‘Westworld’ Season 1 Episode 2 Recap: Chestnut

Westworld stars Ben Barnes and Jimmi Simpson episode 2
Ben Barnes and Jimmi Simpson in ‘Westworld’ episode 2 (Photo by John P. Johnson / HBO)

HBO made the second episode of Westworld, the network’s new sci-fi action drama based on the 1973 film, available a few days early. Why? Possibly because its East Coast premiere on October 9, 2016 was directly opposite the second Presidential Debate. Episode two titled ‘Chestnut’ introduced two new key characters – William (Jimmi Simpson) and Logan (played by Ben Barnes) – and also further delved into the possibility some of the hosts have retained memories of previous storylines.

Season one episode two opens with Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) walking outside in the middle of the night, listening to a voice inside her head asking if she remembers.

William and Logan are heading to Delos’ offices, the company that runs the Westworld park. They’re discussing what’s in store once they make it to Westworld. Arriving at the check-in they’re met by employees (everyone is dressed in pure white) and a rep asks William personal questions since it’s his first visit, including his medical and psychological background. The rep explains he needs to make choices, like what he’ll wear, the sort of man he’ll be, his weapons, and other accessories. He seems overwhelmed by everything and the rep (who is a host) tells him they are all there for him.

Elsie Hughes (Shannon Woodward) thinks there’s something messed up with Dolores’ cognition. Elsie wants to pull Dolores because she thinks whatever she has could be fixed, but Bernard Lowe (Jeffrey Wright) tells her to let it be.

Back in Westworld, Dolores walks through town but hears the voice in her head say “remember.” She looks down the street and sees all the dead bodies from the day before. She then quotes the same line from Romeo and Juliet her father said to her, and Maeve (Thandie Newton) stands there, confused.

William’s last decision before heading out on the train to the Westworld park is to pick either a white hat or a black hat. He chooses white.

William bellies up to the bar and is served a whiskey, and Logan arrives wearing a black hat. As William asks how they get into the park he discovers he’s on a train. Logan, who’s visited the park before, tells him he has no idea what he’s getting himself into and Logan thinks he’ll ultimately beg him to stay. Westworld will answer the question of who he really is, according to Logan.

In Westworld, the sheriff prepares to hang an outlaw for murder. Just then The Man in Black (Ed Harris) rides up and wants the hanging stopped so he can talk to the outlaw. The sheriff and his men refuse so The Man in Black kills everyone except the guy in the noose. The Man in Black throws Kissy’s scalp at Lawrence (Clifton Collins Jr), and Lawrence claims not to know what it is. It’s the maze at the deepest level of the game, so says The Man in Black.

At the saloon/whorehouse, Maeve talks to one of the newcomers and tells him in her dreams she’s free. He pulls his hand away from her but Maeve continues talking. She’s having visions of Indians scalping cowboys. The man walks away as she freezes up and the tech team manipulates her settings to make her more sexually aggressive because the clients aren’t into her like they used to be. If that doesn’t work, they’ll pull her permanently from Westworld.

Bernard talks to Dr. Robert Ford (Sir Anthony Hopkins) about why Peter Abernathy was so damaged, believing the photo alone couldn’t have caused the breakdown. Robert says it’s all so complicated; it’s witchcraft and they create life out of chaos.

The train finally arrives at the station and William and Logan walk into town. William’s tentative but Logan knows his way around. It’s all bigger than William expected and Logan says he’s never even reached the end of the park yet. Logan tells him not to fall for any of the hosts or their plans for big adventures after a drunk tries to talk to William. Into the bar they head.

Inside Dolores head, Bernard asks her if she’s told anyone about their talks. She hasn’t, and he asks her if anyone has updated her core characteristics. He reminds her again not to mention their talks, telling her there’s something different about the way she thinks. He’s fascinated by it. She’s told to erase their current interaction.

Maeve is hitting on a female guest and she’s super aggressive. The woman turns her down and Maeve orders a drink, talking to Clementine (Angela Sarafyan) at the bar who tells her she’s having nightmares. After Clementine leaves her, Maeve has visions again of an attack.

Back at the administrative complex it’s decided to decommission Maeve after tonight. No one wants her. Clementine will get her job as the madam of the whorehouse.

Theresa Cullen (Sidse Babett Knudsen) wants to be sure Bernard will be ready for the launch and that all the hosts have been checked out and are working.

Logan and William are having a nice meal, and Logan offers to shoot someone to see if they’re real or hosts. An old drunk from the street wanders to their table and Logan tries to get him to leave. He’s offering William the opportunity to go treasure hunting and Logan stabs him through the hand and leaves him bleeding at their table. He heads off to have an orgy while William spends time with Clementine. William doesn’t want to have sex with her because he has someone real waiting at home.

Back at the administrative complex they are designing new hosts when Lee Sizemore (Simon Quarterman) has a fit because a Native American doesn’t look like what he imagined. Lee wants Theresa to deactivate 50 hosts to make room for his new ones, but she says he can have 20 spots for his new storyline.

Dr. Ford goes for a walk in Westworld where a kid asks him if he’s lost. The kid is bored and Dr. Ford asks him if he wants to go for a stroll.

The Man in Black makes Lawrence tag along behind his horse all the way to a cantina which is actually Lawrence’s neighborhood. The Man in Black says he knows everything about him, except he didn’t know Lawrence had a family. They’re talking as Lawrence’s child and wife hug him and as The Man in Black places a row of bullets on the table. He wants to know where the entrance is to the maze and Lawrence won’t tell him. The Man in Black hands two bullets to Lawrence’s daughter. The barkeep serves them whiskey, and The Man in Black kills him. The Man in Black tells Lawrence he’s been coming here for 30 years and he’s prepared when Lawrence’s cousins arrive to rescue him, killing them all along with everyone else who tries to protect Lawrence. Only his wife and daughter remain when a bullet shatters the bottle he’s holding. A few more of Lawrence’s friends die and The Man in Black takes back the two bullets.

Lawrence swears he doesn’t know how to find the maze as The Man in Black dances with Lawrence’s wife. He puts the gun to her head and kills her. He pulls the trigger back and prepares to kill the daughter but she looks at him and says, “The maze isn’t meant for you.” She gives him the information on where it’s located and Lawrence tells him to leave them alone. The Man in Black says no, puts the noose around Lawrence’s neck again, and says, “This time I’m never going back.”

Dr. Ford and the boy look out over the landscape. He tells the boy to look harder, to listen to the church bell as they look over nothing. A snake rattles and Dr. Ford freezes him, controlling him by one finger. Then he sends the snake away. He tells the boy not to come back again and sends him away. (The boy is a host.)

Theresa visits Bernard at his place after work and apparently they’re in a relationship. He asks her to stay after sex so they can talk. She jokes that he never talks and yet his creations are always talking to each other even when there aren’t any guests around.

Elsie puts Maeve through a diagnostic test, bumping up all of her emotions 1.5%. Her assistant wants to know if they dream, and Elsie says no. They do however have the concept of nightmares in case their memories aren’t wiped.

Maeve is back at work at the whorehouse, and this time the guest’s interested in her when she sets him up with Clementine. Maeve and Teddy Flood (James Marsden) have a chat at the bar as a fight breaks out behind them. They toast to their indiscretions and a guest shoots up Teddy, saying, “Now that’s a f**king vacation!”

Westworld star Thandie Newton episode 2
Thandie Newton in ‘Westworld’ episode two (Photo by John P. Johnson/HBO)

That night Maeve continues to have visions of past events including having a young daughter and a farmhouse. They had a happy life until they were caught up in the middle of a fight between cowboys and Indians. She tried to save her daughter but was chased down, found by The Man in Black, and scalped.

Maeve counts backward from three as she’s being worked on by technicians. She’s awake and they freak out when she opens her eyes and moves. She grabs a scalpel – they forgot to put her in sleep mode – and she holds them off and leaves the room. She runs down the hall, naked and with her stomach cut open. She sees the escalator and leaves the building. Once outside she runs into a nearby building where she sees other hosts being worked on, naked, in a large glass tank. The two technicians catch up with her and inject her with something to put her to sleep.

Dolores once again wakes in the middle of the night and heads outside. She digs up a gun.

The staff has gathered and Lee explains the new storylines that will include cannibalism. He proudly declares it will be the apex of what the park will provide: horror, romance, and titillation. The new storyline will take place on the outskirts of the town and guests will have to work hard to get to “Odyssey on Red River.” Dr. Ford listens and says no. He doesn’t like it, saying it’s not enough. Lee was supposed to give the guests a reason to come back – the subtleties and the details – because they discover something they don’t think anyone has ever noticed before.

William spots Dolores loading up her saddlebags and hands her the canned food she drops. William tips his hat to her and heads out with Logan.

Dr. Ford and Bernard take a walk through the park, and Dr. Ford says he’s been working on a new idea for some time. “Something quite original,” he says as he looks at a cross.