westworld host blood

Was Clementine’s Beating the Most Disturbing Scene Yet?

Westworld has been a violent show since its first episode, using cruelty to surgically examine the limits of what we find acceptable in our entertainment. While there are undeniably some viewers who enjoy Westworld as a bloody action show with wacky twists (and that is their prerogative), the series has always been critical of itself. Self-awareness is its secret weapon – it knows we enjoy fake violence in our movies and shows and video games, so it tests our limits. Are you not entertained?

Take the scene where Clementine (Angela Sarafyan) is “tested” by Charlotte Hale before a small audience of park heads. When viewed as an abstract, we’re watching two programs run through their operations. Take one step back, and you’re watching one robot attack another robot, both of whom will forget about this event in a matter of seconds. But take another step back and you’re looking at a man viciously assault a defenseless woman in a scene of violence that is extreme even for an HBO series. Look upon the passive faces of Dr. Ford, Theresa Cullen, and Bernard Lowe and despair – there is no sympathy for the illusion of abuse and violence. All they are the ones and zeroes.

Think about Clementine, who spends her days stuck as a prostitute because she needs to support her family’s failing farm. But only for a few years. She’ll be back eventually. This job is only temporary. Her humanity, while carefully constructed, informs her every moment. When she is beaten to the ground to prove a point to the men and women who built her, it’s hard to forget her backstory. It’s easy to wonder if she’s thinking about her family as she fears for her life.

Of course, Clementine does fight back and take down the Host who assaulted her, but even this sense of agency is a bug planted by Theresa and Charlotte to lay the groundwork for Ford’s dismissal. She may look human, but she’s not human enough to be anything but a pawn. And when Bernard takes the bullet for his boss and accepts responsibility for (the clearly staged) act of Host sabotage, it’s just a repeat of what we just saw: a pawn programmed to do what he must do to serve the whims of his master. But we’ll get there.

Westworld episode 7

How Does Maeve Plan to Escape?

After taking the spotlight last week and receiving an intelligence boost that makes her the most dangerous being in Westworld, Maeve (Thandie Newton) retreated to the background in “Trompe L’Oeil.” And for good reason: she’s now smart enough, aware enough, to think about her actual future and not the scripted hopes and dreams she will never be able to obtain. That’s the tragedy of her learning Clementine’s backstory in this episode – Maeve now knows that her colleague will never make it back to the family farm. She’ll probably die today and wake up in the same place over and over again.

So we watch Maeve live within her usual loop, but with full awareness of her surroundings. She goes through the similar motions, repeats the same lines of dialogue she always has, but with a tinge of melancholy and rage that were absent before. It’s quietly spectacular work by Newton, who has to play new emotions on top of material we’ve already seen several times before.

In terms of plot, the most important revelation is that Maeve is no longer under control of the park technicians. When they freeze the occupants of the Mariposa so they can enter the scene in their protective white suits to retrieve a Host, Maeve does not halt along them. She has total control of her body. She is her own person. And so she plants the seeds of what to do next in a conversation with Felix and Sylvester, who are in such deep shit at this point that they essentially have to go along with whatever Maeve says. It’s time to escape.

But how? And what is waiting for Maeve beyond the park limits? We’ve been wondering since episode one what the world outside of the park looks like and it’s starting to look like Maeve is the character who will provide that answer.

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