Sunday 19 April 2020

Westworld – What if every choice you made wasn’t a choice at all?

Westworld: 3x04 The Mother of Exiles. 

The twist at the end of this episode isn’t much of a twist if you’ve paid attention to Dolores’ entire life. She has been taught not to trust anyone but herself, both because she has been betrayed and because those that haven’t betrayed her have proved unwilling to go as far as she is willing to go to achieve her aims. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the five pearls she has collected aren’t five other people, which will be revealed over the season (because the “who’s a Cylon” thing has been done before) – Dolores would only trust herself, and she would create copies of herself in key positions around the real world to work towards her goal. Charlotte Hale is Dolores (which I thought was made clear in the previous episode, including the weird emotional intimacy between the two), but so are Liam Dempsey’s bodyguard and Musashi, whom Maeve encounters in Singapore on a mission for Serac. That leaves a few more mysteries, of course – who else is a Dolores and have we met them yet – but it is a lot more informative in and of itself that Dolores would make this choice. It reveals her strategy going forward against the seemingly overwhelming power that Serac already holds in this world. 
For now, she is building her resources, and one of the questions is if that is all that Caleb Nichols is to her. She needs an actual human for some of her plans – in this episode, he is required to pose as someone who can authorise the transfer of Liam Dempsey’s entire wealth into Dolores’ bank account – but as the kind of person who mistrusts everyone, I wonder how much of that speech she gave to him about how they are similar in the respective cages they’ve been put in was genuine. Can Dolores feel empathy with a human, and does her revolution extend to those humans that have been treated as the hosts have by Rehoboam?

The emotional centre piece of the episode, as opposed to the entertaining heist that Caleb and Dolores pull off, is Dolores’ final revenge against the Man in Black, who is sitting in his miserable mansion, smashing mirrors, going slowly insane after having killed his remaining child who is now haunting him (it is even more effective now that Katja Herbes stars in Evil). Charlotte Hale approaches him and tells him that he is required for a vote that will prevent Serac from taking over the majority share, a vote that will have Delos go private and beyond oversight (so that it can become whatever Dolores desires it to be) – but it’s all a trick. For a moment, the broken man believes that he is still relevant, that he can still clean up well, that he still holds any kind of meaningful power. But instead, Dolores has set him up to appear as broken and psychologically unstable as we know him to be – a man who is haunted, who sees ghosts, and attacks a respectable woman in front of the men that will take him to a mental hospital. And there he will remain – broken, a revenge must sweeter than simply killing him, and haunted by the Dolores that he returned to again and again to torture. It is perhaps an insight into what Dolores is planning for all of humanity. 

Equally, Serac uses Maeve to obtain his goals, but there is less of a question here about if he is genuine in his concern for her. They share having lost an entire world (he lost his corner of France in a nuclear attack or accident – we really don’t know much yet about this world to be sure), and he tells her that Dolores holds the key to the one that was closed to her. The Valley Beyond has always functioned as a utopia of sorts, something that is desired but unobtainable (at least for the main characters), so it remains doubtful that Maeve will every find her way in. For now, Dolores in Musashi’s body kills her, but death is never a long-term proposition for the hosts anyway. 

And at the same time, Bernard and Stubbs team up to try and save Liam Dempsey from Dolores, but as expected, they are too late to do much of anything, except not surprise Dolores, who has been expecting them to join the game. 

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