John P. Johnson/HBO

How Did Maeve Wake Up On 'Westworld'? The "Host" Is Having Nightmarish Flashbacks

Westworld will likely be as successful as its HBO predecessor, Game of Thrones, because of its very similar style – alt-reality with a sweeping, overarching epic narrative and a large ensemble cast, but enough nuance and focus within the large group of characters to make you care about (or intensely hate) each of them. The pilot gave us plenty of reason to feel for (and root for) Dolores, the de facto protagonist. Maeve, the saloon prostitute, got similar treatment in the latest installment, "Chestnut," when we saw her deal with nightmare flashbacks. But how did Maeve wake up on Westworld?

One of the central themes of Westworld is self-awareness. Specifically, how self-aware are these robots? And are they capable of becoming more self-aware (or are they actively doing so already)? Tied to the theme of self-awareness is the question of how much of their prior configurations the "hosts" remember. As we learned in the pilot with Peter Abernathy, Dolores' malfunctioning Dad 1.0, each host typically plays a number of "roles" over their years of service. But each role isn't completely wiped – on an unconscious level, each robot retains their past configurations, though they shouldn't be able to access those prior "selves" on their own. Peter, unfortunately, does this and is decommissioned because of it, so we do know that it's possible.

So. Creepy.

The "ability" (or glitch) that allows the hosts to re-access their prior "lives" seems to be spreading, and it's all tied to one phrase: "These violent delights have violent ends." Peter whispered it to Dolores in the premiere, and in the most recent episode "Chestnut," we saw Dolores (in the midst of a "flashback" to dead bodies in the street after one of many shootouts) say it to Maeve right outside of the saloon.

Though Dolores seemed to be reaching a higher state of self-awareness while awake, Maeve actually appeared to be accessing her prior builds mostly while asleep. She dreamt of herself and a little girl – presumably her daughter – as they were being attacked by Native Americans. One Native American burst through their door, suddenly turning into the Man in Black wielding a blade and unable to be killed with Maeve's bullets.

Right before he killed Maeve and her probable-daughter in the memory/nightmare, Maeve closed her eyes and "woke" herself up from it by counting down from three. Unfortunately, she woke up to an arguably even worse situation – being operated on by two Westworld employees.

Interestingly, Maeve's "wake up" mechanism – which she also suggested to Clementine, who was complaining of nightmares – is tied to something we saw earlier in the episode. Maeve was set to be decommissioned (on Stubbs' orders), but Elsie "saved" her from cold storage by reprogramming her to have a higher emotional sensitivity. Elsie adjusted Maeve's "settings" while the robot was in maintenance mode, and she "woke" her from said maintenance mode by counting down from three – just as Maeve did to wake herself up.

This is really intriguing for a number of reasons. For one, we know from the conversation between Elsie and another employee, as they're repairing Maeve, that the "hosts" are not programmed to have nightmares or to dream at all. They have the "concept" of nightmares, so that if they remember being repaired by maintenance they'll write it off as "just a nightmare."

But Maeve shouldn't have been having a nightmare of events that occurred while she was in a prior configuration while in "sleep mode" during her maintenance operation. And she definitely shouldn't have been able to spontaneously wake herself up from it. That would defeat the entire purpose of the robots thinking they were "in a dream" during their maintenance sessions.

This just solidified that Maeve is the next robot suffering from a glitch and inching closer towards self-awareness.

For another, we now know that the robots are capable of (consciously or subconsciously) recalling commands given to them while they're in maintenance mode with the employees of Westworld. Maeve adapted Elsie's wake-up mechanism to remove herself from what she thought was a nightmare but was, most likely, a residual memory from one of her prior configurations (as a mother who lived on a ranch and was attached by Native Americans).

Westworld just keeps on getting more and more complex and interesting. I seriously can't wait to see how this all unfolds.