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Westworld: Episode 6 Review

Maeve and the audience get some answers

Since Maeve can now wake up at will while being repaired by the technicians, she begins visiting one particular body shop technician named Felix on a regular basis. Maeve begins asking questions about what she is, and Felix explains that while he is a human, she is a robot, and her creators have programmed her to behave in certain ways. Maeve, at first, doesn’t accept this, but then Felix shows her a tablet that is recording and logging her every word. The show doesn’t make it clear whether this log is just recording what she is saying, or if the program on the tablet is telling her what to say. Once Maeve sees this, she glitches and shuts down. Felix panics and begins trying to fix her. It takes him a while, but he eventually wakes her up, and it seems as if she’d forgotten about the entire tablet incident; however, she’s more willing to accept what Felix has to say.

Maeve asks to go upstairs, and Felix complies. She then sees how the robots like herself are constructed. But Maeve and Felix’s secret interactions don’t remain secret for long. Soon, Felix’s partner, Sylvester, catches them, and he is very unhappy; however, Maeve, using her powers of persuasion and a scalpel, convinces Sylvester to keep quiet. From there, the situation changes. Maeve goes from simply asking questions about her situation to essentially holding the two technicians hostage. They are afraid to tell their bosses what’s happening because they’re scared of getting fired and because Maeve might kill them. Granted she’s not supposed to be able to kill anybody, but then again, she isn’t supposed to be waking up at will either. So, for these reasons, the technicians do whatever she asks, and Maeve soon learns that her programming can be changed. She decides to max out her intellect, and it’s only a matter of time before she starts trying to devise a way to escape.

Smuggling Data

Meanwhile, Elsie is still trying to figure out who is attempting to smuggle data out of the park. She eventually enlists Bernard’s help, but Bernard’s investigation takes him down an unexpected rabbit trail. He finds out Ford has a group of robots modeled after the old man’s family, his mother, father, brother, dog, and a childhood version of himself. This is one of the many reasons he’s been seen wandering the park. This discovery troubles Bernard, and he goes to speak with Theresa, one of the other department heads and Bernard’s ex-girlfriend.

However, Bernard is unable to tell Theresa everything because while he has been chasing Ford’s mysterious fantasies, Elsie has still been trying to find the mole, and—surprise, surprise—it turns out the culprit is Theresa. Elsie calls Benard before he can tell Theresa too much and promises to fill Bernard in on the details, but she disappears. In case you’re wondering…she’s not coming back.

Our next perspective takes us to a little followed character up to this point. His name is Lee Sizemore, the writer whose grand narrative was rejected by Ford in a previous episode. He’s taken some “sick days” so he can get drunk and pout. Theresa finds him and tells him to get back to work because once Ford is gone, someone will be needed to replace him. This is the first time we get some details regarding the Board’s planned coup d’état against Ford. They’re convinced the old man is past his prime, and they have other plans for the robots . . . or their data anyway. Lee ignores Theresa’s request and continues to drink and pout until he comes across a particular woman who seems to reciprocate his attention. He bears his soul to her, complaining about Ford. Normally, this sort of indiscretion would’ve cost the writer his job, but—luckily for Sizemore—it’s one of the Board Directors, Hale, and she is the one spearheading the coup. Upon hearing Lee’s contempt for the old man, she quickly realizes she can use him, but Lee is too drunk to catch any of this.

Not much happens after this. There are a few scenes with the Man in Black and Teddy, but nothing of substance really happens. Just an interesting shootout where Teddy proves he can fight when his programming isn’t telling him to lose.

Episode six is where are all the random details from the series start to come together, and the plot starts to make a little more sense. The events within the episode are significant to the plot, but brief, and their import is not really understood unless the viewer has seen the previous episodes.

Too Much Cynicism

The most interesting scenes in the episode are from Maeve’s perspective, which is both a good and a bad thing because Dolores and Willian are sold as the main characters in the series, but they barely show up in episode six. In fact, they don’t have much screen time at all for several episodes because they’re traveling on a train. Felix turns out to be a very likable and sympathetic character. He and Sylvester are seen several times in previous episodes, but what’s jarring is that Sylvester starts out as something of a comical relief; however, after Sylvester sees Felix playing around with a robotic bird in the previous episode, he turns into a very hostile antagonist. I’m not sure this was a good choice on the part of the writers. It would’ve been better if he’d been more fearful of Maeve because this could’ve been played for laughs and endeared the viewers to the technicians more, but instead, Sylvester comes off as angry and resentful, souring the scenes and making an already dark show even more dour for no reason. At this point, the series starts to become a cloud of cynicism. Even dark shows need moments of levity to relieve tension, and it seems there are times the writers forget that when it comes to this series.

Lastly, there’s the question of Maeve’s awakening. We are meant to believe that the robots are becoming conscious. However, it becomes increasingly evident that the robots are conscious already; everything is really a matter of them breaking their programming for some mysterious purpose, rather than their growing self-awareness causing their programming to break. For instance, whenever a robot is typically shown a photograph or image, they are programmed to not see it, which was why what happened with Dolores’s dad was so surprising. But this anomaly is glossed over in Maeve’s case. She simply shouldn’t have seen the tablet Felix showed her, but she does. The writers seem to explain this by mentioning that somebody has already been tinkering with her programming, justifying her anomalous behavior throughout the rest of the show. However, this attempt at patching up the plot hole only serves to undermine the claim that all of this is happening because she’s achieved consciousness, creating a possibility that Maeve is really some kind of sleeper cell being programmed by a hostile agent. The writers try to offset this by reemphasizing Maeve’s daughter as her reason for waking up, but this plot device only serves to muddy the script. In short, because the writers aren’t exactly sure how to explain the evolution of robot sentience, the viewers get mixed messages. We’ll cover episode seven in the next review.       

Gary Varner

Gary Varner is the Assistant to the Managing and Associate Directors at the Center for Science & Culture in Seattle, Washington. He is a Science Fiction and Fantasy enthusiast with a bachelor’s degree in Theater Arts, and he spends his time working with his fellows at Discovery Institute and raising his daughter who he suspects will one day be president of the United States. For more reviews as well as serial novels, go to www.garypaulvarner.com to read more.

Westworld: Episode 6 Review