Let’s get the obvious out-of-the-way first, and I will probably say this at least ten more times before the end of this review; Thandie Newton is brilliant. The Adversary sees Newton give an astonishing performance, at times both emotional and downright scary and is the highlight in an episode full of them. In fact, The Adversary is the best episode of Westworld to date.
Allowing herself to get killed via sex with one of her customers, Maeve uses her “death” as a way to constantly communicate with Felix, one of the technicians who repair the hosts, who has told her everything . The best part of this entire stand of the episode is the moment when he takes her through the upper floors of the park itself, allowing her to see the inner workings of Westworld and the means of her creation, a scene fantastically performed by Newton and Leonard Nam, all backed up by Ramin Djawadi’s beautiful orchestral version of Radiohead’s Motion Picture Soundtrack.
In fact the entire score by Djawadi, as it has been every week, is sensational here, becoming a constant presence throughout the episode, a moody, ambient character in itself. At times it almost reminds me of how Hans Zimmer scored The Dark Knight Trilogy, in particular 2008’s The Dark Knight, where the movie was frequently set to an atmospheric, ambient score. Of course, that movie was co-written by Jonathan Nolan.
After week’s of comparing Westworld to Lost, allow me to now compare it to the works of its co-creator. Not that Westworld is anyway like The Dark Knight, or the two movies around it in terms of narrative, but, like the famed, brilliant Batman Begins sequel, or Interstellar, or Inception (which the younger Nolan brother is not credited on), one can’t help but get the feeling that Westworld is structured similarly to other works of both Nolan brothers.
Of course Christopher Nolan is not involved in Westworld, but both he and his brother have collaborated on many of their projects together and the one thing that is noticeable is how the first half of their movies, in particular The Dark Knight and Interstellar, are used to establish character, plot and world building before escalating tension and set pieces in the second half. It’s a form of story telling that works brilliantly, and it appears that Nolan and Joy are telling their story on Westworld, at least the arc they are telling for its first season, in a similar way.
Now that we’re into the second half, incident is piling up and the story appears to be legitimately heating up; Meave has used Felix and his colleague Sylvester to gain heightened intelligence and is more resistant to pain, Theresa is possibly a traitor, Elsie finds herself in danger when investigating the saboteur, Bernard finds out that Robert has a secret which leads to the audience learning the identity of the small boy who has constantly popped up throughout the show, whilst the Man in Black and Teddy find themselves in the middle of the show’s best action sequence to date in their attempt to get to the Maze.
The teleplay from Nolan and Halley Gross is tightly constructed, and makes great use of its plot and that white-collar dialogue that Nolan does so well. I can see why some may hate it, but it’s always interestingly written and touches on the themes of the show in a very entertaining way, whilst its delivery of plot revelations, particularly Bernard’s discovery of Robert’s secret and the subsequent direction that story goes, in particular with the young boy who has popped up frequently throughout, is fantastically handled and enthralling. The direction by Frederick E.O. Toye matches the cinematic slickness of previous instalments, and his handling of action and character drama is superb.
Whether or not the show can sustain this for the next four episodes remains to be seen, but as it stands this is the best episode of the series so far and left me livid that I have to wait until next week to see what happens next.