Your Westworld recapper is currently traveling so this week’s post is going to be a bit briefer than usual, but there are several points I feel particularly strongly about. So let’s dive right into the sixth episode, beginning with Maeve, who’s deeply bored with her Old Time theme park life and wants to return to Westworld’s sleek sci-fi backstage area to gather more clues about the nature of her existence.
Maeve marches a guest upstairs and taunts him into choke-y death-sex. I’m not sure if we were supposed to find this scene arousing or repulsive or both. And what does Maeve have against beds, anyway? She’s all about sitting on safes and dressers during death-sex.
Maeve then wakes in the backstage body shop where Lutz not-so-gently explains she’s a robot and they are real. “How do you know?” Maeve asks, which is a darn good question. There’s a theory that everybody on this show is secretly a host, though I personally don’t believe that (mainly because it would make the story less interesting but also because the body shop dorks wouldn’t be secretly prostituting the hosts and telling Maeve all this if they were under Ford’s control).
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Maeve takes some convincing in the form of a niftily designed language tree display that shows her exactly what she’s going to say while she’s saying it. Seeing this prompts a Maeve software crash. The body shop guys hit control-alt-delete to reboot her. Did anybody else want to hear the Mac chime as Maeve came back online?
Next, Maeve demands to see the upstairs level and we get one of the standout moments in the series. You remember how in the first Westworld episode we saw that sequence showing various departments engineering the hosts? This is like a reprise of that sequence, only instead it’s from the perspective of a host, which changes everything about it. The music is an orchestral version of Radiohead’s “Motion Picture Soundtrack,” and it’s spot-on perfect (Westworld keeps proving to me that Radiohead without Thom Yorke’s divisive vocals is so much greater than regular Radiohead).
Maeve sees hosts kissing, drawing guns over a game of cards, a host being brought to life, dead hosts being hosed down, and a bison being led around. In these brief moments, she’s basically seeing the range of her not-so-human existence — birth, nature, fighting, love, and death. Then she notices a video wall that’s showing promotional footage for the park. She sees herself on the screen, including her dreams that she learns were her past builds. It’s like Maeve is watching a trailer for her own life, one where she’s a perpetual victim, the unknowing captive, and the star. The tagline for the ad is “Live Without Limits,” when her life is nothing but living within limits.
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I could go on and on about this wonderful sequence. It’s beautifully done thanks to Thandie Newton’s expressions, the music, the imagery, and editing. You may or may not think of Westworld as a perfect show. But a scene like this is transcendent in a way that 99 percent of TV is not. I suspect anybody who isn’t moved by this is most definitely a host — or at least has some missing circuits.
NEXT: Does Westworld really lack characters to root for?