting to. Bernard reckons he can figure it out by using the old systems that were once used to track hosts, and goes downstairs to a deserted section of the complex to investigate.
- There, he’s shocked to discover five more hosts have dropped off their system.
- Teddy and the Man In Black are discussing the Maze. Teddy tells the story of a man who’d been killed time and time again and he’d built a maze around his house to protect himself. Is this Arnold?
- Maeve grills Felix about her existence. She finds it hard to understand that her personality has been programmed: “Nobody makes me do something I don’t want to do, sweetheart,” she says. When he shows her a screen that predicts her words as she talks, it’s all too much and she shuts down.
- Theresa tells Bernard that Ford knows about them. She breaks up with him. Bernard is a bit miffed.
- Maeve wakes up and wants to see upstairs. Felix gives in and gives her a tour of the facility. It is shocking, brutal, disturbing. Maeve is horrified. Finally she stands before Westworld’s promo reel and watches herself in scenes that she’d only seen in her dreams. She’s blown away.
- Felix’s partner, Sylvester, discovers them. Maeve threatens him, then strikes a deal for him to help her, too.
- Theresa, who’s not happy with Ford’s redesign of the park, goes to see designer Lee, who’s chilling by a pool and generally being a dick. He tells her he’ll quit, but she calls his bluff as she knows he won’t. Later, he chats up a guest before being told to get back to work.
- Teddy and the Man In Black run across some soldiers, many of whom are mutilated. Wyatt has been here!
- However, just when we’re pondering how evil Wyatt is, one of the soldiers recognises Teddy: and reveals that Teddy was Wyatt’s partner! The duo are captured by the outraged soldiers.
- Bernard goes poking around in Sector 17, which is off-limits, looking for the unregistered hosts. He finds a house with a host family living happily inside it, plus their dog, Jock.
- Ford suddenly appears. The family is his own, including his younger self: they were made by Arnold as a gift many years before. Ford asks Bernard to keep them a secret.
- Lee arrives in Delos HQ – the big room with the 3D map – and drunkenly pisses on it. Theresa takes that moment to introduce him to his new boss: the woman he was chatting up in the bar earlier on.
- Lee is having a very bad day.
- Teddy manages to escape his bonds and goes apeshit on the soldiers holding him prisoner, cutting them all to bits with artillery fire. The Man In Black is impressed.
- Elsie has discovered transmitters are broadcasting on old frequencies and are the source of the voices the hosts keep hearing. She heads to an abandoned theatre to take one of them down.
- Ford is puzzled when his host younger self shows him that their dog, Jock, is dead.
- Bernard goes to tell Theresa about Ford’s secret family, only for Elsie to call him and say the transmitter she’s just found was controlled by Theresa!
- “There’s something much bigger going on here!” she says, and then someone jumps on her.
- Young Robert tells Ford that he killed Jock because a voice told him to – it was because the dog killed a rabbit. All very reminiscent of that greyhound story from a few episodes back, eh? Someone knows Ford well. Is it Arnold?
- Maeve, after figuring out how she works, asks the techs to change her source code. She wants to be more intelligent. They ramp her up to 18 and she gets a rush – and suddenly we have Brainiac Maeve to contend with.
First, the bad stuff (don’t fret, it’s just so we can quickly get it out of the way and get on to the good stuff). We’ll buy Felix helping Maeve – he can’t seem to help himself – but Sylvester, too? Even with a tiny bit of bargaining on her part, surely the consequences of doing something like this would be so huge he’d go running to the bosses in a heartbeat? These guys must surely see that this host is controlling them, and after years of fixing them up as though they’re broken toasters, this is effectively like your Furby turning from a toy to your manager. You just wouldn’t be able to countenance it, surely? Credulity is stretching a bit thin here.
Then there are the scenes with Lee, which are just diabolically bad. He seems to be on a different show to everybody else – The Inbetweeners, perhaps. Some people are complaining about Simon Quaterman’s acting, but frankly he hasn’t been given that much to work with in this flimsy role (and to his credit, he does play “drunk” very well in his final scene, and that’s hard to pull off even for the best actors). Instead, Lee is pretty much the “token tortured artist” and while he’s clearly meant to stand out from his co-workers and be spontaneous, he just seems unconvincing and glaringly out of place. It’s a shame, although perhaps he’ll get a plotline that will bring him some more depth in future episodes. We can hope. Either that or just dump him!
And now to the good stuff. Teddy with the gun was obviously stunning (“You think you know someone!” drawls the Man In Black, echoing what we’re all thinking). We’re really starting to see the idea of things getting crazier the further you go out into the park paying off now, as the hosts themselves start doing things they wouldn’t normally do: first Dolores shooting the guns last week, and now this. Actual humans being able to be hurt seems to be a thing, too, as we saw Logan being beaten up in the previous episode, and the Man In Black seems totally out of his depth here.
The revelation about Ford’s little family was intriguing, although we did ponder a few weeks back if that kid was a younger version of himself, so it wasn’t too much of a surprise. And, as ever, Elsie’s vociferous swearing is a joy – although her “Let’s check out this dark theatre that’s been hijacked for some nefarious purpose all by myself!” scheme quite deservedly seems to have ended badly (why didn’t she take Ashley with her?).
And then there’s Maeve’s journey, this week’s tour de force. Every scene in this episode showed off Thandie Newton’s acting prowess to the max: the look on her face as she walks through the complex is almost enough to provoke tears. We’d be submitting her for an Emmy nomination if we were her agent right now.
As Maeve sits and, effectively, talks to her Gods about how they made her, you feel every millisecond of her horror and pain at their actions, but tinged with her defiance that she’s worth more than this, dammit. Perhaps Dolores was originally meant to be the touchpoint, the everywoman, the character we all identify with, but here Maeve proves she’s the one we’re all going to remember.
But what of the episode’s title? Is “The Adversary” – the person who’s changing all the hosts? Is it Wyatt? Or is it, as we’d like to believe, Maeve? By ramping up her brainpower, Felix and Sylvester have just created a monster who will no doubt outthink them and possibly even kill them (how much hate is Maeve feeling towards humans right now? Will she end these guys once she’s finished using them?). The show’s more than half-way through its first season, and so the pieces do seem to be falling into place now for what should be some truly thrilling final episodes.
- In the village, we see a local fixing up a hole in the wall. Is this the hole that was blasted in the wall during the Man In Black’s fight there in episode two? Although these guys are probably always fixing up gun-holes…
- Maeve’s trip around the facility is not only beautifully scored (Radiohead’s “Motion Picture Soundtrack”) but deeply emotional. We feel everything she feels as she sees everything from bison (bet it was a fun day on set when that chap showed up!) to bodies being filled with blood (what a gorgeous effect that is, too). And the emotional gut-punch of seeing herself on the promo reel and learning, beyond all doubt, that she’s nothing more than a corporate toy – just stunning. This could be Westworld’s best sequence so far.
- Ford: “Turn the other cheek.” And then his younger self’s face SPLITS WIDE OPEN. Fantastic FX!
- This may be the future, but clearly there’s no smoking ban in the Delos offices. Theresa smokes like a chimney!
- How many empty levels does this place have? And why don’t they just refurbish them?
And The Random:
- WE HAVE TO WRITE THIS ALL IN CAPITALS BECAUSE WE’RE SO EXCITED: LOOK! THE ORIGINAL GUNSLINGER FROM THE 1973 MOVIE! LOOK! LOOK! IT’S THERE!
- This means that either Westworld is a direct sequel, as was hinted at earlier in the series (when they mentioned there’d been trouble before), or the showrunners were playing a fond homage.
- Best Quote: Sylvester: “You got 18 for charm.”
Maeve [tartly]: “Don’t act so surprised.”