Monday, October 10, 2016

Westworld 1x02 Chestnut

By s. Monday, October 10, 2016
Welcome to the nightmare.

This week we were made privy to another secret of Westworld - turns out Bernard is having private chats with Dolores. His voice also wakes her up and guides her and in the last scenes of the episode we see Dolores find a gun - a gun that is most likely capable of shooting guests.
We also see Dolores wander the streets and suddenly have a vision of people in the town lying on the ground, dead. She is approached by Maeve who asks her to walk away from the brothel so that she doesn't give an impression she is the accurate representation of the "goods" inside. Dolores turns around and says "these violent delights have violent ends" to Maeve and leaves her confused in the street.

Later on Maeve is giving a guest her speech about coming to the new world and she suddenly freezes having experienced a strange vision. Maeve is then being looked on by technicians and send back. But the problem persists and Maeve visions starts growing more vivid. She also has a pain in her stomach. Finally she has a full blown vision of being about to be scalped when the native is shot by someone on the horse. She runs through the field and grabs little girl's hand. They go inside the house and Maeve grabs the shotgun as the native lurks outside. But when the door opens it is not him who goes in but the Man in Black. He kills Maeve and...
she wakes up. Only she wakes up just as the technicians are working on her. She grabs a scalpel and threatens them. She manages to get out and walks the corridors. She sees other hosts, naked, being picked up and thrown by people on a pile of hosts. She cannot comprehend what is happening. The two technicians subdue her and carry "the thing" before someone sees it. As they move away we see Teddy, motionless, in one of the glass cells.

This episode we also got to meet two new guests - William and Logan. We got to see how people enter the park - they arrive via train and then they are accompanied by the host. They choose guns and hats. And then they go in. William (Jimmi Simpson) and Logan (Ben Barnes) are interesting new characters - William is sweet, he refuses Clementine in the brothel saying he has someone 'real' waiting for him, but then in the end of the episode Dolores catches his eye. Logan on the other hand has been in the park before and he is ruthless and we also see him banging a bunch of chicks fulfilling HBO boobs quota.
There is a scene where a host who looks like an old man wants to thank William for being kind to him before. As Logan put it previously "they shouldn't get dragged into some bullshit treasure hunt". Once the host starts talking about it Logan stabs him in the hand, leaving him crying and screaming to William's (and mine) horror.

Meanwhile, Man in Black continues his quest. He interrupts a hanging of a man, Lawrence, and abducts him. He takes the man to his village and threatens his family - wife and daughter - because he wants to know the location of the maze, pictured on the scalp of a host he killed in the last episode. Lawrence's cousins arrive and in a kickass sequence MiB takes them all out in a spectacular manner. He then grabs Lawrence wife and begins dancing with her, remarking how 'when you're suffering that's when you're most real' and then...he shoots her in the head. He then readies himself to kill the little girl but suddenly she tells him that the maze is "not for you". After he tells her he will take his chances, the little girl gives him the directions.
There was so much in this scene - when MiB was about to kill these guys we saw a glimpse of control room with one of the guys asking if they should slow him down to which Hemsworth number 3 responded "this gentleman gets whatever he wants" further reassuring as that MiB is indeed a guest. A VIP guest. Another thing is that child hosts exist - I was in awe how affecting this scene was yet how off it felt. What made it creepy was Ed Harris' awesome performance but the scene wasn't as sad as it should be - Lawrence and the little girl were not nearly as horrified as normal people would be. Of course they weren't. They are hosts. They just mimic. And unlike the mother they weren't threatened this directly. It's a perfect representation of MiB's words - how when you see the cracks, you appreciate how beautifully it is all done. Only up close, you can see the real terror. Another thing - someone on reddit pointed out MiB fired more bullets than he put in the gun. Are hosts programmed to 'die' as soon as the guest fires the gun at them?

Speaking of child hosts, Ford ventures inside the park and meets a boy. Ford and the boy have a conversation and the exchange in which Ford says his father always told him only boring people get bored led a lot of people, me included, into believing the little boy is a manifestation of Ford as he responded "so did mine".
Other events of control squad included Lee working on a new narrative and lashing out like a douchebag. When he finally presents his idea, Ford doesn't like it and says it's gratuitous and that is not why the guests come back - they come back because of nuances, the things they fall in love with. This also included the glorious shade of Ford telling Lee that the only thing the narrative tells him about is what kind of man Lee is.

We also found out Cullen is banging Bernard. More importantly we also saw Cullen smoke again. The fact they gave her a human vice she indulges in as well as the fact we saw her do that in each episode so far and that little moment from the premiere where she kinda freezes when Ford address her and unfreezes as he says "please" lines up with the thinking of a lot of people that she herself is a host. The smoking is just a decoy.
We also got to see a bit more of Elsie who was fixing Maeve. I like Elsie, she seems to have far more fondness for the hosts than most of other humans. When she is fixing Maeve the technician who was present in the room asked her if the hosts dream, since Maeve mentioned dreaming in her storyline. Elsie said that no, since it would be pointless. The hosts however have a concept of dreams, or to be precise nightmares. That was done so that when the humans mess up and forget to wipe the hosts' memories the host would just assume their memory of the real world is simply a nightmare.

In Ford's storyline we also saw him have another conversation with Bernard about their responsibilities as creators. In the end of the episode Ford informs Bernard he has an idea for new narrative and we see a buried church.
First thing that really surprised me about this episode was that it did not focus on Dolores. I thought that each episode will be following her closely, instead here we got Maeve-centric episode. I really like that the episodes seem to focus on different people - thanks to that we really get to know them and grow to care about them.

There are so many things to take away from this episode - 'these violent delights have violent ends' really seems to be an override command that causes the hosts to remember what happened to them. But what was the most interesting to me in this episode was the clue to the construction of hosts - Maeve's memory is triggered by her actual physical discomfort that resulted from skin infection she got when she was being patched up by the technicians. So the skin of the hosts is so advanced it can actually develop infections. I really hope they show us exactly how are the hosts made and repaired because their skin and blood seems to an actual organic material.
The series' portrayal of trauma is fantastic - the fact that this particular discomfort reminded Maeve of something so specific (in the promos we see her actually being stabbed by Man in Black where the wound happened, so we may be returning to this moment in the future or it may just be  a shot thrown in the promo that is unused in the actual series) to cause the particular memory shows that the writers really understand how the link between mental and physical anguish works.

The entire sequence with Maeve's memories triggering different memories (the brushing of the hair going to the scalping) and the smooth transition from the native to Man in Black going in (such a cool moment) was great. Ramin Djawadi's score also had a second standout moment here, the first one being fantastic track played during the MiB shootout earlier in the episode.
This episode really made me feel for the hosts - the scene with the old man, everything to do with Maeve and Teddy being unceremoniously shot for no reason was very upsetting. They look like humans, they feel like humans and now they remember like humans. Their pain and fear is real. Yes, the guests don't realize this but there is still something villainous and so wrong in killing someone standing in front of you, even if you are convinced they are no real, for no reason. What would make the series even more interesting is if they shown humans to be as likable as robots, but so far that's not happening for me. Ford and Bernard are sympathetic so far and Elsie is interesting, but they really need to crank up the sympathy for actual human beings here.

Big takeaway from the episode is also that there are hosts in the control room - we got to meet the one showing William around. And the biggest revelation there was that she knows she is a host - "me and other hosts are here for you". She might have been lying, who knows. Everything is so gloriously ambiguous in this series.
I leave you with this mind blowing theory. And the continuation of it. Personally? I buy two time frames thing but the thing is that Jimmi Simpson looks nothing like Ed Harris. Maybe we meet MiB in that time frame too but I don't think we did just yet. It's a solid theory, though.


Next episode - The StrayElsie and Stubbs head into the hills in pursuit of a missing host; Teddy gets a new backstory, setting him off in pursuit of a new villain; Bernard investigates the origins of madness and hallucinations within the hosts. 

And here's featurette including a shot that confirms that little boy that Ford saw is a host:

Previous recaps:
1x01 The Original


  1. Great recap as always Margaret! My co-worker (who loves GoT but have claimed repeatedly this show blows GoT out of the water) said how the second episode is even better than the first! I forgot Thandie Newton is in this, man the cast is incredible!

    1. Oh my God 2 eps in and it's already so much better than GoT. It's probably the most thought-provoking series since Six Feet Under when it comes to HBO also GoT writing is just embarrassing these guys so even the guy who unleashed Interstellar's script on us is better than them by so so much. I think this is Newton's best performance, at least from what I've seen with her

  2. This episode was awesome. Hearing the piano play Radiohead's "No Surprises" made me mark out while I was in awe of the performances of Thandie Newton, Ed Harris, and Anthony Hopkins. They were the MVPs of the episode as I'm so hooked and await to see what is next.

    1. Yeah No Surprises was cool! I wonder if we get a song on the piano cover like that in each episode

  3. Excellent recap! I guess my "MIB is a host that figured out his programming" theory just went to shit.

    Those reddit theories are something else.

    Prince Caspian is such a dick. I hated when he stabbed that guy in the hand :(

    1. I'd be SHOCKED if he turned out to be a host, a lot of people think that but that would mean the writers blatantly lying in interviews