A Tour Through Westworld's Underbelly Gives Maeve A Chance To Shine
It's good to be a fearless android.
It's pretty clear by now that Westworld is intent on exploding our brains in all sorts of ways, and some of my more adept TV colleagues have already begun to predict what the biggest mindfucks are likely to be. But this is 2016, and big-deal TV shows aren't allowed to rest on their laurels once they've done the thing they set out to do; they also have to comment on the thing they're setting out to do. (Meta! It's what's for dinner.)
Certainly, this trend has proved annoying at times, especially when employed by people whose name may or may not rhyme with Baron Yorkin, but Westworld has been pulling it off pretty darn well, using the self-aware evolution of some of the android characters to mirror the audience's gradual realization of just how deep the show's game is. At the end of the day, though, humans and androids are very much not the same, even if they're so biologically similar that a host can be brought back from the brink of death by a (super-gross) blood transfusion.
Until this week, we might have thought that humans were the superior ones. Well, we ain't, at least not in this world. Westworld's hosts, as suddenly-important-to-the-story technician Felix Lutz tells us, are imbued with far greater mental capacity than we hapless meatsacks ever dreamed of. They're just not allowed to access it, because of course that would lead to the hyperintelligent killbot scenario that the past two hundred years of sci-fi has taught us to fear. So, great plan, Robert and Arnold! Fill the bots with enough wetware to destroy us all, but hide it behind a firewall so advanced that it takes a horny douchebag in scrubs to get past it. Jeez, this is why we can't have nice misanthropic hellscapes.
But I digress. Even before Maeve gets her full Lucy on -- and holy shit, people -- she provides a clear demonstration of the reason Westworld's future is both female and android. After purposely getting herself choked out by an angry-horny newcomer...
...Maeve resumes her tête-à-tête with Felix, who has already shown a propensity for coloring outside the lines with last week's undead bird experiment. Using her Ford-given charm, she starts coaxing Felix to reveal the secrets of her existence, and while the first stage of said revelation goes a little sideways -- Maeve's mind is literally blown when she realizes that everything she says or thinks is a product of her implanted operating system -- she recovers quickly and insists on pushing on to the next level. She doesn't just want a lesson; she wants a tour.
(Side note: if we needed any further proof that the architect of Backstage Westworld had a Cialis-grade escalator boner, this episode provides it in spades.)
From the audience's perspective, the tour is a useful bit of business, because it acknowledges visually what we've all been thinking for the last few weeks: there must be at least ten metric fucktons of R&D facilities in this place, far beyond the intimate tinkering being done by Bernard and Elsie and the other regulars. What we see this week only amounts to probably 5% of that fucktonnage, but it's still an ample glimpse.
Mostly, though, the tour isn't for us; it's for Maeve, who is having the mother of all Red Pill moments (by which I do not mean that she's signing up for Soylent and voting for Trump). When she woke up that morning, she believed she was a late-19th century human being with an organically lived history, and now she's seeing that every single layer of that existence has been created -- and not by an omniscient God, but by fallible humans who have to put everything through beta testing, fix them when they're broken, and hose them down when they get jizzed on.
And you know what? She handles it exceptionally well. There's no meltdown, no malfunction, no existential crisis, nothing more than some temporary confusion when she sees the Westworld promo reel and recognizes her own dreams in the images.
Maeve adapts to a seismic change in her reality faster than most people adapt to a change in the Jeopardy! time slot. I mean, hell, the people of this world are so resistant to change that they're willing to spend a fortune to live in the past, whereas Maeve steps into the dark and endless hallway of an unknown future, kicks off her heels, and starts running. That's what makes her a superior being; the level-ups she acquires at the episode's end are just gravy.
Delicious, delicious gravy. Kill the humans, Maeve! Ford knows we deserve it.