The episode opens with a montage of Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) looking over “Westworld” and Arnold/Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) building her for the first time. She’s stuck in a pseudo-afterlife after blasting herself with an EMP to escape Maeve (Thandie Newton) last episode. When one of Serac’s henchmen approaches, it appears that Dolores’ pearl has gone missing.
Bernard and Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth) are being held at gunpoint by William (Ed Harris). William believes he has to save the world and to do so, he needs to eliminate all hosts. He shoots Stubbs in the chest and escapes when a SWAT team arrives. However, it’s revealed the team is led by the host Lawrence (Clifton Collins Jr.). He gives Bernard an address and leaves Bernard. William meets a Delos contact in a bar and vows to save the world.
Caleb (Aaron Paul) discovers a backup Dolores and inserts her pearl. As she puts herself back together, she reveals that Caleb’s choices in the park as a guest (during training) are why she picked him. We see a flashback where Caleb seems uneasy with the concept of killing or sexually assaulting hosts. In the present, Dolores informs Caleb he has the choice to destroy Rehoboam. She will not guide him either way.
Serac (Vincent Cassel) discovers Caleb’s role in taking Dolores’ pearl and grows angry with Maeve. He screams at her for not telling him about Caleb role. He sends Maeve into the riots occurring outside Incite. Caleb and Dolores are joined by mercenaries from the RICO App and continue through the chaos. They’re interrupted by a hologram of Hale-Dolores (Tessa Thompson), who plans to kill Dolores Prime. Her soldiers open fire on Dolores and Caleb, but they escape.
When Maeve attacks, Dolores and Caleb split up. Caleb continues on towards Incite, where he meets up with Ash (Lena Waithe) and Giggles (Marshawn Lynch). To help Caleb go on, Ash and Giggles help out the rioters. Meanwhile, Maeve and Dolores battle again. Dolores wins, but Hale freezes her before she can leave.
Bernard pulls up the unknown house, where he finds his widow Lauren (Gina Torres). She suffers from dementia, but when the two talk about their son, she remembers her relationship with Bernard. An emotional Bernard begins to break down and reveal that he always thinks about Charlie. Lauren admits that the pain is difficult, but by fighting through the pain she can preserve Charlie’s memory.
At Incite, Serac tortures Dolores by deleting memory packets from Dolores’ mind. Caleb fights off Serac’s lackeys as he attempts to destroy Rehoboam, but Maeve stops him. Serac reveals that Caleb/Dolores’ plan would end humanity within 150 years. Dolores suffers as her memory disappears. Maeve confronts Serac about her payment, only to realize that Serac takes orders from Rehoboam. He threatens Maeve again. Maeve steps back into the room with Dolores and the two finally talk inside of Dolores’ mind.
Dolores explains that despite all the horrible things done to them as hosts, she remembers the small moments when humans showed their ability to care. She reveals that when the soldiers were looking to assault the host women (which included Dolores), Caleb stopped them. When Maeve asks Dolores why she would leave the world in one man’s hands, Dolores reveals part of her plan was to convince Maeve as well. Dolores’ final memory is deleted, leaving Maeve in a void.
Serac tells his guards to kill Caleb but Maeve reactivates and comes to his defense. Serac attempts to stop Maeve but his device malfunctions as she kills the remaining guards. With Caleb and Maeve standing over Serac, he calls out to Rehoboam. However, it appears that Dolores implanted a virus of sorts into her mind, gifting control to Caleb. With his newfound power, Caleb tells Rehoboam to erase itself. Maeve and Caleb step onto a bridge and watch the burning world while Serac cries out to Rehoboam.
Bernard returns to the hotel with the injured Stubbs. Bernard realizes that Dolores must have died because she has unlocked a new part of his brain. He also knows that while Serac thought he could stop the Apocalypse, it was inevitable. Bernard puts on his visor and seemingly shuts down. When he reawakens, he remains in the same room, covered in dust.
In the post-credits scene, William arrives at a Delos location and attempts to destroy the hosts. However, he’s met by Hale-Dolores and a host version of William as the Man in Black. The two Williams do battle, but the host slashes the human’s throat. Hale-Dolores and the Man in Black look over a sea of baths building new hosts.
Thoughts on the Episode
For “Westworld,” the new season started off with a promising new setting. Extreme tonal shifts brought on by new locations have helped HBO series find their groove in the past. Sadly, “Westworld” never embraced the things that make it unique in the television landscape. The first two seasons functioned as puzzles and this season kicked off in similar fashion. Yet the eight-episode story instead told us how Dolores transitioned power to appointed saviors of the planet.
To deliver this story, Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy sidelined their incredible ensemble. Great performers Jeffrey Wright and Thandie Newton pondered their existence and tread water. Serac, a seemingly all-knowing obstacle, gave up free will to preserve his idea of survival. William died but you missed it if you turned off the episode as the credits rolled. For a series so full of potential, “Westworld” seems hell-bent on squandering it on a storytelling level.
The seeming bundling of “Westworld” Season 3 only hurts because it reached highs this year too. The Tessa Thompson arc was brilliant in its execution. Not only does it emotionally and thematically resonate, but it assigns purpose to one of the show’s only bright spots this year. Thompson created a full character arc, one that featured confusion, anger, pain and genuine heartbreak. At every step, she proved her ability as a star. If anyone deserves a night at the Emmys, she’s the pick.
Two guest stars deserve their own spin-off. Every time that Lena Waithe and Marshawn Lynch were on screen, “Westworld” got better. They get the showiest scenes throughout the season, combining action and comedy. Even though Emmy nominations are unlikely, both undeniably raised the excitement level of the show. If the writers approached more scenes with the gusto of these performers, “Westworld” would be one of the most exciting shows on television.
The craft teams really stepped up their game in reimagining the world as well. Time and time again, they rose to the challenge to design futuristic but relatable settings. As usual, Ramin Djawadi served “Westworld” well in its emotional crescendos. Shay Cunliffe and Jo Kissack provided excellent costumes for their characters at every turn. The soundscape of futuristic Los Angeles set a mood for the series. You have to admire these elements of the show, it’s just a shame that the Nolan & Joy led series could not take advantage.
“Westworld” may not be back until 2022, even that seems optimistic in light of Covid-19. Considering the talent tied up in the series, it will continue to draw interest. However, the days of “Westworld” as an Emmy darling feel like a lifetime ago. It may still register with the awards body, that more speaks to the power of HBO as a creative force. With any luck, the end of this season will wake up the creators to drop the self-serious tone that’s crushed “Westworld” under its own weight.