westworld union soldiers

Who Is Trying to Smuggle Data Out of Westworld?

In one of the episode’s more intriguing twists, we finally learn the truth about the stray host who smashed in his own head a few episodes ago. After initially assuming that the host was seeking the constellation Orion and that he was attempting to reach the sky in an act of insanity, behavioral programmer Elsie Hughes (Shannon Woodward) learns the truth. The woodcutter has been implanted with a satellite uplink and was being used to smuggle data out of the park. His attempt to climb the mountain, to reach the stars, has a far more literal purpose. He’s a spy, a pawn in a game being played by…someone.

There is a chief suspect in this little mystery. Theresa Cullen (Sidse Babett Knudsen) was conspicuously absent this episode, but it was surely under her orders that the woodcutter’s body was being taken to the incinerator. After all, she put her own team on the case last episode and refused to let Bernard or Elsie get involved. And since Theresa represents Delos, the parent company who isn’t exactly happy with Dr. Ford’s latest additions to the park, it would certainly make sense for her to be spying on the operation and gathering information that could be used against him. Westworld already has its fair share of problems, so a little bit of corporate espionage wouldn’t be too surprising of an addition.

But whoever is smuggling information out of Westworld is missing the forest for the trees. The corporate bickering is only a distraction from the real problem at hand – the hosts who are starting to question their carefully constructed world.

Thandie Newton's character Maeve Millay in Westworld

Felix, the Bird, and Maeve

One of Westworld‘s most intriguing and creepy story threads took a leap forward in “Contrapasso,” with Maeve (Thandie Newton) waking up from death and coolly addressing a Westworld technician (or rather Shade, as Westworld’s Native American population knows them) by name. While Dolores grows within the park, discovering her freedom while in pursuit of the Maze, Maeve has cut straight to the heart of the matter by cutting straight to the stray bullet left inside her belly. She has, for all intents and purposes, awoken in the closest thing her world has to purgatory.

It’s not clear how much she knows or even what she intends to do with her newfound position. What is clear is that nobody in the park knows how to handle a situation like this. After all, the previous “incident” occurred over thirty years ago. Everything is supposed to work just fine now. Hosts aren’t supposed to wake up from the slab. But Maeve has done it. Hell, she’s done it twice.

Perhaps it’s appropriate that the first “Shade” she meets is Felix (Leonardo Nam), who has ambitions that go beyond repairing the flesh of robots that were mangled by rich tourists. He has stolen a defective bird Host (remember that the flies are the only non-robotic lifeforms in Westworld) and spends his breaks attempting to program it and bring it back to the illusion of life. This instantly sets him apart from his partner, who spends his free time with a “nubile redhead” in the “VR tank.”

Felix does succeed in restoring life to the bird, but its resurrection coincides with the awakening of Maeve. What looked like a tiny touch of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein has bloomed into something much larger – it’s alive! Or rather, she’s alive. And she knows his name.

westworld anthony hopkins

Can Westworld Handle a Little Upstairs/Downstairs Drama?

In an episode that was otherwise focused on moving the plot forward with the momentum of a futuristic train carefully designed to look like an old-fashioned steam engine, “Contrapasso” still took time to expand the increasingly detailed Westworld landscape. For the first time, we were able to spend an extended amount of time with the hooded technicians who take care of the park’s dirty work, the lowly schlubs tasked with retrieving dead bodies and patching them up. Despite their intimidating outfits and despite their presence as mythological symbols within the park’s Native American population, these guys are very much the low men on the Westworld totem pole. They’re glorified janitors.

The result is a little bit of upstairs/downstairs drama, with the likes of Felix and his partner Sylvester getting their hands dirty with robot corpses while the folks in programming get to handle far sexier tasks. Much like how Game of Thrones became increasingly satisfying once you began to understand who everyone is and how they interact within the fantasy kingdom of Westeros, Westworld becomes more satisfying the more we understand the hierarchy at the park’s central hub. Getting a chance to spend time with the people at the bottom proves to be an interesting diversion from the shiny laboratories of behavioral programming. Getting to see their workspace, which was so terrifying when viewed from Maeve’s perspective, look like the flat, gray series of rooms that it really is proves perversely amusing.

Plus, this subplot revealed that yes, some employees do take advantage of the hosts when they’re not fully functioning and that yes, those hosts still record those interactions and that yes, this is very much frowned upon. After all, the guests pay top dollar for the right to have sex with robots.

Continue Reading Westworld Episode 5 Spoiler Review >>

Cool Posts From Around the Web: