Westworld’s sixth episode, which shall henceforth be known as “The Episode That Was Good,” begins with Maeve inexplicably changing out of her amazing pajamas and getting dressed and going to work. Not the choice I would make, but you do you, Maeve.
Maeve is on a mission to figure out nothing less than the entire meaning of her life. Somebody gets shot to death behind her and she doesn’t give a fuck. The piano plays itself (imagine!) and Maeve DGAF. Clementine stumbles down the stairs with her hair in a braid like a common criminal, and Maeve DGAFFFFF. All Maeve GAF about is determining the nature of her reality. She spots a rough cowboy and yanks him from Clementine’s feeble grasp so that he will choke her into temporary robot death and send her back to the robot lab.
Maeve wakes up in the robot lab next to Felix, who is, as usual, having some kind of low-key anxiety attack. “Now then, where were we?” says Maeve. Then HBO cuts away dramatically; the beats of this show are becoming more predictable than Dolores’s daily can-related errands.
Bernard and Elsie are still staring at the satellite ... thing ... that was implanted in the head-smashing robot’s arm. They’re trying to figure out who’s using the robots for “industrial espionage” and why. Elsie clears Bernard because he is too darn cute to do espionage. Given the chance, would you squish Bernard’s cheeks? Because I would. Bernard explains that in order to access the info implanted in the whatever-the-fuck thing, he’s going to need to go ... downstairs!!!! Where the lighting is bad and the computers are desktops with actual keyboards, brb, puking. Bernard asks the decrepit computer to look for data anomalies, beep boop beep boop beep bop boop, and he’s like, “Whoa, there are five unregistered hosts, I better look very cutely at this computer for a while longer.”
Anthony Hopkins is doing some construction in one of the less-fancy towns, where children hold chickens in their arms to demonstrate that they are poor. He notices the maze carved into a table and looks displeased. Or perhaps pleased? Anthony Hopkins kind of always has the same face on. Back in his office, he distractedly moves the White Church around on a model of the town, then opens a sketchbook full of doodled pictures of Dolores’s face — and that goddamn maze. So maybe this is Arnold’s sketchbook? Or maybe this is another check in the “Anthony Hopkins designed the maze as a goof and is going to be sitting in the middle of it, sucking on a popsicle, naked, at the end of the show” column.
The Man in Black and James Marsden are riding around on horses and talking, a scene we’ve not yet seen on this show. I’m kidding, of course — every other scene on this show involves two men talking to each other on horses or across a bottle of whiskey or just before they are brutally fake-murdering each other. James Marsden spots the maze on the extremely casual scalp that the Man in Black is carting around everywhere, and MIB is like, “Yeah, what of it?” James Marsden reveals that the “natives” have a myth about the maze (Jesus Christ, of course they do, just like they have painted faces and a predisposition toward savagery, how thoughtful and non-racist): The maze is the “sum of a man’s life, the choices he makes, the things he hangs on to.” Except it’s actually a real thing, too — keep up. At the center is a “man who’s been killed countless times and always claws his way back to life,” who then “returned for the last time, vanquished all his oppressors, and built himself a house surrounded by a maze” so complicated and batshit that nobody could ever get to him. In other words, Roman Polanski is at the center of the maze.
Back at Naked Robot HQ, Felix is explaining Maeve’s entire life to her. He tells her that every decision she makes, everything she says, every personality trait she possesses, and every fab pajama bottom she owns is a result of programming. Maeve is having a hard time believing him, asking him how he knows he’s human (“I was born; you were made,” he says, which is coincidentally the title of my new dis track), insisting that they feel and seem the same, and maintaining that she bought her pajamas on Etsy. To prove he’s telling the truth, Felix hands her a tablet that displays the very words she’s speaking as she speaks them. As anyone would, Maeve loses her shit and enters a fugue state.
Career Woman Theresa is staring melancholically off into the distance. Bernard, resplendent in his cute tie and cute vest, shows up, and Theresa is like, “Ford knows about our sexual relations, we must cut this off, I am a Career Woman and I cannot have my Career compromised in this fashion. Incidentally, I must die alone, too, it’s just a thing I have to do for my Brand.” To add insult to sex injury, Theresa tells Bernard she thinks Ford’s losing it, and when Bernard starts to explain that he’s not the problem — that, in fact, there’s a deranged lunatic running around the park doing espionage — Theresa cuts him off. “Park security is MY job,” she says, crushing a family of ladybugs on a picnic with her heel. She dismisses him, then weeps into her copy of The Second Sex, then burns it.
Maeve is still malfunctioning. Felix somehow manages to bring her back to normal, even though he is “JUST A BUTCHER, YOU’LL ALWAYS BE A BUTCHER,” and she convinces him to take her upstairs, where the sausage is made, as it were. This scene is the first in this show that actually brought me to tears, in part because violin covers of Radiohead songs are pure sob-bait and also because, dude, imagine if you woke up on a slab and there was a stranger operating on you, and then he was like, “BTW, you’re an android, and all of your friends are androids, and your life is fake, and you’re just a tourist attraction, and we control everything you think and say. Oh, and your dreams are actually past tourist attractions. And yeah, shit, these buffalo are fake, too.”
As Maeve and Felix continue down their Radiohead-scored path of existential despair, Sylvester (a man whose real name is, incredibly, Ptolemy Slocum) interrupts them and starts giving Felix shit for not staying in his butcher lane. Sylvester threatens to turn Felix in, but Maeve puts a knife to his throat and is like, “Don’t even think about it. I will ptolemy you right in your slocum.”
Theresa is doing Career things with a Japanese man via a fancier, futuristic version of Skype. She understands the urgency and will do whatever she can! She lights a cigarette, spins around in her deep red chair (I am not even making this up), then stands up and surveys the map of the virtual world she controls. Has it all been worth it? she asks herself, remembering the life she left behind — a simpler life, with patios and birthday cakes and pudgy children drinking sunscreen. She puts out her cigarette on her own arm. She doesn’t flinch.
Lee Sizemore is having a White Boy Crisis by the pool, drinking margaritas and feeling bad for himself because he has thin arms. Theresa confronts him about being on fake-sick leave, and Lee says he’s sad because Anthony Hopkins turned down his story line and he is an artISTE. Theresa tells him to get it together because the board is going to replace Anthony Hopkins. No! Anthony Hopkins is one of four good things on this show (the other is Dolores, the other is Maeve, and the other is the fake buffalo; you just don’t see enough buffalo on television these days, fake or otherwise).
Back to horsing and talking. The Man in Black and James Marsden can’t figure out how to get to Wyatt, because every path is waylaid with demonic psychopaths. They decide to pull a classic sitcom caper: murder two innocent soldiers, then steal their clothes. Now safely ensconced in some soldier-ass camp, the two have a nice chat about how James Marsden needs to make peace with his past so that he can move forward. Really. Makes. You. Think. Then James Marsden is recognized — “Were you in The D Train with Jack Black?” asks one of the soldiers — and promptly murders everyone in sight.
Lee is still drunk at the pool, hitting on Tessa Thompson, who is amazing in everything and is wearing a great bathing suit, perhaps from Victoria’s Secret before it stopped selling bathing suits (why, though?!). Lee’s like, “What’s your favorite narrative in the park, the one where the skinny white man won’t stop talking to you, or the one where you slowly, firmly drown him in the pool?” Then Lee is cut off by Theresa from afar (classic Career Bitch move) and Tessa Thompson waltzes away, somehow having chosen neither of these narratives.
Elsie and Bernard are plotting to uncover the corporate espionage to please their corporate overlords. Elsie says “corporate” twice, not me. Elsie thinks she’ll get a promotion for all of this, but actually, she is probably gonna die — sorry, Elsie. Happiness was never in the cards for you, my live-action, adult Daria. Bernard decides to check on the five unregistered hosts by himself, because nothing bad ever happens when you go wandering around a malfunctioning robotfuckmurderpark alone.
Bernard takes the elevator up to the Unregistered Host part of the park, where he stumbles upon an old-timey family doing old-timey things like setting tables and reading. The father figure gets angry and comes at Bernard, who can’t seem to freeze him with voice commands. Fortunately Anthony Hopkins appears and saves the day, just like in Silence of the Lambs. It turns out the robots only respond to Anthony Hopkins’s voice because they’re Anthony Hopkins’s family, i.e., Anthony Hopkins has created robot versions of his dead relatives and of himself, which, hmm, Anthony, you good, my bro? He asks Bernard to leave it all be, and Bernard is like, “... yup, definitely, see ya later!”
Lee Sizemore is peeing all over the virtual map because #symbolism. He is drunk. This is all so interesting ...
... so, anyway, it turns out that Tessa Thompson is actually the head of the board, and not just a savvy Victoria’s Secret shopper.
Bernard is doing some more detective work back at HQ. “List the names alphabetically of all first-generation hosts still in rotation,” he tells his little tablet. That’s it. That’s the scene.
Wait, no, actually, this is the part where James Marsden kills everyone. Yes, so, rather than die with his hands behind his back like some goddamn vagina woman, James Marsden cuts himself loose, gets up on a platform, and uses a machine gun to casually murder the fuck out of everyone. Now he can get on his merry way to Wyatt, who has Dolores, except none of that is true.
Elsie is playing Harriet the Spy, traveling to an abandoned theater in the park where the satellite signal is transmitting into robots’ heads or something, I don’t know, I’m not a sardonic-yet-miserable genius. The theater contains a decapitated doll’s head, in case you were wondering whether it was a menacing abandoned theater. Elsie’s searching for the signal relay, which is buried under a dusty floorboard. She commences beep-boopin’.
Meanwhile, Anthony Hopkins is about to play catch with his younger self, until he discovers that his dog has just been violently killed. Seems like everything’s fine on both counts! Nothing to see here.
Meanwhile meanwhile, Bernard is paying a visit to Theresa in her chambers, which was Expressly Forbidden By Theresa Just Yesterday, Bernard. Bernard is like, “No, I’m not here to fuck, I’m here to reveal some espionage about Anthony Hopkins and his old partner, Arnold.” Theresa, who loves nothing more than uncovering espionage, except maybe smoking cigarettes in total silence, is like, “OK, that I can get onboard with, baby!!!!” But before he can reveal it, he gets a call from Elsie.
Elsie tells Bernard that she’s “hit pay dirt,” which is not really the correct usage of the phrase, considering nobody’s gonna pay her for this, but we’ll let it slide, because she did hit actual dirt. As it turns out, Theresa (!!!!!!) has been the one messing with the robots’ heads. (Maybe. Let’s not get too excited. This show does not like to actually advance the plot this easily. It’s probably Theresa’s cigarette, reanimated and sentient.) But that’s not the biggest problem. What’s the biggest problem? I don’t know, because Bernard hangs up on Elsie.
Felix, Sylvester, and Maeve are still chatting calmly about the nature of consciousness and reality and the general science of android intelligence. Maeve demands that Felix and Sylvester make changes to her robot brain, including maxing out her intelligence and minimizing her pain and loyalty. They agree after Maeve blackmails them with tales of sleeping-robot-fucking. I still really don’t get why it’s worse to fuck a sleeping robot than it is to fuck a wide-awake robot who is not capable of consent because it doesn’t have control over its own mind. But I’m old-fashioned that way.
Bernard is back on the phone with Elsie, which is surprising. Thanks, HBO! Elsie says Theresa has been messing with the robots’ bicameral systems for weeks, re-tasking hosts with old receivers, making them change loops, and giving them the ability to lie to and hurt humans. And guess who was issuing the orders to Theresa? Arnold! Except he’s dead. Or is he? What is death? Pretty sure this show killed me last week, and I’m still here, writing this, so.
Anthony Hopkins is interviewing his younger self about the death of his fake dog, as one does. Young Anthony Hopkins is lying to Old Anthony Hopkins about how the dog died. OAH puts YAH into analysis mode, and YAH explains that a voice told him to kill the dog to “put it out of its misery.” Guess whose voice it was? Arnold! Turns out Arnold is a euthanizing motherfucker. Anthony Hopkins is perturbed. Or maybe not. Again, hard to say.
Elsie is jamming data into her spy tablet. “What the fuck?!” she says aloud to nobody. “Holy shit.” We’ll never know why Elsie said these terrible, terrible things, because she is attacked and probably murdered by a masked assailant. We will find out who this masked assailant was in 10 years. Have fun until then.
Still in the lab, Sylvester and Felix discover that somebody (Theresa? Anthony Hopkins? Arnold? Roman Polanski?) has already made changes to Maeve’s brain, upping her paranoia and self-preservation, perhaps in hopes that she would discover that she was a robot and lose her mind and ultimately destroy the park. Maeve, classically, DGAFFFFFFFFFF. She’s like, “Bulk up that epiception, mothafuckaaaaaaas!!!!"”
And bulk it up they do. The camera makes sure to pan directly to her butt as she gets smarter and smarter and smarter, as if to say, “Yes, smart, but that ass tho.”