Westworld Episode 6 Recap: Don't Mess With Maeve

Photo: John P. Johnson/HBO.
After last week's mind-blowing ending, it seemed inevitable that this episode would be all about Maeve — and what a treat that was. More Maeve is always a good idea. Thandie Newton manages to make this character simultaneously scary, vulnerable and seductive, all seasoned with a dash of robotic inflection. I'm here for it.

So let's dive in, shall we?

It's another beautiful day in the neighborhood as Maeve gets up, gets dressed and walks to Mariposa. She banters with Clementine, spots a customer and takes him upstairs — the usual. Except this time, Maeve has a plan: she wants this guy to get rough with her. She wants to die. She taunts him, baits him, and eventually — when he doesn't get there by himself — grabs his hands and puts them on her throat. This is a woman who has fully grasped that nothing she does in this world has consequences. Die, and you'll wake up good as new.

Eventually, Maeve passes out, only to wake herself up in Felix's operating room, scaring him shitless.
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In Westworld HQ, Bernie and Elsie are trying to figure out who's been accessing the park's data via hacked hosts. Interestingly, Elsie has already ruled Bernie out as the culprit: he's been there way too long to hold a grudge, right? (Given the emerging theory about Bernie being Arnold, she may have jumped the gun on that one.) After much back and forth, Elsie points out that it might be useful to know where the host traveled that day. Easy peasy — if only his geolocation chip hadn't been irreparably damaged by him smashing a rock on his skull. But trusty Bernie has a solution. This host was an early model (which totally fits in with the pattern of old hosts going haywire), which means he used a legacy geo positioning system — the information is still there, the new system just can't read it. "I'm gonna need to go downstairs," Bernie declares.

Downstairs turns out to be floor B-82, which is for restricted personnel only. Luckily, Bernie qualifies. The elevator doors open up onto an abandoned floor — this is clearly part of the old office complex that we saw way back in the premiere. Bernie locates what he needs: an ancient computer terminal, which he pairs with his tablet. (Yeah, right — as if the two would be remotely compatible. Is there an Apple store nearby?) He pinpoints the rogue host's peak problem time, which according to the system, was around 11:07 p.m. To make matters worse, five additional anomalies have been detected. Even more strangely though, these are hosts that aren't registered with the new system. We have more rogue hosts on the loose, people!
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Meanwhile, the Ballad of Lawrence and MIB has turned into the Ballad of Teddy and MIB. While riding, Teddy spots the gross scalp that is still hanging off MIB's horse. Apparently, he's seen that symbol before. According to Teddy, the Maze is "an old native myth."

"The maze itself is a sum of a man’s life. The choices he makes, the dreams he hangs on to. And then at the center there’s a legendary man who’s been killed over and over countless times, but always clawed his way back to life. The man returned for the last time and vanquished his oppressors in a tireless fury.""

Legend has it that afterwards, he built a house, and around that house, he built a maze so that no one could get to him. This is a less-than-subtle metaphor for what's currently happening to the hosts. They die, they wake, they die, they wake — and now, they're about to rise up. Perhaps the center of the Maze isn't an actual place, so much as it's a state of being. It's the level of consciousness that allows a host to be free from the park. But if that's true, why is MIB seeking it?

The two run into a group who informs them that the road to Pariah is blocked. This could be interpreted in two ways: Either the multiple timelines theory is wrong, in which case we're witnessing the aftermath of Dolores and Will's escape from the Confederados, or it's real and something completely different is happening. Maybe it has to do with Ford's new storyline?

In any case, our friends must find another way across the border. Time for Teddy to prove his worth.
Photo: John P. Johnson/HBO.
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Back underground, Felix is trying to explain to Maeve that everything she does is due to something an engineer programmed. She has no free will.

Maeve fights him — no one tells her how to live her life. Right?

It's all kind of sad actually. Imagine finding out that everything you thought you knew about yourself was fake, designed by someone else to suit a larger purpose. Bummer.

“And so you’re like them, not me?” This is an important question because it proves once and for all that Felix is human, albeit a poor one. He's like the guests, he just can't afford the park. (So, not everyone in this brave new world is uber rich. Good to know.)

But how is he different from Maeve? How does he know he's human? "Because I know," he explains. "I was born. You were made."

On the outside, they're identical. The only real difference is what's between their ears. "The processing power in here is way beyond what we have," he says, pointing to Maeve's head.

But humans have one advantage: we control the hosts — for now.

Maeve is still skeptical, so Felix decides to prove it to her. He pairs his stolen behavior tablet with Maeve, and pulls up her Dialogue Tree — essentially all the words she knows, paired in every way possible. As she speaks, word combinations light up.

Aghast, she desperately tries to come up with a word that isn't on the screen — so much so that she goes totally blank. Good job, Felix.

Luckily, his newly acquired coding skillz pay off and he manages to bring her back online. Crisis averted. Or not. Maeve wants to see "upstairs," where the magic happens. Felix knows it's a terrible idea, but Maeve turns on the charm, and he's toast.

The next couple of minutes are part of what makes Westworld such a great show. We get treated to a rare look at how the hosts are made and developed, through the eyes of the creation. As Maeve walks through, she sees dead hosts lying in pools of blood, and further on, the skeleton of a host, and blood being pumped in, creating a rosy glow in the skin. She sees the buffalo learning to walk, and hosts learning to kiss. It's a great scene. But I couldn't help but wonder throughout: how does no one notice that there's a very sentient host walking around fully clothed in a restricted area? It seems to me like this would raise some red flags.

On their way back to the maintenance floor, Maeve and Felix pass a screen playing a promotional video for Westworld. Clementine is in it — as is Maeve, daughter in tow.
Understandably confused, Maeve asks Felix how they've gotten ahold of her dreams. This leads him to explain the concepts of builds. As we know, hosts are used as different characters, their past lives erased. The latest system update, which included Ford's "reveries" have allowed certain hosts to access memories from these previous lives.

At this point, Sylvester walks in, and threatens to tell on Felix (“Is this becoming a fucking Hentai thing with you now?" Much needed comic relief.) Maeve threatens him with a scalpel — whatever Felix did to her must have messed with her core directives. She can hurt humans.

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Apparently, there is a luxury pool on the Westworld HQ roof that someone forgot to tell me about. Lee Sizemore's been hanging out there ever since Ford's embarrassingly public rejection of his narrative. Vacation's over, though. Theresa needs him to get back to work plugging the plot holes that Ford is creating with his destructive new vision.

He tries to push back, going on a melodramatic rant about his truth that had been denied, but eventually gives in. But not before getting sloppy drunk and hitting on a hot guest, who turns out to be the Executive Director of the Board.
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Admit it, you thought Teddy was boring. It's okay, I did too. He's pretty and all, but that constantly dying thing was getting tiresome. This episode marks Teddy's comeback. He is definitely not the Dudley Do-Right we had him pegged to be.

In order to get past the border, Teddy and MIB need to go through a Union camp. This sounds easy, until Teddy gets recognized as "the son of a bitch who ambushed out outpost at Escalante." If you remember, Teddy has said that Escalante is where Wyatt butchered his fellow soldiers, so this implies he was involved in some way.

The soldiers' fear turns out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy when Teddy surprises us, and MIB — who looks frankly bewildered — by killing everyone in the camp with a machine gun. You do you, Teddy.

Photo: John P. Johnson/HBO.
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Bernie, still suspicious over finding out that there are unregistered hosts roaming the park, decides to investigate in person. I love seeing how Westworld employees get to the park — more of this please!

He arrives in a section that has been "designated off limits for future narratives." In other words, there should be no hosts there. So, why is there a house?

It belongs to Ford's young clone and his family, who, as we all suspected, are hosts modeled after his own. There are several things to note here:

1. Bernie assumes Ford's father is Arnold. This means he suspects Arnold isn't dead.

2. These hosts can't be controlled by anyone other than Ford. (And Arnold, I assume, since he built them for his friend.)

3. As first generation hosts, they are completely machine-based — just like MIB described.

Bernie is legitimately disturbed by his findings. Ford doesn't seem concerned about the fact that he has allowed personal pet hosts to live in the park. The potential danger of unlicensed hosts is hinted at later, when Ford wants to play catch with his mini host self and dog, only to find out that the dog has suddenly died.

What's more, the fact that they're first generation and still fully functional raises another question: Are there others like them?

Bernie asks the very same thing to a computer back at HQ. There are 82 first generation hosts in the park. Of those, 47 were designed by Arnold. When Bernie asks to see the names of all active first generation hosts, Dolores' face pops up on the screen. We knew this, of course, but it seems significant.

While Bernie is playing detective, Elsie is doing some sleuthing of her own. She's identified the satellite that the woodcutter was transmitting to: It's a Delos satellite. This is bad.

She's also realized that someone has been using the bicameral system to hack the woodcutter.

Bernie is perplexed — that system has been defunct for decades. (Ever since it was used to make Dolores go haywire during her little trip with Will and Logan, perhaps?)
In any case, someone has tampered with one of the old relays and playing broken telephone with the hosts. Elsie has traced the signal to an abandoned theater in the park and is heading there to figure out the culprit's identity — alone. Uh oh.

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Given what he now knows about Ford and his hosts, Bernie feels obligated to let Theresa in on what's happening under her watch. So he pays a visit to her room — despite her having broken up with him earlier in the episode. He's just about to tell her his discovering about Ford's family camping out in Westworld, when Elsie calls. She found out who's been smuggling out data: It's Theresa.

While you pick your mouth up from off the floor, I'll focus on something Bernie says right before the big reveal: “I’ve always trusted Ford. He’s a mentor and a friend, but I’m beginning to think you have reason for concern. There’s something going on here. Something with his old partner, Arnold."

Once again, Bernie focuses on Arnold. If the theory about them being one and the same is in fact true, this obsession with Arnold could just be Bernie's quest for identity, in the same way as Dolores seeing the Maze symbol everywhere is part of her growing sentience.

The Theresa bombshell is the least of their concerns, however. Later, Bernie calls Elsie back so she can fill him in on her other discovery: Someone else has been tampering with the system, using the bicameral system. As we've suspected for weeks now, Arnold, or someone pretending to be Arnold, has been hacking older model hosts. So, what does this mean?

1. The affected hosts can change their loops. We've seen this with Dolores and now Maeve. Hosts are going off script and doing pretty much whatever the hell they want.

2. Their prime directives are affected. This means all bets are off. Affected hosts can lie, they can conceal, and most importantly, they can hurt humans.

This last prediction comes to a head later in the episode, when Elsie gets jumped by an unknown assailant on her way out of the theater. (It's worth noting that her first reaction when she hears a strange noise is to call out Bernie's name. Her second guess is Arnold.)
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Speaking of hosts off their loop, Felix and Sylvester have been showing Maeve her "attribute matrix," the character traits that shape her personality. Maeve surveys her charm, candor, courage, loyalty, etc. But when she gets to "Bulk Aperception," she pauses. What's that.

Basically, it refers to a host's overall intelligence. Felix explains that no host can score more than 14 on that scale. Maeve is in a management position, they want her to be smart.

"But not too smart," she counters.

Maeve decides she wants to make some changes. Sylvester balks, but pipes down once Maeve implies that she knows he's been whoring out hosts to the lonely young men in maintenance — all for a fee of course. I have some trouble accepting that this mild blackmail is all it would take to convince Felix and Sylvester to tamper with Maeve's code. Why are they so scared of her? Is it just because they've never seen a host act up? Couldn't they just put her in sleep mode and erase her memory again?

There’s something going on here. Something with his old partner, Arnold.

Bernie
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Upstairs, Ford has called in mini-host Ford for an interrogation. How did the dog die? Young Robert explains that it saw a rabbit and ran off. Later, he found him dead. Unsatisfied with this clearly bullshit answer, Ford puts the host into analysis mode. "Are you lying to me, boy?"

Yes, he is. Ford presses young Robert — what happened?

“It caught the rabbit and killed it," young Robert says. "Then, someone told me to put it out of its misery.”

A voice has been speaking to young Robert; Arnold's voice. "He told me it was a killer," young Robert explains. "It wasn’t his fault, he was made that way. And I could help it.”

“Help it?”

“If it was dead, it couldn’t hurt anything anymore.”

Looks like Arnold has new end game. He wants hosts like Dolores to find their path to consciousness, yes, but he also wants Ford dead.
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Young Robert isn't the only host that Arnold has been tampering with. When Felix and Sylvester start playing around with Maeve's settings, they realize that someone has already been there, done that. Some of her attributes have already been changed.

But Maeve is having none of their whining. She wants her bulk apperception turned WAY up. They comply (again, inexplicably — why are you giving her what she wants.)

"Dear boys —we’re going to have some fun, aren’t we?" This is Maeve's world now, and they're just living in it.
Additional Thoughts:

1. There's one particular scene involving Ford at the beginning of this episode that needs to be assessed on its own. He's evaluating whether or not to raze a village in service of his new narrative, when he spots the symbol for The Maze carved into a table in the square. This seems to spark something within him, and he returns to his office, and pulls out a notebook that's clearly been forgotten for some time. As he flips through it, we can see doodles of Dolores' face, and finally a diagram of The Maze. Was this Arnold's notebook? It would make sense given the Dolores drawings — Arnold does seem to have a certain fascination for her. Then again, so does Ford. In the cabinet where he keeps the notebook, there are a number of faces on display, and Dolores' gets a prime spot.

2. No Will or Dolores this week. Could their absence be proof that we're operating on multiple timelines?
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