Westworld, S1 Ep2 – Chestnut

The second episode of Westworld continued to rise to new heights from the pilot, with a well-written story, brilliant performances, and breathtaking imagery. We explored more of the park from the point of view of the guests, learned a little bit more about the mysterious Dr. Ford, and focused on the life and memories of Maeve, one of the hosts. All the while, the menacing Man in Black continued his journey to find the deepest levels of the game.

The setup of this episode could have easily been that of the first one, with a first-time guest arriving in Westworld and having his initial impressions of the park. But the pilot was still an effective introduction to the world of the show because it focused on the endless loop of the hosts’ days. The second episode may well have been the second part of a very long introduction to Westworld.

Westworld, S1 Ep2 - ChestnutFirst time guest William has been brought to the park by his friend Logan, a regular guest, and one all too familiar with the way the park works. We experience Westworld through William’s eyes, as he marvels at the elaborate artificial world created for him, as he questions whether anyone he meets in this park is real or not. As the first host tells him, “If you can’t tell the difference, does it really matter?”

Meanwhile behind the scenes, the scientists continue to worry about certain glitches and minor malfunctions happening to the hosts. They fear that Abernathy’s questioning of their reality might be contagious, and this certainly seems to be the case when Dolores whispers the words he told her to Maeve, somehow passing on this infection of awakening.

Westworld, S1 Ep2 - ChestnutWe spend a lot of time with Maeve in this episode as we witness the different ways she tries to seduce her customers. When she isn’t attracting enough of them, the makers amp up her aggressiveness, hoping that this will be more effective. Even though the makers insist that the hosts don’t dream, Maeve has a recurring nightmare or memory of a past life, when she wasn’t a prostitute in a brothel, but a mother to a young girl.

She has visions of this peaceful life and a vicious attack that put an end to it all. While the assailant first looks like a Native American, it then turns into the Man in Black. What other atrocities has he committed on the lives of the hosts?

Maeve wakes up in the middle of a routine repair session and we get to witness her confusion and terror at discovering that she is naked and alone, and then finding a whole room of naked corpses being prepped for the next story line. She catches a glimpse of the workshop before being sent back into sleep mode. The whole sequence was chilling and it was painful to watch Maeve wake up to the true nature of Westworld.

Westworld, S1 Ep2 - ChestnutThere were also a few short but intriguing scenes with Robert Ford as he seemingly built a robot version of his younger self who wanders around the park on his own. He rejects the elaborate storyline proposed by the pompous writer because he believes that the park isn’t there simply to provide cheap thrills but to lead to some kind of self-discovery for the guests. He also has plans for a new storyline that somehow involves a church steeple.

Westworld continues to be dark and gripping, beautifully shot and acted but also thought-provoking. As we gradually explore more of this world and the menaces lurking beneath the surface, we know that we are going to be in for a very fascinating ride.

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