Ford opens the fifth episode of Westworld, Contrapasso, with a story about his greyhound killing a cat the first time he lets it off the leash. It had spent its life chasing a felt rabbit round a track so when it killed it, the dog just sat there looking confused: "He’d spent his whole life trying to catch that thing and when he did, he didn’t know what to do." 'Contrapasso' is from Dante’s Inferno and refers to the punishment of souls with a penalty that fits the crime. Which begs the question - who is being punished in this episode and what did they do to deserve whatever is visited on them?
Dolores is the obvious candidate, and Ford may well be visiting some kind of hell on her, or, as we find out in a early pivotal scene, Arnold who is "still there underneath all those updates". This chat raises a lot of questions: Has Arnold uploaded bits of his personality himself to Dolores or the Hosts? Is that why Ford has given Dolores a narrative of assault and suffering? Is Dolores based on someone from Ford’s life or has she got the personality of a real person?
His chilling revelation, as he tries to dig into Arnold's death, that she is definitely not someone he considers an old friend certainly suggests that she’s being punished, and that he doesn't know the whole truth about his old partner. As he leaves Dolores drops the bomb in the empty room saying out loud to nobody: "He doesn’t know - I didn’t tell him anything".
Back in the Park and Dolores has arrived at the outlaw town of Pariah with William and 'exposition' Logan who explains that the further you get from Sweetwater the more raw and dangerous the game gets. His family’s company is considering buying Westworld because it’s haemorrhage money, and William suggests that whoever designed the place "doesn’t think much of people". Given what we’ve seen of Ford, he’s not wrong.
Maeve is spending a lot of time on the operating table - tended to by the tech surgeon guys who witnessed her awakening underground last time. One of them, Felix, is trying to reanimate a bird - against the rules and with equipment 'borrowed' without permission. Naughty.
The Man in Black also does a spot of reanimation - killing Lawrence brutally and using his blood to save an ailing Teddy. The Hosts are more human these days it seems - much to the MiB’s chagrin: "I opened one of you up once and there was a million beautiful pieces inside, but now they’ve changed you into a sad little mess of flesh and bone just like us... humanity is cost effective, and so is your suffering."
Logan is enjoying his new adventure - and he gets to meet the desperado 'Eliso' who is none other than Lawrence - now with his throat intact and back on his own narrative loop. They set off on a mission to get some nitroglycerin for the Confederados (bad guys), with Dolores finally getting rid of the blue dress in favour of bandit wear. The resulting shoot-out sees William killing three Hosts and stopping Logan being choked ("YES! I knew you’d get into it," he delights).
Back underground and Elsie blackmails another tech, Dustin, into letting her get some time with the Woodcutter that brained itself. She discovers a 'laser-based satellite uplink' and tells Bernard: "Our friend was drawing a target, someone’s using a Host to smuggle data out of the park." Warning: This section also contains the most gratuitous cock shot of an hour of television that could not, for one second be accused of lacking nudity. Well, it is HBO...
This episode has a Pariah orgy to thank for most of the nakedness we see, but while it's obviously included to get the views HBO wants, it doesn't feel grotesque or out of the place. It's amid the writhing flesh that William and Logan finally face off - with the latter making it very clear that he does not think they are in the same class in a nasty row he will come to regret in short order. Dolores, in an odd discordant scene, has snuck off to see a fortuneteller (first inevitable tarot card - the maze) who suggests she is unravelling.
As the Confederados discover that Lawrence is cheating them, Dolores and William finally kiss, William leaves Logan to get beaten, and Dolores goes all badass to save William: "I imagined a world where I didn’t have to be the damsel," she says after calmly dispatching a gaggle of bad guys. The two leave Pariah on a train with Lawrence. Poor Logan has presumably learned a lesson about winning friends and influencing people.
And then we get to the moment that we’ve all been waiting for. The MiB has arrived at a bar with Teddy when he is joined by Ford. They clearly know each other well: "How am I doing Robert?" asks the Man in Black. "Any closer to finding what I’m looking for?"
Ford seems unsettled when the MiB talks about finding more about what Arnold has done. "I think there’s deeper meaning hiding under all that," he says. "That the person who created it wanted to express something true." Ford retorts: "If you’re looking for the moral of the story, it’s quite simple, just ask."
"I’d need a shovel," says MiB. "The man I’d be asking died nearly 35 years ago and nearly took this place with him. Almost but not quite, thanks to me. But maybe he left something behind."
MiB - like many of the viewers - wonders what he’d find if he opened up Ford, but as he moves his knife Teddy shifts with inhuman speed to stop him.
We finish back with Felix - who finally manages to breathe life into the bird. It flutters around and lands on the finger of Maeve, who is suddenly awake. Thandie Newton has spend most of this episode naked and on a metal table but she gets the killer last line. "Hello Felix - it’s time you and I have a chat."
Westworld airs on HBO on Sundays at 9pm in the US, and on Sky Atlantic on Tuesdays at 9pm in the UK. You can also catch up via Sky On demand or via NOWTV.
Westworld extra bits
The little boy that Ford spoke to in episode 2 reappeared in Contrapasso and had an interaction with the Man in Black. Although it was a short appearance, it will no doubt encourage the theorists who suspect this child is actually a Host.
William: "That’s how this place works right? They create a sense of urgency so they can strip us down to something raw, animalistic, primal... it’s a sick game and I don’t want to be a part of it."
Ford suggests that when his greyhound catches the cat it 'sits' but most greyhounds actually can’t sit...
Elsie blackmails Dustin by showing him a recording of him fucking an inanimate Host. Lovely.
Ford uses a key phrase to seemingly set Teddy back on his path with the MiB after their confrontation; "Mr Flood, we must look back and smile at perils past, must’t we?"