REVIEW: Westworld, S3 Ep2 – The Winter Line

Westworld S3 E

Maeve navigates another dangerous, new story in the second episode of Westworld while Bernard goes in search of an ally and inadvertently finds an old friend.

After spending the season premiere with Dolores and Caleb, it was time to devote an episode to the wonderful Maeve, who wakes up to find herself stuck in the middle of World War II, in a new park called “Warworld.” She’s in an Italian village in 1943 that has been invaded by the Nazis and she’s somehow in the middle of a spy thriller. But she’s as aware as ever of how artificial all this is and makes several attempts to escape.

First, she thinks she has an ally in Hector who turns out to be just as clueless as the rest of the cast. She then shoots herself in the head so that she can get to the labs. She tries to enlist the aid of techs Felix and Sylvester but they somehow don’t remember her. Later on, there’s a glimmer of hope when a recovered Lee Sizemore comes to her aid. He brings her to the Forge and asks her to activate it. She’s confused because she had not seen this side of the Forge last season, only the virtual manifestation of it in the park.

When Lee professes his passionate love for her, Maeve knows something’s not quite right and she realizes that even this version of the park is just part of an elaborate simulation. At first it was slightly disappointing to see that Lee had survived because it seemed so unlikely but when everything was revealed, this at least preserves the significance of his sacrifice last season.

Westworld, S3 Ep2 - The Winter LineMaeve’s perspective is an effective one to use in an episode because she can no longer be tricked by simulations and she always jumps to action instead of wandering around aimlessly. She’s far too dynamic to let herself get drawn into another fantasy. So she takes charge immediately and figures out that the simulation isn’t very sophisticated so throwing a wrench here and there like confusing the “techs” with math problems and planting incriminating evidence in all the hosts could create enough chaos for her to see her real way out. She hacks into a maintenance drone so that it can retrieve the “pearl” that contains her consciousness and hopefully escape her new prison. What follows is a thrilling chase as the drone tries to evade numerous human security agents. But just when you think Maeve might actually make it, her drone is tragically gunned down.

In the meantime, Bernard finds his way back to the remains of Westworld, after finding passage on a boat in the previous episode. In the wreckage, he finds Ashley Stubbs, who was revealed to be a host programmed to help Bernard escape and had tried to kill himself last season. But he failed so Bernard patches him up and the tired and frustrated security host decides to fulfill his purpose by helping Bernard escape again. They find Maeve’s body but see that her “pearl” has been taken to another location.

As they wander around the ruins of the labs, they see some of the techs just waiting around to be laid off. This leads to a bonkers but still exciting cameo from Game of Thrones show runners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss as techs chatting about moving to a startup in Costa Rica while tending to none other than Drogon, one of Daenerys Targaryen’s dragons! Clearly, there is a medieval-themed park also still operational (there was even a minstrel playing the Westworld theme on a lute) but since the season is more about the real world, this other park will probably not be explored. It was still an unexpectedly exciting moment and when the show runners talked to Variety about it, they admitted having a lot of fun with this cameo.

Westworld, S3 Ep2 - The Winter LineBernard tries to hack into the system to get more information about what Dolores may be hiding from him. He and Stubbs make it out of the park in one piece and he re-programs the latter to protect him at all costs. Stubbs is nothing if not loyal and since they have made a pretty good team so far, it will be a lot of fun to see them continue doing so. This is the closest Westworld has to a “buddy” dynamic and it’s some much needed lightness in a series that is mostly doom and gloom.

Maeve awakes again but this time in a lavish house filled with exotic plants. She’s dressed in a modern, white dress and is as elegant and as wary as ever. She knows that she is about to meet the person who has trapped her and so she is introduced to the suave Engerraud Serac. His is a name mentioned to Dolores last week as the real brains behind Rehoboam, that omniscient AI that is controlling the real world. Serac initially believed that it was Maeve who was a threat to the system but later realized that it was Dolores. Like Bernard, Serac is aware that Maeve might be the only one capable of stopping Dolores whether he can get Maeve to cooperate is another question.

Westworld, S3 Ep2 - The Winter LineShe attempts to kill him but he installed a fail safe that prevents her to do so. It’s only a matter of time before she breaks free fo these new shackles though so Serac better be prepared to properly convince her to confront Dolores. Maeve is not one to do any man’s bidding so she will need a compelling reason to join this new war.

The episode uses the classic Westworld technique of having multiple timelines but this time these don’t play out across multiple episode but only one. And given Maeve’s simulation, it’s even possible that the events were really happening simultaneously but it was still interesting to see different versions of the park. But all paths are beginning to converge with Dolores and Maeve already in the real world and with Bernard and Stubbs on their way back, the board is being set for the chaos to come.

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