Westworld Episode 5 – ‘Contrapasso’ Review

“Your mind is a walled garden, even death cannot touch the flowers blooming there.”

Episode 5 of Westworld was possibly the biggest episode of the series so far, both in scope and for what it meant for the future of the show. This was the halfway point in the series and it definitely feels like we’re heading for the endgame now. It’s still a distance away but things are very slowly starting to come into place. Characters have grouped together and are heading out to find ‘the maze’ and big secrets are being revealed on the corporate side of things. Whether Westworld can continue this level of intrigue isn’t a question any more; 5 excellent episodes so far pretty much prove they can. Whether the show can give a satisfying ending after the weeks of debate and fan theories is another question entirely.

The theme of this week’s episode was about the loops people are stuck in (both hosts and human) and how they break out of them. This is most clearly represented through Evan Rachel Wood’s Dolores. A scene in this episode sees her gun down a group of men in the blink of an eye to save William. She’s come far; from cowering rancher’s daughter to bad ass gunslinger. Whether she’s actually fallen for William is another matter though. As we see from her conversation with Ford in this episode she’s capable of lying, or at least hiding the truth, so was that kiss with William real? Or is she just using him because she knows aberrant behaviour won’t be as clearly monitored when she’s with a guest? Jimmi Simpson’s William has his own loop to break out of too though as this episode see’s him get his first kill. William’s evil pal Logan (a brilliant Ben Barnes) loves this,“that’s the spirit! I knew you would get into this place!” he tells him, thinking William is dropping his ‘white hat’ morals and coming down to his level. Although as William killed the hosts to protect Dolores it arguably makes him more of a hero. His hat might not be ever so white any more but he’s still a good guy at heart.

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These changes aren’t just limited to the puppets inside the park though, the puppeteers behind the scenes are also breaking free and changing who they are. This episode follows a host engineer named Lutz (Leonardo Nam) who last popped up when he was fixing up Maeve (Thandie Newton) and she awoke, mid-surgery. Obviously bothered by this, and frustrated by his role as ‘butcher’, he works on a little robot bird trying to fix it up and make it right. When Maeve arrives for fixing and awakes again, this time worryingly confident and aware at what’s going on, it will hopefully spur Lutz on to do something different this time around. Behavioural technician Elsie (Shanno Woodward) also breaks out of her mold this time around when she discovers the crushed head robot she faced off with has a satellite transmitter in his arm. What this means is unclear at this point, but it’s bad news. Whoever put that there would have had to get close enough to the robots to do so and also be close enough to ensure it wouldn’t get picked up by the technicians. Maybe Elsie involving Bernard in this mystery was a bad idea…

The location is another big change in the show this week, with the action moving from mainly being in and around Sweetwater to the much more violent (which is saying something) town of Pariah. The closer the guests get to the edges of Westworld the more violent and hostile the hosts become. Whereas a bit of mild physical contact was expected back in Sweetwater; here in Pariah the guests get beaten up for real, Logan even gets almost choked out in one scene. Of course the real talking point of the episode will be that giant orgy scene. Orgy scenes are HBO’s bread and butter so it’s no surprise there’s one here, although unlike Game of Thrones this isn’t really for the audiences titillation. The whole thing has a creepy, cult-like feeling to it and almost seems to be foreshadowing (hopefully) the introduction of the hedonistic Roman World from the 1973 film. Dolores’ visions here are still beautifully creepy but continue to give nothing away. It’s not a problem though, as it seems like the visions will all make sense by the end and we’ll all look back kicking ourselves for not figuring it out sooner.

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The cast are all excellent as we’ve come to expect, especially Evan Rachel Wood and Jimmi Simpson, but it’s the meeting of acting greats Ed Harris and Anthony Hopkins at the end of the episode that stands out most. Their discussion gives only little things away about the characters but seeing them both acting against each other is great. Ford (Hopkins) shows more of his god-like abilities too, making Teddy instantly recover from his injuries and using him to stop Harris’ Man in Black when he reaches for a knife. The theories that the MiB is Arnold don’t really hold water but the two characters definitely know each other, and it’s looking like it won’t be long before we find out how.

Reviewed by Tom

Other Points:

  • The two timelines theory is still plausible but I’m doubting it again now. Surely the robots in Williams and Logan’s time would be more robotic if this were true and be more like the early robots seen in the flashback.
  • Lawrence being alive so quickly after the MiB killed him is one argument for the dual timeline theory but I doubt it. I think he was just put back at the beginning of his loop, with the hanging scene the MiB intterupted a couple of episodes ago being the end of it.
  • So how was Ford communicating with Dolores this episode? Did he have her pulled out of the world and then put back in without William or Logan noticing?
  • Seeing Jimmi Simpson in the middle of an orgy will always raise a laugh.
  • Sad lack of Jeffrey Wright in this episode.
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