‘Westworld’ 1.02 “Chestnut” Review: Be Whoever The F*** You Want

  • Maeve begins to “wake up”

Chestnut

The MVP of this hour was Thandie Newton, whose character Maeve, the brothel madame, went through several behavioral modifications as the Westworld lab continues to grapple with these glitches. It’s a delicious opportunity for any actress and the notoriously-underutilized Newton does a great job showcasing the human as a machine and, more crucially, the machine as a human.

The show tells us these consciousness-sparking glitches are because of an updated code entered by Ford (more on him next), which are causing the robots to cycle through their hard drives (their “memories”) to make them appear more human. As Maeve shows, they’re moved beyond appearance and into actual personalities, bubbling beneath the surface, the ultimate “fake it till you make it” exercise.

Maeve isn’t attracting people like she used to so the Lee’s people in narrative crank up her aggression. Elise (Shannon Woodward, with quite hilarious dialogue) in turn, cranks it back down. These mood shifts are coupled by memories of a “past life” of Maeve’s, where she was a victim of an Indian raid, only for her (and her daughter) to fall victim to the Man in Black (Ed Harris). Elise says despite the hosts knowing the concept of dreaming, they aren’t supposed to actually be doing it.

All this turbulence leads the park to schedule Maeve to be decommissioned, putting a ticking clock on her. When she is put in sleep mode for maintenance, her dreams enable her to wake up in the middle of the “surgery.” The two technicians freak out, as does Maeve. The show wisely puts us in her shoes, with a tight camera focus on her face as she wakes up, Neo in The Matrix-style, from her existential slumber. She grabs a scalpel and wanders naked through the darkened facility.

Eventually, she stumbles on the Westworld “back of house” and sees what it means to close a facility that murders its hosts on the daily. Men in protective suits powerwash the corpses of Maeve’s fellow androids, a display the hits right in the uncanny valley. The people on the show truly believe these hosts aren’t people but we, the audience and the writers themselves, know better. It’s this that causes Maeve to collapse in horror as the technicians finally catch up to her and put her to sleep again.

Sam Flynn

Sam Flynn

Sam is a writer and journalist whose passion for pop culture burns with the fire of a thousand suns and at least three LED lamps.