WESTWORLD Review: “Chestnut”

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The second installment of expands the scope of the park and also gives us glimpses of what goes on behind the scenes to make Westworld operate on a day-to-day basis. There’s something sinister at the heart of it all, and the mysterious gunslinger played by Ed Harris plans on finding out all of its hidden secrets.

We’re shown the process of entering into Westworld for the first time through the eyes of William (Jimmi Simpson), an awkward, uptight, introverted man whose friend has brought him to Westworld. Everything is slick and futuristic upon his arrival. Things are behind steel and glass, and when a beautiful hostess brings him to choose his wardrobe or do whatever he wants with her, he politely rebuffs her advances and picks from the vast amount of options for his attire. The final symbolic choice is whether to choose a white hat and be a good guy, or choose a black hat and be a bit of a rogue. William seems to be the polar opposite of his friend Ben, who’s visited Westworld many times and knows all of the ins and outs. These two characters seem more like adversaries than friends, and I believe their diverging viewpoints on all things will eventually set them against each other.

Jimmi Simpson plays William with a perfect amount of naivety and innocence. He’s in wonder as he enters the park for the first time, and wants to really soak it in. His friend Ben is primarily interested in murder and orgies, and makes William witness to things he has no desire in participating in himself. Why has he come? Is it to find out who the real William is as he friend suggests, or is it something else? He claims to have someone waiting for him in the real world, which is why he rebuffs the attempts of both the brothel worker and the first host he’s in contact with. What is he in the real world, and who is waiting for him on the outside?

Deloris and Maeve have both been having visions of past memories flooding into their minds. It started with Deloris’s father and the photograph, but whatever it is has started affecting her as well. At times she wanders through Westworld in a daze, glimpses of last episodes massacre play out in her mind. There’s a moment where she’s lost in these visions, standing in the street, when Maeve asks her to leave the front of her brothel. She turns and repeats to Maeve the same words from Shakespeare her father said to her last episode, “These violent delights have violent ends.” Deloris snaps out of it and moves on, but the words do something to Maeve. The words seem to act like a virus, spreading whatever sentience, or ability to tap into past memories Deloris has to Maeve as well. Soon she’s having her own visions of a daughter, a farm, and a massacre she once went through.

Who’s behind this strange ability to tap into these past memories? Is someone trying to sabotage Westworld? Is it Dr. Ford? He did build the update that allowed the hosts access to brief snippets of memories to invoke “reveries” in them. Does he have a grander scheme in mind? Or could it possibly be Bernard, the head of the programming division? He’s been having secret conversations with Deloris that he doesn’t want anyone else to find out about. Is it his voice Deloris hears in her head telling her to do things? Or is the Man in Black played by Ed Harris responsible in some way? We know he’s on a quest to find out the secrets at the heart of Westworld, and for some reason when his activities are noticed and told to the head of security, it’s stated the Man in Black can have whatever he wants. Why does he have carte blanche inside the park? Who is he, and why has he been coming here for thirty years?

The one thing the Man in Black is fixated on more than anything else, is finding the entrance to some maze. He follows a map printed on the inside of the skull of one of the hosts he tortures and kills, and this time around he finds a man named Lawrence who’s going to help him in some way. The Man in Black rescues Lawrence from a hanging, only to massacre nearly his entire family in some small town in the fringes of the park, all because he demands to know how to find the entrance to the maze. What is the maze? Is it really some secret level of the game that no one is supposed to know about? If it is, why do the hosts know of it? Is the Man in Black trying to destroy Westworld, or is he trying to make it so, like he tells Lawrence, he never has to go back home?

Maeve has vivid nightmares, but the hosts are not supposed to be able to dream because dreams are built from memories. As one of the tech people says, if they are allowed access to the memories of all of the horrible things the guests have done to them over the years, everyone would be in for a lot of trouble. Is this the idea behind waking them up to their past like Abernathy, Deloris, and Maeve are becoming capable of? The other interesting thing that happens to Maeve is during a routine surgery to fix something inside of her. She wakes up on the operating table, confused and scared, and grabs a scalpel as protection to escape. She runs through the operations area of Westworld, completely naked and afraid, until she eventually comes to a place where hosts are being disassembled and thrown into a room and sprayed down with something. Her mind is blown, but she’s apprehended by the surgeons and put back to sleep. Will she remember what she saw and tell others?

Dr. Ford takes a stroll out in the middle of the park and encounters a young boy. At first it seems like he’s on a holiday with his family, but it becomes clear the boy is a creation of Ford’s. Is he Ford as a child, or is he the dead son of Ford? Either way their walk and talk is an interesting look into what makes Ford tick. He’s a man playing God, but what is his plan? He rejects a new narrative story by Lee because he feels it has no place in Westworld, and tells Bernard he has his own story he’s been working on for a long time in place. It must have something to do with the steeple jutting out of the middle of the desert Ford keeps returning to.

Deloris follows the voice in her head out into the farmyard in the middle of the night and digs in a spot it tells her to. She finds a pistol. Is it an illicit handgun smuggled into the park that could actually kill a human? Who put it there? Is it the same person who put the photograph on their farm that vexed her father so much? What’s she going to do with the gun? No matter what happens, that gun is going to play a major part as the story unfolds, and I’m interested to find out who’s behind it.

TB-TV-Grade-A

Season 1, Episode 2 (S01E02)
Westworld airs Sundays at 10PM on HBO

Read all of our reviews of Westworld here. 
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For six months out of the year Jeff is holed up in his home with nothing to do but shovel snow, watch television, write, and dream of warmer climates.
Follow Jeff on Twitter: @OfSoundnVision
Keep up with all of Jeff’s reviews here.

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2 Comments

  1. Excellent review I can’t wait to watch this episode. The show is brilliant it’s so intelligent and ambitious.

    The gun she finds in the field will be aimed at Ford at some point, he has to be killed by one of his creations.

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