Westworld: S1E5

These are my notes for Contrapasso, episode five of Westworld, season one. As with all these “notes” posts: Serious Series Spoilers! Do not read unless you’ve seen season one.

Unfortunately, the rest of this series of posts may be a bit rushed and, perhaps, more scant than I would like. I’ve waited too long to start this trip through the series; season two starts in just a week! Fitting in the rest of the season one episodes requires doing one per day (with two days to spare). But the later episodes demand as much attention, if not more, as the earlier ones.

On top of all that, either I’ve got a bad Blu-Ray or my player doesn’t like all the back and forth and freeze-framing. The best scene of the episode wasn’t watchable…

Contrapasso is from the Latin and means “suffer the opposite.” It refers to the punishment of souls in Dante’s Inferno where the punishment either resembles or contrasts with the sinner’s sin. Or more to the point, fits the sin.

I’m gonna have to think about that a bit. Anyway, in this episode:

1: Mesa. Cold Storage. Ford, Old Bill.

Ford tells a story “the saddest thing I ever saw.” It’s about a childhood dog, a greyhound, retired from racing, that had spent its life running in circles chasing a piece of felt made to look like a rabbit. One day the dog chased and caught a cat, which he killed.

Ford: “Never saw a thing as beautiful as that old dog running.”

After being in a captive loop, the dog was free, and it was beautiful. But it was also confused by actually capturing what it chased and didn’t know what do to. The metaphor is pretty clear.

This is the first time an episode opens in timeline 2, rather than in timeline 0 with Arnold and Dolores. (Although the very first episode opens with Dolores in the modern Service Area, so that can’t be timeline 0.)

2: Day. Outside Pariah (in the graveyard). Dolores (alone).

She hears a voice (Arnold?): “Find me.” She sees the church. A voice (Dolores) replies, “Show me how.”

¶ Then she’s with William, Logan, Slim, in the same location.

William asks her if she’s okay. He thought he heard her talking to herself. She says it must have been the wind.

Was Dolores talking to herself in this timeline? This is, after all, several years after she killed Arnold, and she’s been aware of the maze since before that. Is it possible that when we see her alone, we’re seeing her shortly after timeline 0?

Weird Idea: Does she have the gun because she’s come from killing Arnold? Did killing Arnold (and the resulting suffering) give her a final bump to sentience? So she went running off…

OTOH, Alone Dolores seems to be tracing out the path she followed with William — remembering William. If so, then Alone Dolores obviously comes later, either in timeline 2 or, maybe, at some point in the 30 years between William and timeline 2.

And for that matter, are there multiple versions Alone Dolores in multiple timelines? Is this a path she’s taken many times? Then some versions of Alone Dolores could be from as far back as 33 years ago, while at least one is the timeline 2 Alone Dolores.

Or maybe the real Alone Dolores is strictly in timeline 2 and all earlier versions are memories. But we do know at least one Alone Dolores talks to Arnold in the little church, so early versions do exist as memories, at the very least. I think the safe bet, my bet, is we’re seeing this through the eyes of timeline 2 Alone Dolores.

However. It raises an interesting question about whether there is any difference in film style between scenes with William, but without Dolores, versus scenes with them both that might be her memories. All the Billy and Logan scenes until he meets for, for instance, compared to scenes after she stumbles into his camp.

In any event, it seems that the journey to Escalante is one that Dolores has made many times. This time (i.e. in timeline 2), armed with the “Reveries” update and the magic phrase from father, Dolores is definitely “breaching” or coming awake.

Maybe for the first time.

3: Day. Pariah. (It’s big!) Logan, William, Dolores.

Logan is talking about the park. Says it hemorrhaging cash (because it’s so amazing and therefore expensive) and that Delos is considering buying out the current management.

He goes on to say the park was started by a partnership — two guys, one of whom killed himself “right before the park opened.” That sent the park into free fall. But despite best efforts by their lawyers, the dead partner remains a complete mystery. They don’t even know his name, and there’s “not even a picture.”

We know that Robert and his crew worked for three years “before a single guest set foot in the park,” and that William’s visit is at the five-year mark (35-30), so Arnold killed himself a bit over two years ago, “right before it opened.”

4: Day. Outside. MiB, Lawrence, Teddy (who’s in bad shape).

They stop and happen to meet mini-Ford (spying on them for Ford?). The MiB sends mini-Ford for water (to replace what he’s about to toss out so he can use the container).

Then he cuts Lawrence’s throat and suspends him from a tree to drain (presumably all) his blood into that container (which causes the host to be “dead”).

5: Mesa Service Area. Felix & Sylvester working on Maeve.

Break time. Sylvester has virtual porn for break, but Felix has a dead bird in his locker. Wait, what?

6: Day. Outside. MiB, Teddy, Lawrence (hanging from tree).

MiB talks about what “beautiful” machines the original hosts were compared to the modern ones. Which are cheaper and more efficient. But it makes the blood situation a pain.

MiB tells Teddy that Wyatt killed Dolores’ mom and dad and abducted Dolores. This revives Teddy, who’s determined to save Dolores.

When mini-Ford returns, the MiB tells him not to worry about dead Lawrence, someone will be along to pick him up. (Which is a deliberate mislead to make us think El Lazo in William’s timeline, who we’ll see soon in Pariah, is a repaired Lawrence from this timeline.)

7: Night. Pariah. Dolores (staring at a dead body in a coffin).

She has flashbacks of dead people in Escalante, and of the white church.

Then William asks, “Are you alright?” When he’s with her, it’s not clear they are still in front of the coffins. Dolores originally might have been alone Dolores and the scene suddenly switches to Dolores with William.

Assuming Alone Dolores is in timeline 2, let’s call her Dolores 2. (She might be Dolores 0, or some other Dolores, but let’s just assume D2 from now on.) The Dolores with William is obviously Dolores 1.

Dolores (to William): “When I ran away from home, I told myself it was the only way. Lately I’ve wondered if in every moment there aren’t many paths.” She likens them to ghosts hanging in the air that you could choose from if you could only see them.

In fact this seems an analog for free will: Visualizing future paths and picking among them. It may be related to how, back at the ranch, she imagined (or hallucinated) the guest shooting her, and that made her react (run away).

William uses the phrase “real world” which causes Dolores to ask what he means. William is surprised she noticed; he thought they were programmed not to notice things like that. She replies, “Why wouldn’t I?”

But in fact they are, so this Dolores (1) is evolving! (As we’re about to find out.)

Dolores goes on to say that sometimes she feels the world calling out to her in a way it never had before.

William is clearly smitten.

A Day of the Dead parade passes, and Dolores sees herself (with a grim expression) in the parade. They make eye contact. Dolores 1 tries to follow Dolores 2 but gets lost among the parade. She hears Ford’s voice, “May you rest in a deep and dreamless slumber,” and she passes out.

It appears to be Dolores 1 that falls asleep, and — if so — what happens next? Certainly not the next scene (which the editing implies). More likely it’s Dolores 2, who may be remembering her time with William. Then Ford intervenes, and the next scene follows.

This seems confusing to me, so I’m probably missing something… Which Dolores does Dolores 1 see in the parade? (Or is it really Dolores 1 that has that vision? It seems to be.)

And it’s the following Dolores (rather than the leading one), who seems to be D1, who seems to fall unconscious, but the next scene suggests it’s D2 that Ford put into sleep mode. So what happened to Dolores 1 that night after the parade? I’m confused.

8: Mesa Service Area. Ford interviewing Dolores.

Ford asks her about Arnold. Dolores says she doesn’t know anyone by that name. Ford puts her in analysis mode and asks when was her last contact with Arnold. Dolores replies: 34 years, 42 days, 7 hours — the day Arnold died.

Note the commands: “Tell me, Dolores,…” and “That’s enough, Dolores.” He uses these with other hosts as well.

Ford muses about whether Dolores, if she took on a bigger role, would be the villain or the hero. (Season two trailers suggest: The villain!)

Dolores asks if they are old friends. Ford says no, not at all. He seems to tear up (we see, from behind, him apparently wipe the tears). He leaves, the lights go out.

Dolores (in the dark): “He doesn’t know. I didn’t tell him anything.”

Ho, ho!

9: Mesa Service Area. Felix (and his robot bird).

Felix (Jurassic Park callback): “Come on, little one.”

Sylvester shows up, berates him for stealing bird and behavior pad. Says Felix is a butcher and that’s “all you’ll ever be.” Is that actually about Felix being a host only programmed to be a butcher?

Sylvester also says: “Personality testing should have weeded you out in the embryo.” Which is very interesting. Does this mean human life is controlled at the genetic level, or does it again refer to Felix being a host?

I assume the bird is CGI. (I also assume those two are hosts!)

Sylvester seems to be more senior compared to Felix. He seems to have more knowledge of park operations. Turns out he’s also a local host pimp, so there’s that.

10: Morning. Pariah.

Logan takes William and Dolores to El Lazo (who’s looking just fine).

Dolores has a flashback, seeing Escalante and the white church again. It moves her to speak up to El Lazo. She says he is seeking something, and she gets it because so is she. She asserts they can help El Lazo. She gets the three of them on board.

It’s a little odd how she is standing back, steps forward to speak, and then retreats behind William. It’s like something came over her.

El Lazo says she’ll need a change of clothes and gives her a hat.

11: Day. Road. The nitro heist.

Dolores is packing (and wearing the hat). She clearly knows how to handle a revolver.

William kills three, Slim kills one (but gets killed). Logan: zero!

Already we see who’s the real black hat here. In his defense, he shoots the first guy because Dolores is threatened. He shoots the last one to save Logan. On the other hand, all three were unarmed, and he shot two of them in the back.

12: Day. Pariah.

They’re back with the nitro wagon (and a dead Slim, oh, well). El Lazo invites the Confederados to an orgy (not out of the kindness of his heart, though).

13: Mesa Service Area. Elsie working on (big dick) Bart.

The first part of this scene pissed some folks off, and it is a fairly pointless scene. If it’s an attempt at humor, it falls pretty flat. Not to mention the hint of racism.

Elsie sees the headless woodcutter going by on a gurney and follows it. It’s headed to Livestock and then the incinerator. (They were gonna burn the evidence!)

She blackmails the butcher (who’s a pervert) for access — same guy who later starts to molest Hector (who stabs him good).

Elsie finds the laser upload device and takes it to Bernard.

14: Night. Pariah. The Orgy.

Logan gets on William’s case. Mocks his “cheap black suit” (which is a hint that, yes, the MiB is William). We learn that William is an Executive Vice-President.

Dolores leaves and wanders around the place. She sees a fortune-teller; has a vision of herself as the fortune-teller. She sits down with herself.

Surreal! Maze on a Tarot card. She seems to be unraveling! Pulling at that thread…

Dolores sees El Lazo swapping the nitro. She goes back to the orgy to find William to tell him they gotta get out of there. The Confederados apprehend them — they’ve discovered the trick! Logan gets taken.

William and Dolores kiss. Dolores wants them to escape together. Confederados show up. William shoots one, but gets grabbed. But Dolores shoots the other three. Like a pro (like a Wyatt). “I imagined a story where I didn’t have to be the damsel.”

They escape on the train, where they find El Lazo (who identifies himself, since they’re friends, as Lawrence). They also find coffins. One of which has a maze brand on it.

Then Dolores is alone with the coffins. No William; no El Lazo. She says, “I’m coming.”

Why are there coffins but no El Lazo? Is he elsewhere in the train? Why are there even coffins? Who died in this timeline?

15: Night. Cantina. Piano being played (by Ford).

This is the meet between the MiB (and Teddy) and Ford. It’s a bit like the meet between Pacino and De Niro in Heat.

The MiB asks Ford if he’s finally created a worthy adversary (in Wyatt) — the title of the next episode is The Adversary.

We learn that Arnold died almost 35 years ago. William visited 30 years ago, so it’s hard to see how William (the MiB) personally saved the park as he asserts. The park was clearly open and doing business in William and Logan’s time (even if it was “hemorrhaging” money).

As he leaves, Ford snaps his fingers at the player piano for it to resume playing (he was playing it manually when the scene started). This means the player piano (or some watching system) monitors Ford’s gestures!

16: Mesa Service Area. Felix (and Maeve).

Felix got his bird to fly. He’s overjoyed. Then it lands on Maeve’s outstretched finger. Oops! She’s awake!

Why does Felix believe, sitting inside a glass-walled room, that he has any privacy? There is something weird going on with those glass walls somehow. Or maybe it’s because all the workers are hosts and are programmed to not see through the glass? It’s just weird how focused the workers are. They don’t look around or notice anything going on around them.

Maeve: “Hello Felix. It’s time you and I had a chat.”


Okay, the timelines:

[0] There are no scenes between Arnold and Dolores in this episode.

There is some question (maybe) about whether the alone Dolores is indeed from timeline 2 or from during or just after this one.

[1] Logan, Slim, William, and Dolores, go to Pariah. They meet, and join with, El Lazo. They go off to heist the nitro and return (with a dead Slim).

During the orgy, El Lazo swaps out the nitro. The Confederados find out and grab Logan. William and Dolores escape (with El Lazo) on the train after Dolores demonstrates her non-damsel skills.

[2] Multiple plot threads:

Ford tells Old Bill about his dog. Later he talks with Dolores about Arnold (and Dolores hides what’s going on with her). Ford is sad about not being Dolores’ friend.

The MiB, Lawrence, and Teddy, are chasing Wyatt. Lawrence turns out to be a gas tank and is left behind once he’s empty. Mini-Ford drops by. Later he has a drink with the real thing.

Maeve is running circles around Felix and Sylvester (two dumb cats). Felix is playing with his bird. Maeve is about to take charge of her life.

Elsie gets her hands on the woodcutter, pulls its GPS data (but it’s apparently corrupt), and discovers its secret laser satellite uplink. Which she removes and takes to Bernard.

§

This, after so many viewings (and many discussions) is starting to seem more clear. There are still many questions, but I think I’m starting to see the shape of it better than I ever have.

Right now the biggest puzzle is Alone Dolores — which timeline is she from. It makes the most sense that she’s from timeline 2. If so, she is, at least somewhat, driven by Ford, surely. This is his new narrative, and she’s his star player (or one of them).

And why is the maze on the coffin? (It’ll show up in the next episode in two places, and it’s just weird. Gotta be a game on Ford’s part. It seems a hot iron brand used to mark coffins…)

Alternately, these are clues left by Arnold. Ford, when he sees the maze, seems surprised (or disconcerted?) by it. At the least, it doesn’t seem to be something Ford did.

About Wyrd Smythe

The canonical fool on the hill watching the sunset and the rotation of the planet and thinking what he imagines are large thoughts. View all posts by Wyrd Smythe

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