The mystery of Westworld deepens in latest episode, ‘Chestnut’ (review)

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“You can’t play God without being acquainted with the Devil.”

In this week’s episode, we begin to see how much of this “glitch” really affects Westworld. Delores and the mistress of the saloon, Maeve Millay, have begun to see “visions,” as we see glimpses of some form of previous “life” that Maeve may have had. Maeve’s “visions” however are noticed by Quality Assurance, and she is immediately pulled for diagnostics. Delores is envisioning the town with littered corpses all over, as she walks aimlessly through the town, a bit more nonchalantly than before. We are also introduced to William, a newcomer to Westworld, brought in by a co-worker. William is very unsure about what to make of the park, but is certain that it’s definitely something he’s never experienced before. Amidst all this, we catch up with the “Man in Black,” who takes out the entire group of the Sheriff and his deputies, just as they were going to hang someone for their crimes. He then enlists the aid of the noosed man, Lawrence, to help him find the maze at the center of the park.

Dr. Ford does a bit of soul-searching, as he goes for a casual stroll in the desert part of the park, running into a small English child. Maeve’s continued glimpses and glitches have caused her to be recalled by QA, but instead of going into storage, one of the technicians, Elsie Hughes, goes over the android’s functionality. Elsie explains that the robots don’t have dreams, but they do have nightmares programmed into their memory. She sets her back to normal settings, and sends her back into the park. Oddly, once she goes to “sleep,” she’s taken in to be cleaned out (being a prostitute). But during the course of her clean out, she begins to have another nightmare, one that includes a more detailed playout of the glimpses she saw earlier, causing her to wake up during the maintenance. Maeve freaks out and takes off running, finding where all the units that were destroyed that day are disposed of, but before she can process the scene, she is turned off, and taken back to maintenance. The episode ends as Delores is awakened in the middle of the night, following an unheard voice. The voice leads her to where a large revolver is buried by the barn. She pulls it up, and cocks it back.

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I’m really digging the depth of storytelling this show has! The spectrum to which this show plans to stretch out to is still yet to be seen, as we’ve experienced so much in just two episodes. It’s honestly no surprise, however, as the writing team for the show is none other than husband-wife duo of Jonathan and Lisa Joy Nolan. That’s right; the brother and sister-in-law of critically acclaimed director, Christopher Nolan. With a combined portfolio of written works such as 2000’s Memento, 2008’s The Dark Knight, 2014’s Interstellar, and the hit TV series, Burn Notice, it’s no wonder as to the level of sophistication and intrigue the story will be for Westworld.

One of the great things that I’m coming to love about the show are the character structuring. We started out with plain individuals in the first episode, watching them do what they had been programmed to do for so long. As the first episode progressed, we begin to see small glimpses of distinctive characteristics from each robot, ending with a direct contradiction of one of the primary “hosts” objectives: she would never harm a living creature. The last episode ends as she slaps a fly that lands on her neck, allowing us to have the “aha” moment, pointing at the screen and saying to ourselves, “Didn’t she say….”. In the second episode, we dive deeper in to what we first perceive as an episode expounding on Delores, but instead, we get to see more about Maeve, and her “awakening.” I loved seeing Thandie Newton in this role, as she is superb. Maeve is someone I’d want on my side in a fight, and Thandie portrays the provocative nature of the character with a healthy balance of fierceness. She takes no garbage from people, but is at the mercy of the glimpses she sees every now and then. She is someone I can’t wait to see flourish into the character that the Nolan’s have in store for her.

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Another character I’m loving more and more as I see him on screen is Ed Harris’s the “Man in Black.” Even though some may say his character is pretty one-dimensional, I beg to differ. There are still a ton of questions that haven’t been answered for me yet, and one of them is the one that racks my brain even more after this episode: is the “Man in Black” a robot? I know this seems dumb to ask, but follow me on this. Yes, he’s been shot and not injured (which is an indication that you’re a guest), but the host in the beginning of the episode, when asked if the guns are real, replies with the cryptic answer of “you can only shoot who you’re supposed to shoot.” So with that knowledge, what if the creators of Westworld gave this robot a “last hurrah,” if you will, right before decommissioning him? Letting him do what he wants, with no consequence, until his retirement date? I have a ton of questions, but this one is the one that I think about most. Secondly, he said he was “born in Westworld.” What does that mean? Spiritually? Mentally? Emotionally? Physically? Yeah, this kind of ambiguous crap is the kind of stuff that keeps me up at night, thinking. Harris really shines in this episode, as you are exposed to more of his ruthlessness to find the “maze” at the center of the park. I’m excited to see what happens next week for him.

Another thing I wanted to highlight about the show so far is the score. The music in the show is so fitting, with the swells of synthesizers and hums of electronica. Ramin Djawadi, the composer for the show, has really encapsulated the true essence of the Sci-fi genre, while not forgetting that it has Western elements. I found myself having to re-watch certain scenes as I got caught up in the score rather than the actual scene, itself. Djawadi is most notable for his Emmy-nominated work in Game of Thrones, but I personally loved his work in one of my favorite films, 2007’s Mr. Brooks. Djawadi’s ability to evoke the precise emotions and mental state through his music is spell-binding, as he continues to hone his skill in each project he takes on.

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All in all, the episode was great! I’m loving the train of thought that the show takes you on in each episode, not knowing whether you should feel sympathetic to the visitors or the robots. The more and more that we are exposed to, as an audience, and the journey of self-discovery that is being made by the robots, the more the rabbit hole deepens for fans of this show. The question that lies above anything else, however, still remains: will the show be able to keep it up? Will the Nolan’s be able to dive deeper into the endless pit of Sci-fi and Western fusion, and continue to deliver what may very well be the best series on television this year? I guess time will tell, but as Delores mentioned in the episode, “These violent delights have violent ends.”

Westworld airs each Sunday at 9PM (PST) on HBO.

Missed the first episode? You can watch it free here.

You can also catch our coverage of the first episode here!

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