SPOILERS for Westworld Season 3, Episode 2 ‘The Winter Line’
After a game-changing first episode, Westworld goes back to its roots to deliver an episode packed full of new information, revelations and and the twisty storytelling that the first two seasons adopted. I, for one, loved this episode. It’s thrilling right from the get-go and allows you to follow everything that’s going on by focusing on two storylines that briefly overlap in some very interesting ways. There is a lot going on in this episode, so let’s get into it.
Maeve plans her escape… again
This episode picks up right where the last episode left off, with Maeve (Thandie Newton) realising she’s stuck in another Delos park, Warworld. It wouldn’t be a Maeve storyline if her love, Hector (Rodrigo Santoro), didn’t show up in some capacity, this time as a spy working for the Allies and sporting a brand new look. It appears, at first, that he’s also been awakened with all of his memories and they set off on an adventure to escape Warworld. This is where the writers show off everything Warworld has to offer and it’s a tonne of fun. This is possibly the most fast-paced fun that the show has seen to date.
Once Maeve and Hector reach their getaway plane, Maeve comes to realise Hector hasn’t actually regained all of his memories and has been just playing his Warworld role this whole time. With the death of Hector in this play-through of events, Maeve decides to shoot herself, sending her down to the technicians where she can hopefully get some more answers.
As she awakens, Felix (Leonardo Nam) is the one working on her and when she grabs his hand she seems shocked and runs out of the room… perhaps he’s just done dealing with her drama. As she attempts to make her way out of the facility in broad daylight, where the parks oddly seem to be back in full swing, she catches a sight of Sylvester (Ptolemy Slocum) who seems shocked to see her and calls security. Very odd reactions if you ask me. Meanwhile, Maeve is about to kill herself with the infamous nostril drill but she’s stopped by a surprise appearance from Lee Sizemore (Simon Quarterman), who apparently survived being shot several times at the end of season two.
Here, we get a bunch of information, including the fact that Lee put Maeve in Warworld as it’s located relatively close to the Forge, which is also where the Valley Beyond was located prior to Dolores sending the data elsewhere. It turns out that the Forge didn’t get destroyed and it’s all up and running… something very odd is going on here as we saw the entire facility get flooded.
Maeve wakes back in Warworld, determined to get out her own way, thus leaving Hector behind to run through his current loop. She meets up with Lee and they both make their way to the Forge, but once they arrive, Lee begins to ask Maeve some very odd questions… He’s under the impression that she’s the one who came to the Forge in season two and encrypted the host data, sending it to an unknown location. Maeve has no idea what he’s talking about, but comes to the conclusion that Dolores is the one who moved all of the host data.
Before we get into the spectacular moment that comes next, let’s catch up with the other major story unfolding in this episode.
Welcome to Westworld, Bernard
We catch up with Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) as he arrives on the beaches of Westworld via the South China Sea, showing off the large borders that prevent larger vessels from illegally crossing into the park. As he passes through Escalante, it looks like this section of the park has been burnt to the ground since the events of season two. The more Bernard explores Westworld, the more it seems the park has been abandoned… and for good reason. He makes his way to Ford’s hidden facility, where he killed Theresa in season one, and this is where the tone of the previous seasons really kicks in and I was loving it.
Upon descending into the room where all of his failed host bodies still stand, he finds Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth) sitting down with a gun in his hand and a gunshot wound in his neck, evidence of him trying to kill himself. Suddenly, Stubbs wakes up in a very glitchy state, confirming the fact that Stubbs has always been a host programmed by Ford himself to protect other hosts, a fact that was heavily implied in the closing moments of season two. Bernard fixes up Stubbs and we learn that Stubbs was tasked with protecting Bernard in the park and ensuring he had a chance to escape. Bernard makes known that he has returned to find Maeve as she’s the only one who can stop Dolores, and now we have an exciting new duo to follow.
On their hunt for Maeve, Bernard and Stubbs make their way into the facility and go looking for her in cold storage… but we’ve seen her in Warworld, so she wouldn’t be in cold storage… right?
We are in a simulation
This is where we get the great moment across both story arcs that reveals, everything we’ve seen so far has been another one of Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy’s clever little tricks.
On Maeve’s end, Lee kisses her, professing his love, and that’s when Maeve comes to the realisation that she’s not really talking to Lee. She realises that Lee did die in season two and that this is merely an imperfect host version that failed to capture the man he once was. Lee starts to stutter, confirming that fact. Meanwhile, Bernard and Stubbs do find Maeve’s body in cold storage… which doesn’t make sense, until it’s revealed that her control unit has been ripped from her head. So, where is she?
Back with Maeve, as the host version of Lee malfunctions, the aspect ratio changes, revealing the entire world around Maeve is part of a simulation. This explains why Felix and Sylvester didn’t recognise her earlier, as they’re all part of a construct. So, someone has ripped Maeve’s control unit from her body and placed it in a simulation, but who and for what reason?
Is this Game of Thrones?
After realising Maeve isn’t where they thought, Bernard and Stubbs make their way beneath Park 4, a new park we’ve never seen before which looks to have a medieval theme with knights, dragons and cameos from D.B Weiss and David Benioff, the famed creators of HBO’s Game of Thrones. This is where we learn that the parks have all been shut down, with some technicians waiting to see if they get laid off. Which makes sense now that we know what we’ve seen of Warworld has been a simulation.
They’re under the impression that maybe Dolores took Maeve out of the park and/or corrupted Bernard’s code. Bernard hooks himself up to a new tablet with the hope that he can scan his memories to find out what happened with Dolores and potentially Maeve. In his flashbacks, he sees Dolores reading Liam Gallagher Jr.’s book in the Forge and Dolores in Hale’s body doing something with an unspecified Pearl. This is surely setting up some sort of revelation in the coming episodes as to who’s pearl she was holding.
Bernard tells Stubbs he’s going to go and find Liam Gallagher Jr. to find out more information about what Dolores is doing and Stubbs informs Bernard that once he leaves the island, he’ll be able to retire himself again as his duty to protect Bernard in the park will be fulfilled. However, Bernard gives Stubbs a new directive, to protect Bernard at all costs, so the new dynamic duo make their way back off the park.
Welcome to the real world, Maeve
Back with Maeve, she’s trying to figure out a way to break out of this simulation and comes up with a very clever plan, to overload the system by throwing as many abnormalities and complexities at it that she can. As she wakes up back in her loop, she enacts her plan, unleashing chaos in Warworld which thus breaks the system. She hacks cameras in the facility where her control unit is being held, and it becomes clear at this point that it isn’t Dolores who smuggled her out of the park. She takes control of a maintenance drone, steals her control unit and attempts to break out of the facility, however, the drone is gunned down and Maeve doesn’t make it to where she wants to go.
The next time she wakes up she’s not in Warworld, she’s in the real world, in a very upper-class house with a visualisation of Rehoboam on the wall. A man is waiting for her, and that’s when we get the reveal of Serac, played by the talented Vincent Cassell. Maeve has been kept in a simulation by Serac, the creator and owner of Incite and the Rehoboam system… but why?
This is the scene that sets up what is most likely going to be the main conflict of the season; Maeve vs Dolores. Serac explains that they’re in the middle of a war, but the war hasn’t started and they’ve already lost, most likely a result of the algorithms Rehoboam has been picking up. He also mentions that Rehoboam had been creating a better world, a better future, but recently it stopped working. Believing the threat to be Maeve, he placed her in a simulation, but he just learned that there’s someone else… Dolores.
He’s now asking Maeve to track down Dolores and kill her. Maeve does her best to try and kill Serac, but he can control her with the press of a button. It will be interesting to see how Serac manages to get her on his side to put an end to Dolores’ increasing threat.
This entire episode was only made up of two lengthy character arcs, but it felt more like the Westworld of old, incorporating the mind-bending twists and turns that made the last two season so thrilling. We got our reveal of who Serac is and how he will play into the season. It’s also now clear that Serac, Maeve and Bernard are all working to stop Dolores from waging war on the humans, albeit each with their own motivations. It will be interesting to see how all of these stories begin to collide over time as the main story of season three is now fully under way, with many more shocks and surprises to come.