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Westworld S3E4: “The Mother of Exiles”

Last week, we were pondering the identity crisis of Charlotte Hale, and who exactly her body was hosting. On the first point, Westworld S3E4 kind of undoes all the good work they laid down. However, they more than delivered on the second point.

That’s right; after previous criticisms of the show’s mysteries being obliquely rendered, they’ve come right out and revealed who exactly is inside Hale, directly and unambiguously. Not only that, the reveal itself is fascinating and raises certain questions about the implications for the story moving forward.

But before we move forward, we have to take a step back. Back to a character we’ve not seen yet this season…

The Dissolution of The Man in Black

William, aka “The Man in Black,” was last seen at the end of Season 2, confused as to whether his existence was truly humanly authentic, or synthetic, a replication of his previous living self. But there were no clues as to whether he was able to get off the park and if so, how.

Now we are finally given an answer. We awake with William back on the mainland, in his house, but I’m not sure he’s in his right mind. From the state of him, it looks like he’s been back a while but he’s not been taking good care of himself.

Well, it’s hard to practise self-care when you’re having visions of drowning in overflowing bathtubs that recall the suicide of your late wife. Then there’s the little matter of his deceased daughter appearing to him very much alive. “You’re not real,” he screams at her, “I know who I am!” But he does not. Because he doesn’t truly know if he is real or not. So how can he claim to know the authenticity, or lack of, of somebody else?

William’s daughter functions as a kind of self-accusing conscience, throwing William’s transgressions back into his face and taunting him with the question he is afraid to ask or have answered: am I real?

Charlotte Hale doesn’t have an answer, but she has a problem that she needs William’s help with. As the major shareholder, she needs William to convince the board to back her and vote to take the company private to stop Serac gaining control.

William is aggressively dismissive at first. He delegated his role to Hale, why should he care anymore? It’s interesting to hear that it was William himself who sold Serac his first shares in Delos. And now Serac is aware of Delos’ host profiling scheme thanks to a mole in Delos’ ranks. That’s why William should care.

I have to admit I wasn’t quite sure of William’s motivation here. Was he afraid of being outed and arrested as an abuser of human rights? Or does he simply understand the amount of power holding such sensitive data on people allows one to wield?

Whilst on the subject, considering the amount of influence it has on the structuring of society, is William unaware of Rehoboam? Surely, he can’t be? Also, if Rehoboam is using profiles to organise society, what does Serac need with more host profiles? To further expand his web of influence, or something more insidious? Surely Rehoboam is more powerful than the system Delos has?

Time will tell, I guess. But for now, William is engaged and ready to get back in action. But this is Westworld, and nothing is ever truly that simple.

One Rule for the Rich…

Caleb and Dolores try to fool the banker

It’s clear that Caleb isn’t quite sure what he’s gotten himself into. Aaron Paul portrays quiet bewilderment at every turn, his face betraying uncertainty as to whether he should quietly disappear. It’s hard work, being the henchman of a single-minded revolutionary.

It doesn’t help that Dolores is pretty much unwilling to explain anything beyond the basic sentiment that they are going to unseat the enslaver. Powerful rhetoric, certainly, but I also get the feeling Caleb is a little afraid of her—understandably—and besides, where would he turn to? Where would he go? His profile already has suicide down as his final destination—better to fight and die than to roll over and die.

It can’t hurt that Dolores also enables Caleb to empty Liam Dempsey’s extremely vast bank account. What the funds are to be used for is not disclosed, but it must feel good to take from those who first took from you, disabling any opportunity that might allow you to grow and realise your potential. Or share in the wealth, for that matter.

The sequence in the bank also makes an interesting point about how the elite and entitled have much more security over their bank accounts than the ordinary working person might. To even get into your appointment, you have to pass a biometric test, and there’s a further biometric test to complete your transaction.

To that end, Dolores has acquired the relevant blood to make such a transaction happen. However, the chip it’s contained in, injected into Caleb’s arm, has a degradation time of 20 minutes. Getting anxious or frustrated can cause the chip to degrade even quicker.

This gives us a glimpse into Caleb’s nerve—has he got the resilience to see such risks through? He panics a bit and causes the first confirmation biometric test to fail, but he calms himself and is rewarded for keeping his nerve with a suddenly minted bank account. Caleb, it seems, can ride the storm.

Which is fortunate for the banker, because Dolores had her hand poised and her finger on the trigger, just in case.

Maeve, Serac and Decimated Paris

Things are looking up for Maeve. From Warworld, she finds herself in sleek, illuminated Singapore, drinking sherry “in the largest glass.” She is not alone.

We finally get a little bit of Serac’s history when he tells Maeve he grew up in Paris with his brother, but, alarmingly, it doesn’t exist anymore. A flashback shows us two young boys coming over a hill in the outskirts to see men in biohazard suits waving them away, and the city itself lost in mad plumes of black smoke.

What this means for the world Westworld presents to us is open to debate. The biohazard suits are unfortunately timely, what with current world events, but more likely represent a nuclear attack of some sort. How much of the world we see on-screen is still standing? If America is still in one piece, does that mean they struck first? Or does this mean that the world we are seeing now, with Serac, Liam Dempsey and Caleb, is itself an illusion, as artificial as the simulation Maeve was put through in Episode 2? If so, is that because the “real” world was decimated beyond practical use? It remains to be seen, but it’s an interesting idea.

A young Serac watches from a grassy hillside as a massive grey plume of smoke erupts from Paris

Sercac lays his cards on the table; he needs access to the host profiles Dolores is holding so he can make the most comprehensive map of the human mind ever made. He knows Maeve can’t refuse to help him obtain these because Dolores also holds the key to the locked-away paradise that contains her daughter. If this should be insufficient incentive, then there’s always the fact that Serac has a magic button (a little bit silly, that, but I accept it) that can trap Maeve back in her little black box of unconsciousness.

Serac takes Maeve to see a broker, a man who arranges on the quiet—and for a fee—to give people new identities. Serac has had said broker tied to a chair and beaten because he wants to know what identity he gave Dolores. After a quick persuasive device involving threats to his family, the broker reveals he sent Dolores to someone called “The Mortician.” Serac, who had told the broker he would let him live, thanks him by putting a bullet in him. It’s another warning to Maeve, and to us the audience, that Serac is not a man to be trusted or to be crossed. Whatever it is Serac wants, he’s not giving us the full story.

Seeing that there’s no other real option, Maeve brings her super-assassin self to the streets of Singapore, forcing her way with minimal effort into meeting “The Mortician,” who says she gave the blood to form new identities, but could not help Dolores move bodies across the water (to America, one presumes). For that, she directed Dolores in the direction of the friendly, neighbourhood Yakuza.

At this point, I was concerned the story was going to get a bit silly. I mean, if Maeve starts tearing through Yakuza members—as she does, at their base at a distillery—then surely the story can’t just move on. The Yakuza don’t take being assassinated lightly, I imagine. My concern was that Maeve would just rip through the Yakuza and then the matter would be forgotten.

As the face of the Yakuza boss was revealed, though, I realised the show was playing a different game.

The Four Faces of Dolores

He introduced himself as Sato. We, us and Maeve, knew him as Musashi, Hector’s counterpart in “Shogun World.” The last time we saw him, he stayed behind as a protector to Maeve’s counterpart, Akane, and her surrogate daughter, Sakura, grateful for Maeve’s assistance. Now, he comes with accusations of neglect, of abandoning Hector, Clementine and himself. But he is not Musashi, not inside. And he is not alone in wearing a disguise.

Sato looks seriously at someone out of sight

Over in America, Liam Dempsey is listlessly taking part in a strange, high-status sex auction (didn’t think I’d be typing that today!). He tries to make a payment for one girl, which is declined because, of course, his money has been taken. At this point, Caleb, Dolores and Dempsey’s compromised security host, Connells, were supposed to abduct and abscond with Mr Dempsey. But they hadn’t counted on Bernard and Stubbs crashing the party.

Forcing Dempsey out into the hall, Bernard and Stubbs are confronted by Dolores, who sends Caleb after Bernard and Dempsey while she takes care of Stubbs. And take care of him she does, giving him a battering, all the while promising that it’s nothing personal. Ouch.

Bernard is convinced Dempsey is a host, being used by Dolores to stage a coup. He wants to force Dempsey to confess which other humans are really hosts too. He didn’t count on two things: that Dempsey is not a host; and that Dolores is only too willing to reveal the truth to him.

Back at William’s house, Hale is impressed by how well William has put himself back together. It’s an ironic joke; William is a mess and they both know it, even if William denies ever breaking apart. He can’t deny it for long; Hale reveals she knows about his conversations with his “daughter.” William is furious at being under surveillance, but is missing the bigger picture; he has been watched by the person who knows him best of all. And that can only mean one thing…

Back in America, Caleb intercepts Bernard and Dempsey, but in turn is intercepted by Connells, who sends Dempsey running and Caleb off after him (a bit inefficient—what if Caleb loses Dempsey now? Should have just sent Caleb off with Dempsey to whatever rendezvous point they have). At which point, Bernard is confronted with a similar revelation: don’t you recognise your oldest friend?

It couldn’t be…but it is.

Dolores.

Dolores in Singapore.

Dolores at William’s house.

Dolores in Connells’ body, giving Bernard a shock of a lifetime.

Maeve, being the supermind she is, correctly guesses the truth. The pearls Dolores took from the park were all just replications of Dolores herself. It is Dolores inside each of the hosts revealed to us so far. As she says to Maeve, “why trust anyone else when you can do the job yourself?” It is the kind of remark you expect from an inflexible dictator figure, and after last week’s apparent softening, the queen of the violent delight is back in full flower. Does this mean her relationship with Caleb is an illusion she presents so she can use him? She’s happy to stab Maeve through the stomach here and leave her for dead—what happens if Caleb disobeys her? I’m looking forward to seeing how this plays out over the rest of the season.

Where this scenario is problematic is that it basically renders the majority of last week’s episode obsolete, rendering pointless all the character conflict the Hale host fought within herself in adopting another’s internal and external lives. Here they’ve traded character growth for plot bombshell, which is debilitating perhaps in the long term.

In the short term, though, I really enjoyed the reveal and the twist here, and was grateful for how openly it was disclosed to the audience. The concept itself, of Dolores replicating herself to ensure her aims are achieved, is interesting, and presents curious directions for the rest of the season moving forward.

But before we move on, there’s one last stop we need to make…

Last Stop: The Hospital?

Dolores looks into the eyes of an incarcerated William

Dolores, being Dolores, can’t leave anything to chance. Surely there was a chance that William wouldn’t be able to convince the board to take Delos private. But if William was to be disposed of, incarcerated for example, William would be deemed incompetent and Hale would have enough of a controlling share that she could take the company private without successful opposition.

It certainly didn’t harm any that William was having little chats with a vision of his deceased daughter. Having recorded this, Hale/Dolores is able to get William committed to a mental health institution, whose team just so happen to be outside William’s house waiting to escort him to the hospital, whether he likes it or not.

Interestingly, in his hospital room (which seems a little more comfortable than the average padded cell), he is visited by Dolores, in her “Dolores” body and her old blue Westworld attire. We know the “Dolores” body is with Caleb, so I assume this is another vision, William’s karma tormenting him with Dolores’ threat that she said she would see him fall apart. But has she? Is this William’s breaking point, or will the sheer audaciousness of Dolores’ coup spur him on into seeking dreadful, bloody vengeance? Considering how pivotal a character “The Man in Black” has been, I can’t see him hanging up the hat for good just yet.

Overall, this was a well-paced, action-packed, exciting episode that sets up an intriguing path for the rest of the season.

So join me next week. I’ll be waiting for you—in Westworld!

Chris Flackett

Written by Chris Flackett

Chris Flackett is a writer for 25YL who loves Twin Peaks, David Lynch, great absurdist literature and listens to music like he's breathing oxygen. He lives in Manchester, England with his beautiful wife, three kids and the ghosts of Manchester music history all around him.

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