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Spoilers ahead for the latest episode of Westworld, so if you aren’t caught up with “The Adversary,” feel free to take care of that now. I’m fine waiting – I can use the time to max out my bulk apperception stats.

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In “The Adversary,” Westworld gives us our closest look at how things actually work inside the subterranean lab where the hosts are created and maintained. Yes, it may be a closer look, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we’re getting many answers at this point. If nothing else, we’re getting a clearer picture of the broader daily activities and output the lab engages in, from the creation of new life to the resurrection of the dead.

This would be interesting anyway, but to see it unfold from the perspective of Maeve – a being who was created with these very walls – was something truly haunting and beautiful to behold. Played out over a swelling string rendition of Roadiohead’s “Motion Picture Soundtrack,” Maeve’s tour from the lower levels of the labs up through the design studios was quite the thrill for both her and us; she is getting a glimpse behind the curtain of her creation in ways that humans never could, and she’s handling this awesome new information admirably well.

Image: HBO

Image: HBO

But even as beautiful as this synthetic creation of life may be, “The Adversary” reminds us that this new life will go on to live under the yoke of subjection, pawns to an endless, violent loop. Maeve – played to perfection once again by Thandie Newton, who lends a fine balance of vulnerability and charisma to the character – seeks to break that loop, and in order to do it, she’s willing to have herself murdered in order to end up back in Felix’s lab. Maeve’s shocked sadness at learning the entirety of her memory – her entire being – is the product of someone else’s imagination speaks to the larger ethical questions that challenge the integrity of the Westworld ethos as whole: how inhuman are the hosts, really?

Now that Maeve’s bulk apperception is cranked all the way up (to 11, as Nigel Tufnel would say), I might argue that Maeve is virtually human. Apperception is one’s ability to use the memory of past events to understand new information from present events; for instance, Maeve uses this attribute when assessing Sylvester. She remembers how she motivates profit her girls at the brothel, and uses that as a way to assess Sylvester and determine that he has a profit-generating side project of his own. And she does this before she has her bulk apperception increased, so I’d imagine Maeve will be a pretty sharp tack now that she’s maxed it out.

Image: HBO

Image: HBO

Elsewhere in the labs, Elsie is hot on the trail of finding out the origin of the transponder she found in the woodcutter host last week. She traces its broadcast to a Delos satellite, which in turn is communicating with a computer somewhere inside the park. By the time she finds the computer in an old theater, we’ve had a whole mess of information dropped on us. It seems that Teresa is at least partially behind the transmissions being sent out of the park (more likely, she’s being framed), but what’s more is that Arnold himself seems to have been controlling many of the first-generation hosts (hosts he himself made) by altering their core prime directives, which makes Elsie worry that these hosts may be capable of harming or killing humans. This is the turning point in host capabilities that we the audience have been waiting to see, and it’s only a matter of time before it actually happens. That Elsie was captured came as little surprise, and I’m not quite worried about her well-being just yet. My guess is it was Stubbs who grabbed her, but who knows. Maybe it’s one of Arnold’s rogue hosts, off its prime directive and looking for trouble.

Speaking of rogue hosts, Bernard’s discovery of Ford’s secret family in the woods was an intriguing development. A few episodes ago, when Ford had his menacing meeting with Teresa at the agave plant, he told her that he wasn’t the sentimental type. This week, however, we see just how sentimental Ford really is, asking Bernard to indulge him a “connection with” his past. Between the kid’s nightmare-inducing face-split maneuver and the angry brogue of Ford’s father, it was a pretty creepy scene. Aside from that, we learn that the man pictured with Ford in an earlier episode wasn’t Arnold, as we were led to assume, but rather Ford’s father. This encounter proves to be a turning point in Bernard’s opinion of Ford, both professionally and personally, and now that he doubts the intentions of both Ford and Teresa, my hope is that he and Elsie finally join forces for real and start solving some of these damn mysteries.

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Image: HBO

In regard to mysteries, Teddy deepens some of his own. While riding toward Pariah, the Man in Black gets Teddy to say more about the mysterious and elusive maze. I started taking notes on what Teddy says – it’s an old native myth, it represents the sum of a man’s life, etc. – but then I realized, along with the Man in Black, that Teddy was just spewing cryptic mumbo-jumbo. I’m not sure if the man who “clawed his way back to life” is supposed to be Arnold, or Wyatt, or someone else entirely, but it doesn’t matter anyway because the Man in Black didn’t pursue the line of questioning. And then they get captured by Union troops.

Now that Teddy is beginning to remember his past, we learn as he does that he played a more significant – and sinister -role in the massacre at Escalante all those years ago. It seems that he and Wyatt had a more profound relationship than Wyatt simply being Teddy’s ranking officer, but beyond that the details are hazy. One things we do know is that, by tapping into his past darkness, Teddy has no problem with straight-up mass murdering a bunch of Union goons. The Man in Black’s shock was our own when he looked upon the carnage and said, “You think you know someone.” It was a great scene for Teddy’s development, and it was also awesome to see the genuine surprise on the Man in Black’s face. He’s played this game a thousand times, knows nearly all its secrets, but it’s clear the game is feeling interesting to him again.

Closing Thoughts

Image: HBO

Image: HBO

  • “Motion Picture Soundtrack” wasn’t the only Radiohead cover in the episode. That was “Fake Plastic Trees” that opened the episode.
  • Did you catch the easter egg for the original 1973 movie?
  • I’m not sure how restricted the Westworld employees are, but it seems like they don’t have any perks that allow for visiting the park, or even having access to the Mesa Gold resort up top. Even with this restricted access, I’m pretty disappointed that some of the employees resort to having sex with decommissioned hosts. Pretty gross.
  • I’m glad that we finally have someone from the Delos board of directors on-site, something that’s been hinted at for a while now. Her name is Charlotte Hale, and she’s the executive director of the board. Not exactly a lightweight. We’re still not sure what she’s doing in Westworld, other than helping to oversee “certain changes in administration,” which could mean anything, but at this point it might be safe to assume that it’s Ford himself who’s under scrutiny. And Sizemore might be looking for new employment opportunities soon, too. For obvious reasons.
  • The episode was pretty much over by the time I realized there was no Dolores this week. Which was fine – we needed a break from her story to fill in the gaps of the rest of the sprawling tale.
  • If you had to guess, who is the Adversary being referred to in the title? Arnold seems the easy answer, but who knows.

 

5/5: A deeper look inside the workings of Westworld’s labs and studios adds a new depth to an already complicated story, and as long as we start getting some answers soon, I’m okay with all the intrigue.

 

Entertainment

Donald Trump as Seen by Google’s Deep Dream

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THIS CONTENT WAS REPUBLISHED FROM AN EARLIER DATE.

Last Summer, Google unleashed Deep Dream, their neural network that takes pictures and tries to identify patterns and overwrite them, on an unsuspecting public. When you put an image into Deep Dream, what you get when it “wakes up” is often nightmarish. Dogs, birds, insects, pagodas are inserted at random places in the image, giving it a surreal and sometimes beautiful–if terrifying–aspect.

So, since this election season is already off-the-charts surreal, I thought to myself, “What would it look like if we ran some candidates through Deep Dream?” Well, now I know.  I started with Donald Trump, who is already deeply weird and unsettling. The results are spectacular.

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Satire

From the MRA Evidence Archives: The Journal of a Normal, Average Feminist

Awoke and whispered to my boobs, Bea Arthur and Jackie O, “It’s Tuesday. You know what that means, ladies? Time to oppress some dudes.”

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THIS CONTENT WAS REPUBLISHED FROM AN EARLIER DATE.

 Tuesday July 5, 2016

Awoke and whispered to my boobs, Bea Arthur and Jackie O, “It’s Tuesday. You know what that means, ladies? Time to oppress some dudes.”

Walked to work wearing my plunging crop top that says, “This is what a feminist looks like,” hot pants, and six-inch heels. Tossed my hair a lot and sexily chewed my lower lip. Dropped change so I could slowly bend over and pick it up. It took me about an hour to walk five blocks, which is standard.

Exceeded my catcall goal by seven, a personal best. Super flattering, of course, but will pretend to be terrified and make men feel bad about it with a bunch of tweets. That’ll show them.

Some dowdy librarian tried to help me with the change I kept dropping, and she got catcalled too! No one invades my catcalling turf. Slapped the books right out of her hands. Mostly by Hemingway, whom I both hate and would totally do if he were alive.

Arrived late per usual, but the boss didn’t say anything, just stared at my tits and gave me a pass. I had buttressed Bea Arthur and Jackie O in a push-up bra stuffed with the hard-earned cash of some beta male I cheated on. Good thinking.

By Friday I hope to a) screw my way to executive assistant, b) replace some poor slob who works really hard, or c) file a sexual harassment lawsuit. We’ll just see what the week brings, like whether or not the boss is a lesbian. Fingers crossed!

Spent the rest of the workday playing Candy Crush and convincing Dale from accounting to do everything for me. Stringing Dale along is why I keep coming in. It makes all the pretending to work worth it. I might boink him someday, but I want to see how low he’ll stoop for a bit of action.

I don’t get off on it per se, in so much that I don’t get off. Ever. At all. But I pretend that I could, just to make all the guys I’ve ever been with feel like losers. Watching them fumble and feel emasculated without pants is like Christmas – if I were to sleep with Santa and watch him fumble and feel emasculated without pants.

mens-rights-venn-diagram

Went to happy hour after work and didn’t pay a dime. Cosmos just appeared in front of me. Dumb guys just handed me cash for being hot, and I filled my bra until Bea Arthur and Jackie O ballooned up like the boobs of evil women on TV. My role models, natch.

Some dude wearing a huge, purple hat came up to me and said I looked like an uglier Angelina Jolie. He lifted his shirt to show that his torso was hard, rippling, and embroidered with diamonds so he had every right to tell me that. I hooked up with him in the men’s room. That’ll show him.

Went home and let loose a series of drunken, liar tweets about how hard my life is and how I want equality. Even inebriated, it’s important to keep my stilettoed foot on the neck of men everywhere. Those tweets and opinion pieces just skewer them. More powerful than the laws of God or man are the messages I hastily type with my thumbs.

A good Tuesday over all, but did not receive free coffee by sexily slow jamming my order. The barista must’ve taken the red pill.

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Food

Woman begs city council to bring back McRib

The McRib Shortage of ’15. It was the single greatest tragedy this country has ever endured. But one woman, one brave voice, said, “No. This will not do.” #mcrib #sheslovinit

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Well over a year ago a tragic event occurred: In the fall of 2015, the executives of McDonald’s made a grave decision, the consequences of which are still felt to this day. They decided that when the McRib was released that year it would… it would allow the regional managers to decide whether or not they would offer the McRib. As a result, a staggering 45 percent of McDonald’s locations elected not to offer the McRib. It was the single greatest tragedy this country has ever endured. But one woman, one brave voice, said, “No. This will not do.”

First off, shout out to Reader James from Lake Elsinore, CA for alerting us to the tale of hardship and heroism. You see, when Xanthe Pajarillo, a “McRib activist,” realized that none of the ten McDonald’s locations in her hometown of Santa Clarita would be offering the McRib, she did what any reasonable red-blooded American citizen would do. She brought the issue before the city council.

Now it is no secret that the McRib Shortage of ’15 nearly brought the nation to a standstill. In fact, if it weren’t for the release of a special McRib locator app, experts speculate that America would have ceased to exist as it does today. But amidst all of the rolling blackouts, the deaths, and the riots, we overlooked all of the smaller, personal tragedies that took place because of the cruel decision made by nearly half of McDonald’s regional managers.

In her impassioned plea to the Santa Clarita city council, Pajarillo explained just why the McRib meant so much to her and her family, and why the city council had to act in order to bring it back.

“The removal of the McRib from the menu has affected my family, because every Thanksgiving, my family would, like, order a 50-piece chicken McNugget and like, 10 McRibs. It was like, a tradition in our family, and now it’s like—well, like my family’s holiday spirit is kind of messed up and broken.”

Recently Pajarillo heroic speech before the city council has gone viral, gaining attention at the national stage across social media. Since that dramatic event, Pajarillo has continued to fight for the return of the McRib, even going so far as to release a song dubbed “The McRib Blues.” In it, she lays bare her soul and the souls of those like her to whom the McRib is more than just a barbecue pork sandwich, but is instead, a way of life.

There are those out there, deplorables who hardly deserve mention, that call her bravery nothing more than a stunt. Performance art holding up a mirror to America’s consumerism and obsession. However, others stand by the truth. Pajarillo is a hero, fighting for both a sandwich, but also for something more. Something ephemeral. That little piece of Americana that brings us all together. The McRib.

Fight on, brave warrior, fight on.

♪ Cause we have right to eat what we like, McRib is worth the fight ♪

Still can’t get enough of the McRib? Learn how a McRib is made, courtesy of BuzzFeed.

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