Westworld (S01E02) "Chestnut"

Chestnut introduces quite a few intriguing mysteries into Westworld along with a couple of new characters.  The show continues to tantalize with its dark world while also giving us hope.
Two new guests enter Westworld:  Logan (Ben Barnes) and William (Jimmi Simpson).  While Logan is the typical guest, William seemingly can’t get into the fantasy treating the world more humanely.  An intrigued Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) continues to explore the “glitch” as creative prepares to launch a new narrative in the world.
Meanwhile, Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) continues her “awakening” as a voice tells her to remember.  The awakening infects Maeve (Thandie Newton), who is in danger of being decommissioned.  Her repressed memories reveal not only a violent past, but also a link to the Man in Black (Ed Harris).   He continues his violent search for the “Maze,” the deepest “level of the game.”
Serial shows like Westworld need mysteries to keep viewers coming back and this episode introduces some really compelling ones.  Dolores’ “voice” seems like the most important to the overall story.  Who is the voice?  Is it human?  Is it a program from outside or the A.I. coming to life?  What is it that Dolores must remember?  The voice is obviously not a dream as she hears it in her waking hours as well.   It could be Bernard, who holds clandestine conversations with Dolores, but it is doubtful the show would reveal this “character” so easily.
Evan Rachel Wood continues to bring the right amount of discord to this character.  With just a look, Wood perfectly balances the charm of the girl next door with something slightly amiss just below the surface.  When she utters, “These violent delights have violent ends,” it is truly chilling…and then she smiles sweetly and walks away.  Few actors could pull that off effectively.
Speaking of that phrase, it appears to be some sort of trigger.  Maeve begins to have flashbacks as soon as Dolores says it to her.  Newton does some great work in both the fantasy world and the real world.  The different iterations of the “New World” speech are fun, with the “aggressive” version being hilarious.
Awakening during her maintenance is a stand out scene, showing that the hosts will react in a very human way to this strange situation.  Newton’s look of complete shock when she discovers the other hosts is perfect.  The two technicians decision to keep the “malfunction” secret is awfully convenient though.
What is the Maze that the Man in Black searching for?  While he is intensely evil, he has insight into how human the hosts can be.  This knowledge makes the Man in Black scary.  “When you’re suffering, that’s when you’re the most real,” he says as he murders Lawrence’s (Clifton Collins, Jr.) wife.  All he cares about is pushing the limits of this world.  It’s equally frightening that the people in charge know what he is doing and are letting him have free reign.
On the other hand, Jimmi Simpson’s William is the exact opposite of the Man in Black.  His character creates a different type of mystery to Westworld.  Will he be the one sympathetic human character in this world?  We have seen how the head deals with this world through both Ford (Anthony Hopkins) and Bernard.  William could be the heart, as his longing for a “real” love back home is genuinely sweet in this unrelentingly ugly world.
He could die a horrible death or become its worst evil if Logan has his way, distinguishing any hope for humanity.   But pairing up with the “sweet” Dolores is very intriguing.  Jimmi Simpson has always been a solid character actor and it would be a brilliant choice to make him co-lead of sorts with Evan Rachel Wood.
Ford’s buried church is probably the least of the mysteries introduced because it is very similar to “The Hatch” from Lost.  The mystery of that hatch nearly wore out its welcome so hopefully this story line won’t do the same.  More interesting is Anthony Hopkins characterization of Ford.
Ford is possibly one of the more sympathetic characters in the show, but also one of the scariest.  His conversations with Bernard portray a weary man who wonders out loud if man has surpassed evolution with this park.  Ford comes off like a god who has become bored with his creation and is looking for new ways to toy with it.
With the buried church and the Man in Black inching closer to this maze, Westworld is bringing its audience on a potentially awesome ride.
Score: 9 out of 10