Westworld has taken longer to find its feet than most. If the first season was an elongated exercise in world-building and withholding information, the second has seen it plunge headfirst into more kinetic, more engaging storytelling. The results have been remarkable. I had several concerns after last week’s superb episode: one, that it might be just a flash in the pan; and two, that a return to the other stories (Maeve and Dolores) would prove an unwelcome diversion from MiB William and his daughter, the most compelling storyline we’ve been served yet. Thankfully, I was wrong on both counts.
I might have cottoned on to this a little slower than most, but it seems the show is setting up Maeve and Dolores as opposite sides of the same coin, Professor X to Magneto, MLK to Malcolm X. This was evident this week in their treatment of other hosts, those who might not yearn for the same freedom they do. Teddy can’t deal with everything he’s learned and he doesn’t want this war that Dolores is running headlong into, so he tries one last time to convince her to run away with him and find happiness in their own little ignorant corner of the park. Dolores wipes him out.
Maeve, on the other hand, has found herself in the middle of her own storyline, except this time it’s set in Shogun World, where her counterpart is Akane, a geisha. When the Shogun decides he wants Akane’s surrogate daughter, Sakura, Akane defies him and sets herself, Maeve and Maeve’s ragtag group into a confrontation with ninjas and samurai. To make it worse, the Shogun World narrative has run off the rails due to the Shogun himself being defective.
Maeve gets caught up in Akane’s predicament because she sees the parallels between them and can’t stand to see someone else suffer as she has. When Akane refuses her attempts to free her mind, Maeve understands. Akane wants to remain how she is, living just for Sakura, just like Maeve can’t let go of the daughter that she knows was just a part of a narrative written for her by people like Lee. It suggests a desire on some level to put the genie back in the bottle – or at least a part of it – even though Maeve knows it’s impossible. However, once Sakura is killed by the Shogun, the gloves are off and Maeve’s new psychic abilities come into sharp focus. A Maeve with Akane, Hector and Armistice by her side is not a Maeve I’d want to mess with.
This episode asks the question: how much of a lie is truth? Maeve’s personality and backstory were all created for her, yet even as a free woman, her compassion overrules her better judgement and her daughter remains her priority. Even Dolores can’t surrender her attachment to the father who was never really her father. Wherever these two are headed, it’s clear they won’t be joining forces any time soon.
Questions, questions, questions
- I’ll admit that, despite Evan Rachel Wood’s sterling work, I’ve grown a little irritated by Dolores and her constant ominous monologues. It’s like that friend who won’t shut up about how the world is doomed and we’re all sleepwalking into oblivion. You’re right but hey, can we just give it a rest and talk about football for a while? How much of this is designed to turn us against Dolores when she goes full baddie? At the very least, I wouldn’t want to go for a pint with her.
- Hey, that’s Rinko Kikuci! How great was she in this episode? Extra, extra great, that’s how great.
- I initially thought that Dolores wiped out Teddy’s memory, but rewatching that scene, she gets the tech to max out his aggression, hostility and perception and change his compassion to zero, essentially turning him into a killing machine. How many more hosts will Dolores do that to and has that something to with how so many ended up at the bottom of the lake?
- How hearbreaking was it when Clementine mimes along to the words that her replacement is saying, words she said infinite times herself? It reinforces the idea that not everyone is ready for the freedom that Dolores is offering. Is Clem next?
Westworld – ‘Journey Into Night’ – Season 2 Episode 1 Review