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The Winter Line: 'Westworld' Review


Westworld, Season 3 Opening Sequence Image credits: Source of Gamers

Westworld is honestly my favorite TV show of all time. Created by my favorite director’s brother, Jonathan Nolan, and his wife, Lisa Joy, this futuristic and highly technological science fiction flick is not for ‘casual viewers’ due to its mind-bending storylines and nonlinear plots. It could confuse even the best of the best. Its cinematography is spectacular, some top-class acting by the industry’s best (cue Evan Rachel Wood and Thandie Newton), and well, very heartfelt music score by none other than Ramin Djawadi himself!


It’s been a very long wait for the third season - two whole years. It’s really not surprising though, considering the amount of time and thought to create such complexly beautiful plots with some crazy twists. After two very mind-boggling seasons, it’s been worth the wait!

When I watched the second episode, ‘The Winter Line’, I was in awe and tears by the end of it. It was absolute genius! The storyline, the dialogue, the acting, the directing - it was all top-notch. But what I particularly liked about this episode was the detail. The writers and the director have paid so much attention to even the slightest details, it’s amazing how one could think so much! It’s only been two episodes so far as of the date I’m writing this, but I had to write about this episode, it’s truly been one of my favorites of all time!


Here are some really cool things about this episode. Oh and before you go ahead…


(VERY) Major Spoilers Ahead


No Dolores

Maeve in this episode wears a beautiful red dress! Image credits: Westworld Fandom

Yes, you read that right. This is one of the very few episodes of Westworld where there’s no Dolores Abernathy. This one’s mostly about Maeve Millay played by Thandie Newton (who won the Emmy last year for her role!) and my oh my, does she deserve an Emmy again for this!


After the first episode, we know that Dolores has successfully escaped Westworld in Charlotte Hale’s body. Oh and she’s not alone, she’s got 4-5 hosts with her whom in those ball-like chips that go into the head. She’s on a mission to destroy humanity, or so it would seem. She’s out with Liam Dempsey, whose data book she read in the library in season 2. No one knows what she’s really up to, but if it was really about destroying mankind, would she have spared the life of that woman at the start of episode 1?


Well anyway, now that we know Dolores is out there, we turn our head to the other conscious and self-aware host we know - Maeve. Every viewer has inevitably grown to care for Maeve, because of her undying love for her daughter. When she had the chance to leave Westworld at the end of season 1, she didn’t, because she wanted to get back to her daughter. Then in season 2, she gave her life so that her daughter could escape through ‘The Door’ to the secret encrypted world (largely thanks to Dolores). Many hosts made it through the door, many couldn’t (including Maeve) and well, some are with Charlotte.


After seeing no Maeve in the first episode, we are all so very curious to know where she is. And we finally see her alive, in a very nice red dress. But where is she?


War World

Maeve is in War World. Image credits: Film Daily

Oh my god, yes! So far, we had seen three worlds:

  • The eponymous Westworld, with all the cowboys and the western setting.

  • The British Raj World - in season 2, when Emily (William’s daughter) barely escapes from that tiger.

  • The Shogun World - in season 2, where we find the doppelgangers of Maeve, Hector, and his gang.

And now, we see a fourth park - ‘War World’, which is a World War II-themed Nazi-occupied Italy. The scene when Maeve opens those windows to show the military, the tanks, and the swastika flags around is spectacular! Maeve seems confounded, as she’s never been in this world before. Then enter - Hector Escaton, and my heart stops. Not because he’s cut his hair and looks way older, but because he’s always been Maeve’s one true love. They try to escape from that place and the cinematography, showcasing the Nazi regime-themed area is gorgeous. And then he reveals that beautiful red car and takes Maeve for a ride. (What’s with all the red in this season though?)


Hector tells her that he’s got a plan to leave Westworld. Maeve says that’s impossible because there’d be guards all around. And that’s when Hector blows my mind away when he tells her that they could travel through the air! They show this beautiful 1940s military plane, but the pilots are all dead. The look on Maeve’s face when ‘Hector’ calls her ‘Isabella’ is one of total heartbreak. One cannot feel but sympathy for her character. Maeve realizes that he’s forgotten all about her! He’s lost his awareness and is acting according to the narrative! She’s back to where she started in all this. The whole escape plot was nothing but a narrative. She kills herself.

Hector can't seem to remember Maeve. Image credits: IMDB

Lee Sizemore is back!

Maeve wakes up in the repair facility, where she finds Hector naked in a pile of bodies (just like she found Teddy in the first season). She meets Felix and Sylvester, who seems to have no sign of recognition when they see her. It’s understandable why Hector’s forgotten her, but even Felix and Sylvester? They were real humans, why are they ignoring her? And then my heart stops again because enter Lee Sizemore! Lee (who’s now got a bad leg) was presumed to be dead when he took six bullets in season 2 while trying to save Maeve and her child.


He promises her that he’s going to help her again to reunite with her daughter, as War World is really close to The Forge. (That’s where the guests’ data was being unethically stored and where Ford had uploaded the coordinates to the ‘Valley Beyond’ for the other hosts).


A trip to The Forge - and the biggest plot twist!

And then, Maeve wakes up again and again with mildly modified narratives, much like Dolores used to in season 1. It gives amazing vibes, going back to the show’s roots, except that Maeve (unlike Dolores) is self-aware and is trying to escape this place. She does things a bit differently and meets up with Lee, who takes her to The Forge. He tries to help Maeve remember the coordinates of the ‘valley beyond’.


Lee starts to break down... it's all a simulation! Image credits: meaww.com

But of course, it wasn’t Maeve who destroyed the Forge. It was Dolores before she sent off the other hosts to the secretly encrypted world. Lee then kisses her (of course, we knew that he fancied her). There’s a look of bewilderment upon Maeve’s face, but not because of the kiss. She realizes that the person she’s talking to isn’t actually Lee, but another host!


I fell down to the floor. Honestly, I was bamboozled. I had a hunch about whether Hector was real or not, but it was seemed so very obvious that Lee was real! And then, the most awesome thing happened! The screen’s resolution changed to from ‘fuller’ to something ‘wider’ (I don’t know the technical terms). That’s when it hit Maeve and me, that it was all a simulation! In season 2, all the simulation scenes were shown in that different resolution and when the screen changed, I knew what was happening. It was the most awesome feeling in the world, kudos to the director for that beautiful scene!


Those Easter Eggs

Meanwhile, Bernard and Ashley (who’s revealed to be a host too) are back to Westworld to find Maeve. Bernard goes to the labs in Park 4 and tries to check whether he was corrupted by Dolores in season 2. While they’re in those labs, we get to see some amazing, albeit minor details.

  • The Medieval World: Oh blimey, two worlds revealed in just one episode! We see this scene with a king and queen in medieval clothes, sitting and listening to a man playing Ramin Djawadi’s genius Westworld theme on that string instrument. It’s a small scene, but now we know that there’s the medieval world too! It’s these details that make this episode really beautiful!

Is that Drogon? Image credits: Vanity Fair

  • Benioff and Weiss: Yes, you read that right! The Game of Thrones directors makes a small cameo as lab workers in Westworld where they're trying to sell off a host to Nicaragua. That host? A dragon! Could it really be that Game of Thrones is just a narrative inside Westworld?

Limited Processing Power

Maeve realizes that the details in this simulation world aren’t complete and the code is flawed. The simulation has limited processing power and throws a statue where it freezes in mid-air. She comes up with an amazing plan and plants the map in all the hosts’ pockets. The next day, everyone seems to be guilty of the theft and they start killing each other! How smart is Maeve, pulling that off. Soon, because everyone starts shooting each other, the simulation can’t take all that heavy change to the narrative and everything freezes over.


All the Nazi soldiers are confounded. Maeve overloads the computer. Image credits: HN Entertainment

But what’s truly beautiful about this scene is again, detail! Remember how in season 1, Ford would just say ‘freeze all motor functions’ and everything would just freeze over? Well, it’s revealed by Lisa Joy in the post-episode featurette that in those scenes, you could still see the clothes and the hair of the hosts flying due to the wind, as they were still in the real world. But here, everything freezes, everything. There’s no movement at all, indicating it’s all a simulation. The attention the writers and the director had paid to every small detail is really commendable.


Engerraund Serac

Maeve finally awakens, finding herself in a totally different, modern world. She meets Serac, who asks her to help him kill Dolores. She refuses to do that and when she tries to kill him, Serac pushes a button and freezes her! It was a very scary moment, I mean, it’s been a very long time since we’ve seen Maeve being controlled by someone else.


The stakes are real now, and Maeve is out there in the real world. Eventually, it’s going to lead to a showdown between Maeve and Dolores. Just the thought of them facing off sends shivers down my spine.

Here’s to looking forward to a mind-bending and plot-twist-filled season 3 of Westworld.


'Westworld' is available with a premium subscription to Hulu and YouTube TV or a subscription to HBO Max. It is available for rent on Apple TV, Vudu, Amazon Prime, and Google Play. //


Abhinav Gupta


 

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