Season 1, Episode 6 – The Adversary
It’s easy to be swept away by Westworld’s numerous intricate plot threads. Each episode is so full of story and character development, but it never reaches a point where it overwhelms the audience with too much information. “The Adversary” pushes this even further because every scene (probably every second) of the episode isn’t wasted. There is not a moment in the entire episode that feels like the writers are just filling time. If anything, there doesn’t seem to be enough time to show and tell everything that it wants to. For six episodes now the show has averaged around 56 – 58 minutes in length, and it always uses its time wisely. This latest episode is so dense that it didn’t even have time to show Dolores at all.
Picking up from Elsie’s discovery of industrial espionage last episode, this plot thread uncovers three things. The first is that Therese was the one stealing data from inside the park, which also explained why the stray host bashed its own head in so that it would cover up any record of manipulation. The second is that Ford is keeping his happiest memory alive in the form of first generation hosts that look exactly like his family when he was a boy (including himself). The third, and most important reveal, is that Elsie and Bernard are now aware that the glitches in the hosts could be a bigger problem than what they initially believed. The hosts could potentially do some serious damage such as lying to their creators and harming the guests. This third reveal is also discovered by Ford himself in a separate incident.
It’s a lot to unpack, and it still raises many questions, but the important thing is that all these plot threads have picked up momentum. Nothing remains stagnant in Westworld. Keeping mysteries is all well and good at the start, but keep them long enough and one of two things can happen: Either the audience gets so intrigued after numerous episodes (or even entire seasons) of maintaining the mystery that finally revealing the answer will be a disappointment no matter what, or the audience loses interest as the writers keep dangling the question for an extended period of time with no answers. Westworld avoids both of these and tackles each new mystery it presents head-on, because even with ten hours for its first season, the writers are determined that not a minute of it gets wasted.
Probably the most important focus of the episode is Maeve learning about the true nature of both Westworld and herself. Like Dolores, she’s out of her own loop and is maintaining her memories. The episode begins with her purposefully getting killed in order to meet up with Felix, a butcher with aspirations of moving into coding the hosts. Maeve forces him to give her a grand tour of the Westworld complex, which helps her understand what she is and more importantly, what she could be. By the end of the episode her personality has been changed according to her desires, increasing her intelligence tenfold. All this, of course, was no accident. Before adjusting her personality, the butchers discover that someone has already adjusted it, which enabled her to realize for herself that death doesn’t matter in Westworld.
One of the key scenes in the episode involves Ford and his family of hosts. Immortalizing his happiest memory through what is essentially a dollhouse allows us to see Ford in a different light. Until this episode we’ve seen him as this powerful figure who rules over Westworld and keeps many secrets, but seeing him preserve his family’s memory in an unconventional way adds the necessary dimension to help expand his character. Anthony Hopkins is, once again, remarkable as Ford, managing to expose a vulnerability that’s divorced from his own ambitions for the park. Hopkins plays Ford with such a graceful ease that never fails to add so much complexity in an already dense series. It’s not long, however, until even Ford’s own private indulgences in Westworld is manipulated when the young version of himself is commanded by Arnold’s voice to kill the family’s greyhound.
It’s clear by now that Arnold is behind almost every development that our main hosts have had, but it still remains unclear how he’s managed to do it in the afterlife. Things are moving at an ever increasing rate as the season nears its end, and it shouldn’t be long before big pieces of the puzzle are finally revealed. It seems that Arnold’s determination to destroy the park goes well beyond the afterlife, and this episode hints that The Maze probably plays a big part in Arnold’s end goal. It would be a great twist to find out that the Man in Black’s quest of finding The Maze is not so much a journey of discovery, but a journey of destruction instead.