Season 3 Episode 2
So far, this season of Westworld is checking off all the right boxes on its list to reinvent/separate itself from past seasons. Last week, it was doing away with the time jumps and this week it’s actually ‘getting straight to the point’.
In Winter Line, we pick up right where the post credit scene left off. At first it looks like we’re going to go through the same story beats as before. Only Maeve starts to pick up on things that are not quite right and the beauty of this episode is that the viewer is figuring it out at the same time. ‘Getting straight to the point’ here means that we get to see Maeve go from confused to curious to empowered and then controlled again all in the span of one hour. In seasons past this one episode would have probably taken half a season to play out. Doing away with the slow build up is both refreshing and exhilarating.
But it also doesn’t feel unnatural as Maeve, along with Dolores, is one of the most competent characters on the show. It makes sense that she would figure out that not only was she not in Westworld but actually in a double simulation. Once she realizes this and that poor Lee Sizemore really is dead, she adapts with remarkable efficiency, overloading the system until it breaks and almost escaping in real life. It’s a story with a beginning, a middle, and an end that points us in the direction where we go next.
That next part is a showdown with Dolores. After Maeve’s near escape she is woken up in the real world at the home of Serac, the figure alluded to in the first episode. He wants Dolores dead and needs Maeve’s help to do it. Maeve tries to stab Serac but he stops her with a push of a button. The idea of a Dolores/Maeve battle is immediately appealing. Their brief encounter was a small highlight from season 2 and their inevitable confrontation here is as good a hook as any. Especially because I really don’t want either character to ‘lose’.
Which brings us to the B story which runs quite parallel to the main one. Bernard makes his way back to Westworld and quickly finds a near dead Stubbs who we find out was a host all along. This wasn’t exactly a surprise as it has been hinted at over the last two seasons. Bernard is sure that Dolores is up to no good and that she has compromised his system in some way. So his reasons for returning are twofold: to run a proper self diagnostic and to find Maeve who he thinks will help him stop Dolores.
When they find her decommissioned body they see that her brain was removed. This happens right at the moment Maeve realizes in the main story that she’s in a double simulation. Seeing this unfold was quite remarkable as the two scenes fit rather perfectly together. Bernard doesn’t find out exactly what he’s looking for but has more information than before and so he leaves with Stubbs who is now reprogrammed to protect Bernard.
So again, another solid episode that reassures the fans this season will be different but in a good way. Oh, and there was a Game of Thrones cameo because why not?