Each week, Brian Grubb and Keith Phipps will attempt to unpack the latest episode of the HBO series Westworld, a show about an amusement park populated by lifelike robots that’s also about… other stuff.
Maeve Wakes Up
Keith: With Dolores and company off-screen this week, much of the focus falls on Maeve, who even gets Dolores’ waking-up-to-start-the-episode shot. It’s the first of many awakenings she experiences over the course of the episode, which ends with her intelligence getting boosted well beyond the limits usually imposed on the park’s hosts and leaves her with a glint in her eyes that suggests she knows exactly what she wants to do next. We’re past the halfway point with “The Adversary,” this season’s sixth episode, and Maeve is posed to go full-Lucy in the second half.
I think there are two key moments for Maeve this week — apart from starting to realize the full potential of her latent badassdom. The first is when she sees then talks about the promo reel about the park after ascending through its levels with Felix. (Last week’s episode had the Dante reference in the title, but this journey really had a Dante-and-Virgil navigating the afterlife feel to it.) Not only is she shocked to see herself and the daughter she knows only from her nightmare flashes of old programming, she has to find the vocabulary to describe the images on the video screen. For all her cleverness, her cybernetic brain is still stuck in the 19th century, at least for now.
The other comes when she threatens Sylvester, holding a scalpel to his throat. It’s a scary moment for Sylvester, but could she actually hurt him? She draws no blood. It might ultimately be an idle threat, even if Maeve doesn’t realize it yet.
Brian: Before I get into all of this, a quick shoutout to Westworld for giving me two of my favorite TV/film tropes in one episode, both involving Maeve:
– A robot frying out after getting overwhelmed by a logic problem and/or something not computing
– Someone confronting an adversary and doing the “We’re not so different…” thing while sliding a sharp instrument down the side of their face
Especially the second one. I love that so much. One day I want to say it to a cop who pulls me over. I will miss the recap that week, though, because I will be in jail. Worth it.
But anyway, yes, Maeve is Lucy now, which probably makes the thing Felix told her about the human/host relationship — humans and hosts are mostly the same now, hosts have better processing power, the only drawback to being a host is that they are “under our control” — a little something we in the recap business like to call foreshadowing.
Maybe this is just me, but I found this week’s focus on Maeve to be really refreshing. I get that Dolores’ and her various journeys, possibly over multiple timelines, are the key to unlocking the mysteries at the heart of the show, but… man. It was nice to have some of the cryptic dialogue and murky history temporarily replaced with a brassy madam pulling scalpels on people and blackmailing them into turning her into a superhero by threatening to reveal the existence of a lucrative underground robot humping club in the bowels of the company’s headquarters. That worked for me. We’ll catch you next week, D.