In this week’s episode of HBO’s Westworld series ‘Contrapasso‘ Dolores, William and Logan reach Pariah, a town built on decadence and transgression–they’re recruited for a dangerous mission. The Man in Black meets an unlikely ally in his search to unlock the maze.
Contrapasso is a term most commonly attributed to Dante’s Inferno. It describes the relationship between sin and the resulting justification in Hell. The literal definition is the ‘counter-strike’ or the ‘counter-suffering’.
Tonight’s episode does offer some minor reveals. in Contrapasso, the discovery that Dolores was the last person Arnold spoke to before he died—and that she’s still in some way communicating with him (presumably through the programming Ford talked about a couple of weeks back)—is pretty big, and one of the few twists in the hour that legitimately felt like stakes are raised. The idea that Arnold’s real goal was to destroy the park he helped create is fascinating, and suggests Ford is an even more complicated figure than initially suspected. He might even turn out to be the show’s true villain, if such a thing exists.
Pony Express – Mail bag
Ever since Episode 2 of HBO’s twisty, sci-fi Western Westworld, those both familiar with the earlier work of Jonathan Nolan (The Prestige, Memento, Interstellar) and fond of fan theories have pondered the idea that we’re actually seeing multiple timelines play out concurrently. It’s easy to fool an audience when half your cast of characters are robots who never age. This week’s episode seemed to confirm, once and for all, that Westworld Season 1 is operating on two timelines. But since that reveal came so early in the season, you have to wonder if there’s still another layer of this mystery to peel back.
If you’re unfamiliar with the two timeline theory, the basics are these. William and Logan have entered the park at some point in the past. Let’s say around thirty years ago. Fans have pointed out that the Westworld logos are different when William and Logan enter the park vs. what we see in the “modern” storyline. In fact the only other time we see that older-looking logo is, you guessed it, during Dr. Ford’s 30 plus year-old flashback on a lab coat. If you rewatch the episodes with the two timelines in mind, it does mostly track.
William and Logan don’t interact directly with anything happening now with Ed Harris’s Man in Black and the older Anthony Hopkins. Going together with this theory is the notion that white hat William—due to some trauma in the park—will turn into the black-hatted Ed Harris. There has to be a reason we don’t know his character’s name yet, right?.
Guts & Glory
Inside the episode
The fifth episode of “Westworld” was jam-packed with surprising reveals and more gunslinging than ever. Among the many significant scenes and exchanges between characters, there were a few key moments you might have glossed over.
Several scenes in the Contrapasso episode show Dolores speaking to a voice in her head — a voice we’re beginning to believe is Arnold. In the beginning of the episode, “Arnold” says “find me” to Dolores, and she asks him to show her how.
There are flashes of the town with the white church again, but no concrete instructions. Then, right after William and Logan are introduced to El Lazo/Lawrence, Dolores gets one more important “flashback.”
Seek it out
After seeing the train station, and other scenes from the town with the white church, Dolores jumps in and talks to Lawrence.
“There’s something you’re seeking, isn’t there?” she asks. “I know what that feels like. I’m seeking something too. If you let us, I know we can help you.”
This is probably some secret phrasing meant to trigger Lawrence into leading the “seeker” towards the maze. We know Lawrence was a critical part of the Man in Black’s maze-quest, so it makes sense he’d be part of Dolores’ too.
At the end of this episode we see that Dolores and William have gotten onto a train with Lawrence. Perhaps that train is heading for the town with the white church?
Lawrence refers to Dolores as a “lunatic,” recalling an earlier conversation about Arnold.
After Dolores makes her plea to Lawrence he laughs and says to the crowd around him : “How is it the lunatics always find their way to me?”
Though this sounds like a dismissal of her, Lawrence might have been somehow referencing Arnold’s original design of consciousness.
Back in episode three, Bernard and Ford had an important conversation about lunatics and the voice of God.