As a mature, sensible woman, capable of reason and critical thinking, the best I can offer after that episode of Westworld is WOW THAT WAS A LOT OF WANG.
I mean. Look. Hey. Come on. For realsies. Listen. People. Hoo, boy.
I thought the isolated wang belonging to the mispouring bartender-bot was… eye-catching enough. I mean, get too close while he was mixing you a Slippery Nipple and it’d have your eye out.
But then there was one of most remarkably not-grubby orgy scenes I’ve seen committed to high-budget premium television. Now to be fair, I haven’t been exposed (hur hur) to a lot of boutique arthouse consensual orgastic screen content in my time, but given the messy, historically-accurate goal of Westworld Incorporated, I was expecting far more dirty buttocks among those nubile self-pleasuring fully-formatted fornicators.
Instead there was powdered wigs and polished skin and and gold body paint and red velvet and chandeliers and bespoke pianola (so much pianola). It was more Versailles than Deadwood, more Sun King than Swearengen.
Clearly the appearance of high-volume, high-end nudity at the halfway point of the series was a calculated move to keep me watching. Well played, HBO. Clearly you have picked up on seven seasons of saucy screenshots from Game of Thrones.
So let’s Go West, for another Westworld recap.
S1 E5: Contrapasso
I’m honestly a little disappointed I didn’t draw any comparisons to Dante before now. I mean, sure, I haven’t read the Divine Comedy in more than bits and bobs and various Wikipedia rabbit holes, but still, I’m aware of its existence. I fancy myself as a literary type, despite somehow never reading any of the books I seem to accumulate. And yet, it took me five episodes and a post-episode check of the title to go “Ahhhhhhh. ContraPASSO. I get it.”
Dante’s epic poem begins with the Inferno, in which he wanders through hell checking out the various ways bad people are punished. “Contrapasso” basically means poetic justice; that the way you are punished somehow reflects what you were or what you did in life. Remember that episode of The Simpsons where Homer went to hell and was force-fed donuts as punishment? Basically that, but without Homer’s delight in a conveyor belt of carbs being forced down his gullet. Mmmm, delicious.
So a number of characters have an Alanis Morissette-style ironic moment this episode, sometimes with, sometimes without wang.
Let’s start briefly with Anthony Hopkins’ short scene with his salty old drinking buddy in storage at Westworld HQ. He regales the crusty old man-bot with a wistful childhood tale of a pet greyhound left bewildered when it finally caught a cat.
As the Mother of Kittens, I was upset by this story. KEEP YOUR DANG CATS INSIDE PEOPLE. And please adopt greyhounds from rescues that have worked to re-train them after racing careers.
Ye Olde Old Timer-bot has no actual idea what Anthony Hopkins is talking about of course; his sub-par programming has subbed in a totally different story. But it’s got to be a metaphor for something. Is Ford referring to himself as the greyhound? He’s spent his whole life pursuing victory of some sort with his park - is he saying that 30-odd years on he doesn’t know what to do with it? I’m not entirely convinced of that, and am open to other suggestions.
Opening up in all sorts of ways is Delores “Unbelievably Baby-Like Skin Considering All Those 40 Degree Days” Abernathy. She begins amidst a mass of grave marker crosses overlooking the town of Pariah, but her mind is hearing disembodied voices, including one that breaks through the din to say “Find me”. “Show me how,” she intones back, as the image of a small white chapel flashes again in her subconscious.
Back in “reality”, Black Hat Douchebro is busy monologuing about Pariah being a town of outcasts, delinquents, crooks, and whores etc, because clearly everybody else thought “Pariah” was just a name.
Only White Hat Nice Guy cares in any way about Delores - the others are just keen to go meet the mysterious gangster leader El Lazo and get some money/hookers/blow.
Black Hat is very happy to be in Pariah, which by the way seems enormous compared to Sweetwater (yes, I’ve finally learned the name of the main village, only five eps in). And people are not shy there. They’re barely through the gates before they come across people copulating in the rear of a carriage, or as a famed Australian bard might say:
I’m yet to discern exactly what Black Hat Douchebro’s company actually does, but he seems to have a stack of intel on Westworld’s corporate woes. They’re losing so much money he’s thinking of buying them out, even if his lawyers can’t establish the identity of the park’s mysterious and suicidal co-founder.
Question here: how does Black Hat Douchebro know about Arnold, when even Barnard, Ford’s right hand man, only found out about him two episodes ago? A bit of a plot contrivance there.
Black Hat’s convenient exposition ends when the “Confederados’ swagger into town, all moonshine liquor and robo-racism. Delores knowds of their bad reputation from her Daddy, but Black Hat Douchebro is of course keen to see how he can exploit the whole situation for… I don’t even know anymore. Fun, I guess?
The gang go to see El Lazo, who turns out to be - gasp! - Ed Harris’ tag-a-long buddy Lawrence.
This is a big reveal because we’ve just seen Ed Harris slice open Lawrence’s throat not far outside town. Poor Teddy was not having a good time trussed up on Ed’s second horse, and while his spirit may have been willing, but his robot body (robo-dy? robody?) was saying neigh.
Ed Harris, typically spouting off at the mouth about destinies, and meanings and what not, realised that the reason he kept Lawrence around was as a handy blood transfusion donor. I don’t know how Ed worked out that you could do blood transfusions on squidgy sex-bots, but maybe they don’t get things like bacterial infections and so forth with their 45% fibreglass composite skin?
But the good repair crews of Westworld work fast, because BOOM, there was Lawrence, aka El Lazo, ready to go again in Pariah. Was it the same model, re-pumped full of Type AB+? He seemed to get there faster than White Hat, Delores et al, so I’m a bit confused about how quickly these gangster-bots can be patched up and re-deployed.
However, it’s fun to see why Ed Harris was after him in the first place. He had looked so forlorn and gentle and a family man - we now can see this was his secret life, and why it was such a violation when Ed Harris discovered it (and killed everybody). By day he is a pragmatic businessman, willing to enter into a deal with the Confederados, even if they are a pack of barely shaved racist baboons who would kill El Lazo’s own people if given half a chance. He recruits the White Hat/Black Hat gang to rob a Union coach carrying nitroglycerin, that he plans to on-sell to the Confederados at an explosively good price.
Despite White Hat hoping to keep it death-free, the hold-up inevitably becomes death-o-rama after Black Hat causes a ruckus. Delores is no help, even though she has a sweet new set of Sportscraft threads for the occasion. White Hat William is forced again to forget his pacifist ways and shoot a couple of the unarmed Union soldiers, an act that gets Black Hat Logan (I learned their names!) very erotically charged.
Somewhere in the middle of all this Delores is brought in for a beta-tete with Anthony Hopkins himself. He runs some tests to confirm her last encounter with Arnold, which turns out to be the day he die, some 34 years previously. Delores insists she’s had no further contact, which Ford seems content with - but when he leaves, she says “I told him nothing”. We’re clearly being led to believe Arnold implanted his consciousness in Delores, biding his time like Robert the Bruce watching that spider in that cave, waiting for his Bannockburn moment. But then, Black Hat Douchebro had said in his handy exposition that no body of the supposedly suicidal co-founder was ever discovered. Soooo, maybe not a consciousness then, but just a digital cue from wherever Arnold is now to draw Delores to him. Is the silicon chip inside her head being switched to overload?
While we’re in HQ, it’s a good time to bring up No-Nonsense Engineer Woman’s latest stealthy mission to find out what’s really going on in this here park. It was she who was testing out the bartendroid to check his fine motor skills….and DAMN, GIRL he had some FIIIIIIIIINE motor skills. Certainly got my engine running.
Her appreciation of his talents is interrupted when she realises the rogue lumberjack that tried to kill her is being taken for incineration. Still keen to find out what happened, she bribes a lab jockey (more on him below) into letting her have five minutes with the body before it’s junked. And what does she find? A laser satellite upload link thingy. “Somebody is transmitting information out of the park!” she tells Barnard. But who could it be? The thingy looked a bit janky, a bit old tech. Could it be… Arnold?
Back in Pariah, El Lazo urges both the Black Hat/White Hat crew and the Confederados to stay and hang for a night to celebrate the successful nitroglycerin mission. To sweeten the pot, he has three nude, gold-painted women stroll up and lead the Confederados off for a night of Conf***eradery.
Yes, that’s right, it was Movie Re-enactment Night in Pariah’s Sex Party House, and everybody got the Eyes Wide Shut brief, except perhaps the pianist. Far too many notes to be adequately Kubrickian.
White Hat William and Delores have the good manners to look vaguely embarrassed by the...uh… visual stimulus, but Black Hat douchebro is of course loving every moment. The head Confederado though thinks war is a better aphrodisiac than, I guess, a few hundred naked and pliant people, all with incredibly good physiques. But I suspect that’s more a programming issue, and he just hadn’t been updated with the latest digital Viagra patch yet.
Despite having his every possible fantasy laid out before him in a sizzling smorgasexboard, Black Hat Douchebro can’t help getting his bully-boner erect by laying into White Hat’s kinder, more corporate-lackey nature. William eventually snaps back, but doesn’t have it in him to actually give Black Hat a black eye. He’s still too gosh-darn good, dang him.
Delores wanders off from the main storyline of “We of the Nether Nether”, her innocent eyes slightly shocked by the virtuoso performances, oral and otherwise, of the “in-crowd”. She finds herself drawn to a fortune teller, who transforms into her own image as she sits down and draws a card etched with a familiar symbol.
“You must find the maze,” intones Vision Delores, upsetting “Real” Delores, who thinks there’s something wrong with her. “Perhaps you’re unravelling.”
GIRL. I feel you. We’ve all had those days. Had one myself just last week. Granted, I didn’t start pulling at an exposed fibre of the 3D-printing filament used to bring me into existence and reveal the fleshy inner-workings of my arm, but I did start leaking awkward tears during an Uber ride home. All that proved to me was that a particular so-called “waterproof” mascara was in fact nothing of the sort - but hopefully Delores has meatier lessons to learn.
Fleeing from the room, she accidentally busts El Lazo’s nefarious plan - siphon off the nitroglycerin into the bodies of dead gunslingers, while replacing the fluid with harmless tequila (they left the worm out). “You are still needed for the Revolution,” he jokes with the corpse, proving that El Lazo, proudly Mexican, has no interest in partnering with a bunch of yobs who’d have him “know his place” as a brown man.
Delores, sensing the… ahem… tinderbox nature of the situation, finds White Hat William and begs him to escape with her. Having had a confrontational moment earlier with Logan, in which the Black Hat Douchebro stuck the knife in and twisted, calling him variants on soft, cowardly, and unambitious, White Hat’s just been sitting there reflecting on how he got into this game - while a very busy orgy is about to get underway in front of him.
This is how Delores finds him, intoning about how the game is designed to strip you down, make you raw, that’s not a euphemism, yada yada yada.
“Enough of the philosophical bullshit,” she says. “See the line where the sky meets the sea? It calls me/And no one knoooooows, how far it gooooooes.” No wait, sorry, that was Moana.
Basically a voice in Delores’ head has told her to go find something, and she needs him, and smooches him to prove it. Seeming to forget his manners, sense of propriety and fiance back home, William smooches back.
Outside, Black Hat’s been giggling watching Confederados toss bottles of nitro to each other in the world’s worst drinking game. As expected, somebody eventually drops a tequila slammer.
When the bottle doesn’t explode and a number of them remain somehow alive, the Confederados realise they’ve been duped. They grab the closest person they don’t trust anymore - Black Hat Douchebro Logan. As they begin a well-deserved beating of the shit out of him, he spots White Hat and Delores making a break for it and mouths “Help me!”.
And so there is contrapasso - Black Hat was loving his jacked-up, hedonistic, in-game character, and now that pleasure is coming back to bite him on the ass. Couldn’t happen to a nicer fella. He can’t die of course, but that doesn’t stop me tipping my metaphorical hat and saying “See you in hell, sucker!”
Delores says the train is their only chance of making it out alive, but before they can get there, she and William are bailed up by the Battle Fat of the Republic himself, Chief Confederado. White Hat tries to strike a deal, but is caught after being forced to shoot. It seems the end is nigh, but the Delores, seemingly without thinking, lets her weapon loose and promptly dispatches of the rogue soldiers.
“You said people come here to change the story of their lives,” she tells William when he asks how she did that. “I imagined a story in which I didn’t have to be the damsel.”
AUTONAMOUS THOUGHT ALERT! AUTONOMOUS THOUGHT ALERT! THE ROBOTS CAN CHANGE THEIR PROGRAMMING ALERT!
Of course it could be the mysterious Arnold pulling some strings from wherever he is, but I’m not going to take this moment away from Delores. Girl’s been through enough.
She and White Hat manage to make it to the departing train, only to find themselves sharing the back carriage with El Lazo and his many potentially-flammable corpses. There’s a, err, um, “Mexican standoff” (no disrespect intended), before they all decide to drink up and get through the journey together. As a rough trust begins to form, Delores spies the maze logo on the coffin lid, and declares to the voice in her head, “I’m coming.”
We started with Dante so let’s circle back to where we began, with Anthony Hopkins having a drink. This time, he surprises Ed Harris, Ed Harris’ many man-crags and Teddy by rocking up to the bar in which they’re having a restorative whisky. Ford was playing the piano (I recognised the melody but can’t name it!), which fades in the background as Ford takes up a seat at their table.
Ed Harris is darkly amused by this personal attention from the park founder. They exchange pleasantries about Ed’s role as the villain in otherwise soft storylines, and whether Ford would try to stop him finding the maze.
Perhaps the most telling line is when Ed Harris references Arnold’s death, and says “he almost took this place with him. Almost, except for me.” This ties in with Ed Harris’ already established role as a protected species within the game, catered to in ways no other customers are. Are we to deduce, then, that Ed Harris is some sort of financial benefactor to the park? That he invested gazillions to keep it going in return for eternal free admission?
He sees Ford’s stories as ultimately shallow, but that Arnold may have left clues behind to a deeper meaning. But when he threatens to cut Ford open to see, a suddenly fully-restored Teddy pins his stabbin’ hand down with ease. It’s a nice old man wang measuring contest, which fits in nicely with the tone of the rest of the episode.
Ford leaves, with the pianola flicked to triple speed, and a mana-charged Teddy demands they hit the road. Ed Harris had wanted better stories; now it looks like the Wyatt storyline may pitch him against a truly worthy opponent.
Finally, the coda. Young Felix, the less insensitive of the Laurel & Hardy pair bumbling around in the Westworld bump shop, has been secretly trying to repair a bird that’s as dead as a dodo. His colleague hasn’t been impressed, but Felix keeps at it, obviously hoping for a brighter, less butchery future at the park. But when he finally gets the bird humming, he forgets the elephant in the room: Maeve. Which is a horrible thing to say because she’s clearly about 50kg soaking wet.
As he turns to capture his new pet, he finds both birds very much alive and enthusiastically perched on the trolley bed.
“We need to talk,” says a lusciously nude Maeve. Felix means “luck”, and he’s not having a good run of it lately. Continually working to repair Maeve and her strange, possibly self-inflicted injuries, seeming to have escaped without punishment after he “forgot” to put her in sleep mode during one operation, only to now accidentally switch her on at the same time that he finally figured out how to get the little bird working again? Contrapasso.
Other Questions or Things Worth Commenting Upon
THE BOY IS TOO SMALL
Ed Harris’ dispatching of Lawrence was interrupted by the same young lad that accompanied Anthony Hopkins on his stroll in the desert a few eps back. Ed Harris had him run off to collect water while he did the dirty deed, but the kid sure as hell saw it all on his return. It makes me wonder if that young lad is some sort of spy-bot, a pilot fish for Ford if you will. Given Ford turned up later to confront Ed Harris in that bar, it makes a certain amount of sense.
I suppose I shouldn’t be too shocked by this, given the relatively high profile of those Real Dolls. Also there have been a few references to staff getting to use “the facilities” in ways that I would have thought would be frowned upon in a corporate environment. But no, apparently, it’s just a workplace perk, like free tea and coffee or sick leave. But doing the nasty with an apparently “dead” host must cross some sort of line. Where is our ethical standpoint on this one, peeps? Because visually it is SUPER CREEPY, but at the same time, when you look at it objectively, you could compare it to f***ing a hard drive.
It has occurred to me that if Dante's theory holds true for all of us, then my incredibly juvenile obsession with nudity and whatnot is going to spectacularly backfire. That wang is going to circle back around and smack me right in the face.
Thanks for taking this sex-soaked sabbatical with me - see you next time for more Go West!