REVIEW: Westworld, S3 Ep4 – The Mother of Exiles

Westworld Dolores

Westworld delivers a major twist as its third season reaches its half-way point. Various plot lines and characters finally converge as Dolores gets her revolution under way.

Though this was an exposition-heavy episode, it still benefited from having a lot of forward movement, some thrilling action scenes, and some intriguing insights into the state of the future world. All that and, of course, they finally revealed who Dolores brought along with her from the park. But before I get into the sheer ballsiness of that reveal, let us first discuss what else happened.

The episode was book-ended with appearances from William, the Man in Black himself, looking worse for the wear. His time at the park and his own sins have taken their toll on him and the chapter begins with him wandering around his mansion, questioning reality and being haunted by visions of the daughter he killed last season.

Westworld, S3 Ep4 - The Mother of ExilesWilliam has been a deplorable character and deserves any misery that he is suffering so it was interesting to see this play out in the real world. But he is also a pivotal character in the story and a significant part of what made Dolores the way she is. It’s clear that he will still have some role to play in what happens next.

“Are you free and evil, or blamelessly and helplessly enslaved?” Emily’s ghost taunts her father.

William’s struggles also support the general Westworld conflict of determinism vs. free will. He questions whether his brutal decision to kill his own daughter was something he freely chose or maybe something that was unavoidably coded into his system. Like all humans in his world, he is ruled by some strange higher power. Or perhaps that’s the fantasy he wants to believe so that he doesn’t have to be held accountable for his misdeeds.

His reverie is interrupted when Charlotte Hale arrives and tells him about Serac’s Delos takeover. For a while, he is back to his old self, lucid and clean-shaven, ready to fight for the company he built. Just as he is about to take charge, the host-Charlotte reveals her true identity. He is horrified but before he can protest, he is dragged away to a mental institution but not before “Charlotte” gets a sample of his blood. (Blood in Westworld is a valuable resource for identification as demonstrated elsewhere in the episode.)

William ends up trapped and alone, “a prisoner of his own sins” and seems to be visited by a vision of Dolores in her blue dress. Feebly, he asks her if he is really himself but she answers ominously:

“Welcome to the end of the game.”

Westworld, S3 Ep4 - The Mother of ExilesMeanwhile, Dolores and Caleb go about messing up Liam Dempsey Jr.’s life. Again, using blood to mask Caleb’s identification, the pair manage to steal all of Dempsey’s money. Aaron Paul gives a convincing performance here, Caleb clearly having spent enough time around rich douchebags to be able to pass as one. Dolores seems impressed, and that’s saying something.

Later, they both attend a masquerade ball that’s also a prostitution auction, the decadence and debauchery reminiscent of Westworld. Dolores notes that she had hoped their world would be different from hers but the vices that run rampant are exactly the same. While I understand the writers’ intention of showing the over-indulgence of this world, this sequence seemed like a lame excuse to show nudity on the  show.

As Dolores and Caleb try to kidnap Liam, they are intercepted by Bernard and Stubbs. Bernard has the idea that Dolores is turning real people into hosts but he still doesn’t have the whole picture. There is an amusing exchange between Stubbs and Dolores where both admit that there’s nothing personal before they engage in an exciting duel. Dolores bests poor Stubbs and easily tosses him off a ledge.

Meanwhile, Bernard tries to get to Liam but is intercepted by the host version of Conells. It is at this moment when Bernard learns the truth about the hosts Dolores brought with her.

Westworld, S3 Ep4 - The Mother of ExilesMaeve gets thrown into the action as well when she wakes up in a snazzy bar in Singapore, again in Serac’s company. He tells her more about Dolores and her plans for destruction and how the latter has the key to the Forge where Maeve will be able to join her daughter. It’s one way of demonstrating to her that their interests are aligned. While Maeve doesn’t look fully convinced, she’ll play along for the moment.

Serac reveals something very intriguing about his world during their conversation. What we’ve seen of this future so far has been limited to scenes in developed nations, urban centers, and technologically-sophisticated areas. It’s mostly been from the perspective of the 1%. We don’t really have a view of how the 99% live, and in a way, there might not be many of them left, it seems.

The human realm of Westworld is its own kind of dystopia. When Maeve mentions Paris, Serac says that he grew up there with his brother but that Paris no longer exists. There’s a flashback showing two young boys running in a field and then watching in horror as a nearby city, presumably Paris, goes up in a nuclear explosion. They’re clearly in some French province somewhere because of the bucolic setting but it’s jarring to know that one of the most fascinating cities in the world was just obliterated. This provides some more nuance to Serac’s motivations and also begs the question: If Paris is gone, which other parts of the world have been destroyed too?

Maeve decides to track down Dolores. While she doesn’t get to control hosts like she used to in Westworld, she apparently still has some telepathic control of technology. She navigates her way through Singapore and finds a woman called the Mortician, who had helped Dolores create a new identity by giving her the blood of a dead girl.

Maeve then fights her way into a yakuza den only to find herself face-to-face with Musashi, the Shogun World version of Hector. For a moment, both Maeve and the audience believe that Musashi was one of the hosts Dolores brought with her. But as she continues to speak with him, Maeve figures out the truth.

Everyone is Dolores“If you want something done right, do it yourself.”

In true Westworld fashion, the big reveal was not what anyone expected and yet, it still made perfect sense. Of course, Dolores couldn’t trust anyone else enough to support her in her ambitious endeavor. All the theories about Teddy, Angela, Clementine, and even Abernathy were thrown out the window when, in a cleverly directed transition of scenes, the three hosts simultaneously revealed themselves to be clones of Dolores herself.

William faces Charlotte Hale, Bernard faces Conells, and Maeve faces Musashi, all versions of Dolores ready to do her bidding. This explains the childlike dependence Charlotte Hale has on the real Dolores, and how easily the main host is able to control her associates. We don’t see when exactly Dolores managed to make clones of herself last season but it’s certainly possible. This also explains the title of the episode.

She has plans to bring the others into her new world but not until it is built. And for this to happen, she will have to burn down the current world first. In a way, her plan is not unlike Serac’s, a reboot of the status quo, and one wonders what the difference in their intentions may even be at this point. But one thing’s for certain, the wheels have been irrevocably set in motion.

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