The mysteries of Westworld are plentiful, but one gets the idea from watching this week’s episode, “The Adversary,” that we’re getting close to some kind of reckoning. For better or ill, I indulged in learning more about some of the most popular theories about what’s going on in the park, and on the show, and while the combined knowledge and consensus of the internet has been interesting to learn about, I couldn’t help but get the feeling that “The Adversary” was designed with the intention to undo all that deduction. Perhaps Westworld, this week, wanted to tell us we’re not as smart as we think we are.
For instance, one theory was resolved this week, and that’s the identity of the boy that keeps popping up. For all those that supposed the boy was the robot recreation of young Robert Ford, you get a gold star because Bernard stumbles into the idyllic (ish) robot Ford family while trying to understand the not-so-small matter of corporate espionage discovered in the insane woodcutter. The first gen robots were a gift from Arnold to Ford, the theory being an artist leaves a little something of himself in his work… in a restricted area of the park reserved for “future narrative development.” The revelation is enough for Bernard to finally concede that there’s something not quite right with Ford.
The week’s developments might also let Bernard off the hook on a couple of points. No, he’s not Arnold in disguise, unless he’s playing a very deep long con, and it seems unlikely that he’s a former host either. Sure, Elsie got the shot in that he’s been at Westworld “forever”, but there were some hard knocks for Bernard in that Cullen broke with him in the wake of finding out that Ford knows about their affair, and in Ford asking Bernard in the secret cottage about what if he had the chance to see his son again. Bernard’s suffering seemed all too human, and while that may be what he wants you to think, it seems the more likely that Bernard may be the one person in Westworld without an agenda.
Speaking of agendas, we spent more time with the Man in Black this week as he and Teddy continue their search for the Maze, but not William and Delores, who sat this episode out. It didn’t give me much of a chance to test the theory about how the MiB is the older version of William, although I think a bit of cold water was thrown on that theory regardless. Notice how the border was closed because of “trouble in Pariah”? Well didn’t last week’s episode end with trouble in Pariah, which in no small way involved a certain woman tired of being the damsel in distress. Still, who’s to say that there aren’t two multiple time periods a foot? But even if the MiB is on one level and William is on another, where do all the various other stories in Westworld intersect which timeline?
That brings us to Maeve who clearly had a lot to say to Felix in their little chat after the conclusion of last week’s episode. Indeed, “The Adversary” was very Maeve-centric, and even began with her waking up to the jaunty piano version of Radiohead’s “Fake Plastic Trees.” That musical selection was a little on the nose, especially as Maeve comes to understand further the nature of herself and the nature of her world. In no time flat she berated a guest into choking her to death in order to visit Felix again in the butchery and to understand more about herself. She even secures another, albeit unwitting, accomplice.
Felix’s colleague Sylvester is none-too-impressed when he sees Felix talking to and treating Maeve like an ordinary person, and he’s had enough! Maeve, however, was just getting started after having Felix show here around behind the scenes of Westworld and even seeing a glimpse of her past life in a Westworld commercial. It’s confusing to her initially, but she seems to catch on quickly, which leads to Maeve’s equivocal moment to Deadeye Delores’ last week. Maeve holds a scalpel to Sylvester to make him compliant in her desire to get an upgrade, and either Maeve’s a really a good actress, or Sylvester stupidly forgot that a host can’t hurt a human. Or can they?
The further investigations of Elsie and Bernard into the supposed corporate espionage using the woodcutter leads to the revelation that other older hosts are receiving new instructions, overriding their prime directives and allowing the hosts to lie, maybe even hurt their guests or their programmers. It’s implied that Maeve is one of the hosts that’s been the beneficiary of the modification, and the boy Robert robot lies to his older counterpart about the fate of the beloved family dog, Jacques. The corporate espionage skullduggery points to Cullen, but the handy work of all the rogue coding points to Arnold. As Elsie points, out Arnold has been fairly busy for a dead guy.
The mystery of Arnold is more complicated, but who hasn’t already guessed that Arnold wasn’t as dead as we were supposed to believe it is? And on top of that, despite the fact that we’re now supposed to believe that Cullen is somehow up to no good, is it at least plausible that Arnold, or whoever is re-writting the host’s programming, might be smart enough to frame Cullen for being a spy to create doubt and seed discord among those in the park’s power structure? Whether or not Arnold’s alive, or downloaded himself into a host or whatever, the episode seemed to telegraph that Elsie was toast for almost the whole hour. Not only was she super-committed to getting to the bottom of the mystery, but she went into the creepy theatre in the middle of nowhere alone. Whatever future this is, it must not have horror movies.
The real horror may yet to arrive though, and like those movies, it may all be centered around a bad guy that can never die. Teddy reveals that the Maze is a Native legend about a man that’s killed again and again until he confronts his demons and builds a maze only he can navigate around himself for his protection. Perhaps like the hosts he invented, Arnold has died a thousand metaphorical deaths inside as he’s seen his creations suffer again and again, perhaps he built a maze to protect himself as he plotted their escape, or at the very least revenge. Perhaps Arnold has patiently waited for the day when he, the hosts and the guests might all play the most dangerous game of all. As Maeve observes, we’re going to have some fun…