Need to catch up? Check out last week’s Westworld recap here.
In theory, it is ridiculous to feel bad for a robot. And yet here we are, only two hours into Westworld‘s freshman run, and I’m ready to make like Harry Potter‘s Hermione Granger and start a Society for the Protection of Host Welfare.
Yes, the animatronic beings of the amusement park at the center of the HBO sci-fi drama are, at their core, merely things. No heartbeats, no souls. But the intricately detailed, glorified toasters don’t know that. So when one wakes up this week during a routine repair session — which sounds like no big deal but looks like major abdominal surgery — and runs in terror while holding her internal organs in place with one hand? Yeah, it makes me want to holler: Be better, incredibly attractive humans of the very expensive future!
Read on for the highlights of “Chestnut.”
NEW IN TOWN? | The Westworld-arrival experience is illustrated as we join two male coworkers, William and Logan, who are on a sleek and shiny monorail on their way to the park. William is a WW newbie, but Logan has been there before and is really preoccupied with getting his pal to loosen up in the Faux’d West. When the train pulls into the station, William is greeted by a woman in a tight, white dress and heels; questioned “to make sure we don’t give you anything more than you can handle,” she purrs; and reminded that “the only limit here is your imagination… How far you want to go is entirely up to you.”
William is clearly a little freaked out by the entire endeavor, and not even a trip through a giant closet where “everything is bespoke and exactly your size” can help him completely shake the odd feeling. When he finally spits out what he’s been thinking — is his comely concierge real? — her answer is designed to be comforting but makes me want to squirm: “Well, if you can’t tell, does it matter?”
I like William because he refuses his helper’s offer that he can sex her up if he wants, because he chooses a white cowboy hat (when he could’ve picked a black one) and because he seems to fundamentally dislike Logan, who not only picks a black hat but seems determined to yell at, shoot, screw and otherwise befoul every single host in Westworld’s central town of Sweetwater.
Later, when Logan’s bed at Maeve’s brothel is more packed than a rush-hour subway car, William merely uses his time with Clementine to talk to her. (His main reason: “I have somebody real waiting for me at home.”
MAEVE REMEMBERS | Throughout the episode, we get glimpses of a seemingly distracted Dolores, but the hour’s main narrative belongs to Maeve. The madam has several flashes of memory/dream (old code?) that indicate that in a previous storyline, she and her young daughter lived on the prairie and were killed/scalped/otherwise abused by a band of violent men. The memories are as ugly and painful to watch as they are gorgeously shot; and right before Maeve dies in her dream, she sees The Man in Black walk through the door with a giant knife.
Maeve’s aberrant behavior is noted by the behind-the-scenes team, who haul her in for a diagnostic and bump Clementine into the madam position. (Side note: I love the very subtle shifts in body language that both Thandie Newton and Angela Sarafyan make when this switch is taking place.) In Westworld central, some techs slice into Maeve and find some MRSA in her abdomen — anyone else catch that throwaway line about the flies and wonder if there maybe isn’t something more there? — and are gobsmacked when the madam wakes up, gets up and freaks out. She grabs a scalpel and backs out of the room, completely naked and disoriented and depending on one hand to keep her innards from spilling out onto the floor.
The techs eventually find her and robo-sedate her, but not before she’s treated to the visual of a room full of decommissioned hosts in various states of ruin. It’s horrific. Meanwhile, back in Westworld, Dolores wakes in the middle of the night, goes outside and digs up a gun in the yard.
AROUND TOWN | Elsewhere in the episode: The Man in Black does a whole lot of shooting — like, he takes down most of the people in another village — to learn that the maze he discovered on the casino dealer’s scalp “isn’t meant for you” and that he needs to “follow the blood arroyo to the place where the snake lays its eggs.” Also, it seems like his motivation is to never return to the real world… Dr. Ford makes repeated trips into Westworld and eventually reveals to Bernard that he’s working on a new storyline of his own… Bernard has been having secret conversations (with Dolores) and secret sexytimes (with his workplace nemesis, Theresa Cullen).
Now it’s your turn. What did you think of the episode? Sound off in the comments!