Saturday 9 May 2020

Westworld – This isn’t real.

Westworld: 3x06 Decoherence

As we are progressing towards an all-out war between the factions that have emerged in this third season of Westworld, the most interesting question that has been raised is that of Dolores’ identity. Now that there are different versions of her, who share her memories and her experiences but are diverging into their own lives, their own worlds, it is becoming clear that she cannot take their shared goals for granted. She has sent out Charlotte Hale to sure up Delos for her, a double-mole, but she has also sent her into the real Charlotte Hales’ life – and to everyone’s surprise, she has reacted more tenderly to her ex-husband and her young son than expected. Not only has she successfully turned around a strained relationship, she is more motherly, more reliable, more caring than the person that she is impersonating. That a host ends up acting more humanely than the person it is play-acting is one of the ironies in the episode, especially since it becomes the reason for Serac figuring out that this is Dolores-in-disguise. 

It is also a Dolores-in-disguise less willing to self-sacrifice for what Dolores – who acts like a handler here, with a still weird added dose of motherly or romantic overtones – considers the greater good. She is well-aware the kind of danger that Serac’s arrival, after his successful take-over, poses for her safety, and less willing to let go of this life than Connells was. And at the same time, everything curves towards catastrophe. While the world around is burning because of what Nathan and Dolores revealed, everyone’s AI-determined fates out in the open, Charlotte makes an honest break for it when the net closes in on her, but in the end, her attempt to save her husband and son end in an explosion from which only she emerges, horrified, disfigured and yet, impossibly, still alive. Revenge has been a strong motivator for Dolores, and I wonder if the same will be true of Charlotte, knowing fully well that Serac is the one who pushed the button. 

And now, on to what I think has been Westworld’s greatest weakness for a while: the unkillable William. I no longer understand what purpose he serves, or why we have to suffer through his crisis, attempting to once again tell the story of his hard beginnings, then being called out on the fact that this is nothing but myth-making. Unsurprisingly, William was always violent, and driven by pride. He has always wreaked havoc and destroyed everyone around him, and in this episode, thanks to a VR technology employed in the mental hospital he finds himself in, he destroys every single former version of himself. It has always been clear that William is driven by a hatred of himself and the world around him, which he despises, but what purpose this serves in the show anymore is unclear, especially when Bernard and Stubbs come to save him at the end of the episode, when the pathetic man has been deliberately forgotten by medical staff dealing with its own drama. His arc could have ended better at many earlier moments, and as much as I still hope that his ending will fit, and come soon, I’m losing hope. 

Maeve, meanwhile, after dying and waking up in a fake version of the Valley Beyond, asks Serac for an army like Dolores has, and so she returns to the simulation of Nazi-occupied Italy and her beloved Hector (and less beloved, but somehow a lot more likable now that he’s dead, Lee Sizemore). It’s an army of two, the forever tragic Hector who always narrowly misses the moment of insight and the forever ridiculous Lee, who managed to pull off one heroic act in his pathetic life only to have it end his existence. Maeve wants to gain access to the stored host bodies in the Mesa, and Serac grants that wish, but destroys everybody else. And in a final move to make sure that Maeve will forever oppose Dolores, Charlotte destroys a recently resurrected Hector for good – smashing his pearl, the core of his existence, something that is, as far as we know, irreversible unless a copy has been made. 

Random notes: 

As expected, Chekhov’s gun in the form of a riot control mecha comes into play here, helping Charlotte escape the Delos compound. 

After the board members have proven as useless as expected, Charlotte kills all of them as part of her escape plan – but as per usual, Serac is safely somewhere else, preferring to appear as a mirage. 

A small but necessary great moment when Maeve effortlessly murders all the Nazis.

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