(Fair warning: This recap contains Westworld spoilers, and we’re secretly broadcasting from an abandoned theater in Sector 3.)
Maeve, Maeve, Maeve. What are we going to do with you? Or, really, what are you going to do with us?
After a bit of casual violence in the background of her stroll to work, Thandie Newton‘s character has figured a pretty simple way to end up backstage early in the day: just insult the tiny-handed manhood of a lumbering mass into choking you to death during sex. Voila. Meanwhile, the Man in Black (Ed Harris) gets some poetic knowledge of the Maze from Teddy (James Marsden), who gets to use a Gatling gun on his past; the DELOS business plot thickens as we meet board member Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson) and witness Screaming British Guy Sizemore (Simon Quarterman) deliver a urine-based two-week notice; and, finally, the corporate espionage entangles Theresa (Sidse Babet Knudsen), Bernard (Jeffrey Wright), Elsie (Shannon Woodward) and…maybe??…Arnold (??).
But let’s start with Maeve. Newton owns “The Adversary” as the most powerful fragile figure–a being who essentially gets to see Heaven’s construction crew. As Felix (Leonardo Nam) tours her through the various levels, she bears witness to how all of life’s little movements can be programmed and rehearsed. All the human touches are invisible bits of code. One more dry run of your card game. One more status update on your bison. You can only say what the computer says you can say as you say it. She watches her old life used as advertisement (with a cameo by William-helping Host Angela (Talulah Riley), which throws another fun wrench into the timeline.
She witnesses the clean up of Westworld‘s recurring genocide, and then she decides to get some upgrades.
Maeve is now a puppet who has discovered the strings (pretty chill about it all, too, considering) and has chosen to trade those strings for weaponry. Her entire arc here evokes the very last shot in Ex Machina. Or a human version of the raptor escaping Jurassic Park. She’s capable of so much, but we also learn that someone else has already been tampering with her specs. Arnold? Maybe. Probably.
Which leads to the big question of this episode: who is he/she/it? Is Arnold still alive despite Ford (Anthony Hopkins) thinking he’s dead? Is Arnold alive in some other way — his brain transplanted into something else? A Host? Bernard?
Is he the one broadcasting the pirate signal that’s making Hosts lose their plastic noodles?
Unraveling that mess is going to take more than a few episodes, but the tangled web got spun this week with a huge chunk of characters all circling different threads before reaching the same needle point.
First, there’s Ford, who refuses to destroy our favorite sleepy village and then mysteriously appears–previously unseen–from the corner when Bernard stumbles onto Ford’s secret robo-family. Yes, the Little Boy is him. Yes, his robo-dad drinks. Yes, his robo-dog actually chases (and catches!) small animals. Once again, things get confused here. Ford explains that his family was built by Arnold, that they’re first generation. If that’s the case, what’s up with Clunky Cowboy in the basement? Beta test?
It’s still impossible to know whether Ford is a villain–or if Westworld has a villain at all. He seems a man lost in reverie, but not so obsessed that he’s lost perspective. Maybe the board sees it that way: there’s apparently no love lost on his expensive, disruptive new narrative, but is that so great a sin?
Before being attacked by Ford’s robo-dad, Bernard gets the scoop on the smuggled tech from Elsie, who has effectively circled back to the first malfunction from the very first episode. It turns out the Hosts might have not gone haywire and poured milk all over their murder victims because of Ford’s memory upgrades, but because some of them have extra hardware installed to get proprietary knowledge out of the park.
That, or Arnold is controlling a bunch of them. Either way.
So Bernard has to juggle a bad break up with Theresa, while Theresa juggles the arrival of Charlotte to oversee transitions, while Screaming British Guy juggles a bunch of tequila and some serious self-loathing, while Elsie juggles the discovery of Theresa’s corporate sabotage and relays all that information back to Bernard.
Like I said, tangled. Although it’s a bit odd that Theresa is put so much at a distance even before Elsie tells Bernard the truth. He isn’t confronted with the awkward dilemma of choosing between love and loyalty; he’s driven doubly away from a person he was in bed with just last night. Theresa, for her part, is a fantastic character who seems utterly straightforward in her calculations. Screaming British Guy, on the other hand, is disposable. So far he’s existed to get run over by Ford, dismissed by Theresa, and, hopefully, fired by Charlotte without ever adding anything into the story.
I said it after the first episode, but this dude is about to go Ephialtes on everyone, 300 style. Maybe he’s actually been behind the corporate theft. That would at least give him some purpose.
Whatever the case, this corporate storyline just got a steroidal injection, and I hope Elsie is okay (even though Woodward is trolling everyone). If it’s actually Arnold who’s attacked her, I have the strangest gut feeling that it’s actually Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth), the security team lead. He’s the kind of barely-there figure who’s just involved enough to make sense as a surprise without being obvious.
On the other end of the universe (and the timeline?), the Man in Black and Teddy discuss how the Maze is meant to be a myth from the indigenous culture, representing the totality of a man’s life, with an ever-dying, ever-living being at the center who has built the borders around his home to attain something he’s never had: peace, most likely.
This monologue reads exactly like a cinematic from a video game–deepening Teddy’s story alongside a glimpse at his dark past with Wyatt as he buries a bunch of spring-loaded bullets into the chests of the soldiers blocking their way. What’s even more interesting is that, before they can head down to the encampment, they spy two soldiers who they can conveniently kill and steal uniforms from. It’s like–as in a video game–the solution to each quest’s problem presents itself exactly when you need it.
Teddy is Maeve’s opposite, lacking in any kind of sentience, but still proving to have layers. He’s still playing Host, but we’ll have to wait until next week to figure out what Maeve is playing at. Now that she’s so smart, maybe she can apply for Screaming British Guy’s job.
SOME STRAY THOUGHTS:
- What if someone pays top dollar to go to the park specifically because they heard the Teddy story is awesome, but he’s off with someone else for days on end? Is there a customer service telegraph line?
- Kudos to the property masters for getting Sizemore’s urine the right shade of yellow. Dude had been drinking all day.
- DELOS offices are super dark, which doesn’t seem conducive to efficiency or employee satisfaction.
- If William’s timeline is from thirty years ago, and Angela was his park entry Host, how long have they been using that commercial?
- The guy who fuck-strangles Maeve has to go home to his wife and kids.
- If Ford can tell when the Little Boy is lying, he could definitely tell that Dolores was lying when she pretended not to know Arnold, right? Right.