vulture lists

Our Biggest Questions After Westworld, Episode 5

Evan Rachel Wood as Dolores.
Evan Rachel Wood as Dolores. Photo: John P. Johnson/HBO

Mystified by Westworld? You’re not alone. We don’t have many answers yet, but HBO’s sci-fi brain teaser will surely offer a few from week to week. So we’re following up each episode with the myriad questions we’re pondering.

In “Contrapasso,” Lawrence dies and gets gloriously reincarnated, Dr. Ford and the Man in Black nearly throw bows, Maeve meets the space-suit man of her dreams, and William and Dolores play tonsil hockey in between firing rounds at Civil War reenactors. And as ever, no one really knows what’s drawing these characters to the Maze — it’s an inexorable pull. If you want to make a prediction of your own, give it a shot in the comments.

Has Lawrence always been El Lazo?
And yes, it’s El Lazo, not Alonzo or Lazzo or Alasso, though you’d be forgiven for interpreting his inscrutable moniker as such. Doesn’t much matter, though: He drops the facade for William and Dolores and reveals that he is, in fact, Lawrence. But is this host the same Lawrence whom the Man in Black strung up in a tree to bleed out? Or is he one of Dr. Ford’s many chess moves in whatever game he and the Man in Black are playing? As Logan said, guests at Westworld get to make up more rules as they delve deeper into the park, and it seems as if those two crusty counterparts have been to the depths and back.

Is Logan dead?
Let me rephrase: Can Logan be dead? He’s served his purpose. Now, if theories about multiple timelines are coming into focus, William can embody both his learned goodness and the latent rage that would make him a better fit in Logan’s all-black banditwear. Or maybe he just needs to go home after this trip and grab that “cheap black suit” his future brother-in-law derided him for wearing. Ya know, the kind that fits the Man in Black like a second skin.

Are we on a linear timeline here or what?
We’ve got plenty of bread crumbs to suggest something’s up. The speculation about the Man in Black will surely be whet by his flip oratory about past lives. Perhaps he is living in one time and place while William and Dolores are in another? And as for Dr. Ford, you get the sense he can travel between whichever worlds he pleases, repositioning hosts along whatever continuum his heart desires. Assuming there’s a beating heart in his chest and he wasn’t Arnold’s first host, of course. I’m not the only one to wonder if he turned on Arnold, killed him, and now masquerades as more human than human ever after, right? No rules!

What does Dr. Ford have in store for Dolores?
Fond as he is of old hosts like Bill, he and his O.G. lady robot aren’t friends. That said, Ford definitely knows a thing or two about the town with the white church that’s flashing through Dolores’s visions. Is he planning to re-erect it? Does he know how deeply Arnold embedded himself within Dolores’s consciousness? That’s doubtful, since he’s unaware of Arnold uprooting her dependable loop. Or maybe Bernard’s voice is subliminally operating on Arnold’s behalf, imploring Dolores to find him. After all, we didn’t see what he was typing away at during his brief moment onscreen this week.

How bad is the game of war?
It’s definitely perilous, that’s for sure. Only problem is that, by the time all the players reach their destination, they won’t have any decent idea what they’re fighting for. They certainly won’t know which side they’re on or what the stakes are. They’re already trapped in a maze of self-analysis and second-guessing by virtue of venturing out into Westworld’s hinterlands. The battle’s already being fought.

What does Maeve have in store for Felix?
It would be an unexpected and clever advancement of the altruistic lab tech’s minor character if he were manipulated into a major role for the hosts’ uprising. Lord knows the Westworld staff has had fun deploying Maeve and her kind for the edification of “humans.” Now it’s time for the hosts to turn tables and use lackeys like Felix to help come apart from their monotonous existence.

What’s up with all the cat stuff?
The episode opened with Dr. Ford boring Old Bill to tears with some “humdinger” of a story about his boyhood greyhound seizing on a neighborhood cat and coming up for air bewildered. And later, our odd-couple lab techs play a central role in a pair of important scenes — and it just so happens their names are Felix and Sylvester. Given all the reasons to muse about characters’ potentially myriad incarnations and planes of being, all the cat references could be another way of subtly seeding the notion of multiple lives. Or perhaps it’s got more to do with Felix and Sylvester being cartoonish comic relief.

Does the Man in Black know he just met young Ford?
Odds are good that Ford dispatched his younger robot self to set the whole chain of events in motion that led to Lawrence, William, and Dolores hightailing it out of Pariah while he, the Man in Black, and Teddy (poor Teddy) shared a drink and some knifeplay. Remember: The Man in Black never got the chance to cut Ford open at that saloon table, thanks to Teddy’s petlike loyalty. If only he knew how closely he’d  brushed up against the man’s inner self.

Are “necro-pervs” a thing?
Nope, it’s just you, Dustin. (And maybe Sylvester.)

Who’s smuggling data out of Westworld?
Philosophical quandaries about heroes and villains aside, the most concrete mystery to emerge from “Contrapasso” has to do with Elsie’s discovery of a satellite uplink inside the woodcutter’s arm, controlled by someone looking to smuggle data out of the park. This could be a red herring (I’m casting a wary eye at Lee Sizemore, personally), or the very significant subversion of someone high up in the ranks (maybe Bernard’s boldest effort to resurrect Charlie on the outside?). Whatever the answer, it opens up a tantalizing possibility of the “real world” crossing over with Ford’s invented world, giving some indication of the madness yet to come.

Our Biggest Westworld Questions After Episode 5