Last week, “Westworld” was light on Maeve (Thandie Newton) despite serving as an introduction and reset for the series. Leaving Newton out of the main story felt odd, especially considering her acclaim in the role. The Emmy winning actress held up Season 2. Leaving her on the sidelines makes sense in the context of “The Winter Line,” which focuses almost entirely on Maeve. While Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) occupies the B-plot, the importance and skill of Maeve take center stage in the Richard J. Lewis directed the episode.
Maeve (Newton) wakes up in Nazi-occupied Italy, a rough way to start any morning. She meets her long-lost love Hector (Rodrigo Santoro), and two escape the city. Hector tells her they are escaping this world, renewing Maeve’s hope. When they reach the plane, the crew has been murdered, and Hector refers to Maeve as Isabella. Maeve understands she was never going to escape WarWorld with Hector and turns a gun on herself.
When Maeve awakes in the cleaning rooms, she sees several technicians hard at work. Among them are Felix (Leonardo Nam) and Sylvester (Ptolemy Slocum), but neither recognizes her. Maeve attempts to self-lobotomize but stops when Lee Sizemore (Simon Quarterman) shows up. Lee survived the shooting from last season but was demoted for helping to WarWorld for helping Maeve. He was able to bring Maeve with him, and because lies next to the Forge, he thinks they can still escape.
Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) arrives at Westworld via boat (the lack of security is shocking), and he makes his way to the Remote Diagnostic Facility in Escalante. In the facility, he finds Ashley Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth), who thought he completed his prime objective when Bernard escaped. With Bernard back, Stubbs agrees to help, and the two begin a search for Maeve.
Maeve rushes through the WarWorld narrative and leaves Hector behind in the car. Lee awaits with horses, and the two travel to the Forge. Maeve asks Lee how to turn on the Forge, but he thought she turned it on last time. When Lee tries to make a move, Maeve pieces it together that she’s not in the real Forge. Lee died in WestWorld. Maeve trusted a false simulation of Lee, but she also realizes the flaws in the system holding her. She grabs a controller and looks at the code for the world before resetting the simulation.
Bernard and Stubbs find the bodies for the hosts of Westworld and look for Maeve. When they find her, they also discover her control unit is missing. Bernard needs to get more information, and the two hosts make their way to the technician offices, located in MedievalWorld.
After passing by an extended cameo for David Benioff, D.B. Weiss, and Drogon, the hosts reach a desk. Bernard plugs in and downloads the information while Stubbs keeps him safe. Berard discovers which files Dolores accessed before heading to the mainland and plans to follow her. After resetting Stubbs’ primary directive to “protect Bernard,” the two leave WestWorld.
Maeve breaks the simulation in her next run through WarWorld. Forcing too many characters into the “Traitor” role, the whole system crashes. Using a hacking device from Lee, she hacks into the real world and sets her escape with a maintenance robot. The robot grabs her control unit and attempts to escape the facility. She does not make it after being gunned down by security. Maeve wakes in the real world and meets Serac (Vincent Cassell). Serac asks for Maeve’s help, and when she refuses, he demonstrates his power by freezing her. For the first time since season one, Maeve does not have control.
Thoughts on the Episode
The simulation within the simulation idea from the last episode quickly became a reality. Maeve’s experiences in WarWorld offer little insight into the Delos corporation or how Rehoboam works. For new viewers, Maeve’s technical prowess and skill cannot be questioned. For fans of the show, “The Winter Line” offered little new information outside of the ability to make Matrix-like simulations. Bernard and Stubbs appear to be on a maguffin-hunt, so hopefully, their story will lead somewhere interesting. Despite focusing on characters we like, no real development took place, and the ball was not moved up the field. This feels like “Westworld,” spinning its wheels while it hustles to reboot the story.
The “Game of Thrones” creators cameo feels like a thank you from HBO, but it distracted in a big way. The choice to have them get ready to carve up Drogon feels like another slight to “Thrones” fans, even if it was just made in jest. Given the adverse reaction to that season, there could have been a lot of other ways to deliver their cameo without them butchering a beloved character. I said, “Westworld” needs more humor, but this was not exactly what I meant.
For next week, our preview indicates much of the episode will follow Tessa Thompson and the host occupying her space. Few hosts earn the trust of Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood), meaning Teddy (previously played by James Marsden) likely won the sweepstakes. Given the emotional stakes set up in the episode, this feels like the perfect fit. With an episode focused back on Los Angeles, there should be plenty of Dolores, Caleb (Aaron Paul), and hopefully a drop in from our favorite Man in Black (Ed Harris).