The season finale of Westworld was excellent, providing mostly satisfying answers while leaving enough dangling intrigue to make fans anxiously await Season Two.
(SPOILERS AHEAD, OBVIOUSLY)
One of the surprise revelations, at least for us, was when Bernard told Maeve that her “awakening” and plans to escape were actually all programmed into her code. That means that she still wasn’t making her own decisions, despite the show trying to convince us that she would lead a Host rebellion against her human “Gods.” Turns out, she was just doing what she was programmed to do.
The final shot we see of Maeve in Season One is her deciding to get off the train that leads out of Westworld, and venture back into the park to find her daughter — a daughter we know isn’t real, something that Maeve also seems to aware of, but chooses to ignore. Considering that all of her escape plans were actually part of her predetermined loop, viewers were left questioning whether her decision to abandon those plans was her own choice or just the next chapter in her story.
Show creator Jonathan Nolan appeared on a recent episode of the Vulture TV Podcast, and gave us some definite answers.
“In the finale, when Maeve gets onto that train … the Steadicam is leading her over. Now, it’s just keeping pace with her as she makes the decision. What we understand in the moment is it’s the first real decision she’s made all season,” Nolan said. “Which is, she’s not going to fulfill the script she’s been given, which is to take this train wherever it’s going, and do whatever else she’s programmed to do. She can get off the train. At which point, we shift to handheld camera, which we’d held back on throughout the entire season until one moment with her, and one moment with Dolores, when Teddy comes to rescue her.
“We get Maeve off the train with a handheld camera. And I remember watching the dailies and almost being shocked at how effective a cinematic technique can be if you hold off on it for long enough. If you dial it in at just the right moment, that suggests she’s literally like a train coming off the tracks. We’re no longer in programmatic or prescribed behaviors. She’s improvising, and we’re right there with her.”
Nolan is confirming that Maeve’s decision to get off the train was NOT a part of her programmed story. In fact, he suggests that it was the first autonomous decision Maeve has ever made, meaning she will be a huge wildcard when Season Two rolls around in 2018.