Westworld Season 3 Episode 2 review: With its focus on Maeve, 'The Winter Line' gets very Inception-esque
Like a Russian nesting doll, episode 2 of Westworld season 3 — 'The Winter Line' — reveals secret after secret, stripping off yet another layer of illusion each time you think you've reached reality.
The following post contains spoilers for Westworld's Season 3 Episode 2.
Episode 1 of Westworld season 3, last Monday, left us with a post-credit scene offering the merest glimpse of where Maeve was: Nazi Germany!
Episode 2 — 'The Winter Line' — gives us a whole lot more. Like a Russian nesting doll, this episode reveals secret after secret, stripping off yet another layer of illusion each time you think you've reached reality. Inception-esque, would be a good description. (Which makes you think the Nolan family must be very fond of the narrative device.)
Initially, we see that Maeve is in "Warworld" — a World War II themed park, with a script of getting the Allied Forces some top-secret plans before the Nazis can find and kill her. She is accompanied by another rebel, Hector. But Maeve soon realises that Hector remembers nothing of their past, now does he retain his consciousness; he has gone back to performing according to programme.
Unwilling to play along with whatever new game she has been placed in, Maeve attempts to self-lobotomise, but is stopped by another old friend: Lee Sizemore. Lee tells her he narrowly escaped the carnage at Westworld. More importantly, he tells Maeve that Warworld is close to the Forge — via whose servers all the other hosts (including her daughter) passed into the "Valley Beyond" in the season 2 finale. Maeve sees her chance to escape, and sets a plan into motion accordingly.
But this too, is an illusion. Maeve realises that Lee isn't real, that they're in a simulation. And if that is the case, then who's in control?
The answer, it would seem, is Serac — the mysterious figure Dolores heard of in S3 E1 ('Parce Domine'), as being the man in charge of Rehoboam — the AI system that is controlling human life. Something has been disrupting Rehoboam's functioning and Serac tells Maeve that at first, he thought it was her, but now realises it wasn't.
They simultaneously conclude, it must be Dolores. Serac asks Maeve to undertake a new mission — to eliminate Dolores — but Maeve isn't likely to come on board just like that.
With Maeve engaged in Serac's plans, the other character in focus in 'The Winter Line' is Bernard. We saw him making his way back to Westworld towards the end of S3 E1, and at this juncture, he has landed. He heads to Dr Ford's cottage and finds his tablet — and also, Stubbs! May we add, a very bloody Stubbs, courtesy a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
A fan favourite theory is then realised as Stubbs himself is revealed to be a host, programmed by Dr Ford to give Bernard a fighting chance at escaping, if/when disaster struck. Stubbs and Bernard then attempt to locate Maeve; Bernard knows that he was brought back by Dolores, but in the absence of concrete knowledge of her plans, he figures having Maeve on his side will help face off against Dolores if required.
Maeve, however, is gone. Her shell remains at Westworld, among all the other discarded hosts, but her processing unit itself has been removed. Stymied, Bernard tries another track: scanning his systems on the 'clean' machines at Westworld to see if his own has been corrupted in some way by Dolores. He sees brief snatches of what has happened in the run-up to and aftermath of the Westworld carnage: Dolores promising a war. Charlotte Hale shooting him. He also reaccesses a memory of a guest whose "book" Dolores showed interest in — Liam Dempsey Jr, the son of Rehoboam's co-creator alongside Serac.
A perfect microcosm of the layered plot of this episode is to be found in Stubbs and Bernard's walk through the old command centre of Westworld and other Delos destinations: two technicians discuss how they've found a buyer for the large dragon robot they've got before them, someone in Costa Rica. The technicians are DB Weiss and David Benioff, the dragon is Drogon, and Costa Rica is a reference to Isla Nublar, where Jurassic Park — like Westworld, another Michael Crichton creation — is set!
On the whole, S3 E2 seems more cohesive than its predecessor, and there's a sense of comfort and homecoming in seeing these familiar faces — Lee Sizemore, the technicians Lutz and Sylvester (who Maeve meets in Warworld), Hector, (and in Bernard's storyline, Stubbs). But it's a comfort stripped from us all too soon. As Maeve notes, it's illusory. Reality is elsewhere.
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