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Westworld's Thandie Newton Has Mixed Feelings on Maeve's Lack of Autonomy

Maeve (Thandie Newton) emerges as a katana-wielding assassin in season three of Westworld.
Maeve (Thandie Newton) emerges as a katana-wielding assassin in season three of Westworld.
Photo: HBO

Maeve was one of the first robots to achieve sentience in season one of Westworld, and her ability to control other hosts made it seem like she would be unstoppable. However, the rest of the HBO series has held her back. It’s something actress Thandie Newton has had trouble coming to terms with, but also thinks it might be the right thing for her character.

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During an in-depth interview with Vulture, Newton shared her thoughts about the rises and pitfalls of Maeve’s character in Westworld. In the first season, she was the epitome of a self-actualized host, going so far as to break her “destroy the world” programming so she could find her daughter in the parks. But then, things changed. Season two mostly focused on Maeve’s search for her daughter, which stagnated her personal growth and fell flat by the end. And in season three, Maeve was at the mercy of Serac (Vincent Cassel), stuck doing his bidding to make sure her daughter stayed safe in the robotic afterlife. Newton said she has “frustrations with Maeve,” but understands that it’s part of the character’s storyline.

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“Season one, the evolution of this robot who then has the revelation that she’s not human, and that she had a past that involved a child, and the betrayal of that, and then using information to empower herself—it was such a powerful story. I’m not surprised that it hooked people in. And then the second and third season has Maeve with a different directive, but it’s not her own. She’s following other people’s leads, by and large,” she said.

In a previous interview with Vanity Fair, Newton said “Maeve’s agency starts again in the season three finale,” as she teams up with Caleb (Aaron Paul) to venture into the Brave New World they’ve created together. However, that doesn’t mean Newton thinks Maeve is going to become the leader of this new world. In fact, she told Vulture she doesn’t think Maeve even wants that. “I think Maeve is a metaphor for the dispossessed in the world, and she’s become that kind of leader, but she’s not had a chance to lead, and I don’t think she necessarily should,” she said. “She certainly doesn’t want to.”

Be sure to check out the rest of Vulture’s interview with Newton, which goes into some intense and illuminating subjects. She discusses her history of sexual assault, experiences with racism in the film industry, and why the film Crash has a whole chapter in her “black book.”

Westworld has already been renewed for season four, and the first three seasons are currently available to watch on HBO.

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Video Editor and Staff Writer at io9. My doppelganger is that rebelling greeting card from Futurama.

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DISCUSSION

To be fair to Ms. Newton, all of Westworld has felt stagnated and tired since season 1 concluded. A lot of the set-up hasn’t had any pay-off, and characters outside of Dolores just seem to be spinning wheels (and even Dolores seems to be a little rudderless). The show needs to figure out what the message they’re trying to give is: is capitalism bad? is humanity redeemable? do we believe in true morality or is everything relative? The show, in its current form, seems to love poking at these ideas, and then abandoning them for the sake of ...?

Maeve was a really cool character that seemed to be the excellent dark horse to take sentience, with all kinds of intrigue into her greater purpose as she started to manifest abilities outside of her physical platform. Now she’s a just a robo-ninja?

Westworld feels like and M Night Shamalan series of films: the first one was great, and everything else has been struggling to get back to that level.