Monday, March 23, 2020

REVIEW: 'Westworld' - Maeve Fights to Overcome Yet Another Simulated World in 'The Winter Line'

HBO's Westworld - Episode 3.02 "The Winter Line"

People put up a lot of walls. Bring a sledgehammer to your life.

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of HBO's Westworld.

"The Winter Line" was written by Matthew Pitts & Lisa Joy and directed by Richard J. Lewis

Maeve has made two attempts to escape a life of simulations. In the first season finale, she got onto a train bound for a world outside of the park. However, leaving Westworld behind to live in the real world wasn't what she actually wanted. And so, she got off to go in search of her daughter. In the second season finale, she was in a race against time to reunite with her daughter and walk through the Door together. She chose to sacrifice herself and allow her daughter to escape to freedom by stopping the spread of a dangerous virus corrupting the hosts. All of this makes it rewarding to see her wake up again ready to continue the fight. She remains focused on reuniting with her daughter. That is still her priority. She is used to waking up in strange worlds and having to adjust to the narratives that control them. It's been the story of her life essentially. She was the first host to become aware of the true nature of her reality. She saw the underbelly of the park. She enlightened others. However, her concerns are of a personal nature. Dolores is the one with the grandiose objective of conquering the human world. Bernard knows that he has to stop Dolores no matter what it takes. He just remains crippled because he fears that Dolores implanted malware in his code to prevent him from truly stopping her in the end. That's why he returns to Westworld to secure the support of an even more powerful ally. Maeve has been positioned in the middle of this ideology about the future for the hosts. Dolores wanted everyone to conform to her need to conquer. Bernard wanted the choices to be presented and allow each host to live peacefully with whatever they decide. Maeve is just trying her best to survive. She is constantly enslaved to the demands of those seeking to control her. She absolutely has power that disrupts every system she wakes up in. Here, she wants to believe that escaping the park is once again her core objective. It seems like an easy thing to do with Hector by her side and a plane ready to take off. That is just a fixed narrative though. At first, it presents as the show getting back to its normal storytelling rhythms after a premiere that forged new ground for Dolores and new human addition Caleb. Maeve's story is a bit more complicated than that. It all stems around her realization that Lee Sizemore actually did die during his noble sacrifice and he has been replaced with a host to retrieve information from Maeve. Someone is looking for the host world. Dolores moved it to a place where no human could find it. Maeve wasn't a part of that decision. She was outside the Door keeping it safe for as long as possible. She wakes up in this new simulation believing it's the park acting the same as always. Westworld isn't the same though. It's full of techs who are just waiting to be let go. Sure, the security forces are still present and more than capable of fending off threats. Bernard is simply lucky that he finds an ally in Stubbs early on. The reveal that he has always been a host isn't that great. It's a bit revisionist in the grand scheme of things. But it encourages a more active season for him that allows Bernard to have some exciting exchanges with another character charged with protecting him at all costs. Plus, it's fun when the reveals happen simultaneously to one another. Maeve realizes her entire world is a simulation and not just the hosts. Meanwhile, Bernard and Stubbs learn that Maeve's core has been removed from her body. That makes his return to the park largely a bust in the end. But it's terrifying to watch as Maeve has to adjust to her new surroundings while finding a way to escape. She marvelously does so as well. She is capable of so much. She goes from a fixed narrative ending in tragedy to a heroic journey of overwhelming the entire world. It's just tragic when the outside forces keep her down no matter what. It is impressive enough for her to awaken in a newly reconstituted body in the real world. However, she is now being enlisted to the service of Engerraund Serac - the man fighting to preserve the human race against the threat from Dolores. Maeve wants no part in that war. She isn't beholden to anyone else's desires or objectives. That may continue to be the narrative forced onto her though. She isn't subservient though. So, this will be exciting to watch as she fights back in the real world while trying to find that connection to what she truly wants more than anything else once more. The odds are always stacked against her but she continues to survive no matter what. That is a very winning narrative and once again cements her as the easiest character to root for in this series.