Westworld Episode 2 Chestnut, A Magical Expansive Chapter

This is my Westworld recap of season 1, episode 2 entitled “Chestnut”. Let me begin by saying that much of the material in episode 2, Chestnut, was originally part of the pilot for Westworld. The pilot had to be cut, because in part it was too long, plus once Westworld was signed to an entire season, it gave the writers an opportunity to further the storylines. At this point, I must warn you that there are spoilers ahead so you may not want to continue reading if you have not seen this episode. Episode 2, Chestnut was a reminder of what ails Dolores, but more importantly, it introduced a couple of new storylines, that ultimately zoned in on Maeve Millay (Thandie Newton).

Introduced in this episode was the thoughtful William, played by Jimmi Simpson. William, tagged along with his friend Ben Barnes, who plays the outgoing and rowdy Logan. Neither of these characters have last names at this point in our narrative. These two are a reminder of the pairing in the original Westworld film where Barnes and Simpsons characters display similarities to those played by James Brolin and Richard Benjamin. Towards the end of this episode William discovers Dolores and is clearly interested in her to the extent that he may replace target practice Teddy as her love interest at some point in the future.

Jimmi Simpson as William and Talulah Riley as Angela in Episode 2 Chestnut

Images: John P. Johnson HBO

Let’s head into the mix. Upon arrival via a cool looking tram to a Westworld version of Grand Central Station, William is offered Westworld’s orientation process, which in part consists of a private dressing room with fitted clothing. Viewers are offered their first view of Westworld’s underground debarking station filled with both Hosts and guests all going about their business. William is greeted by Andrea, a Host, who is played by Talulah Riley. While escorting William about, Andrea comments “The only limit here is your imagination.” After entering his private dressing room, she informs him that there are no guidebooks or instructions and that “figuring out how this works is half the fun.”

In the Westworld lab above, Bernard Lowe and Elsie Hughes discuss the Peter Abernathy meltdown we saw from last week. Interestingly, Bernard seems to know more than he’s sharing, and diminishes much of what his assistant reports.

In town, Dolores Abernathy begins to have reveries resurface, presumably of her past experiences in Westworld. When she snaps back to reality, she encounters Maeve Millay, who is somewhat confused by her comment suggesting that “These violent delights will have violent ends.” Some theorize that Dolores is passing her odd  behavior with that comment to other Hosts.

We turn back to William, who exits his dressing room with his good guy white hat. He marches on into a coach car of the Westworld train headed for Sweetwater. Joined by Logan, the train immediately heads towards the park.

Switching gears, we meet Lawrence (again, no last name), who’s played by Clifton Collins Jr. We find poor Lawrence currently with a noose around his neck about to be hanged or hung (never get those right) in the hills of Westworld. Enter the Man In Black who guns down the entire crew that was about to put an end to ole Lawrence. The Man In Black takes Lawrence in tow and explains his need to find the entrance to the maze. Lawrence is completely uncooperative, but the Man In Black is determined.

In town, Maeve Millay begins to malfunction, confusing her reveries with her programmed narrative while speaking with a park guest. She’s subsequently pulled from the scene, and technicians tinker with her behavioral settings in the lab. It’s interesting how park staff seems to know immediately when a Host strays from their programmed narrative.

Dr. Robert Ford meets up with Bernard Lowe and discuss the two hosts that were decommissioned last week. Robert comments that “You can’t play God without being acquainted with the devil.” Lowe is unimpressed with his teachers’ answers and the two go separate ways.

Jimmi Simpson as Willian and Ben Barnes as Logan in Episode 2 Chestnut

Images: John P. Johnson HBO

Back in town, William and Logan arrive in Sweetwater. William notices Dolores for the first time, but Logan coaxes him past her and the duo marches on. Dolores, while in town, has another reverie about her conversation with Bernard Lowe that took place back in the lab.

Across town at the Mariposa tavern, Meave Millay notices Clementine Pennyfeather’s disposition and seems concerned. Clementine explains that she has been having nightmares and not getting much sleep. Maeve advises Clementine on how to wake up from her nightmares by counting backward from 3. Maeve, reveries out for a moment and recalls a violent experience from her past with a native American. Back at the lab, staff reports the odd behavior in Meave to chief of Security, Ashley Stubbs.

Across labs, Bernard Lowe and Theresa Cullen discuss their department’s position relative to some “Launch” that is forthcoming. Bernard reassures Theresa that all the Hosts are back to normal and that there’s nothing to worry about. He’s going to regret making that statement one day.

In town, we find William and Logan are having dinner. Good to know steak and potatoes are still available.

Back at the lab, Lee Sizemore, head of the Westworld narrative, looks over the latest Hosts while discussing his newest narrative with Cullen.

Oliver Bell as the Little Boy in Westworld Episode 2 Chestnut

Images: HBO

Meanwhile, Ford heads to the surface and meets a ‘Little Boy’, who’s played by Oliver Bell. Interestingly, the Little Boy shares some remarkable mannerisms with Ford. We soon learn the Boy is in fact a Host, perhaps programmed by Ford with some of his own memories. The two share a couple of thoughts that each was already familiar with. Ford states he’s searching for a church, then the two come across a rattlesnake. Ford interestingly commands the snake with his voice and finger and it moves away. Ford comments that “Everything in this world is magic, except to the magician.”

Across the hills to the southeast, in the town of Las Mudas, we find the Man In Black and Lawrence sitting together. Apparently the Man In Black has taken Lawrence back to his home town. Upon arrival, Lawrence is accompanied by his wife, young daughter and a group of men determined to protect Lawrence. Naturally, they’re no match for the Man In Black, so he knifes a few and guns down the rest. This video game-like action is something we’ve seen before. The Man In Black then kills Lawrence’s wife in an attempt to persuade Lawrence to tell him the location of the maze. In an episode stealing moment, his daughter, who’s played by the wonderful Isabella Alvarez, steps in and stops the killing by breaking character. She tells the Man In Black “The maze isn’t meant for you.” He replies that “I’ll take my chances, darling.” The Man In Black heads off on horseback with Lawrence in tow.

Clifton Collins Jr as Lawrence and Ed Harris as the Man In Black in Westworld Chestnut

Photos: John P. Johnson HBO

Back at the Westworld executive habitat, Bernard Lowe comes home to his apartment. Soon after, Theresa Cullen joins him and the two together, share an intimate experience. At first glance, they seem like a very unlikely couple. But given the nature of their work and its environment, their romance seems logical.

Meanwhile, down in the lab Elsie Hughes examines Maeve Millay in diagnostic mode. Maeve is a “sleep” so to speak while Elsie explores her behavioral setup. Elsie uses her cool looking lab glasses, which allows her to see and manage a Host’s configuration. If Oakley is watching, I see a potential brand placement here. Meave is soon set back into service.

Back at the Mariposa tavern, we find Maeve and Teddy chatting it up, until Teddy takes one for the team. The handsome gunslinger is gunned down by a park guest for no other reason than being there. The day ends, and Maeve is at home, in bed, when she has a reverie. In what can only be described as a nightmare, Maeve and her daughter are attacked by a group of Native Americans while at home. Backed into a corner, Meave then realizes the Man In Black has entered her home. As he’s about to scalp her, she remembers to count down from 3 in hopes of waking up. She awakens to find herself naked, being repaired, on a table in the lab. With a large wound in her stomach, Maeve challenges her handlers, grabs a scalpel and stumbles out of the lab. Dazed and confused Maeve finds herself in another Host repair lab, where she sees Teddy, and dozens of other Hosts, naked and being repaired. Meave collapses as her handlers sedate her.

A quick scene change finds Dolores in the field close to her farm. Interestingly, next to the barn, she digs up a revolver and examines it.

We turn back to the lab. Lee Sizemore explains his latest narrative to staff, which includes Ford, Lowe and Cullen After hearing Lee’s narrative, Ford is not impressed and he declines the new storyline. Sizemore is disappointed and confused.

In a final scene for Chestnut, we find Ford and Lowe, topside, in the desert. Lowe concerned about the dismissal of Sizemore’s narrative, takes interest in Ford’s words As the two walk towards a church steeple buried in the dirt, Ford explains that he has another narrative that he’s been developing. The two stop to gaze ahead and the episode ends.

As many of you know, this past week, HBO released episode 2, Chestnut, a few days early to their streaming apps. I reported on this immediately, but also stayed consistent with regards to when I would release a recap. I hope everyone understands the importance of not spoiling the storylines for viewers for the sake of clicks. This episode, Chestnut, I believed refined the foundation for the Westworld series. We were introduced to Logan and William. The Man In Black continued his crusade to find the maze. Finally, we saw remarkable performances by Isabella Alvarez and Thandie Newton. Frankly, Westworld continues to impress as the storylines expand. At the end of Chestnut, Ford clearly seemed to have a plan for his Hosts, that Lowe and others are not yet aware of.

Next week, Westworld episode 3, entitled “The Stray” debuts on Sunday, Oct 16th at 9:00 PM ET on HBO. Here’s a preview of what’s coming.