Season One, Episode Six — “The Adversary”
By Brandy Dykhuizen. “The Adversary” has us chasing after villains, whether they be Wyatt, or Arnold, or even the mysterious person within Delos, smuggling data to an unknown destination. Industrial espionage as an inside job may be a refreshing twist for Westworld in the grand scheme of things, but it’s one that was played quite predictably.
In fact, not since Prometheus did I find myself mouthing this many lines a beat or two before they were spoken, or sighing ahead of an all-too-obvious turn of events. (Seriously, Elsie – what good could possibly come from entering a creepy abandoned theater past the witching hour?) “The Adversary” is also guilty of the same jarring lack of segue or flow that plagued “The Stray”; it’s a stylistic choice that probably does little harm overall, but it’s one that remains particularly irritating nonetheless.
That’s not to say there weren’t a few surprises thrown in. Teddy, as it turns out, was responsible for deaths on nearly the same scale as Wyatt. And if his numbers were lacking before, he more than made up for them as he mowed down an entire Union camp with a Gatling gun. (Surprising even the perennially jaded Man in Black.) Whatever Dr. Ford did during Teddy’s reprogramming has upped the stakes in a very unexpected way. As Dolores’ consciousness increases and Maeve ups her Bulk Apperception to become more human, Teddy slides down the other side of the scale, becoming more robotically mission-centric in order to achieve his goal.
There is still, of course, Dr. Ford, popping up in any given sector of the park like a wise old whack-a-mole, intimidating and gaslighting his employees into temporary submissions. We learn that he’s even maintained a secret cottage in Sector 17, in which versions of his own family help anchor him to reality. What “reality” must mean to a septuagenarian who hangs out with a pre-pubescent version of himself and his angry, alcoholic father should be a red flag to Delos and all who keep it running. Perhaps institutional espionage isn’t the worst thing they are up against.
Arnold constructed the host Ford family as a gift, and the fact Dr. Ford still clings to it says as much about his love for Arnold as it does for his own family. The center of the maze draws nearer, and we are led to believe that The Man in Black will find Arnold, or at least some telling remnant of him, at the center. Arnold wants to be found, and his ghost has initiated some sort of awakening within the park’s collective machine to meet that end.
It’s all seemed very noble until now, giving human-like consciousness to the hosts and saving those who cannot save themselves. But the communication from beyond developed a sinister ring when young Robert confessed to killing his greyhound. Not only was the robotic Robert was able to lie to a human, but he was operating under the directive of a voice that told him to put the dog out of its misery, because “if it was dead, it couldn’t hurt anything anymore.” There’s nothing ambiguous about that message to Dr. Ford. Arnold, or at least his legacy, is gaining strength, wherever he may be, and the path to the truth will not bode well for those at the helm.
“’Tortured Artist’ only works for artists.” – Theresa, sending a message to Lee. How many times have you wanted to say this to someone at a bar?
“You think you know someone…” – The Man in Black, after Teddy’s rampage.
“Dear boys… would you like to have some fun or what?” – Maeve, to Felix and Sylvester.
BEST MOMENT: Dr. Ford’s confusion over the dead greyhound, then the uncomfortable realization of what that means for him. Arnold co-opted young Robert to undermine Dr. Ford’s present power. Fuck your metaphors, buddy. Arnold is about to smash them to pieces and rewrite the scripts on his terms.
EPISODE’S MVP: Thandie Newton takes us through a harrowing journey of self-awareness with surprisingly little denial. (If we could all be a little more like Maeve!) Watching Maeve learn how she came to be, then choosing to spring into action and fight rather than mourn her victimhood is inspiring, regardless of how she may have been programmed. Ms. Newton has one of those faces that can convey a wide spectrum of emotion with just the subtlest of shifts, and while we ache at her pain momentarily, we are confident that we can look forward to her vengeance.
DOWN THE BARREL:
– The player piano gets right to it in the opening sequence with Radiohead’s “Fake Plastic Trees,” providing the backdrop for Maeve to get up and greet another bloody day. Later, Radiohead soundtracks a different awakening for her, as “Motion Picture Soundtrack” plays while Felix takes her on a tour of the upstairs facility. These are not the first Radiohead tunes to back Maeve up. We get it, guys. She’s a paranoid android. Well done.
– I don’t know if they were running out of names and thought it would be cute, or if there is no connection whatsoever, but it struck me this episode that both Felix and Sylvester are names of old cartoon cats. And the Westworld duo even had their own Tweety Bird to bat around for a few episodes.
– Felix’s number has to be up. You can’t brazenly play facility docent to a host and not get axed. Or worse.
– Bernard heads 82 floors underground to get to the bottom of the anomalies. I haven’t seen that extensive of a subterranean lair outside of Raccoon City.
6 out of 10
Next: “Trompe L’Oeil,” soon.
Before: “Contrapasso,” here.