Television Westworld

Westworld: Passed Pawn, Review

Season 3 Episode 7

We’ve reached the penultimate episode of the season and all the pieces are set for the grand finale. The title of this installment is both a clever play on this but also the aptest one of the season so far. I’ve spent very little time on the titles of episodes but this one warrants a few comments.

Passed pawn is a chess term for a pawn that no opposing piece can stop from queening. Queening is when a pawn reaches the opposing players’ side and is converted to a queen (the most powerful piece on the board). This is basically what happens in episode 7 as Caleb is promoted from mere pawn to queen essentially. He not only has the knowledge of his true past but is now armed with the final plan of Solomon to defeat Serac.

The big reveal is Caleb. We learn, via Solomon (the predecessor to Rehoboam), that Caleb was in fact in the military and that he and his squadron were nearly killed in combat. Everything after that though was a fabrication. It turns out that the AI projections ran into problems when charting a course for the world. Certain people, who they called outliers, would ruin the projections if left to their own devices. Serac’s nefarious plan was to reprogram, via AR therapy, those outliers so they could fit the ‘narrative’.

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PHOTO SOURCE: Westworld, HBO

Unfortunately, the reprogramming only worked on 1 in 10 individuals. Caleb was one of the lucky ones and was used to round up other outliers via the RICO app we saw earlier this season. He gets sent on a job with his friend Francis but the app forces the two to kill each other but Caleb kills Francis first. The memory of the botched job is then replaced and Caleb is thrown back into society where we meet up with him in episode 1.

It’s a lot to take in. The traumatic thoughts he’s struggled to reconcile weren’t based on reality, but what a computer simulation said was best for a future reality. All his suffering was not only a lie but a lie purposefully constructed by powerful people to keep him in line. Full credit has to be given to Aaron Paul for his acting here since he has to convey a host of emotions while bombarded with revelation upon revelation.

The reveal about Caleb was quite predictable though. This is a far cry from previous seasons where the show played its cards very close to the chest. This season has opted to remove that secrecy and in a lot of respects its actually improved the show. Here though the reveal falls a little flat mostly because Caleb is a blank slate and the show could’ve literally said anything about him this episode and I would’ve believed it.

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PHOTO SOURCE: Westworld, HBO

Maeve joins the party and duels with Dolores in a very cool action sequence. My only gripe about their fight was the section where they reached that shed just outside the facility. Both were using their tech (Dolores’ drone sniper and Maeve’s grenade helicopter) but neither could get a hit on the other. Perhaps because they were constantly moving but there was ample opportunity for either to get a hit.

In any event, I’m still not entirely sold on their conflict. Dolores tried to reason with Maeve but she was having none of it. It is cool to see the best characters duke it out but I think the show should’ve done a better job to build up this conflict. I know they had that conversation in the basement a few episodes back but that did little to clear things up.

Elsewhere, it appears Hale is on the warpath against Dolores as she’s given up Musashi’s location to Maeve. Maeve, for her part, has revived Clemintine and Hanaryo to track down the remaining Dolores copies. Hanaryo gets the kill of the week by slicing Musashi in half and then decapitating him.

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PHOTO SOURCE: Westworld, HBO

Bernard, Stubbs, and William make their way out of the rehab facility but not before getting some intel. William is also apparently deceased according to the facility’s records. He also comes to the conclusion that he’s going to destroy every host there is in order to put an end to this mess.

So with the final episode upon us, I have no idea where the show is headed. Despite this season being markedly different from prior ones, I am expecting some clever Westworld reveals for the finale. Let’s hope it doesn’t disappoint.

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