In the “Westworld” recap for the season 3 debut, Dolores sets a plan in motion to take down her real enemy, Bernard is forced out of hiding and a man named Caleb finds himself in need…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
It’s been nearly two years since “Westworld” season 2 ended but the long wait for season 3 finally ended on Sunday night.
There were plenty of mixed reactions when it came to “Westworld” season 2 including our own recap from the season finale where it seemed like the show was trying too hard to out think itself with multiple storylines taking place over numerous timelines and so much techno-babble that even the savviest nerds (like us) got confused.
It’s hard to say if creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy tried to simplify things with “Westworld” season 3 but it’s clear the narrative and location have changed dramatically from the past to the present as we leave the confines of the park and make our way out into the world.
It’s now 2058 — the time in the future where the show takes place — and Dolores has broken free of the chains that bound her to an amusement park where humans took part in all sorts of vile acts to appease their true nature. After Dolores became self-aware, her mission was to leave the park and bring humanity to its knees as nothing more than a piece of faulty programming that was destined to self-destruct.
Meanwhile, Bernard also escaped the park with Dolores’ help but not so they could work together but rather so he could attempt to stop her. The way Dolores saw it, Bernard was her counterpart with faith in humanity and perhaps he could be the counterbalance in her mission to stamp out a broken species.
By all accounts, everything that happened in the “Westworld” season 3 debut was in the same timeline — kicking off exactly three months after the season 2 finale — so we’re off to a good start so far. There are a few new characters and an interesting new piece of artificial intelligence that appears to be at the heart of this season so there’s a lot to dig into with this episode.
With that said, let’s get to our recap for the “Westworld” season 3 debut tilted “Parce Domine”
You Could Be My Enemy
First let’s get to the title of the episode — Parce Domine — which is a Roman Catholic antiphon derived from Joel 2:17. The translation means “spare, Lord, spare your people.” Judge for yourself how that ties back into tonight’s episode.
The episode opens with a wealthy investor named Jerry, who is trying to dump his stock in Delos after word about the massacre at Westworld finally hit the news. With 113 people dead, Jerry knows this stock will soon be worthless and he commands his underlings to dump the stock immediately — stock exchange rules be damned.
In the midst of his tirade, Jerry lashes out at his wife and his staff while he commands everything through a connected smart house.
Later that night after Jerry falls asleep — along with a terminal that he plugs into his mouth, which is just another sign of technology being used to control humanity in the future — he wakes up with his hands bound and his wife unable to wake up. As he stumbles out of bed, Jerry can no longer control his house by voice command and when he looks outside, he sees a beautiful blonde woman in the nude swimming in his pool.
When Jerry finally makes it downstairs, he comes face to face with Dolores, who has taken over his smart house with her own brand of technology. She tells him that they’ve met before — he was once a guest at Westworld — and she knows all of his deepest, darkest secrets because as we learned last season, the powers that be at Delos have been mapping guest memories ever since the system first went online. Dolores began digging through those books of memories last season and Jerry’s was one in particular that caught her interest.
She puts on a pair of virtual reality glasses that allow Jerry to see the sins of his past literally come back to haunt him including the day he murdered his previous wife when she tried to leave him after years of abuse. Of course, Jerry being rich and powerful, was able to pay off the right people to cover up his crime but now Dolores knows everything he’s ever done.
Dolores is happy to allow Jerry to return to his life but it’s going to require an exchange.
She’s already syphoned off most of his money and gained access to all of his accounts including one particular investment that he made into a company called Incite. It seems he retired and was supposed to hand over all company documents but Jerry was quite naughty and kept a lot of private information to himself.
Dolores agrees to let Jerry live — along with his multitude of secrets — as long as he hands over the information on Incite. He gives her his thumbprint identification and she transfers the data. Dolores then turns to leave but Jerry can’t let this stand so he jumps up, grabs a golf club and tries to take a swing at her.
Unfortunately, Jerry has been staring at a holographic image and when he lunges with the club and misses, he falls head first into his own pool, bashes his head against the side and drowns to death. When Jerry’s wife finally awakens from what we have to assume is a drug induced slumber, she sees her husband floating face down in the pool
Dolores tells the woman that she just did her the biggest favor of her life as she exits with the information she needed on Incite
Meanwhile back at Delos, Charlotte Hale has returned to work — except as we know the real Charlotte was shot and killed last season and replaced with a host built by Dolores. What we don’t know yet is who has been implanted with Charlotte’s memories because this is most likely a host we’ve already met before.
Charlotte returns to meet with the board of directors at Delos to deal with the fallout from the massacre at Westworld. She argues that after three months have past, the company needs to go private to keep prying eyes away from their records while immediately beginning construction on new hosts to get Westworld back up and running.
Obviously, Charlotte under Dolores’ command likely has nefarious plans intended for these hosts once they are constructed but for now, she’s just concerned about the park getting back into business.
Even as interim CEO, Charlotte doesn’t have the full power to make this decision, however, because she still needs the vote from the man who owns the most stock in the company. That would be William — aka the Man in Black — who tried to kill Dolores a season ago only to get his hands blown off when she jammed up his gun with a mashed bullet that he initially used to kill his own daughter. When we last left William, he was stuck in a loop of his own, not sure if he was human or host, and it appears that’s where Dolores is keeping him for the time being.
In William’s absence, an artificial intelligence strategist makes the final call on whether or not to follow Charlotte’s plan of action. When the computer agrees, Charlotte is allowed to take the company private so she can immediately begin construction on a new set of hosts for Westworld.
And she even has a plan to rebuild the goodwill for Delos with the rest of the world because all that has to be done is capture the person solely responsible for killing all those people in the park. The murderous bastard’s name? Bernard Lowe.
There were several new characters introduced into the new season of “Westworld” but probably none more important than Caleb (played by Aaron Paul). He’s a former soldier, who now gets by working construction and trying to get a more lucrative job in programming, although he’s struggling to find anyone willing to hire him. Caleb is a bit of a loner, who supplements his income by signing onto a criminal app called RICO that offers users a chance to make money committing all sorts of illegal acts.
It seems Caleb is trying to make more money to help pay for his mother’s assisted living facility after she’s been stricken by Alzheimer’s or another disease that has apparently wiped out her memories.
The first time Caleb signs on to RICO, he accepts a job for a “redistribution of wealth,” which means robbing an ATM machine. He gets teamed up with two more RICO users — Ash and Giggles (played by Lena Waithe and NFL running back Marshawn Lynch). It seems Ash remembers Caleb from a different RICO job they pulled together and she wonders why he doesn’t have a higher rating in the app. It seems Caleb never signs up for personal jobs, meaning he doesn’t want to actually hurt or harm anybody during the course of his criminal work.
After robbing the ATM, Caleb returns to the doldrums of his life where it seems his only friend is an artificial intelligence therapist made to sound like a former soldier he served with named “Francis.”
Based on whatever emotional algorithm designed by this program, Francis periodically calls Caleb to check on him, talk to him and try to ascertain and help him face whatever problems he’s dealing with at the time. There are days when Caleb answers and other times when he just doesn’t want to hear Francis’ voice.
When Caleb tries to go see a real life therapist, the doctor pawns him off on the application that serves as his virtual friend.
A second RICO job ends up pulling Caleb into a “personal” situation where he’s hired to deal with a partygoer, who has enjoyed far too many psychotropic drugs. Unfortunately, this user is also a very rich person, which means they can’t call the cops or he’ll get arrested and get put away for the next 20 years due to a prior conviction.
So against his better judgment, Caleb is forced to intervene to get paid — and it’s clear after his time in whatever war he was fighting, the person who returned home is very much alone in this world and he’s struggling to make any kind of meaningful human connection.
When Caleb accepts his third RICO job this episode, he finally meets someone new.
Hiding in Plain Sight
In the wake of their escape from the park, Dolores has been determined to force humanity to come crumbling down while Bernard just wanted to start a new life on the outside world.
It seems after he exited Westworld, Bernard ultimately split his personality in two — one side is a humble, hard working employee at an industrial meat packing plant and the other is the host that Dr. Robert Ford designed after his former friend Arnold, who was later fine tuned through a multitude of conditioning sessions with Dolores.
It’s not entirely clear if perhaps Bernard didn’t trust himself enough to keep going forward so he created this separate personality named “Armand Delgado” to maintain some semblance of a normal life. But even as Armand, he’s forced to question his own programming because he has to tap back into Bernard every now and again to find out if somebody has been tampering with the system.
A few days later, Armand is confronted by a pair of fellow employees, who have discovered his true identity as Bernard Lowe thanks to a wanted posted with a hefty reward attached to it. They’ve decided to cash in unless Bernard wants to pay them off to keep quiet.
The two proceed to jump Armand and that forces him to click the button in his pocket to then unleash Bernard, who then tramples both of his assailants in a matter of seconds.
When Armand comes back online, he sees the two men laying in a pool of blood and he’s forced to exit whatever life he put together since leaving Westworld and return to the scene of the crime. After cleaning up, Bernard arrives at a fishing boat where he pays off the owner to take him to an island located somewhere in the South China Sea.
He asks for the boat to drop him off at Westworld because he’s trying to find an old friend.
Now we know where Westworld is located as it’s been suspected for at least the past season or so and Bernard is determined to return there seeking help in his efforts to stop Dolores Abernathy in her planned execution of humanity.
Better Living Through Technology
After her encounter with Jerry, Dolores then travels to a meeting with her new boyfriend — a man named Liam Dempsey Jr., who just so happens to be the face and mind behind Incite, the company she was seeking information about at the start of the episode.
Dolores is playing the dutiful girlfriend, who has been by Liam’s side for the past three months. Their love affair has moved fast and Liam is definitely head over heels but Dolores is there for much more than just a handsome man to have wrapped around her arm.
After attending a party that’s honoring Liam’s work, Dolores travels with him to Incite’s headquarters where she gets a look at Rehoboam — the artificial intelligence hive brain that Liam’s father designed. It seems Rehoboam is more than just a thinking computer — it’s a master strategist that delves into the personal information of everybody on Earth and then maps out a path for each of them to follow that will lead to the most logical outcome.
Rehoboam can essentially predict the future through an algorithm that dissects every part of a person’s mind. It’s a marvelous invasion of privacy but one the people of the future have come to accept because this piece of artificial intelligence has taken the difficulty of decision making away from people.
“My dad thought that the biggest problem in the world was unrealized potential. He thought that if you could chart a course for every single person then you could make the world a better place”
It seems Liam’s father was successful and this is the piece of technology that Dolores is determined to take down. Rehoboam might be the one computer on Earth that’s smarter than anything Delos ever built. In other words, this is the real “big brother” of this story.
Before Dolores can gather anymore information, Liam is interrupted by his chief of security, Martin Connells, who informs him that an Incite partner has requested an emergency meeting with him. He’s forced to cut his date with Dolores short as he rushes off to meet with a very important person named Martel.
At the meeting — with Dolores spying from nearby — Liam talks to Martel and she informs him about a breech in security that someone has broken into the Rehoboam programming. He denies the leak coming from his side of the company and perhaps Martel should talk to her boss before tossing such wild accusations. It seems Martel’s employer is another major power broker this season — and we’ll get back to him a little later.
Back at his apartment, Dolores tries to comfort Liam, who is enraged after this meeting with Martel. He vents about Rehoboam and his place within the company and that’s when Liam reveals that he actually plays no part in the real programming behind this artificial intelligence machine. Instead after his father’s death, Liam just took over as the figurehead for the company and it’s Martel’s boss, who is really controlling things from behind the curtain.
Just as Dolores is about to convince Liam to tell her the person’s name, Martin arrives and zaps her with a cattle prod. It seems Martin has discovered that Dolores gave them a fake identity that belonged to a Ukrainian girl, who died 10 years earlier. He believes she’s involved in industrial espionage or perhaps just trying to get at Liam’s money but either way Martin is convinced that she needs to go.
Martin then calls up the RICO app for some assistance in dispatching Dolores’ body and making it look like she just overdosed on drugs and wound up dead somewhere.
Once again it’s Caleb who answers the RICO app and he’s tasked with delivering the package filled with the illegal drugs along with a car that will be used in Dolores’ murder. Unfortunately, Martin has no idea that he’s filling Dolores with drugs that won’t affect her and when a second car shows up out of nowhere, he’s shocked when looking at what’s inside.
Before Martin can react, Dolores has finally woken up and she dispatches the two guards left inside her car before shooting down the other two men that were brought to the set up. She then gives chase to find Martin, who ends up as her main objective after finding out that Liam couldn’t do much for her anyway.
After shooting Martin in the stomach, Dolores asks him to tell her who really controls Rehoboam and he says the name is “Serac” but she doesn’t have to worry about finding him. According to Martin, if Dolores is looking for Serac, chances are he already knows about it and soon enough he’ll be the one looking for her.
Finally, Dolores carries out the last of her plans by introducing Martin to his doppelganger — a host that was made to look like him, which is what he saw in the back of the truck during the initial plan to make it look like Liam’s new girlfriend overdosed on drugs. Martin is executed and the host takes his place.
Much like Charlotte, we don’t know which host was brought back to life to play the new Martin, who is secretly working for Dolores, but that will surely be revealed as the season moves forward.
Before leaving, new-Martin realizes that Dolores has been shot and she’s in rather bad shape. Despite her best efforts to execute the rest of Martin’s men by herself, she ended up taking a bullet to the gut and Dolores is beginning to bleed out. At the same time, Caleb is wandering through the park after completing his latest RICO job.
His struggles with post-traumatic stress aren’t being helped by these daily conversations with a voice that sounds like a fellow soldier, who never made it home from war. Caleb is finally fed up with talking to machines so he discontinues his treatment sessions and wanders off into the world on his own.
That’s when Caleb spots the action happening in the park near where he made the drop off with the package and the truck through the RICO app. He walks down into a tunnel where he spots a woman struggling to stand. Caleb rushes over just as Dolores collapses into his arms.
For all the ways that Caleb has been struggling to find a connection to another human, it seems it will take saving a robot to truly save himself.
War is Hell
In the final post credit scene, Maeve wakes up like she was stuck in a dream except she’s entered a whole new world. When we last left the former madame, she had been killed saving the rest of the hosts as they travelled into Dr. Ford’s “valley beyond” where their shared consciousness could escape the confines of the park.
Following her death, Maeve was turned back over to the two programmers who previously worked on her body after she first became conscious. While it appeared Maeve’s death was permanent after she was gunned down, the need for more hosts has brought her back to life.
As she awakens, Maeve is suddenly in the middle of a World War II fantasy where she’s dressed as an interrogator beating on a German soldier for answers. When Maeve looks outside, she sees Nazi symbols decorating the courtyard and an ongoing battle happening just a few feet away.
By all accounts, Maeve has been rebuilt, restarted and dumped in a different park than Westworld this time. She’s now working as part of the World War II fantasy but based on the upcoming previews, it won’t be long before Maeve comes face-to-face with the man behind the curtain — and his name is Serac.
“Westworld” returns with a new episode next Sunday night at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.