We now know whether Maeve was in control of her choices, or not, at the end of “Westworld”
One of the many, many twists in the finale of Westworld was realizing that Maeve’s decisions might not have been her own. For much of the season it seemed as though Maeve was coming to sentience of her own accord, gradually remembering more and more of the memories that were wiped from her, and starting to become more conscious and active during her down time, outside of the park. Eventually, we watched Maeve control to employees of Westworld and manipulate them (by manipulate we mean ask point blank; there was no finesse involved in this task, let’s be clear) into helping her escape.
Then we find out through Bernard that somebody has edited Maeve’s code to have her do exactly that, and although we don’t hear the full plan, we do learn before Maeve leaves the park, her objective is to get to the ‘mainland.’
(Follow-up question — geographically where is Westworld? Because we’re hard-pressed to think of a single stretch of land big enough to include Westworld and “~Samurai World~” and whatever else there is, unless we’re on another planet or have terraformed Antarctica since the polar bears are dead in the future anyway.)
Despite knowing that Maeve was programmed to get to the mainland, we see Maeve at the very end leave the train out of Westworld, and instead go in search of her daughter within the park.
This would seem sufficiently clear that Maeve is now making her own decisions for the first time, but the showrunners, Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, weren’t sure their audience would pick up on their ham-fisted plot twists. In a Vulture TV podcast, they clarified:
"What we understand in the moment is it’s the first real decision she's made all season. 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."
This is actually quite comforting, because if Maeve’s escape weren’t part of a larger plan, the fact that she was able to escape with relative ease and host all of these clandestine (read: sarcastically) meetings with Westworld employees would be totally baffling. She literally spends EPISODES conscious while she’s supposed to be essentially decor having conversations with her repair techs. Like, SECURITY? Somebody call Luke Hemsworth.
We’re curious to see what Maeve does back in the park as a recognizable robot, at least.