10 March 2020
Westworld’s Maeve: From brothel madam to queen of the hive-mind
Maeve Millay is more than the resident madam of the local brothel in Westworld – her story is also one of the most touching, and most important.
“I was so attached to Maeve in season 1,” says Thandie Newton. “I had to demolish her (emotionally) and it was really awful. I almost needed to kind of attach myself to her in order to feel that empowerment in my life. She’s incredible and learning so fast, so in control.”
Character analysis: Maeve Millay
Learning fast is an understatement. Maeve is a host in Westworld, a synthetic being running sophisticated AI, created to play her part in one of the many storylines being acted out at the Western-themed park owned by Delos Inc. For Maeve, that’s the duty of brothel madam in the Wild West town of Sweetwater. She spends her day prepping her working girls like Clementine Pennyfeather (Angela Sarafyan) for their next customer at the saloon, as well as putting the men in their places when they get a little overly friendly with her.
Don’t be fooled by Maeve’s sultry welcome; she’s dangerous. There’s a glitch in her software, and it was purposely installed by creator Robert Ford (Sir Anthony Hopkins) and his Head of Behaviour Bernard Lowe (Jeffrey Wright).
The prime function of Westworld‘s hosts is to play out their part in the narratives programmed into them by Delos Inc. Maeve believes she’s human. She’s not aware that she’s synthetic, and her memories are erased at the end of each day.
Then, Maeve begins to notice glitches in Clementine – nervous ticks and repeating sentence – things that don’t make sense. When the network at Westworld picks up that something unusual is happening to Maeve, she is taken offline and back to the lab for reprogramming.
Then: Maeve wakes up in the lab, and forces the technicians to max out all the attributes of her software, essentially granting her god-like levels of intelligence, strength, dexterity and problem-solving skills.
Speaking on her nudes scenes in Westworld (that’s not a body double), Thandie says: “That is when she’s most powerful. When I was naked, people (the film crew) were really respectful and in awe of my ‘bravery’.”
Who am I?
Once Maeve is sentient and aware that she and the other hosts are basically cattle, she’s angry. She wants to run the show. She wants to be the boss. This is hard-coded into her character traits set up by Bernard.
“We’re seeing how these characters are also breaking free from their loops,” explains Thandie. Maeve’s host cyborg body has been around almost as long as Sweetwater welcome committee Dolores Abernathy (Evan Rachel Wood). She’s almost 30 years old and has been moved around the many theme parks operated by Delos.
And although it’s impossible, Maeve is having dreams. (They’re actually part of the glitch in her programming). She is experiencing remnants of her past narrative as a rancher’s wife and mother. She has flashbacks of her ranch and her daughter, and of being attacked by the Native American Indians aka the Ghost Nation. Even though Maeve is aware that she’s a robot and that her daughter is just part of a story written by humans, she’s driven to find this girl child.
Along for the ride
Maeve isn’t alone in her journey. She has awakened her secret lover Hector Escaton (Rodrigo Santoro). He was a ruthless outlaw in the original narrative and he’s now her hired gun. And she’s about to journey to Shogun World, another Delos creation with a traditional Japanese narrative, where she’ll meet her counterpart: the house mother of a geisha home.
Maeve is on a mission and no one is going to stop her; not even Delos. Season 3 of Westworld, which has just started streaming (weekly episodes of Westworld S3 come to Showmax express from the US) sees her dispatched in full ninja gear to dispatch of Dolores, who has left the park and entered the human world.