The HBO gods gifted us the present of Westworld Episode 2 "Chestnut" early this week. It means we have an even longer wait until the third entry, but it gives us time to mull over what is going down in the robo-rampage of the wild West. Spoilers to follow for Westworld Episode 2, so last chance to turn back!
This week saw Ed Harris's Man in Black (M.I.B.) continue his scalp quest to find the entrance to the maze, bringing the condemned Lawrence along for the ride. We had more shootouts than you could shake a rattlesnake at, and yes, you guessed it, James Marsden dies again. Quite literally at the center of the show is M.I.B's quest for this maze. Lawrence found himself in his hometown, and probably wishing he was still on the end of the hangman's noose. It turns out that it was Lawrence's daughter who actually held the key to the maze. After warning M.I.B. that the maze isn't meant for him, robo-girl told him to follow the blood arroyo to the place where the snake lays its eggs — while Sherlock Holmes is probably able to crack that one, it has us more than stumped.
Now, for the maze itself: The picture of a man at the center of a maze looks like a rather familiar image from the park. The symbolism matching the freshly dipped robots implies that whatever is at the center of the maze, it must have something to do with the park itself! This is no side quest of a jittery old robot to find some long lost treasure. Remembering what the little girl said, notice that when Anthony Hopkins's Dr. Ford went on his desert vision quest he came across a rattlesnake. Ford then happened across a distinctive crucifix marker! More on that later, but in the meantime, here are the options for what that mythical maze actually is:
A Behind The Scenes Tour
"Chestnut" gave us a better understanding of the inner workings of Westworld. We saw how the humans arrive, the medical bay, and even where they dress the hosts. We also see Dr. Ford use some underground glass elevator trickery to plant himself in the outskirts of the park. So, option No. 1 is that the center of the maze is some sort of back-passage. For safety's sake there must be a network of emergency exits and passages beneath the surface of Westworld. So far it looks like a one way system, with the robots only allowed out when they are under maintenance, but if the center of the maze was an emergency exit, it would allow the robots to roam free in the "real world." If M.I.B. could gain access to the backdrop, the world of Westworld is his oyster.
Back in the premiere episode, we were taken on an eerie voyage into the bowels of the facility. There we found Dr. Ford conversing with "Old Bill," and despite being a flooded mess plucked from a John Carpenter sci-fi, cold storage also served as the park's graveyard. That episode closed with the defective hosts, and Dolores's father (R.I.P.), packed away there. Why you would store a load of rogue robots is beyond me, but perhaps they are waiting for a rainy day. What if the man at the center was not one man, but a whole horde of men? Giving M.I.B. access to the army of evil robots in cold storage is one way to ensure mayhem on the plains.
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Enter The Matrix
While most viewers are searching for a physical maze (it may well exist), it is more probable that the maze is more of a Matrix entity. Through millions of lines of data, the center holds the source code for the entire park. The maze itself is the key to controlling the robots, but also what restricts them from harming human life. It has already been alluded to that someone has been tampering with the hosts somehow, and I think I know who it is. This brings us nicely onto...
'Something I've Been Working On For Some Time'
Episode 2 closes with Ford and Lowe heading out into the desert to find something that the good doctor has been toying with. We have already seen what happened when Ford tried to introduce something as subtle as a finger change, but he doesn't seem like a man to abandon his quest for perfection so easily.
The symbolism of the cross sticks out a mile away, and clearly holds some importance to whatever Ford is up to. Is this where the entrance to the fabled maze exists? Not a physical maze, but a terminal/lab where he tinkers on the creations. If so, Ford is the man at the center of the maze, but what is he doing in there?
Earlier we saw the vile Lee Sizemore's narrative of cowboys and indians shelved, with Dr. Ford rightly saying the guests don't come back for the "garish parlor tricks," they come back for the subtleties of the park..."something they fall in love with."
Consider Ford an industrialist, he knows that the park has to evolve, a'la Jurassic World, and with pressure from the board, he has to adapt. There is no real threat to humans from the hosts, and at the end of the day everyone goes home jolly from their vacation. We have already seen the engineers amp up traits like aggression, but still the hosts don't have their own free will or memories — yet!
It Will All End In Tears
To truly entice the thrill seekers to Westworld there needs to be an element of danger. If the maze does hold the source code to the hosts, then could Ford's idea be to introduce (just a little) autonomy to the park? Just as Jurassic World introduced the Indominus Rex to please corporate, Westworld needs to introduce its own threat. Dr. Ford is playing God, and will likely be destroyed at the hands of his own creations in the end.
The issue is if the Man in Black makes it to the maze and uses Ford's power for evil, with a legion of robots at his disposal, the loss of human life is certain. So far we may only have seen robotic massacres, but that is all about to change! Voila! Time to take off the tinfoil hats and watch the episode again.