[For Westworld‘s “Chestnut” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]
A pair of guests arrive with different expectations, a programmer pitches a narrative.
“Chestnut” opens as William and his sex-obsessed co-worker visit Westworld. It’s William’s first time here and he shows a sense of caution and hesitation. His buddy seeks only sensual fulfillment, though, insisting that they avoid any other brand of adventure. Meanwhile backstage at the android factory, Elsie, the young upstart programmer, shows concern about Peter Abernathy’s breakdown. She wants to explore deeper and worries it may arise in the other, still active androids like Dolores. Elsie describes their challenge to Bernard like a virus that may spread among the “hosts”. But Bernard insists all is well and not to worry. He’s wrong, of course, and we see proof of this in the very next scene when Dolores quotes her creepy and since-retired Papa saying, “These violent delights have violent ends,” to the usually unflappable madame, Maeve. This works as a sort of trigger on Maeve. A switch flips inside her and she’s suddenly full of reveries so that from there things get stranger all the time for her. Maeve spends the episode in all sorts of creeptacular scenarios and only a couple are part of her current narrative. Meanwhile Dolores, who triggered Maeve’s waking nightmare with that mere whiff of Shakespeare, also dives off script and digs up a gun in her backyard.
In fact, there are lots of guns in this episode and many times they’re tied together with the words “supposed to” as in, these guns are real but you can’t kill anyone you’re not supposed to. Speaking of “supposed to” the epitome of this idea arises with the Gunslinger character, MIB (Man in Black) the sadistic guest who always wins. He’s been coming for thirty years; raping women, killing everyone, and never satisfied. The man’s hellbent; seeking the maze that lies behind Westworld and in this episode Stubbs, the security head, says this is a gentleman who, “gets whatever he wants”. Sure, he wins every fight but not yet the one that matters most to him. The Gunslinger wants answers.
William enters what feels like a saloon but it’s actually the train into the park. His hottie friend informs him that Westworld seduces everybody eventually and will reveal to William who he really is, “and I can’t wait to meet that guy,” he says clinking glasses with him. This brings up an ongoing theme of Westworld. The head writer, Lee declares that what every guest is really after most is their own story and heightening their self-awareness. But Ford, the originator of the droids, believes otherwise. He spends much of the episode in the desert chatting with a little boy who might possibly be himself as a child. This is a fabulous writer’s trick and much more interesting than just Ford talking to himself. He soon sends the child away, though, telling him never to return and this is when we see from his robotic bodily response that the boy is an android. He leaves as ordered, no questions asked. Later Ford tells Lee that the guests don’t come to Westworld to learn about themselves because, “they already know who they are,” and to some degree this must be true. At the very least they’re forced to choose a white hat or a black hat upon entry, so we know they can at least answer that most basic binary question from the onset. Ford says they come to Westworld to find out what they can possibly become. This, of course, takes the power away from Lee, the writer’s, grasp and hands it to the guests. Thus confirming this notion that visitors like the Man in Black really do have the whole world in their hands.
Speaking of the MIB, he attends a hanging and immediately turns it into a gunfight, thus saving his “friend” Lawrence from the noose. Our Gunslinger does this to enlist Lawrence’s help, creating instant obligation. Turns out Lawrence may be able to help MIB find the maze behind the surface facade of Westworld, his ultimate goal. He explains how the real world is chaos but Westworld’s zillions of gorgeous details all have meaning that ultimately adds up to something. This is what the Gunslinger seeks. So, MIB takes Lawrence home to his secret family and kills his posse, his cousins, his wife, and then finally Gunslinger learns a clue from Lawrence’s secret daughter. She tells him the maze is not meant for him. But then tells him to follow the blood arroyo to the place where the snake lays it eggs. MIB then says he’s “never going back” and heads off to find the snake. Is it the same snake Ford encounters in the desert? It’s a rattler near a town with a white church. Ford says he’s made the most amazing narrative of all for this place. So, it’s OK that Lee’s new BIG IDEA is a flop. The master takes over once again. Or is he the magician archetype? He may be both. When the little boy asks him if that desert rattlesnake is magic, Ford says, “This whole world is magic, except the magician,” and we believe Ford knows this better than anyone.
Another theme of this episode is nightmares and it’s largely because Maeve, the madame, seems to be living one these days. She was deeply affected by Dolores’s words and stays haunted now by horrifying reveries. Worst part is that they’re messing with her so much it’s screwing up her narrative and Maeve can’t do her job. In other words, a customer didn’t want to fuck her… and that’s just unacceptable. It’s a shame that Maeve will no longer say such delicious lines as, “the only thing wrong with the seven deadly sins is that there aren’t more of them,” it’s like we already miss her right as we meet Maeve. She’s being torn from us just as we get to see her character’s brilliance because she’s recalled now – junk, retired.
Bernard and Theresa turn out to be secret lovers who “never talk” and when Dolores finds that gun in her backyard she’s hearing a voice in her head. The voice tells her where to find the gun, and thus we wonder if maybe it’s dear old Dad somehow signaling from the warehouse where he stands with the other shutoff droids like mannequins in the shadows. Essentially these secretive relationships are what Westworld is all about underneath the glamorous facade. The last scene shows Ford and Bernard out in the desert having a secret meeting in the park – where they’re not allowed. Ford eases Bernard’s mind about the need for a new storyline. He’s been marinating on this desert/rattlesnake one for years, something “quite original” and we’re thinking that snake may be the one Lawrence’s secret daughter mentioned. This may be the storyline of The Gunslinger’s dreams.
– Katherine Recap