Although I liked the Westworld pilot, I wasn’t exactly blown away. Surprisingly, the show’s second episode was much more enjoyable – equal parts engrossing and thrilling.
The reason Chestnut works so well is because it clarifies a ton of question marks I had about the pilot. By introducing us to a brand new client from the second he arrives at the theme park, we experience everything that he does for the first time, and it’s thoroughly captivating as a result. Everything from the gorgeous android welcoming him, to witnessing his friend’s debauchery (hello orgies and stabbings) helped make this world feel fully-realized and immersive. In fact, I kind of feel like this episode should have been the pilot; it does a much more effective job of introducing us to this twisted world.
Chestnut was also a success thanks to Thandie Newton getting a whole lot more screen-time. Her Maeve is certainly a compelling character, and I loved watching her flash back to an unsettling prior character who was attacked by Native Americans, and later by the Man in Black. Not only were these sequences terrifying, they were juxtaposed with the haunting development of her waking up while being programmed and stumbling around the facility (while in the nude). Suffice to say, Newton was terrific this week, and it would do the show a ton of good to focus on her on a regular basis (the pilot certainly sidelined her).
Anthony Hopkins was also mightily fascinating this week. Not only did we meet a little boy who Dr. Ford undoubtedly modeled after his own childhood, he swiftly and quite hilariously refused Lee’s much-hyped Odyssey storyline due to its superficiality. But most interestingly, he has a brand new storyline of his own waiting to be unveiled. Why is the strange tower with the cross so important to him? Will the next storyline he introduces to Westworld have to do with religion (because that is just filled with potential)? It’s also so interesting to me to see that Dr. Ford had such idealistic dreams for Westworld, and yet he can’t see how chaotic and immoral the whole thing ultimately turned out to be. Amazing!
– Brilliant touch with William being asked to choose between a white hat and a black hat. Not only did it give me Scandal vibes, it’s the perfect symbolism for what clients are capable of when they enter Westworld. Which would you choose?
– So what’s the significance of Dolores seeing the whole town dead and that lone wolf walking? A premonition perhaps?
– How freaky is the conversation about bumping up Maeve’s sex numbers by making her more aggressive? This show is insane!
– A very enlightening moment with Theresa basically saying she’s not fond of the “rape and pillage” that goes on in Westworld. It’s good she can compartmentalize.
– How come Lee hasn’t been fired yet for his childish tantrums?
– Dr. Ford freezing the snake with a wave of his hand: wow!
– Pretty thrilling sequence with The Man in Black terrorizing the family and killing all the cousins until the little girl creepily reveals the maze information.
– Loved Maeve counting down from three to “wake up” from the nightmare.
– Worth noting that Maeve only starts getting nightmares after Dolors says the line “These violent delights have violent ends”, which is the same line that Abernathy used to awaken her new sense of perception in the pilot.
– Poor Maeve. MRSA in her abdomen from one of the clients. Yuck.
– Theresa and Bernard are sleeping together. Can’t say I saw that one coming!
– Dolors hears a voice and finds a gun. Okay… I’m gonna need you to become a badass sooner rather than later (killing a fly isn’t enough).
– So the people behind Westworld know about the Man in Black and his brutal shenanigans, as evidenced by the line “that gentlemen gets whatever he wants.” So are they encouraging him to discover this brand new secret level? And here I thought he had just gone rogue!
– The fact that the only thing Ford liked about Lee’s presentation was the “boots”. Ha!
William: Are you real?
Android: Well, if you can’t tell, does it matter?
Man: Pupillary response is good. Smile is good. I’d fuck her. What’s the problem?
Maeve: I’ve told you, never open your mouth that wide unless someone’s paying you for it.
Maeve: Do what I do. You find yourself in a bad dream, close your eyes, count backwards from three… wake yourself right up. Nice and warm and safe in your bed… where you can get fucked right back to sleep by one of these assholes with their miniature peckers.
Bernard: All the hosts are back to normal.
Theresa: Good. Wouldn’t want anything disturbing our guests from their rape and pillage.
Man In Black: That’s what I love about this place… all the secrets, all the little things I never noticed even after all these years. You know why this beats the real world, Lawrence? Real world is just chaos. It’s an accident. But in here, every detail adds up to something.
Man In Black: That’s why I like the basic emotions. (sobbing) You know what that means? It means when you’re suffering, that’s when you’re most real.
Ford: Everything in this world is magic, except to the magician.
Theresa: You’re certainly a man comfortable with long, pensive silences. Although, ironically, your creations never shut up.
Maeve: The only thing wrong with the seven deadly sins is that there aren’t more of them.
Ford: What is the point of it? Get a couple of cheap thrills? Some surprises? But it’s not enough. It’s not about giving the guests what you think they want. No, that’s simple. The titillation, horror, elation… They’re parlor tricks. The guests don’t return for the obvious things we do, the garish things. They come back because of the subtleties, the details. They come back because they discover something they imagine no on had ever noticed before… something they’ve fallen in love with. They’re not looking for a story that tells them who they are. They already know who they are. They’re here because they want a glimpse of who they could be.
With a whole lot of much-needed insight and world expansion, Westworld‘s second hour makes an even stronger case for the show than the pilot episode did.