Westworld Episode 5 Recap: Who You Calling A Damsel?

Photo: John P. Johnson/HBO.
Guys, Westworld was BANANAS this week. After four weeks of parsing out strategically placed insights into HBO's new world, the showrunners opened the floodgates and revved up the engines.

Let's start with the Singularity Watch: We've known for a while that Dolores and Maeve have begun their journey towards consciousness — what wasn't so clear was how far they've actually gotten.

We first see Dolores standing in a cemetery — the thought of death seems to trigger memories of the white church from Ford's new narrative in her subconscious. It's a theme that repeats itself throughout the episode. She's still hearing voices ("find me"), a fact that has finally grabbed Will's attention.

Speaking of Will — he's not boring anymore! That Pariah life really suits him. He, Logan, and Dolores follow Slim into the charming "city of outcasts, delinquents, thieves, whores, and murderers," which kind of looks like a cross between a King's Landing brothel and the Mask of Zorro. It's pretty grand — as Logan explains, the farther you get from Sweetwater, the bigger the narratives become. But most interesting in this scene is a conversation between Logan and Will which reveals some good, juicy details about Westworld itself. Apparently, all of these details don't come cheap. The park is losing money, which explains Logan's presence on behalf of his company — they're considering buying Westworld. Also intriguing is the throw-away line Logan has about Arnold — he knows that Ford had a partner in opening the park, and that he mysteriously died before the opening. However, he doesn't know his name, despite having put a team of lawyers on the case: "He's a total mystery. Not even a picture."

We also find out why Logan was so keen to come to Pariah — and surprise, it's not about the hookers! He wants to join The Confederados, a gang of ex-Confederate soldiers-turned-mercenaries who are not fighting the "revolutionaries" south of the border. (Do they mean Mexico?)


Meanwhile, the Ballad of Man in Black and Lawrence continues, this time with Teddy in tow. He doesn't look so good — he was nailed to a tree, after all — but MIB thinks that he's his ticket to finding Wyatt. Lawrence is being his usual charming self, but alas their bromance has come to an end. The reappearance of Ford's little boy host somehow causes MIB to realize what he actually needs Lawrence for — and it's not his wit. He slits his friend's throat and hangs him upside down to bleed out into a sack, later to be used for a transfusion into Teddy. RIP Lawrence!

Photo: John P. Johnson/HBO.

Back at HQ, the host maintenance guys are comparing their prowess at patching up their patients. Maeve is on the table, probably due to her fiery (get it?) encounter with Hector in the last episode. Felix, remembering that time this very host woke up during a similar procedure, is still spooked. “It was a contained incision, almost like they were looking for something,” he points out about her scar. Like a bullet fragment, perhaps? His friend dismisses him — no way. After he leaves, Felix goes to put something away in the cupboard, which also contains a dead bird. What's that about, Felix? (We actually find out later in the episode that Felix has been teaching himself to code, using a contraband tablet and an animal host he stole from the park. This does not seem wise.)

Teddy wakes up a little more alert than before. A couple of gallons of Lawrence's blood will perk a guy right up. He begs MIB to put him out of his misery, but gets shut down.

“It’s not my fault you’re suffering. You used to be beautiful. When this place started, I opened one of you up once. A million little perfect pieces and then they changed you — made you this sad mess of flesh and bone, just like us. They said it would improve the park experience. But you really want to know why they did it? It was cheaper. Your humanity is cost effective. So is your suffering.”

Ouch. Harsh, MIB.

To get him to cooperate, MIB tells Teddy that Wyatt has killed Dolores' family and kidnapped her. It's the magic word. They thank Ford's little host boy, who has returned bearing saddlebags full of water, and head off into the sunset.

Once again, Dolores stares death in the face (literally this time — she's looking at a body in a coffin), triggering flashbacks of death in the town with the white church. Is she seeing in to the future? Or is she in the future and Ford's story line somehow in the past? Are there different timelines at play here?
She's interrupted by Will, who wants to go for a stroll. As they walk through the streets of Pariah, he explains what people see in this place: They can do what they want, and no one in the "real world" will ever know. Right on cue, Dolores asks: "What do you mean by that? You said no one in the 'real world' will know.”

"Have you been dreaming again, Dolores?"

Robert Ford
Will is confused — hosts aren't supposed to pick up on those kinds of nuances. He's starting to understand that Dolores is more conscious about her surroundings than she's openly letting on, a fact that's compounded by a comment he makes to Logan a few moments later when he calls her "a goddamn doll."

"Can you not say that around her?" Will asks. "I swear, I feel like she understands."

As the two men are talking, Dolores follows the voice in her head right smack in the middle of a the Day of the Dead-like parade, and the death imagery overload causes her to pass out.

She wakes up in Ford's office, naked. That last fact is worth noting because she always seems to be clothed during her chats with Bernie. In an episode full of crazy moments, this might well be the craziest of all. We learn a lot from their interaction. Here are the highlights, ranked by order of importance:

1. Dolores has acted out before. "Have you been hearing voices? Has Arnold been speaking to you again?" Ford asks during their interaction, implying that this isn't the first time Dolores has gone off loop. Ford actually explicitly states this when he asks: "Have you been dreaming again, Dolores? Imagining yourself breaking out of your modest little loop? Taking on a bigger role?"
2. Dolores' last contact with Arnold was on the day he died. The last thing he told her was that she was going to help him "destroy this place." Also interesting is that Ford seems to believe he's spoken to her even more recently than that.
3. Dolores willfully keeps facts hidden. After Ford leaves the room, Dolores says: "He doesn’t know. I didn’t tell him anything." Is she speaking to Arnold? Did she knowingly conceal interactions with him from Ford? That would mean she's even farther along the road to sentience than we previously thought.
4. Dolores and Ford are not friends. Most people seem to be fond of Dolores. She's the oldest host in the park, an institution. But when she asks Ford if the two are "very old friends," he sets her straight: "No. I wouldn’t say friends, Dolores. I wouldn’t say that at all."
Photo: John P. Johnson/HBO.

In Pariah, Slim is finally delivering on his promise to introduce Logan, Will, and Dolores to El Lazo. (Fun fact: "lazo," means lasso, or knot in Spanish. I think we can expect some complexity from this guy.) And surprise, it's Lawrence!

Logan requests an introduction to the Confederados. Lawrence couldn't care less. He threatens to kill Logan, the death reference sparking yet another idea in Dolores' developing mind. “You’re seeking something aren’t you? I know what that feels like. I’m seeking something, too. If you let us, I know we can help you.” Is Lawrence also converging on sentience?

Lawrence agrees to oblige the request, provided the trio helps the Confederados rob a shipment of Nitroglycerin from the Union.

Before they go, Dolores gets a change of clothes, because while a baby blue dress might be pretty and all, it's not very practical when you're robbing a wagon in the middle of the desert. She looks pretty badass with her pants and gun — I could get used to this Dolores.

The robbery goes smoothly at first — until Logan opens his mouth. A scuffle breaks out, and Will ends up shooting three unarmed men. They bring the nitro back to Pariah, and are hailed as conquerors by the Confederados. Brothel time!
Our Elsie fix in this episode is brief, but significant. After bribing a maintenance guy (“There’s a common misconception that the hosts don’t log sexual encounters when they’re underground for reprocessing, but like I said, misconception"), she manages to get access to the host who attacked her in episode 3. What she finds in his arm is a little alarming. As she tells Bernie: "Turns out, our big dumb friend had some hidden depths. That is a laser-based satellite uplink.” Someone has been using him as a personal computer to smuggle data out of Westworld.

The brothel in Pariah makes Mariposa look like a 7-year-old's Bratz-themed birthday party.

Long story short, Will doesn't really want to join the Confederados in their White Supremacist struggle. He tells Logan, who decides he's had enough of Will, and basically calls him an upper middle management poser. “I picked you precisely because you will never be a threat to anyone," he says. My sister probably picked you for the same reason.” Rude. Those two are donezo.

Dolores, meanwhile, has left the men to their dick swinging and proceeded to explore. In one room, she finds a fortune teller. Intrigued, she sits, and picks a card. When she looks up, the fortune teller has turned into her — on the card is the symbol for The Maze. "What's wrong with me?" she asks.

"Perhaps you're unraveling," doppelgänger Dolores answers, causing real Dolores to pull at a piece of something (bone? plastic?) protruding from her wrist. Rather than coming out cleanly, like say, a splinter, it unravels her skin, creating a pretty-gross-looking gash. She freaks out — wouldn't you? — but it's all an illusion. There's no one there, and her arm is fine.

While running out of the room, she catches Lawrence pumping the nitroglycerin into bodies, and filling the bottles with tequila — he's in cahoots with the revolutionaries planning to destroy the Confederados. Dolores realizes that shit's about to get real, and warns Will that they better leave.

He tries to get all deep, musing about the true meaning of the park and how he doesn't want to play into it, but she shuts him up with a kiss. Thank you, Dolores.

Right then, the Confederados realize they've been tricked and Logan pays the price. As he gets pummeled, he calls out to Will for help. It's a no go. He grabs Dolores and the two escape, only to get ambushed by more Confederados. But remember that gun Dolores got as part of her new outfit? She knows how to use it. She shoots, she scores, she holsters like a boss. Will, wearing the same look I assume I was while watching this, asks her how she managed to do that.

“You said people come here to change the stories of their lives? I imagined a story where I didn’t have to be the damsel.” YAS KWEEN!

The two catch the train out of town, only to come face-to-face with Lawrence. Looks like they're off to join the revolution.
Photo: John P. Johnson/HBO.

Simultaneously (I think — it's entirely possible these events are occurring in entirely different timelines), Teddy and MIB sit down at a bar, only to be joined by the great Ford himself. Like his interaction with Dolores earlier in the episode, Ford's conversation with MIB is crucial. The takeaways...
1. They clearly know each other. "How am I doing Robert? Any closer to finding what I’m looking for?” This is not something you ask someone you just met.

2. MIB saved Westworld from ruin. When Ford asks him if he wants to know the moral of the story, MIB answers: “I’d need a shovel. The man I’d be asking died 35 years ago. Almost took this place with him. Almost, but not quite, thanks to me."

3. Does this prove Ford is a host? MIB's words to Ford before attempting to stab him seem to indicate he might be: "I wonder what I would find, if I opened you up."

In the end, Ford goes on his way, leaving a newly recovered Teddy and MIB to their "voyage for self-discovery."

Back at Westworld HQ, Felix is still plunking away at his coding tablet, trying to make his stolen bird fly. He's also still pretty anxious — Maeve is lying on a gurney in the corner. Eureka! The bird finally leaps into action, and flies around the room. Felix's moment of triumph is short lived though. The bird has landed on Maeve’s finger — and she’s very much awake. “Hello Felix," she purrs. "It’s time you and I had a chat."


Additional thoughts:
— The story Ford tells Old Bill about his pet greyhound in the beginning of the episode seems to suggest that whatever is at the center of The Maze will not bring satisfaction to those who seek it.
— Did anyone else catch what the cocky maintenance guy said to Felix about how "personality testing should have weeded you out in the embryo"? What's that all about? Do people choose to work at Westworld? Or is this some kind of dystopian Divergent scenario where you're born into a job category?

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