One of the big questions we had after watching Westworld season 1 (opens in new tab) was whether or not Maeve’s final decision to go back into the park to find her daughter was her own… or whether she was programmed to do it.
With so many of her previous decisions being programmed, including those to break out of the park, it was unclear whether Maeve was following her heart or a path laid out to her by someone else in those finale moments. And with Westworld season 2 (opens in new tab) just around the corner, it’s important we find out because one means she’s achieved consciousness and the other… well, doesn’t.
Thankfully, Thandie Newton recently confirmed that it was Maeve’s decision to return to Westworld, and actually the very first decision she ever made for herself. “It’s the first decision that she made. The first conscious decision that she made.” She told me when we sat down to talk about the new season.
“I thought that she made many conscious decisions before that, but Jonah [creator and showrunner Jonathan Nolan] put me to rights, because I was like, ‘Maeve, she’s making her own decisions, you can tell!’ and then of course there was that fucking scene, which hit me like a sledgehammer when I read it.”
If you’ve seen Westworld, you know the scene Newton is referring to and it really is heart-breaking to watch Maeve see her own words dancing across the screen of her computer programme, realising that she’s powerless.
“When I read that episode I was so angry,” adds Newton. “I was so upset when she discovers… when Bernard tells her that actually everything that she’s been doing has been pre-programmed, it was like… (choking noise). I was so grief stricken for the character, just so angry – arrgh!”
Newton goes into more detail about that all-important final decision, saying: “On the train, she’s in a human environment, so she’s the only robot in that environment and she knows she is. And yet, sitting across from two human beings – a mother and a daughter – she feels this yearning and kinship and knowledge of what is passing between them.
“She knows what they’re feeling for one another, and if she knows what they’re feeling for one another, and they’re humans and she’s a robot; that’s an itch she has to scratch. So yeah – that was the first conscious decision that she made.”
Maeve will have a chance to get revenge on those who tried to control her in season 2 and they better watch out because if she was this deadly before she achieved consciousness, just imagine what she’s capable of now.
Westworld season 2 premieres on April 22 on HBO in the US and a day later on Sky Atlantic and NOW TV in the UK, and you can read about the 13 things we found out about the second season (opens in new tab) when we interviewed the cast here.