Westworld Season 3 Episode 2 – ‘The Winter Line’

Westworld Season 3 Episode 2 – ‘The Winter Line’

March 28, 2020 1 By Bilal Akram

This week’s episode, ‘The Winter Line’, explores two lead characters’ fates which complete the reintroduction of the main cast bar The Man In Black (Ed Harris).

We see Maeve’s storyline expanded upon when she escapes an elaborate simulation and incidentally reaches the ‘real world’ where Dolores and the Rehoboam fiasco is centre stage. Arnold’s journey is marked by his return to Westworld with Luke Hemsworth’s Ashley Stubbs making a reappearance.

Outline/Recap

This week’s episode picks up directly after the end-credits scene of ‘Parce Domine’. Maeve is in a room overlooking a Nazi occupied town in a park known as “Warworld”. She soon realises she is in an augmented world and sets out to escape. As she leaves, someone enters; it happens to be Hector, Maeve’s lover from season two, and they leave in haste as he holds Nazi-crippling information. Maeve is overjoyed and sees Hector as sentient like her. He and Maeve navigate around the epicentre of the town where a host of Nazi hosts surround and listen to a speech by their general. They sneak past and leave via a bridge towards an exit.

Two Nazi soldiers stand guard at an archway on the bridge and stop and search Hector; they find the map. Hector shoots them before they can react to the written information. He and Maeve escape and reach a helicopter which is his planned escape route. Hector enters the vehicle and miscalls Maeve’s name as she realises he is without free will. She bluntly tells Hector he is not real as Nazis close in. A shoot out kills the Nazis and leaves Hector dead with multiple bullet wounds. Maeve realises that shooting herself in the head would invoke reparations in maintenance, so she does this.

We see her awake on an operating table with workers Sylvester and Lutz from season one and two patching her up. Lutz realises she is awake but keeps quiet, then he and Sylvester go out of the room. Maeve gets up and covers herself with a robe and leaves. She slowly moves along the corridor to an office where she can extract her host core to supplement one of her plans. However, two armed guards soon spot her and plan to detain her until Lee Sizemore, Head of Host Narratives from last season, arrives and controls the situation as he order the guards to leave. He was last seen badly injured and presumed dead, but he supposedly survived and is with crutches.

Lee talks to Maeve and informs her that The Forge, where her daughter was sent last season, is accessible. She is overjoyed and Lee agrees to take her there. Once there, she asks how The Forge was activated and controlled as she remembers The Uprising and its shenanigans. In an off but predictable fashion, Lee proclaims his longing for her. Maeve sees this slight deviation from Lee’s motives she knew in the past and realises he himself is a host. Lee is confused and such revelation causes a deep questioning of the nature of his reality which leads to his conscience awakening. We realise that the whole park and control centres are an elaborate narrative with Maeve confused as to its purpose.

Arnold/Bernard arrives in a ruined a deserted Westworld. He ventures into Ford’s lodge and passes the uncleaned blood splatters and mess from previous seasons on the way into the basement. A turn into a side room reveals a collection of dead Bernard hosts, all with varied graphic injuries. In the corner of the room, Arnold finds Ashley Stubbs on a chair with a bullet hole in his head. A mild jump scare proceeds as Stubbs wakes up. He begins to cough up blood and we see a deep lesion across the back of his head. Arnold patches him up and asks him what has happened. We realise that he attempted to kill himself but missed his host core. Arnold remembers Dolores’ escape and plan to destroy humanity; he figures out that Maeve is the only equaliser/pacifier to resolve the issue.

Stubbs ensures him that he knows where she is. They arrive at the underground warehouse where hosts were kept in previous seasons and find Maeve’s body, but her orb had been torn out of her head. Arnold and Stubbs head to the Westworld control centre to gain intel on the whereabouts of Maeve. Arnold manages to bypass the system by connecting it to Bernard’s mainframe; he receives information on Maeve’s whereabouts, and a refreshing of Dolores and Charlotte’s actions in season two. During this process, Stubbs encounters two armed men and fends them off to give Arnold sufficient time. With Arnold in the loop, he sets out to find Maeve and leaves Westworld. Stubbs narrative is fixed on the welfare of the park and the park’s destruction invokes his termination. To remedy this, Arnold uses a tablet to reprogramme this story towards protecting him.

Maeve re-enters Warworld and attempts to swing Hector towards consciousness. Unfortunately, he is hell bent on his story and immovable. Maeve is forced to leave him and heads towards the control centre with Lee to discuss plans of escape. She hacks the augmented, flawed host mainframe via the classic Westworld tablets to tamper with the hosts. Maeve poses a contradictory, unsolvable question (the square root of -1) for two host maintenance workers to rationalise; this distracts them indeterminably. Thusly, she uses this to confound all Westworld staff and is free to clone Hector’s revealing map to be placed in each host’s outfit. Her plan incriminates every host and pits them against one another during a final simulation.

Maeve waits for the melee to break out before freezing all motor functions of every single Warworld host. A sublime frozen shot of the battlefield displays blood splatters and bodies mid-air. As a result, Maeve and Lee escape the simulations and reach the real control centre. Maeve looks around until she sees her host core/orb in a holding capsule on a distant shelf. The containment area is attended to by maintenance robots. Maeve manages to hack one of the robots to retrieve her orb which in turn disables her host self. The robot holding the core is programmed for escape but is soon cornered and shot down as the orb is lost.

After this incident, we see Maeve awake in a grand apartment/house dressed in a beautiful white dress. She walks around and sees a man who she questions with characteristic rhetoric,

‘Who the f*** are you?’.

Maeve

We are introduced Engerraund Serac, the sole controller of the overly powerful Rehoboam and the big bad of season three. Maeve is confused as to why he needs her. Serac informs Maeve that he wants her to hunt down and kills Dolores, she agree as the episode ends.

Observations

The unchangeable programming of Hector is tragic as Maeve was overjoyed when reunited in Warworld and cared for deeply apart from her daughter.  

We see Arnold revisiting iconic locations from season one: the black church where the maze was buried and Ford’s lodge where Bernard was told he was a host replica of Arnold Weber.

Ashley Stubbs’ role in Westworld was maintaining overall park safety. And that Ford’s lodge was where an altercation between he and a Bernard clone took place in season two.

Stubbs coughs up a bullet. This is almost funny and grounds the show with its characteristic grizzly visuals.

The underground host warehouse is the well-placed facility from previous seasons first seen with Ford and Bernard and houses stiff, frozen, standing naked hosts. This is intentionally eerie to evoke horror.

The hosts are positioned uniformly and motionless in a dark, dingy space lit up only by the entrance of someone. Their nakedness mimics the natural and original state of man.

Arnold and Bernard are two halves in the same body but are distinguishable in scenes where Arnold accesses his host mainframe to make sure Bernard is in check.

When Maeve is walking through the maintenance corridor in one of the rooms we see a dragon which looks identical to Drogon from Game Of Thrones.

Just a note on the interluding sequences with the white screen with black outlined circle with coordinates. This is the Rehoboam at work; and this is a machine capable of predicting the future through monitoring every event occurring in the present. This looming and all-knowing presence is reminiscent of the idea of ‘Big Brother’ from 1984 (George Orwell).

The Bigger Picture

With Maeve now in Serac’s employ ‘The Winter Line’ acts as set-up for the highly anticipated convergence between her and Dolores.

Maeve utters the famous line snatched from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet:

‘These violent delights have violent ends’.

Maeve

This is such a great expression and outlines the notion of tragedy. Every season seems to have a violent end.

Final Thoughts

The camera shots in Warworld as Maeve and Hector travel across the bridge are from a sweeping birds-eye drone view. This way, we can see an expansive, picturesque view of the distant town connected to the bridge and the beautiful natural scenery surrounding it. It’s apparent that HBO have put a lot of time and money into finding the perfect setting and location for such shots. The producers announced that they had filmed in locations worldwide for season three and this is a prime example of the fruits of their labour. We were already given a taste of drone shots in Caleb’s bridge walk in episode one which utilised a wide shot with vivid CGI graphics to contour the surrounding buildings to a futuristic standard.

I really enjoyed this episode because we got to see the barren, overrun Westworld park. Thandie Newton’s acting was top form this episode as we saw her vulnerability in heart-break in Hector’s indoctrination and Lee’s admission of love as well as her hope for her daughter’s retrieval from The Forge. This is clearly contrasted with the cold, no nonsense character in the face of adversaries such as her straight-up declaring of Lee being a host as well as her meeting with the Rehoboam controller. This acting range is what makes her performance in the show Primetime Emmy Award winning.

I rate this episode an 8.5/10.