After two years Westworld is finally back with its third season. Set mostly outside of the park – as we knew it – the season 3 premiere feels like something new. The show’s creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy have always sought to stretch the bounds of the imagination, but now they attempt to do so with showing our ‘real’ world. During this season’s premiere we see a lot of new characters, notably construction worker Caleb (played by Aaron Paul) and Liam Dempsey Jr, the son of Incite founder. Incite is a company’s which has already been strongly hinted will play a prominent role in this season.
Caleb used to be a soldier, now suffering from restlessness and a sense of loss that is perhaps not quite PTSD, but its close. Now in the civilian world he feels less valued. His mother appears to be suffering from a neurological disorder that makes her forget who he is. Her continued treatments also costs a lot more than what his construction job pays. The only bright spot is his construction robot, who at least does not continuously asks for a loan.
During the night Caleb uses an App called Rico to perform all sorts of illegal activity: blowing up cash machines, returning drug addicts to their homes etc. Yet, Caleb does not want to make his work ‘personal’ and desires to remain detached. As part of an effort to get himself out of his rut and find a better paying job he uses an app that talks to him, as a way of personalized therapy. The avatar is that of his now dead military friend Francis.
Lost story threads of Westworld
How Caleb fits into the story of Westworld season 3 is not immediately apparent after one episode. Aaron Paul’s depiction of his character is that of a man who can achieve so much more, but he does not want to lose himself like he did in the military. He does not want to serve others, but in a world run by algorithms only drastic action can curb his life in a new direction. In that respect Caleb has a lot in common with Maeve.
Naturally after two years we are bound to forget some elements of the plot. Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) has managed to escape the park in the body of Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson) – the Delos board member. This episode ‘Parce Domine‘ starts with the Charlotte host attempting to take Delos public after a suitable interval to find outside financing to further develop Delos’s IP. Other board members disagree with her but are powerless to stop her in William’s absence.
Meanwhile Dolores has obtained financial resources and secret documents from Gerry (Thomas Kretschmann), a former Delos shareholder. The documents pertain to a company known as Incite. Dolores then befriends Liam Dempsey Jr (John Gallagher), the son of the late Incite founder. The first two-thirds of this episodes sees Dolores attempting to discover the secrets of Incite’s strategic A.I. – Rehoboam. Yet, it is revealed Liam knows little about it, his father never involved him in its development. Instead, only his father’s partner has access. Before Dolores can extract the name she is overpowered by Incite security chief Martin.
Caleb and Dolores
If Dolores’s setback occurred because of Rehoboam discovering her interest or through human agency is not revealed. Nonetheless Martin plans to dispose of Dolores by making her death look like a drug overdose. Here the story of Caleb and Dolores converge. It is Caleb who through the Rico app provides the car in which her body is to be transported as well as the drugs. Yet Caleb walks away when ordered to do so by Martin’s henchmen. Dolores meanwhile manages to turn the tables on Martin. Martin is killed but not before giving her a name – ‘Serac’. Dolores has Martin replaced with a copy of him – thus accounting for the second of the five spheres she took with her from the park.
Caleb has meanwhile reached a breaking point. The constant rejection, manipulation and cruelty he sees in the world finally sees him shed his restraint. He ditches the Francis avatar permanently. Upon returning to the car he provided he finds a wounded Dolores in an alley, and decides to help her. Meanwhile Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) has also been revived in a new host by Dolores- thus accounting for the third sphere. Yet, he is cut lose by Dolores. Throughout this episode we see him in hiding in South-East Asia as he is wanted for the massacre in the park. After he is forced to kill two people Bernard leaves and returns to the ‘real’ world.
Dolores’s busy live scheming against Incite is riveting to watch, not least because of the beautiful cinematography on display in this episode. Localities that should resemble Los Angeles and London are gorgeous. They in no way display any aspect of the dystopia that lies underneath. Its a dichotomy that no doubt will be settled later in Westworld season 3 as the real world will end up resembling the park more and more. One way the real world already resembles the park is the way the top 1 percent dress – especially the women. Dolores sports various mini-dresses throughout this episode. She is then depicted constantly as the ‘girlfriend of Liam’ until her subterfuge is discovered. Like in the park an idealistic look of women from a beauty sense can easily push them to a second rank. Unlike Charlotte who arrives for her Delos board meeting wearing a pant suit.
Conclusion to Westworld Season 3 Episode 1
However, despite the things that Dolores has set in motion we cannot yet fathom her plan. Her desire for revenge against those that have wronged her is palpable, but how does Incite fit into this plan? I did not expect this episode to answer any questions, asking them is enough. Yet, it makes the wait until episode 2 unbearable. As it should be. The final scene of the episode shows Maeve (Thandie Newton), awakening from her new programming inside a Second World War-oriented park.
No doubt she will make way to the ‘real’ world as well, but what her objectives are remain unknown. One episode into season 3 I am again excited by Westworld. The visuals are spectacular, the drama palpable and character development moving. However, one fly in the ointment are the spheres of the hosts Dolores returned. It feels like I might get mixed up who is who – especially if there are going to be time jumps.