"Westworld" [Review]: Rebooting Old Themes Hinders "The Winter Line"

Welcome back to another episode of HBO's now inappropriately-named Westworld! Despite the name, the titular park hasn't really been the main setting since the first season… unless you want to go with some kind of "metaphor," I guess… but I digress…

Hope you like Maeve (Thandie Newton), because this week's episode was a very Maeve-centric hour. And if not – well, at least there was some Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) to act as a buffer? I'm really just happy we got some eye candy back on screen in the form of head of Westworld security, Ashley Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth).

Before we get too far into it and I give away all the characters we see back on screen, I am obligated to inform you that there are MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD! for this week's episode. You know the drill – this is the part where I tell you to go get caught up if you care about that, though honestly? If I could read a review and skip this episode, I maybe would.

"Westworld" [Review]: Rebooting Old Themes Hinders "The Winter Line"
HBO

Don't get me wrong – I love this show, but I'm all set on my fill of Matrix movies, and don't need that interspersed in Delores' (Evan Rachel Wood) revolution. But I digress. If you haven't finished season 2, you'll be lost. Hell, maybe even the premiere, too – it's actually good, so you should watch that one anyway.

Moving swiftly forward, this week's episode is not my favorite. It felt like it chased its tail and Maeve's storyline of being trapped in a total simulation designed to get the data back from where it was stashed in "the valley beyond" last season is one I'm so over.

westworld
HBO

That's the point when the second season really slumped for me – and if this is where season 3 is starting off, I hope they move away from it quickly. There's only so much "Maeve controlling everything, look how smart she is, let's wander through the Mesa and parks some more!" I can take.

Though, small bright spot – I'm really glad "Warworld" is a total and complete simulation and that idea never made it anywhere near public consumption, because yikes. A whole park dedicated to World War II? Yeah, any way you slice it, that's not good.

At the end of the day, this episode felt familiar – and not just because it pulled a Groundhog Day. The themes and general story felt similar to early first season Delores, but with the details and character changed enough to sort of fit. To quote Maeve, "they plagiarized themselves". It's not a great look, Westworld: self-plagiarism is still bad, and repetition in a show like Westworld just feels particularly lazy considering the series reputation for daring to be different and thought-provoking.

westworld
HBO

It's like they were practically screaming, "Look at all these gorgeous locations we got! We're in Spain! It's a famous architectural house nobody else films in!" and got so caught up in that that the story was neglected.

Though on the plus side, this is a big cameo episode – and we actually do get to see trappings of Medieval world – with a bonus cameo by co-creators of Game of Thrones, D.B. Weiss and David Benioff (and one of the show's dragons). How dope was that lute cover of the Westworld theme?

westworld
HBO

My own dorkiness (and love of lute) aside, it feels like story-wise they're beating this story into the ground until the very end, when we see one Engerraund Serac (Vincent Cassel), the co-founder of Incite. I sure hope Maeve does her research before getting involved with this dude, because he seems like a bad guy. I mean, who else would treat themselves to a lavish meal inside a super fancy jungle house while wearing a white linen suit? Exactly – I rest my case.

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About Eden Arnold

Having spent far too much time in front of the television growing up, Eden has lots of opinions about television (as well as movies and everything else). She puts this to good use along with her journalism degree and writing experience with by-lines over the years in many print publications, books, and online media outlets. You can find her on Twitter at @Edenhasopinions

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