Westworld season 4, episode 2 sees the usually-reliable powers of Thandiwe Newton’s Maeve Millay fail. Why do they cease all functions?
Maeve’s powers suddenly stop working in Westworld season 4 – why, and should Caleb turn her off and on again? Humanity can count itself lucky that Thandiwe Newton’s Maeve Millay is a friend rather than a foe. In Westworld season 1, the wild west tavern madam began controlling other hosts with her voice, before learning to perform the trick telepathically in season 2. Westworld season 3 evolved Maeve’s powers further, allowing her to “communicate” with any network-enabled technology from aim-assist firearms to security cameras.
Needless to say, Maeve’s powers have proven incredibly useful in Westworld. Hosts are ineffectual against her awesome telepathy, and human enemies are so reliant on technology there’s always something Maeve can exploit against them. But her powers unexpectedly fail during Westworld season 4, episode 2 (“Well Enough Alone”). Investigating why William attacked them, Maeve and Caleb visit the Man in Black’s politician friend, Ken Whitney, only to discover the senator and his wife are already hosts. A fight inevitably breaks out, but when Maeve delivers her “cease all motor functions” command, this Ken doll doesn’t stop playing. After more failed attempts, Maeve subdues Mr. and Mrs. Whitney the old-fashioned way.
Maeve tells a confused Caleb, “It appears William has upgraded his henchmen,” but that’s not quite the full story in Westworld season 4. She still believes William is the original flesh-and-blood Delos boss, whereas he’s actually a host created by Charlotte Hale. Maeve effortlessly deactivating a security camera outside the Whitneys’ home but struggling face-to-face against the senator himself suggests an upgrade is why her powers fail. This makes perfect sense, as Maeve’s godlike admin access was programmed by original host creator Robert Ford, and she also boosted her own attributes in Westworld season 1. Ken Whitney and his wife, on the other hand, were built by Charlotte Hale during the gap between Westworld seasons 3 & 4. As a host creating brand new hosts with the benefit of Delos’ knowledge and resources, it figures that Hale could tweak her soldiers’ programming to counter Maeve’s powers.
Developing Maeve-proof bots could be one of the reasons Hale and William are only making their move now, seven years after Westworld season 3. Host Hale came mere seconds from destroying Maeve’s pearl last season, precisely because of the immense threat she posed (to Dolores at that point, not herself). Since Hale wants hosts to overthrow humans and Maeve is a powerful host who fights alongside humans, Tessa Thompson’s robotic villain must’ve realized her henchmen needed a firewall to guard against Maeve’s telepathic Wi-Fi.
Westworld season 4, episode 2 poses a curious question. If Delos’ new hosts are programmed to repel Maeve’s control, why does Senator Whitney eventually obey her “cease all motor functions” command? An answer can be found in Maeve’s past. Whenever Thandiwe Newton’s witty protagonist has evolved before (from verbal to telepathic, then controlling hosts to technology in general) she essentially upgraded herself during times of crisis. When Maeve finally tames the cyborg senator in Westworld season 4, Newton’s expression and vocal inflection noticeably change – as if she figured out a hack through the firewall. Perhaps the more often Maeve encounters this latest generation of hosts, the better she’ll be able to manipulate them.
Having said that, Westworld season 4, episode 2 subtly signals that Maeve might finally be an underdog. Tentatively entering the opera house, Caleb suggests his companion find a gun after her Wi-Fi magic failed so spectacularly back at the senator’s house. Maeve declines by saying, “Nothing I can’t handle,” but concern is plastered all over her face. Though she might not admit it, Maeve is more worried about Delos’ upgrades than she’s letting on.
Westworld continues Sunday on HBO.
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