TV review: Westworld – Chestnut

Barry Quinn

Barry Quinn is an English Language and Literature graduate and a Creative Writer MA studier. He is an aspiring creative and professional writer and is currently in the process of writing his first novel. His writing blog can be viewed here: https://barrygjquinn.wordpress.com You can follow him on Twitter at: @mrbarryquinn

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Slowing down the pace after last week’s exhilarating debut episode, ‘Chestnut’ is by no means a poorer episode as a result. In fact, Westworld continues to excite on pretty much every level. ‘Chestnut’ will leave you wanting more.

The Original‘ was a glossy hour-long movie adaption of the 1973 movie of the same name, zipping from story to story to introduce the core concepts of this show and the host (see what I did there?) of characters that we’ll be exploring over the 10 hours of season one. ‘Chestnut’, however, was a more subdued affair. Evan Rachel Wood’s Dolores was the core focus last week; this week it’s Thandie Newton’s Maeve Millay, alongside newcomers Logan and William. More on those in a moment.

Both Newton and Wood do an exceptional job of conveying two different personae of the same characters; with barely a bat of their eyelids, both are able to switch from the outward facade of the narrative, to the artificial intelligence beneath the surface, and they both do this in a chilling way. In a very strong cast, these two may just be the cream of the crop. It was both intriguing and scary to see Maeve enact the same lines over and over with just the slightest change in deliverance (much like Dolores last week) that is going to make the eventual uprising (come on, you know it’s gonna happen!) all the more satisfying. Strangely, it’s the Hosts who are the most intriguing characters thus far.

Just look at Maeve’s flash of memories. She seems to have a history with the Man in Black as memories of one of her past narratives returned to her in the form of a nightmare. I cannot wait to see these two characters interact again, because Maeve is surely going to flip when she sees and remembers him, right? Likewise Maeve appeared to have a daughter at one point – I wonder what’s become of her, and whether she remembers Maeve or not?

And let us talk about that moment towards the end of ‘Chestnut’. You know which one I’m talking about. Maeve woke, mid-operation, to plunge her fingers into a gaping wound before threatening her surgeons. Now this was a startling scene for two reasons. Firstly – just look at it! Thandie Newton excels here. She’s both dangerous and frightened simultaneously. She’s both fierce and entirely out of her depth. Her emotion is almost palpable as she runs through the understructure of Westworld trying to escape, only to come face-to-face with the truth: that the Hosts are decommissioned and reconstructed nightly whenever they are destroyed in the park. Surely Maeve is going to recall this memory at a later stage?

Secondly? Well, the surgeons looked pretty damn scared of Maeve. I thought the Hosts were supposed to be unable to harm humans? It certainly didn’t look like that here. Maybe this only holds up in the actual theme park? If that’s the case, I’d hate to be one of those working at Westworld, because the Hosts will destroy them all ultimately, surely. I still stand by my theory that Anthony Hopkins’ Robert Ford won’t make it past season one.

And can we just talk about Dolores for a moment? Last week she innocently killed a fly, despite her programming telling her that she can’t. This week she’s having flashes of memories and unearthing a gun. I simply cannot wait until everything comes flooding back to her. Dolores Abernathy may just be the most compelling character at the moment. Long may she reign!

All of this isn’t to say that the Newcomers (y’know, the human characters in the park) aren’t intriguing, either. Newbies Logan and William (Ben Barnes and Jimmi Simpson respectively) are two opposing forces. Logan is a veteran of Westworld who knows exactly how the park works and what he wants from it, so naturally he’s going to discover a deeper meaning or connection at some point. And William is a virgin, with no prior knowledge of the workings of the park. So, naturally, he’s going to become intoxicated, forget about his love back home, and indulge until his heart’s content. I think both stories are going to intrigue for different reasons.

Ed Harris continues to intrigue, too. The Man in Black is on a mission, and even the programmers have cottoned on now. I’m prepared to bet large sums of money on him either being related to Robert Ford, or him having had a part to play in the parks creation before being ousted. Just you wait. I bet when Ford eventually claps eyes on him everything is going to fall into place. Maybe the Man in Black will be the one to off Ford – certainly there are a lot of people who would want him dead. Namely, ALL OF THE HOSTS.

As a side note, I’m gonna predict that one of the controllers is a Host that Ford has planted amongst his staff to see how they work alongside humans without pre-set narratives. That’ll be a hell of a twist, right? My money’s on Jeffrey Wright’s Bernard Lowe, or maybe Ford himself. Because none of these characters come even close to being harmed, it’ll be a while before this comes to fruition.

Westworld is shaping up to be the next big thing. And Ford himself is preparing the next big thing for Westworld: namely, religion. Bore. But it could work, depending on how his storyline pans out. Religion, in particular the seven deadly sins, has already played a large part in the story thus far. Each and every one of these sins are going to be exploited throughout this series. The debauchery has only just begun, but my addiction is almost complete.

Oh, and if anybody can tell me why the hell this weeks episode was called ‘Chestnut’, I’d REALLY appreciate it.

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