Season 3 Episode 8
In season two, and especially in the finale, Westworld threw everything but the kitchen sink at us and the result was cool but ultimately confusing. In season three we get a more subdued and predictable finale. Both were fun to watch but neither really hit the mark.
The obvious response, and indeed the one that played out throughout this season, was that the showrunners learned their lesson and decided to keep things more simple. And for the most part, this worked. The first half of season three was really good and their commitment to character studies elevated the show. But in the second half, the show did away with that entirely and focused mostly on the plot and Dolores’ master plan.
The plan, as it turns out, was that she wasn’t trying to wipe out the human race but to save it from itself. In the process, the world would have to burn but that’s okay because they’ll be freed from Rehoboam and have the capacity to actually choose their own destinies. So, in the end, Dolores sacrifices herself, Caleb shuts off Rehoboam, and Maeve switches sides to help them out leaving Serac badly wounded.
All of this was just textbook sci-fi but of the very loose kind. In the lead up to the final moments we get yet another battle between Dolores and Maeve and all the while they’re having another vague conversation about good and evil. This was one of the things that bothered me the most about this season. The stakes between Maeve and Dolores were just not there. The show had a hard time explaining why the two should be at odds. This makes Maeve’s turn at the end more frustrating because she realizes what we all knew from the beginning: they should’ve always been on the same side.
Moving to things we didn’t really know at all: Caleb. Kudos to Aaron Paul for his acting but Caleb was a mishandled and they did him dirty in the finale. We learn that apparently he and Dolores met before, briefly, back in Delos; Caleb was training with other soldiers in the park, the dudes wanted to force themselves on the robot ladies, and Caleb said: “no, we’re better than this, let’s move on.” Among the ladies was Dolores. The implication is that Dolores chose Caleb and that the two didn’t just stumble into each other…even though that’s exactly what happened back in episode one.
The other problem with this reveal was the fact that it had to be a reveal at all. The episode makes you think he took part in the rape and only reveals at the very end that he didn’t. Dolores chose Caleb because he did a good thing one time; why was this a secret and why reveal it at the very end?
The more interesting about Caleb is what was alluded to and never actually explored. Dolores makes an off comment to Caleb about why he helped her in the alleyway. She asks him “Would you have cared if I didn’t have this face? Or this skin?” It could’ve been fascinating to poke into Caleb’s motivations, to question why he decided to act the hero, to make us doubt his honesty before realizing he was a good guy after all. Unfortunately, nothing comes of this.
And speaking of nothing, so much for William becoming the ‘good’ guy. We barely see him in this episode but in one of the post-credit scenes, he appears at Delos Dubai. There he forces his way to the research lab only to find Hale partially recovered. She’s making a host army to fulfill her own plans of taking over the world? William tries to stop her but he’s killed by host ‘man in black’ William. Technically, his throat was cut and they watched him bleed out but I’m assuming he’s dead. So much for his lofty plans to save the world. We never even got to see him do anything with his renewed lease on life. This would’ve been cool but oh well.
There were few bright spots in the finale and Bernard was one of them. For two seasons now Bernard has been relegated to a third-tier character in my opinion despite his importance to the show. This season saw him literally waste time with Stubbs getting outsmarted by Dolores at every turn. Their scenes were almost pointless because they were so far behind and as a viewer this was frustrating. In the finale though, we get a touching scene between Bernard and Arnold’s wife (an aged Gina Torres). It was a quiet moment in a chaotic episode and it actually delivered on the emotional pull of their lost son.
Other than that Bernard was only kept around for the final reveal that he had the key to the Sublime all along (again not entirely surprising considering the hints). Prior to this, we get a cameo from Lawrence who apparently was the final host that Dolores made. His only function it appears was to deliver the mechanism needed for Bernard’s key to work. This was a waste of a good character and a further relegation of Bernard’s story. In the end, Bernard uses that mechanism (almost like a headset) to open the Sublime. He sees something and then his body quickly shuts off. In the second post-credit scene, Bernard is still off only he’s now covered in dust and the headset prompts him to wake up. The assumption here is that a lot of time has passed. How this fits into the next season will be curious.
So that’s it for season 3. A tale of two halves in my opinion where the first four episodes were really good and the latter half not so much. It’s looking like season 4 will be a more traditional action sci-fi-like Terminator which is a shame. Gone are the deep philosophical musings and actual debates on the nature of humanity. This wouldn’t be too big of an issue if they did it right. Season 3 started off well and they really should’ve committed to character studies with Dolores’ plan as a secondary concern.
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