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Westworld: Season 3, Episode 2 (The Winter Line) - Review

Westworld: Season 3

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

IF THE first episode of the third season of Westworld made perfect sense, then its second instalment reverted to an all too familiar kind of WTF format! But still in a good way.

The main focus, this time, was Thandie Newton’s Maeve, now known as Isabella. At the end of season two, she had apparently been killed while facilitating the escape of some of her fellow hosts. Now, though, she is reincarnated as Isabella and thrust into a WWII scenario as an Italian partisan.

With the Nazis in hot pursuit, Isabella at first attempts to flee the park [or Warworld], once more, with the help of former lover Hector Escaton (now named Ettore and played by Rodrigo Santoro). But they die trying… or rather, upon realising that Hector no longer remembers who she is, Isabella orchestrates a reboot by setting up a gun battle in which her lover is killed by Germans and she takes her own life, lamenting “it’s alright darling, none of it matters… because none of it is real”.

Second time around, she is reunited with another former park member, Lee Sizemore (Simon Quarterman), Westworld’s Head of Narrative, who formerly wrote the storylines for the park. Where once he was an egotistical jerk, however, he now appears to have a heart, as a result of having been wounded in the uprising. He also now has a limp.

When pressed, Lee reveals that he was responsible for putting Maeve in Warworld because he wanted to help her escape via a hatch known as The Forge, so that she could be reunited with her daughter. He is also in love with her.

But when Maeve and Lee make it to The Forge, the environment around them suddenly becomes more fabricated and Lee develops an erratic voice. He’s a robot, the realisation of which serves as a devastating blow to both of them.

So, nothing is real to this point.

In the meantime, Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) has reached Westworld in search of Maeve and become reunited with Westworld’s head of security, Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth), who is in bad shape but determined to see out his mission of protecting Bernard.

Their search for Maeve leads them to ‘park four’, which allows for the episode’s most fun moment – a cheeky nod to Game of Thrones, complete with a musician playing that show’s theme tune. But it doesn’t get them as far as Warworld and they are unable to locate Maeve.

Instead, Bernard discovers that someone has been accessing the data of previous guests (Dolores?) and enlists Stubbs to help him find the guest she seemed most curious about: Liam, who was introduced last week.

Back on Warworld, Maeve engineers a system crash, whereby the simulation she now finds herself in falls apart because of being overworked. This, in turn, offers her the chance of – finally – entering the real world, where she is introduced to AI ogliarch Serac (Vincent Cassel), another character referenced [but not seen] in last week’s opener.

Serac enlists Maeve in a war that he claims will save humanity and tasks her with killing Dolores. And so the stage is set for Maeve to go after Dolores, with Bernard also in pursuit.

And while those final moments made the overall arc of the episode seem relatively simple, there was a heck of a lot more going on. Questions abound, mostly concerning the mystery simulation that Maeve found herself trapped in. Why was she there? And what, exactly, was the point of it? Who, even, had placed her there and for what end?

Bernard, too, comes with his own questions, especially when tapping into a different version of himself to try and uncover answers.

As with so much of Westworld, post season 1, there is a lot of head-scratching, amid the suspicion that we might not get all of it, or even be headed towards a satisfying conclusion.

Showrunner Jonathan Nolan is, of course, no stranger to offering up mind-bending conundrums, as a regular collaborator with brother Christopher Nolan. But Inception, to which the false constructs of Westworld would seem to owe a debt of inspiration, did leave things open to interpretation too. So, be warned.

What season three does have going for it, in a big way, is the way it looks. Episode one’s lavish futuristic city-scapes were stunning. But the WWII backdrop provided by The Winter Line were similarly stunning… sumptuous even.

And the performances remain enthralling. Here, Newton displayed equal parts fiery determination and confusion and continues to emerge as the show’s out and out hero. But the likes of Hemsworth and Quarterman also shone and were clearly having fun playing alternative versions of their previous characters.

The Game of Thrones reference was also a nice touch, as were some other moments of humour that served to break up the more head-spinning elements.

Thus far, therefore, season three of Westworld remains as intriguing, beguiling and impenetrably fascinating as ever.

Read our review of the previous episode