Westworld’s sixth episode, ‘The Adversary,’ beings where ‘Contrapasso‘ left off. Sort of. We get a flash of Maeve at work (proving that she can walk the walk) in the brothel before we meet back up with her in the lab. At the same time Bernard is dealing with the discovery of possible espionage, also from the previous episode. So, yes, ‘The Adversary hits the ground running. Hard.
Speaking of Maeve, she once again takes center stage. In a frank (maybe too frank) conversation, Maeve is told exactly what she is and how she functions. She is, so far, the only Host to simply be told. Dolores may know that something is different about her on a deeper level, but that’s not quite the same thing. Westworld goes about its particular morality and different ways, and so the journey of self-discovery is very different Host to Host.
It’s a powerful scene when she’s shown around the lab, learning how Hosts are made and seeing the remains. The only thing that stops it from being truly convincing is that it’s not altogether believable that it would happen so easily — it’s a scene for us. The discovery somehow doesn’t feel earned, even though she’s been suffering for several episodes. It’s all for us, to move her story along.Image Credit: HBO
Westworld is filled with so many secrets that it barely registers that Bernard takes an elevator down a restricted, old part of the lab that appears to have been abandoned. Part of the fun of this show is that it continues to feed us mysteries, but it’s also part of the frustration. The search for the relay goes on, that is, the corporate espionage part of the plot. There is so much going on with Westworld that his particularly plot point doesn’t feel all that important, even if it could prove to be monumental to the park itself. The fact that it ends up being Theresa comes off as more human/soap-opera drama.
Ford continues to build is new narrative, but now we get to see more of it in action. But not much. We already know that he’s at least aware of the labyrinth. When he enters a town, everything freezes in its tracks. We’ve seen that trick before, but it hasn’t gotten old yet. Watching Ford casually flex his power over the park is practically intoxicating. Ford is a character that has gone from being a semi-annoying exposition machine to a legitimate force.Image Credit: HBO
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Outside of focusing on Maeve, the majority of the ‘The Adversary’ follows a revived Teddy and the Man in Black as they search for Wyatt, a man that we (and they) know to be dangerous. It doesn’t feel like the two are on just another adventure. This is something deeper and meaner. In case it wasn’t clear by now, the search for the labyrinth is not going to be easy. If only Teddy actually understood what was going on.
After an absence of several episodes, we also get to spend some time with Sizemore. He’s the type of man who complains about his job while, without a glance, trades in his empty glass for a new drink. Westworld hasn’t found a great use for him yet, and that doesn’t change here. He’s still annoying, and not in a way that makes it fun for us to spend time with him.
It’s also important to note that Theresa breaks up with Bernard in this episode. Both characters have complicated relationships with Ford, with Bernard clearly being the favorite. After six episodes it feels like Bernard is really becoming a person and not just another boring human. Westworld is still best when it focuses on the Hosts, but Bernard is finally complex enough that spending time with him doesn’t feel like a missed opportunity.
Bernard ends up bumping into Ford’s recreation of his family in what ends up being ‘The Adversary’s’ best scene. Bernard can’t control these Hosts, but Ford can. The boy and his family were created by Arnold, and are the only Hosts left in the park that bear that distinction. Ford is obsessed with his past even while he looks to the future. This is the type of scene that Westworld does best; a kind of detachment that feels heavy. That’s a prime example of the show in peak form.
Ford’s creeping understanding that Arnold is controlling things in the park is genuinely unsettling. If Ford is capable of having this confidence shaken, it could mean big and exciting things for the show going forward. This episode, by the way, features two more Radiohead song renditions. It turns out that type of music perfectly soundtracks Westworld’s cold exterior.
Even though ‘The Adversary’ doesn’t check in with William and Dolores at all, it does enough that they don’t feel missed. Maeve is now a power player, and Ford is aware that Arnold has some sort of hold over the park that he perhaps did not foresee. Westworld is not always a smooth ride, but it has become deeply engrossing.