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Westworld: Season 1, Episode 5 – Contrapasso Review

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★★★★

Saddle up! But beware potential spoilers in this review, which will discuss elements of the episode.

Dolores

Dolores continues to show growth this episode, to a point that even William is taking notice. And we don't just mean when she finally shows off her action badass side in front of him. Finally breaking out of her damsel narrative loop, it's a healthy step forward for the character who most embodies the evolution these "hosts" will be going through. But there's still time for a quick check-in with Dr. Ford. Why, exactly does Dolores have to be naked for their conversation? It's not like she needed any repairs. It's an element that continues to raise questions for the show, questions which continue when she, William and Logan reach the debauched town of Pariah, which would seem to be Westworld's X-rated Mos Eisley. We understand – it's a hive of scum and villainy – but there's enough flesh on display here to rival your standard Game Of Thrones episode.

William And Logan

Some new nuggets slip out here from Our Wannabe Hero and The Asshole He Thinks Is His Friend. Most notable is Logan letting slip that his wealthy family's company looked into buying Delos and Westworld, but that they hit a brick wall trying to research the place. Ford – and the apparently dead Arnold (we're still not 100% convinced he didn't somehow download himself) – were the topic of conversation for several characters tonight, and Ford at least has definitely built a mystery around himself. And there is more of the bubbling animosity between the pair, brought to a head when Logan is captured by the Confederate soldiers they double-crossed and William leaves him behind. Serves him right for that humiliating little speech about William's place in the company.

The Man In Black

This week's Oh My God, They Killed Teddy! is... not Teddy at all, but MIB slitting Lawrence's throat! Poor Lawrence. At least we know he wasn't the only one/was repurposed/is secretly also the bandit El Lazo, who Dolores and William end up travelling with. And his loss is quite literally Teddy's gain as Lawrence's drained blood is used to keep the luckless cowpoke going. But by far the biggest scene in his story this week has him meeting Ford at a bar. There's so much to unpack in their conversation, including the fact that the MIB sees himself as the true villain that Westworld needs. Could that be part of why he's searching for the Maze? Does that unlock some further mode or part of the park? Plus, you have the moment where MIB seems about to attack Dr. Ford, and Teddy steps to his defence. Yet more of Ford playing god with everyone in the park – except perhaps the MIB. Also intriguing? The talk of the world beyond Westworld: apparently, it's a Wall-E-style utopia where all needs are catered for, except some deeper meaning. Which is where the park comes in, as a place for the patrons to find some truth. Which sounds like marketing spiel for "go hog nuts crazy with the sexing and the shooting and the destroying stuff."

Delos

Lots of questions raised in the lab this week too, including what Elise discovered in the "malfunctioning" host's arm. Apparently somebody is feeding data outside of the park. Bernard seems to very casually accept the news, so perhaps he knows more than he's letting on. Then we have the "butchers", the techs last seen repairing Maeve. One has hopes of becoming something more (hello, recurring show theme!) and has been "borrowing" tech from the Behaviour Team to work on a side project - controlling a bird-bot. But he gets more than he bargained for when his techno-fiddling raises Maeve, who had been brought in for more repairs, from her slumber. This probably won't end well for him, but at least the bird, who we're calling Tweety, got to live again.

Summary

If you're after the instant gratification of some shows, Westworld is clearly not the series to be watching. But this episode (which takes its name from a type of torture in Dante's Inferno - interesting, given the layers of the world), written by co-creator Lisa Joy, keeps the steady drip of information going. Peeling away the layers has to feel satisfying, and it's here that Westworld delivers. Just when you think you've got a handle on how elements work, you learn something new, which enriches the experience of watching it. It truly is building to something, even if it's tough to just watch one episode when you really want to know more as soon as possible. True, for all of the producers' talk about gender politics, it still goes for the nudity card a little too quickly (even the moment with Elise and the well-equipped male host in the lab doesn't quite offset that), but when it, like its hosts, truly comes alive, Westworld works. It's evolving into something great, and now that we're halfway through the first season, we're fully on board for what the show has to offer in the coming weeks.

Westworld airs on HBO in the US on Sunday nights and Tuesdays on Sky Atlantic in the UK

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