REVIEW: Westworld, S3 Ep1 – Parce Domine

Westworld season premiere

Westworld opened its third season by introducing us to the world of the future, one that a certain host is determined to conquer.

We’re out of the park now. As the third season opens, it almost feels like Westworld is a different show. The setting has expanded in so many ways, and the audience is exploring these new surroundings at the same time as the hosts who have infiltrated it. The Westworld writers have enabled this discovery not just by showing the perspective of Dolores, who is already adept at wreaking havoc, but also through the point of view of a new, human character, Caleb.

Westworld S3 ACaleb is unlike any other human we’ve met on the show so far. Where generally the humans on Westworld have been monstrous, Caleb is just a regular, ex-veteran trying to get by in a world ruled by the powerful and the technological. Aaron Paul excels at playing the everyman and it’s this down-to-earth quality that makes Caleb someone to root for in spite of everything. Deep down, he’s a decent person in spite of the corruption and decadence that surrounds him and he still has the capacity to care for others.

Not that he is a saint. He’s struggling to make ends meet and to keep his “score” up by being treated for his PTSD. So he does some illegal sidelining via an app called Rico, which another reviewer describes as “Uber for petty crime,” and that’s what leads him to cross paths with Dolores at the end.

Westworld S3 BDolores has been busy and it’s a treat to watch her seamlessly enact her brand of vengeance and manipulation on the hapless humans. The episode opens with her terrorizing a former visitor to the park, a rich tech mogul who is also a wife-beater. Dolores turns the man’s smart house against him, demonstrating the nightmare that technology can become when put in the wrong hands. When your house can be hacked, how safe can you be?

She has also adopted a new identity as the girlfriend of Liam Dempsey, Jr., heir to the tech company taking over the world, Incite. He introduces her to Rehoboam, a sophisticated AI system that “uses its vast store of personal data to determine the life-paths of every human being” writes the New York Times. The system is named after the biblical character who was the son of King Solomon. The nature of Rehoboam and its ability to monitor and manipulate the lives of all humanity brings to mind the Machine, the omniscient AI from another Jonathan Nolan series, Person of Interest. Nolan does enjoy exploring the whole Man vs. Machine conflict.

Westworld S3 CIt turns out Liam doesn’t have the access to the system Dolores requires and before she can learn more, Liam’s aide sees through her ruse and tries to get rid of her. The bodyguards have no idea who they’re up against and in one of the most thrilling sequences of the episode, Dolores makes short work of all the armed guards. But she doesn’t escape unscathed, and though she gets another host to replace Liam’s aide, she is weakened by injury, and literally falls into Caleb’s arms. The latter is driven by his innate concern for another’s wellbeing but this woman is far, far from some damsel in distress. How soon before he finds that out?

Meanwhile, someone in Charlotte Hale’s body meets with the Delos board and reassures them that the massacre from last season will not prevent them from continuing to do business. The bloodbath has been blamed on a scapegoat – none other than Bernard Lowe.

Westworld S3 DFor his part, Bernard is laying low as a laborer in an industrial meat farm, just trying to live a simple life. It doesn’t last very long as he is soon discovered by his greedy co-workers. Since Ford’s consciousness lives inside him as well, he is able to switch between personas using a convenient button, and it’s Ford who defends him against his oppressors. At the end of the episode, Bernard charters a Chinese boat to take him back to Westworld though we’re not sure what or who he expects to find there.

The post-credits scene shows us that someone has been left behind in the park, now renamed “War World” and focusing on World War II Germany. Maeve awakes to discover her new role in the reconstructed park, but that’s all that is revealed so far. The audience is as lost as she is for now but hopefully not for long.

Check out the trailer below to know what to expect in the weeks ahead:

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