Before you read my Westworld Season 3 Episode 2 review, why not check out last weeks review or my season 2 review? And follow me on twitter @AthemovieZ
After last week’s season premiere introduced audiences to the world outside of Westworld – the real world, this week’s episode focuses on showing audiences what has happened inside Westworld, and more importantly what has happened to Maeve (Thandie Newton). Although not spectacular, last week’s premiere impressed as it was a breath of fresh air able to shine due to the fact it didn’t need to deal with the repercussions from the chaos the second season caused. ‘The Winter Line’ however has to a certain extent, pick up the pieces of the second season and set up the rest of the season as effortlessly as the season premiere made it seem.
Whilst the season premiere was intended to entice viewers, and help them fall back in love with a show they once loved by showing the potential the season has to grow. Episode 2 reminds viewers, just why they might have had second thoughts on returning for the third season. This, in no way is at the fault of the second episode nor is it a reason to discourage viewers from continuing watching, but rather it feels as though it is an observation of the fault the season that preceded it made and evidence that the creators have almost acknowledged its faults and have learned from it, promising it will return to the height of the first season (I will explain more on that later). This is evident in the almost wink that is given to the camera, as for a moment, they tease that the two events you are watching are at two different stages in the (good old) timeline, but then revealing that is not the case.
Whilst last week’s episode was based on Dolores, this week’s episode is all about Maeve, further pushing the narrative of Dolores vs Maeve. To not have Dolores in an episode is a bold statement by the creators and definitively allows the episode to flow better as it is solely focused on Maeve after she was relegated to just a post-credit scene in the last episode. We find Maeve in what appears to be a WWII park as she quickly discovers (as per usual) not all is as it seems. On the other hand, we also find Bernard, as he returns to Westworld looking for someone to help with the war against Dolores, reuniting with an old friend who can help him. The pacing of the episode was a little slow, and the episode is shorter than the season premiere but, having the episode based around my two favourite characters is a sure win, and it felt quite nostalgic to have an episode based back in Westworld, even if that was just a simulation. Seeing characters that meant so much to Maeve, reinforcing and reminding audiences the idea that in every aspect Maeve is the anti-Dolores was great. But, I would have liked to have spent maybe a little bit more time with Maeve, seeing her spending more time with the doctors and seeing some depth added to her character instead of just reminding audiences who she is.
As I have said, episode 2 was given the responsibility of tying together the events of the second season, and picking up those pieces. The re-introduction of Luke Hemsworth’s character Stubbs was incredible because he was a character that had little to no character development in the first two seasons and to see an almost bromance begin to form between him and Bernard is something to definitely look out for. And the re-introduction of characters like Hector and Lee Sizemore reminded me of the strong arc Maeve was given in the first season. And, I’m sorry – was that Drogon(?!?!?)
Westworld wouldn’t be Westworld without its twists, and this episode is not short in that aspect. As much as I keep saying the first episode felt like a breath of fresh air, it felt that way because the entire episode didn’t feel as though it was relying upon a twist to bring up the quality of the episode. I was invested in the episode, with or without a twist, whilst this episode feels as though it hinges on a big reveal or a big twist. That isn’t a bad thing, but when a twist is delivered, it can reveal how the episode doesn’t seem to have anything of substance. I really liked the twist that Maeve was in a simulation, and the changing of the aspect ratio that followed it, but it was inevitable that Maeve would break out of the WWII setting, and so having the reveal that she was just in a simulation wasn’t that impressive. That being said, (and as I said earlier) I really enjoyed the wink to the camera that was given by the writers as the twist was revealed, essentially saying we are not going back to having separate timelines.
But that wasn’t the only twist in the episode, needless to say; who the hell is the person in the picture above? Dolores’ goal is to start a revolution against the world and yet, it seems she is in a war against this man above and his company! All jokes aside, I really like the calmness and humility the character brought in, having seen Maeve pretty much terminator her way out of a secure facility by mind controlling a robot, she seemed pretty unstoppable and thus, introducing a character that can not only stop her but also control her in a way she has never seen before is quite poetic. The tag-line of the season being ‘free will is not free’, and this is the first indication of that. Maeve is finally free, but yet, she is facing a new predicament – she must help fight against Dolores not because it is hard-coded into her but rather because she has no choice.
As per usual, every actor brings their A-game, and the episode was amazing thanks to Thandie Newton showcasing her brilliance in every scene she was in, and is amazing in reminding audiences why they fell in love with her in the first place as her chemistry with Hector and Lee shines through, with the scene of Lee holding Maeve’s corpse being a highlight. Luke Hemsworth also impressed as he is finally given something to do, I really enjoyed seeing him as a broken android before Bernard fixes him. Jeffrey Wright is incredible as Bernard and will no doubt continue to be as the season continues.