**One watch. Everyone knows the rules.** After the first paragraph expect SPOILERS. These are my thoughts and takeaways after one watch of WESTWORLD season one, episode five.
Mystery abounds and intrigue swirls in episode five, 'Contrapasso'. Once again, Westworld delivers. Continuing to reveal captivating details while sprouting three more questions for every answer. Viewers get exposed to even more of the park and we see an interaction between two characters I thought we'd be waiting much longer for. I've mentioned before, Westworld is primed to be the new Game of Thrones, the new Sunday night appointment television (it's not TV it's HBO). Westworld, much like GoT, is loaded with storylines and deep characters. To balance all of this out they use a familiar GoT story telling technique. One episode gets to focus on one or two main narratives while the other ones are put to the side for a week and given less focus. Onto the meat (flesh and bone, like us).....
Quick aside before we dive down the rabbit hole: Episode five opens with Dr. Ford telling a story to the old cowboy host in the basement. It's a tale as old as time about a grey hound former racing dog his family had, The dog chased down a cat like it was a stuffed rabbit and killed it. Once the cat was dead he didn't know what to do. The path was complete and he now felt meaningless. Following or deviating from your path is an overarching theme in this episode. Also, and more importantly, that story reminded me of what the Joker told Harvey Dent in the Dark Knight.
- After the last two episodes I was ALL OUT on the two timelines theory. I felt like the content of the show debunked the theory and wrote it off as overanalyzing internet fodder akin to the first season of True Detective. As of the conclusion of episode five, I'm ALL IN on the two timelines thery. For those not following along at home, the theory goes a little something like this....William (pictured seated above) and The Man in Black (Ed Harris) are the same person. The stories we've been watching on screen are actually playing out in two different time periods about 30 years apart. Or 34 years and change apart? It's beginning to feel like the show is giving us all of the clues to tie that together. As if the show wants viewers to come to that conclusion on our own at some point soon without them laying it out in black and white. To get on board with this theory, you have to abandon the idea that generic screen cuts from one group of characters to the next are happening in chronological order. Or even that they are related at all. Just because we see Dolores close her eyes in the park and then awaken "in a dream" speaking to Ford doesn't mean the events happened back to back in real time.
For purposes of clarity I'l refer to the the timeline some 30 years in the past as the William TL and the the timeline in the 'present' with Ed Harris playing the mysterious Man in Black as the MIB TL . Let's look at a few things in this episode. Lets keep peeling back the layerrrrrrrs.
- Dolores' talk with Ford near the start of the episode is happening in the MIB TL. Ford asks her if she has been speaking with Arnold "again". She says 'no' and he asks her analysis mode when the last contact with Arnold was. Thirty four years and change ago. Ford agrees to this timeframe, acknowledging it as fact. I think this is the contact accepted by Ford is what we are seeing in the William TL as Dolores is hearing voices and talking to herself. Perhaps Arnold is already dead and she is in contact with his consciousness that he's uploaded to the Westworld. Perhaps he is presumed dead in the William TL but not yet actually dead. Yet TBD...
- At the end of their conversation Dolores tells someone, presumably Arnold, that Ford knows nothing. Two possibilities arrive from this: One, she is regaining the connection or the consciousness she had 30 years prior. OR, and much scarier, she always maintained her consciousness and simply played along with her loop. Biding her time, waiting for the proper moment.
- William TL. Logan also tells William rumors of the park hemorrhaging money and their company is considering a buyout. During the conversation he references the creators were a partner team. It would make sense that this happens in the past, closer to the creation of Westworld. In an earlier episode, Ford even tells Bernard that they accepted the legend of one creator as fact and overtime Arnold's name was wiped from public memory. Basically, it would make sense that a guest like Logan knows about the partnership in the past, but even the heir to the Westworld throne, Bernard, does not know about another creator in the future.
- Lawrence. In the MIB TL we experience the overwhelming implication that the MIB and Lawrence have gone on more than a few adventures together. The MIB even likes Lawrence and enjoys their time together. Don't take my word for it, he sys it a bunch. Lawrence is referred to as the most wanted man in two or three counties, which would make sense if he's always been El Lazo. The MIB turns Lawrence into a Teddy-saver and then in the next scene Lawrence pops up good as new in Pariah with William and Logan. Either some hosts have more than one version or the dual timelines make even more sense.
- In the William TL we see William and Lawrences' (El Lazo) first interaction. At the conclusion of which El Lazo says something about being friends and calling him Lawrence. In the MIB TL, the MIB refers to him as Lawrence and as a friend on more than one occasion. I don't think these two interactions were included in the same episode on accident. This is the writers and producers leaving us bread crumbs.
- The MIB timeline also shows Lawrence talking to the MIB in a disrespectful manner a few times. The MIB laughs and says there isn't a man in the world that talks to him that way. But, in a past life they did. Exactly the way we see Logan treating William in the William TL. Again, I can't imagine these scenes and this dialogue play out in the same episode by coincidence. Logan is a dick to William, the MIB says people use to talk to him like that but not anymore.......BREAD CRUMBS!
- The best scene of the episode and as of now the series is the little sit down and chat (vastly different than an Aaron Sorkin walk and talk) between Dr. Ford and the Man in Black. This scene is great in a way that moves plot and storyline but also offers some beautiful dialogue. My biggest complaint of the show thus far has been Ford's philosophical gargling and borderline iambic pentameter dialogue. However, this scene made it work.
- It is abundantly clear they know each other well and have for some time. The MIB calls Ford by his first name, knows all about Arnold and how long he's been dead. Even implying Arnold created the maze and the true meaning to the park. The MIB tells Ford if he wanted to ask the creator he'd need a shovel. Get it?? Because he's dead an buried. Ford speaks to him with an oddly familiar tone and doesn't question any references to the past made by the MIB.
- The MIB also claims when Arnold died he almost took the park with him. He claims thanks to him Arnold was unsuccessful. I have to think this is the incident that's been eluded to a few times before. Maybe why theres an entire warehouse of retired hosts. I think that is what we're moving towards in the William TL. The show, or at least this season is getting set for the portrayal of said 'incident' and how William, the eventual Man in Black became who he is today.
- The last small tid bit encouraging the dual timeline theory is the lack of references to Wyatt in the William TL. Wyatt is a new host/character/story and wouldn't have been around thirty years prior. In the MIB TL Wyatt is now referenced constantly, but not with William and Logan. I have to imagine a gang of outlaws and former confederate soldiers with questionable sanity would have ties to a guy like Wyatt or at least mention him if he was around.
- Dolores is %100 becoming self aware in one or both timelines.
- The Man in Black meets young android Ford in the woods. Wonder if he knew that.
- The hosts are some form of flesh and blood. Possibly because it was cost effective and possibly because it's more advanced and realistic. Either way, blood type isn't important. It's probably more like oil to a car.
- LOVED the little behind the scenes stuff with the clean up crew. The butchers. I continue to enjoy anything showing the inner workings of the park.
- Birds are androids, horses are androids, snakes are androids, people are androids. Is the grass real?
- Ford has ridiculous control over the hosts. Like when Teddy protects him as soon as the MIB picks up the knife.
- The further away from Sweetwater you get, the more advanced the stories.
- Hosts definitely log sexual encounters no matter what. Perv.
- One particular host, with a drinking problem, is packing serious heat. At least the park has options for everyone, not just the guys.
- Maeve is awake. Like, she is both up and very woke. Apparently fully aware of what's happening while in sleep mode or 'dead'. And possibly about to lead a host rebellion.
- Are we watching a linear story? Despite the dual timelines seeming more a matter of fact rather than theory, it remans a question without official confirmation.
- How much can the hosts hurt the guests? We know the guests can't be killed by hosts. But, Logan was getting choked early and beat up pretty bad by hosts last time we saw him. Maybe the stakes are just raised in certain narratives. Or MAYBE......TIMELINE THEORY! Maybe Westworld has toned down the possible violence on guests. If the William TL is in the past that would make sense. William got shot by a host, fell to the ground, and looked like it was burning him. The MIB, in his possible timeline, gets shot and the bullets are seemingly non existent. This would 100% make sense as dual timeline evidence. The park changed things like that in the 34 year gap.
- Who do Logan and William work for? I though they mentioned it's Logan's family business. Obviously the company is very successful if they're possibly buying the park. Do they end up buying the park? Are they the eventual omnipresent mysterious 'board'?
- How aware is Dolores? She replies to William's comment about the real world where earlier in the series she couldn't even recognize a photograph with modern stuff in it.
- More Dolores. In one, or more timeline, she's fighting her programming. Using guns when she shouldn't. Lying to Ford. Hearing Arnold? What's with the hallucinations? How can androids hallucinate?
- If the dual timelines are in play, does something serious happen to William to make him who he is today (MIB)? Or is it a gradual change that only plays out in Westworld? We know his real life self is powerful and apparently saves people's lives. Real world savior playing the Westworld bad guy fighting against the West World God (or Devil), Ford.
- What's up with the gold body paint in the orgy bar? That stuff has to be so messy. Probably just gets everywhere. Did they really need an orgy bar? Whatever.
- What is Maeve going to talk to Felix about?
- WHO IS ARNOLD? Have we seen him? Is he actually dead?
- I still maintain Ford is the true bad guy and I can't wait to see young-CGI-Anthony Hopkins meeting William for the 'first time'.
Till next week, 'may you rest in a deep and dreamless slumber'.........