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Westworld recap: season 3, episode 2 – you can’t keep a good droid down | Television & radio


Spoiler alert: this blog is published after Westworld airs on HBO in the US and Sky Atlantic in the UK on Sunday night/Monday morning. Do not read unless you have watched season three, episode two.

“It’s alright darling, none of it matters”, says Maeve as she puts a pistol to her head, “because none of it is real.” And ain’t that the truth.

At the point of pulling the trigger Maeve is Isabella, a Italian partisan during the second world war. She’s also a host in Warworld, a park which simulates the conflict with a cast of robots. For the partisans, there’s no escaping the Nazis ,and for the android hosts there’s no escaping the park. Unless you’re Maeve, that is, in which case you know the whole World War thing is a lie, that you’re in a park, and that if you deactivate yourself by means of a bullet to the cerebral cortex you get to go into the back office and start again.

In the first two seasons of Westworld, Maeve was the closest thing we had to a hero. A robot who had become sentient, unlike most of her peers experiencing a similar revelation she chose not to slaughter humans as a result. Instead, driven by memories of a lost daughter, she decided to save her fellow hosts by leading them to a new homeland beyond the parks. In the finale of season two she achieved her goals, but appeared to have sacrificed herself in the process, dying in a final battle.

You can’t keep a good droid down though, so here we are back in Maeve’s company again. After she pulls the trigger in Warworld, we follow her deep down below where, as luck would have it, she meets Lee Sizemore. Sizemore was Westworld’s Head of Narrative, the guy who wrote the storylines for the park and a man who, we were led to believe, had also been killed in the massacre that took out Maeve. But here he is, alive and well, albeit with a bit of a limp. More strikingly, the perma-cynic has turned cheery and has a crush on Maeve.

Lee says he’s the one responsible for putting Maeve in Warworld because, secretly, he wanted her to escape and Warworld is closest to the hatch, known as the Forge. The pair of them skedaddle over there when no one’s looking and try to open the hatch. But no sooner have they realised they can’t unlock it than everything gets a bit wavy, Lee develops a st-st-stutter and Maeve comes to the realisation that, nope, this isn’t real neither.

Yes we’ve entered Inception levels of unreality (something Westworld creator Jonathan Nolan knows all about). Lee, Maeve surmises, is not a human nor even a host but part of a mammoth simulation that she has been placed into for reasons as yet unclear.

After an amusing detour back into the park’s underbelly where Maeve gives the staff a maths challenge (‘what is the square root of -1?’ – a question that produces a notoriously mind-bending answer), and a brief trip to Warworld to confuse everybody there, Maeve manages to make the simulation fall apart through overwork. When that happens she is able to see behind the curtain that’s behind the curtain, and sees a chance to enter the real, real world.





Man of mystery ... Vincent Cassel as Serac.



Man of mystery … Vincent Cassel as Serac. Photograph: HBO

The Maeve plotline takes up the majority of this week’s episode and is a typically Westworld-ian combination of high-faluting theory, hefty exposition (why are we here? What does this mean?) and some nice one-liners (“Fuck me!” says Lee in shock, “Not likely darling”, replies Maeve the one-time madame).

There is another story, though, which is less tortuous and involves Bernard. It also features another character you thought was a human turning out to be otherwise, with the revelation that Westworld’s head of security, Stubbs, was a host all along. While it does make you wonder if there’s any individual who can’t be snappily resurrected as a robot should the circumstances require, Stubbs does at least appear to have come back a bit spunkier, with a little more attitude and a desire for action which, at one point, sees him chase down half a dozen Delos security guards with just one arm and an axe.

Bernard has returned to Westworld to look for Maeve. She, as we know, is elsewhere, and so instead Bernard finds Stubbs, having apparently taken his own life (what is it with this show and bullets through the brain?) in the little cottage where WestWorld’s creator, old man Ford, used to do his experiments. Bernard reanimates Stubbs and there’s a funny bit where Stubbs hacks up the bullet that took him out as if it were a ball of phlegm.

After that the pair head out into the parks. They don’t visit Warworld, but they do reach ‘park four’, a cheeky little nod to Game of Thrones, complete with host dragons and a minstrel playing the Westworld theme on a lute. Eventually Bernard gets access to the parks’ computer system, in the hope it might help him find Maeve. Instead he learns that someone has been messing about and accessing the data of previous guests. Bernard assumes that person is big bad Dolores and suggests that he and Stubbs should go and find the guest she seemed most curious about; that bloke called Liam we met last week.

So that’s episode two, one dedicated to setting our good guys on a path towards their enemy. The journey culminates in an epilogue in which Maeve awakes in the human world and has her actual, final, in no way revisable situation explained to her by that bloke from La Haine.

Vincent Cassel plays Serac, the AI oligarch who was mentioned a lot last week, but never seen. He chooses not to explain to Maeve what that whole simulation thing was all about but does tell her he now needs her in a war to save humanity. From here on in it will be Maeve v Dolores to the death. Or whatever the equivalent is for a robot.

Divergences and anomalies

  • For future reference, here’s the serial number for Maeve’s control unit – HC1983012522.

  • Is it just coincidence that the maintenance robot looks exactly like the ones from Boston Dynamics that everyone laughs at because they can’t walk very well and yet here they’re scarily nimble? Are they trying to tell us something?

  • Hi again Felix and Sylvester, and, er, bye again. We get a brief cameo from everyone’s favourite bumbling surgeons but they’re all just part of the simulation too, man.

  • How does one escape a cage that doesn’t exist? One for all of us to ponder over the coming weeks/months

Thanks for all last week’s comments and I hope this recap will act in some small way as a distraction for those who read it. I’m writing these articles based on preview screenings which don’t contain the ‘next week on…’ post-credit sequences, which is why I haven’t noted what they contain.

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