Written by Hannah Dunleavy


Cowboy Builders

No alarms and no surprises, well OK, some surprises. And a lot of alarm. Whatever. Hannah Dunleavy talks episode two of Westworld. CONTAINS SPOILERS.

The host with the most: Maeve (Thandie Newton). Photos: HBO.

The host with the ghost: Maeve (Thandie Newton). Photos: HBO.

A little bit of orientation

In many ways, this seemed like Pilot Part II. Mostly because it uses the more traditional opener of having two ‘newcomers’ arrive to the town, something the first episode teased but backed up on. And although the actual orientation was slight and mostly philosophical innuendo (“If you can’t tell, what does it matter?”) it did enough to answer a few questions about the set-up of the park.

Although not many, right enough. There was still no actual time frame established either, which would be helpful, although there is a distinct feeling of all the main players being in place. Which means things in Westworld could start coming apart very quickly, very soon.

Best mention those newcomers, Logan (Ben Barnes) and William (Jimmi Simpson), who are notionally the characters played by James Brolin and Richard Benjamin in the film.

While they appear to be polar opposites – in a way that I can only currently articulate by saying I think the former is an investment banker and the latter an accidental millionaire who only just moved out of his mum’s basement – both Barnes and Simpson are perfectly capable of playing the exact opposite of what they are doing here. So I’m interested to see if these two meet in the middle or even swap roles down the road (although I’m not exactly sure how redeemable Logan looks.)

“I don’t mind having to read a 1,000-page book about the West to understand a plot point but I’ll be fucked if I’m going to learn one thing about how computers work.”

Quite a lot of the dialogue surrounding these two was heavy handed (it’s OK guys, we’ve got the premise). Certainly “How far you want to go is entirely up to you.” On a number of occasions they even appeared to be addressing the audience directly. I felt like I should’ve put my 3D glasses on or something when Barnes said, “I know you’ve got a handle of what you think this might be. Guns and tits.”

“She’s a two where we’re going.”

Loved, loved, loved everything about Thandie Newton, as Maeve catches the bug/virus/existential funk/discuss*. There’s loads of interesting parallels here between the host ‘whores’ and their 19th-century counterparts, in that they have use while they are still ‘fuckable’, after which they are thrown away.

It also raises the interesting point that while being demonstrably (and, like, totally) still ‘fuckable’, Newton is already the wrong side of 40 to be treated with anything approaching respect by most of Hollywood.

I’m still reserving judgement on how women are treated in Westworld, but I have to say, so far, I’ve no problem with it.

Ed Harris
“He gets whatever he wants.”

Ed Harris is still keen to get to “the next level”, which is something more wild and hellish altogether – I’m guessing you materialise on that coach with Trump and Billy Bush. For a plot that’s utterly devoid of light, Harris is making it work, largely because he’s playing the role as a man (I’m still going with ‘dentist’) playing a role. It’s the most ‘western’ performance so far, precisely because it’s based on the myth not the reality.

I’ve nothing to really to say yet about Anthony Hopkins’ Ford, other than I successfully predicted – to the word – the end of the sentence “They don’t come here to know who they are…”

*These violent delights have violent ends

It’s Shakespeare, innit? Spoken by Friar Laurence. The dude with a the noose around his neck leading Ed Harris to the ‘maze’ is called Lawrence. Which is a thing.

Clearly, it’s this Manchurian Candidate-style trigger which infects the hosts but I’m not going to dwell on it any further as we’re only two episodes in and doing this is how I ruined every single – yes even The Sixth Sense – M Night Shyamalan film for myself.

Other things

I like how the ‘backstage’ area is representatively dull and bleak, but it actually did manage to conjure one gorgeous shot that rivalled the scenery this week.

Speaking of actors who can play very good and very bad, Jeffrey Wright’s Lowe seemed to implicate himself in something this week, even if I’m not sure what. I don’t mind having to read a 1,000-page book about the West to understand a plot point but I’ll be fucked if I’m going to learn one thing about computers work.

Also speaking of Lowe, he and Cullen make a handsome couple, right? They’re no Eric and Tammy Taylor, but still…

This week’s 90s alternative tune coming out of the pianola was No Surprises. (They missed a trick not going with Paranoid Android here, surely.) We’ll hear Here Comes Your Man – yes, I know its 1989, but close enough – by series end, mark my words.

Catch up on the first episode blog here.


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Written by Hannah Dunleavy

Hannah Dunleavy is the deputy editor of Standard Issue. She likes whisky and not having to run anywhere.