Another week has passed and episode 3 of Westworld’s third season has just released. And with it a pattern is starting to emerge. The episodes featuring Dolores, Caleb and the Charlotte host will be alternated with those featuring Maeve and Bernard. Until the stories merge, as they assuredly will. This episode continuous the story of Dolores and her rescue by Caleb. I assume you have watched the episode yourself, or will be watching it soon. So, instead of giving you a recap of the episode I will discuss its most important themes.
The Absence of Field
Westworld remains thematically strong with “The Absence of Field“. Determinism, and especially self-determinism are important character drivers. Dolores shows Caleb how Rehoboam is controlling his life, how eventually his depression will cause him to commit suicide. And so despite having a strong will he cannot act in his own interest, he has no agency. This was already hinted at in the first episode of the season, but now we have confirmation. And with that we know what the general storyline of this season will be. The big question remains. How will Incite’s headman Serac convince Maeve to join his side to stop Dolores? Incite runs Rehoboam, or Rehoboam runs Incite. Either way, Wasn’t Maeve all for self-determination as well? I suppose this is as good a moment to mention Serac might not even be real, but a digital construct created by Rehoboam.
There are still a number of open questions, maybe even outright plot holes. During the meeting between the Charlotte host and Serac it must have been obvious to the latter this was not the host. And yet, whenever the Charlotte host trips over the fact she does not know something Serac fails to dig deeper. This could just be a ploy on Serac’s part as he attempt to lure Dolores out of hiding. Talking about the Charlotte host, we are still not certain who is actually in control of it. My opinion is that it could be either Teddy or Clementine. Some fans speculated it could be Armistice, but she is far too violent for such a job. She was also on team Maeve. Whoever it is, Dolores has ensured their intelligence is more than enough to quickly adapt to being the new CEO of Delos. That said, the life of the original Charlotte is starting to merge with that of the host. As such it is by no means certain the host will carry out Delores’s plan.
The nature of Rehoboam
On a side note there is something odd that Dolores said. In the scene in the Diner in which Caleb’s mom abandoned him as a child Dolores says Rehoboam was created before the privacy laws came into being. Considering those laws would have prevented Rehoboam from existing there are a number of questions. Does Rehoboam continue to learn? I assume it does. That means despite private data not being stored it can be used as training data on the fly. Does that mean there is no equivalent to Rehoboam anywhere else? So far the creative staff have done everything possible to remind the audience of the movie I, Robot from 2004 starring Will Smith. Assuming few people have read the original novel by Isaac Asimov. The physical representation of Rehoboam as seen in the first episode of the season looked a lot like VIKI from the movie. This is nit a coincidence. People have expectations and the creative staff of Westworld have a desire to subvert them.
I enjoyed this episode of Westworld. The elements of corporate espionage and an AI controlling our everyday lives felt real. In our world we are starting to see such things more every day. Placing ourselves in a digital bubble is self-inflicted, but who is to say we are not being pushed. How can we tell? How much self-determination do we have? I am concurrently watching Westworld with another fantastic show called Devs by Alex Garland. It follows similar themes of determinism. It also features advanced computers, but not A.I. In Devs it are humans who use algorithms to decide determinism. We will have to see how the situation is in Westworld. And so here I conclude my observations of Westworld’s episode “The Absence of Field”. I hope you enjoyed this discussion. If you did, please use the subscription widget on the right.