The season three premiere of Westworld last week gave us nearly everything that we wanted from the show. From Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) kicking some asses to the introduction of Aaron Paul’s new character and mesmerizing worldbuilding, the first episode was a good sign that we’re on to an amazing new season. But there’s still one thing that’s missing from it. And it is Maeve Millay (Thandie Newton), a character that has become the heart and soul of the show since its inaugural season. Yes, she appeared in the post-credit scene of episode one, but that’s not enough. Thankfully, the second episode “The Winter Line” is dedicated entirely to Maeve and her journey of, once again, liberating herself from the park.
Nothing Is Quite As It Seems
The last time we saw Maeve at the end of season two, all her allies who helped her escape from the park are either dead or just like Maeve herself, captured by Delos again. But Maeve is not dead yet. She’s way too smart for it. In fact, as we can see from last week’s post-credit scene, Maeve is trapped inside the park once more. This time is not the Westworld, but the Warworld — one of the few parks that we had yet to see in the two previous seasons. She wakes up in German-occupied Italy, unsure how she could end up there. As she’s looking around to asses the place, a familiar face appears in front of her. It’s Hector (Rodrigo Santoro), but with a whole new hair and costume.
The two attempt to escape from the building where Maeve wakes up. But after he calls her Isabella, Maeve realizes that this Hector isn’t the same person she knew back then. Maeve decides to put a bullet in her brain as a group of German soldiers is shooting Hector. It’s not a suicide though. It’s actually just one of her slick tricks to get inside Delos’ facility area where hosts are being repaired after they get killed in the park. There, Maeve once again meets familiar faces, Felix and Sylvester. But just like Hector, the two do not recognize who Maeve is.
Feeling frustrated when a few guards try to capture her, Maeve plans to put a drill up her nose, until another ghost from her past tells both the guards and Maeve to stop. The familiar face? It’s Lee Sizemore (Simon Quarterman), who at the end of season two was assumed dead after he heroically tried to protect Maeve. But unlike Hector, Felix, and Sylvester, Lee does know who Maeve is. In fact, he wants to help Maeve reunite with her daughter once again. That’s why he puts her in Warworld, the park closest to the Forge — the place where Maeve’s daughter is located.
Of course, knowing that she at least has one person whom she could trust, makes her feel a little relieved. But in a classic Westworld way, of course, nothing is quite what it seems. This Lee is just a replica, a copy built to distract her. The real Lee is indeed dead. Maeve’s aware of it when Lee tells her that the reason he helps her is that he desires her. When in fact, the Lee that Maeve knew helps her because he knows that it’s the right thing to do. After Maeve confronts him, he and the room begin glitching, and that’s when Maeve knows that she’s not even trapped inside the park, but a virtual simulation meant to study her.
Elsewhere, Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) makes his way back to the now-abandoned Westworld, where he reunites with Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth). Both Bernard and us, the audience, learn that Stubbs is also a host. But even though he has conscience like Maeve, Bernard, and Dolores, Stubbs’ isn’t equipped with a backstory. His job is just simply to protect the host. Bernard sees this as an opportunity to help him defeat Dolores. He wants to build an army — at least a group of people — just like Dolores has done. The first person that Bernard and Stubbs want to recruit is Maeve. But until the last moment of episode two, they still have no idea where Maeve actually is. It’s gonna be captivating to see Bernard scrambling against time before Dolores does something catastrophic.
In Praise of Maeve and Thandie Newton
This episode revolves around all of these big revelations. But unlike season two where the writers drag out most of the mysteries until the end of the season, “The Winter Line” moves relatively quick. There are no repetitive moments. Everything that’s happened in this episode is integral to both the narrative and the character. And seeing Maeve skillfully make sense of what is happening and what she needs to do to get out of the simulation is a rewarding experience. And it’s not just because the writers have done a great job at crafting the episode, but also because Thandie Newton is able to once again dive into Maeve and brilliantly showcases the parts of her that make us root for her freedom in the first place.
Maeve is a character who’s used to finding plenty of ways to win rigged games. She always knows how to learn the rules and then break them. And in this episode, that’s what she’s done. Yes, it’s sad to see her lose her power at first. But when you have free will and knowledge, you don’t need a special skill to get the job done. This is what eventually makes her the most interesting character of the show. Unlike Dolores who uses her free will and narrow opinion of humanity to abuse people, Maeve utilizes it for a more noble purpose, like helping other people even though she has to sacrifice herself in the end.
Episode two is a testament to how far Maeve has come in three seasons. She still fights for her freedom, yes. But she’s also becoming a formidable character whom everyone can always rely upon. No wonder Bernard wants her on his team against Dolores, and no wonder that a new character named Serac (Vincent Cassel) also wants her to help him. But the question here is, what is it Maeve actually wants? It will be interesting to see Maeve finally do something for herself and not for other people. But it will also be exciting to see her use her skills to fight Dolores. Either way, if there’s anything we can learn from this episode, it’s that Maeve remains the best part of the show.
A Solid Episode
Though in the end not much is really developed in this episode besides introducing Serac and unveiling a few big revelations, ‘The Winter Line’ is not as bad as any of season two’s episodes. It still retains the exciting new energy that the first episode has brilliantly established while at the same time building an anticipation of what could be a great war between two sides of humanity.
Who do you think Maeve will side? Let us know in the comments!
The second episode of Westworld season three is now streaming at HBO GO and HBO Now.
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