Saturday, November 12, 2016

Westworld, Season One, Episode Six: The Adversary

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Maeve! Maeve! Maeve!. Okay, y'all know that I have a massive thing for Maeve since she is being played by the ever so awesome Thandie Newton.  I've been waiting since the first time that she appeared on scene for her character to get some serious attention and finally it happened. 

Maeve has been on her journey of self awareness though it has largely been over shadowed by that of Delores.  This week, we watch as Maeve reports for work at her brothel with a real sense of purpose. A new customer arrives and rather than letting Clementine service him, Maeve takes over and leads the customer to a bedroom.  It begins with Maeve immediately emasculating her customer encouraging his violence by placing his hands around her throat.  

When next we see Maeve she's alert inside the lab.  It's clear that she allowed the John to kill her so that she could return to the lab.  That takes guts.  Let's remember that Maeve at this point only has a hunch that something shifty is going on and therefore it's a huge risk to encourage a man to strangle her so that she could end up someplace she's not 100% certain really exists.  As luck would have it, the tech she ends up with is Lutz.

Maeve immediately starts demanding answers and Lutz explains that she isn't human like he is.  For Maeve this is confusing because there seems to be no difference between her and Lutz. He proves that she's being controlled by pulling out a hand held device which accurately predicts what she's going to say.  It's enough to make Maeve go on the fritz and in the process, freaking Lutz the hell out.  He frankly tries to reboot Maeve.  Fortunately for him, Maeve comes back online; however, she's not satisfied and now wants to see the rest of the facility.  Lutz takes Maeve on a little tour and sees dead hosts being washed down, a bison being lead around on a leash, hosts kissing and even a set up for a shoot out over a card game. Maeve's fascinated and it's clear to both her and the viewer just how scripted her life is. Maeve pauses when she sees a promotional video for Westworld in which she sees herself and her daughter from another build.  

Back in the lab, the promotional video turns out to be the final straw.  It's the video which makes Maeve confront the fact that everything she thought was real simply isn't.  Maeve has only been a madame for a year and a half though she believed she had been doing it for ten years. This is when she learns that her memories and attributes are regularly played with.  Sylvester enters the room and as expected, he ignores Maeve and taunts Lutz about dressing her up.  Sylvester threatens to make their superiors aware of exactly what Lutz has been up to.  Sylvester doesn't get to threaten Lutz for long because he quickly finds a scalpel at his throat courtesy of Maeve the awesome. 

At first Lutz isn't conerned because he's certain that Maeve can't hurt her him, but she makes it clear that she's gone beyond her programming and isn't done doing so.  After a few minutes of blackmail, Maeve gets an upgrade in her intelligence. This is when Lutz and Sylvester learn that someone has already been playing with Maeve's core programming.  

Okay, okay, I know we have to talk about the rest of the show now but isn't Maeve full of absolute win?  In the park, the MIB and Teddy are trying to meet up with Wyatt.  The MIB brings up the maze and it seems that Teddy has heard of it. 

“The maze is an old Native myth. The Maze itself is the sum of a man’s life, the choices he makes, the dreams he hangs onto. And there at the center there’s a legendary man, who’s been killed over and over again … and always clawed his way back to life … he returned for the last time, vanquished all his enemies. He built a house, and around that house he built a maze so complicated that only he could see his way thorough it. I reckon he’d seen enough fighting.”

This is an interesting metaphor.  Clearly the person who died repeatedly and came back to life is a host. This house he builds effectively eliminates him from the game and the horrible loop of having to die repeatedly at the hands of the guests. I find it particularly interesting that it's Teddy, who as we know who up until this point was always destined to die, is the one who describes the maze and its purpose this way. 

As we know, the game is always going to present obstacles to make things interesting for the guests and this time is no exception.  The MIB and Teddy come across some union forces in their way.  Teddy just wants to go charging in but the MIB is resistant to this because it could lead to Teddy's death and at this point, he still needs him.  Teddy would certainly be resurrected by the Westworld staff but it would mean the MIB would have to retrace his steps to find Teddy. The MIB and Teddy try to slip through the forces dressed as union soldiers but unfortunately, Teddy is recognized as Wyatt's partner.  Teddy tries to deny it but the soldiers do not believe him. Teddy and the MIB are captured and as one soldier prepares to get a brand of traitor ready for Teddy, Teddy has a flash back to Wyatt's attack and realises that he's just as guilty as Wyatt of killing union soldiers.  Teddy manages to free his hands and rather than fleeing at the MIB's behest, he uses an automatic gun to kill all of the soldiers to stop them from following them.  This greatly surprised the MIB who thought that he knew Teddy. It seems that with the new story line, Teddy has gone from white hat to black hat.  

Moving on, things are shifting in the back of the house.  Last week, Elsie found a transmitter inside of a host and so now it's time to investigate. In conversation with Bernard, Elise learns that whoever is doing this is exploiting a change between the old model hosts and the updated hosts. They head their separate ways to investigate. Bernard ends up in a remote area of the park where he comes across a family.  The father immediately becomes aggressive and goes on the offensive when Bernard does not give satisfactory answers.  Bernard tries to say the stop command but the Host refuses to listen. Luckily for Bernard, Ford shows up and calls a halt before any potential violence can happen.  

It seems that the family are old model hosts that are maintained by Ford.  Ford quips that every artists always includes themselves in the work.  Okay, this to me feels like a massive clue as to what is going on.  Has Arnold left something of himself inside the game?  At it turns out, Ford has recreated his family and plays upon Bernard's sympathies by asking what he would do to see his son again?  The little boy host is actually young Ford.  

After his little discovery, Bernard runs straight for Theresa.  Fortunately before he can spill the beans about Ford's robot family, he gets a call from Elise, who has found some shit out.  It turns out that the person responsible for doing this is none other than Theresa. The data is being sent to a Delos satellite and the messages are being sent using older hosts and a system designed by none other than Arnold. Also, this new Arnold is using the system to tamper with older hosts. Considering that Arnold is supposedly dead, he's been quite busy.

This isn't the last we hear of Arnold for the episode.  Ford meets up with the robot version of himself to learn that the boy killed his dog.  The boy tries to deny his role in the dog's death at first but later admits that he killed it on the orders of Arnold.  So now we know that Arnold is fiddling with the hosts and isn't above messing with those Ford cares about. 

Back to Elise, who's just wrapping up her investigation.  The moment I saw Elise in this dark seldom used area I just knew that something bad was going to happen.  It's straight out of a bad horror movie. As predicted, Elise is grabbed from behind and we don't learn by who or why.

As always, there's so much going on in Westworld.  As much as I love all of the attention Maeve got this week, cause who doesn't love Thandi, it simply doesn't make sense to me that the techs would so easily decide to give her what she wants.  It would have made more sense to me if the techs had reduced her intelligence so that she could no longer be a threat to them or others. Making her smarter is only going to increase their problems.  Also, who the hell has been messing with Maeve's programming and why?

I very much see the shift with Teddy as a reminder to us that things aren't as they seem.  Just like people, hosts operate in the grey area.  We wanted Teddy to be the white hat, the romantic figure fated to die in his attempt to save Delores but it's clear there's more to him than meets the eye, just as there's more to all of the other hosts as well.  Even on the outer reaches of Westworld we are always only being given the tip of the iceburg on what is going on. 

As for this mysterious Arnold figure, I'm not sure where he fits in.  At this point, I don't believe that Theresa is Arnold otherwise she wouldn't have been so fazed in her meeting with Ford. She's absolutely desperate for an edge though.  Whatever is going on with this supposed Arnold is far beyond the struggles with the board and it seems to be about the very essence of what the park is and the humanity of the hosts.  I am really curious to see where this is going.