REVIEW: Westworld, S3 Ep3 – The Absence of Field

Westworld, S3 Ep3 - The Absence of Field

Westworld examines the meaning of identity in an episode dedicated to Charlotte Hale or rather, the host currently inhabiting her body.

The real Delos executive was killed by Dolores last season but the host managed to create a body identical to Charlotte’s which she used to escape, along with her handbag of host marbles. A new host awakens in Charlotte’s body and immediately begins to question her identity. Dolores is there to reassure her and to explain the role she needs to play as a spy within Delos.

This host-Charlotte briefly appeared in the season premiere as she tried to do as much damage control after the massacre at the Westworld park. In this episode, we see more of her in action as she tries to learn as much about the corporation as possible. There are several scenes at the Delos Headquarters, a vast and futuristic compound that was actually filmed at the City of Arts and Sciences in Spain. It’s a visual marvel and one that effectively conveys the power and influence of the Delos corporation.

And yet for all its power, it is revealed that someone has been buying shares of Delos for years, and this is none other than Engerraund Serac, the man behind Rehoboam. There is a mole in Delos who has allowed for this to happen and host-Charlotte must find and eliminate him.

But host-Charlotte struggles in her role and Tessa Thompson does an amazing job at showing the complexity of the character, exhibiting a vulnerability heretofore unseen in the original Hale. This Charlotte has an almost child-like dependence on Dolores as she tries to reconcile the memories of her human counterpart while holding on to whatever remains of her own self. Dolores has to comfort her and support her through this process, showing some genuine concern for this lost host.

Westworld, S3 Ep3 - The Absence of FieldThere are some vague clues about the identity of this host and many have already shared theories but there is nothing definite revealed. And this is Westworld so anything goes. What is clear is that this host shares a close relationship with Dolores, enough for the latter to trust her with such a crucial role. Other clues are the host’s proficiency in seduction and lack of maternal warmth as exhibited in her interactions with Hale’s ex-lover and son. But when confronted with a pedophile, the host jumps into action and immediately chokes him to death, thanking him for reminding her of who she is. So there’s a vicious streak there too, which is not uncommon with the hosts we’ve met so far. The mystery remains for now.

More intriguing is the reveal that Hale was the mole all along and that Serac had actually predicted the massacre at Westworld. Hale also agreed to share the park’s library of information about the guests with Serac but she no longer has access to it. Serac warns her that she does not have much time left to fulfill her end of their bargain. How the host-Charlotte will use this information is going to be very interesting.

Westworld, S3 Ep3 - The Absence of FieldWe also spent some time with Caleb, picking up from where he caught Dolores in his arms. His part of the episode was more action-packed and plot-driven. He calls for an ambulance and tries to save Dolores but she later shows him that she is capable of taking care of herself. She warns him to hide and he’s too confused to react.

Later, when unsavory elements catch up with him and try to interrogate him about the mysterious woman he met, he refuses to give her up. Sadly, his robot companion George falls to his death, but Caleb himself is saved by Dolores. She takes him to a diner where he had been abandoned as a child by his schizophrenic mother and demonstrates that she knows many personal details about his life, data gathered from Rehoboam.

Caleb is shocked by this and by Dolores later telling him that the data predicts that he would commit suicide in ten to twelve years. Dolores makes an intriguing point about the system and its effect on human agency. She says that by denying him a chance to a better life, the system is ensuring the tragic outcome of his depression and hardship.

With an omniscient AI controlling the world, even the humans are being controlled, just as the hosts of the park had been programmed for certain roles. More and more this season of Westworld is exploring similar themes to Person of Interest but adding the perspective of the hosts into the mix.

Westworld, S3 Ep3 - The Absence of FieldIt’s a fascinating exploration of the concept of identity. The host inside Charlotte wonders if what makes her herself is the data in the marble or the memories of the human she inhabits. Or is it some combination of both? Caleb the human wonders how much of his life has been driven by his own choices or influenced by some impersonal system.

Caleb decides to risk everything and throw his lot in with Dolores and her revolution. He says that he’s a dead man either way but at least this way, he gets to go on his own terms. He reclaims his agency at last.

Caleb intrigues Dolores because she has only seen the negative aspects of humanity through the guests in the park. And the rich and powerful members of society are all the same greedy, heartless bastards she learned how to manipulate. But Caleb is just as much a victim of his society as the hosts are and Dolores has now to learn how there can be some good in humans despite everything. Whether this new insight might influence her plans for domination is another matter. But for now, she has gained a valuable ally.

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