Each week, Brian Grubb and Keith Phipps will attempt to unpack the latest episode of the HBO series Westworld, a show about an amusement park populated by lifelike robots that’s also about… other stuff.
Keith: Part of the fun of working on this feature each week is trying to figure out what elements of the show should serve as the headers. For this week’s episode, “Contrapasso,” I was tempted to use the following: “What?” “WHAT?” “WHAT!!??!!” A lot of odd things happened, in other words. But I’m not sure that would be all that useful to our readers, so let’s start with the town of Pariah, a place where anything goes, from games of ‘Toss The Nitro And See Who Explodes First’ to buggy sex.
There’s a lot to process here, but maybe it’s best to look at Pariah as Logan’s dream come true. This is everything he wanted from Westworld: Sex, violence, and a “grandiose” narrative in which he can be a larger-than-life character. Or, put another way, it’s a place where he can be a total dick. And boy is he a dick, especially to William, to whom he serves a humiliating assessment of mediocrity (with a side helping of homoerotic tension, if I read that scene correctly). And he pays dearly for it, apparently, by being left behind. Maybe he doesn’t know as much about the park as he thinks. (Actually, that’s made pretty clear when he reveals he knows a little about Arnold and essentially nothing about Robert.)
Anyway, Pariah: Fun town?
Brian: First of all, a tip of the cap to Westworld for beating Game of Thrones to an orgy scene full of naked gold prostitutes. The odds were stacked against them because they gave GoT a seven-season head start, but they pulled it off anyway, and I think it’s only right that we acknowledge that. Kudos.
But yeah, a lot going on. A few things:
– The biggest development here is probably both William and Dolores going Bonnie and Clyde out there, gunning down bad hombres (sorry), first when William saves Dolores and then when Dolores returns the favor. That seems like a big deal, especially with the way the episode ended, which we’ll get to in a bit. The sentence “I imagined a story where I didn’t have to be the damsel” alone seems to imply that Dolores is altering her own coding.
– Logan is a tool, and I’m glad he got double-crossed in the old mid-orgy nitroglycerine/tequila cadaver switcheroo. (I’ve see it a million times.) I’m not exactly sure how much danger he’s in because the hosts aren’t supposed to be able to kill the guests, but if anyone ever deserved a whupping behind a brothel at the hands of explosion-crazy Confederate soldiers, it’s that guy, so fine.
– Logistical question: Pariah seems hecka far from Sweetwater. Do all the guests have to come in at Sweetwater and then travel out away from it, or can they just, like, hop a monorail or something and zip to wherever? Because if I’m paying a minimum of $40k per day to go to a sexmurder jamboree, I do not want to spend a substantial chunk of time riding a horse through a desert.
– Let me be incredibly clear about something: If I ever go to a fortune teller and the fortune teller suddenly transforms from a scarf-clad woman into an exact duplicate of me who starts giving cryptic advice about “unraveling,” buddy, I am friggin’ outta there.