REVIEW: Westworld, S3 Ep5 – Genre

Serac’s origins are explored while Dolores unleashes an irreversible wave of chaos in this week’s episode of Westworld. Meanwhile, Caleb experiences the events in multiple perspectives thanks to a powerful drug.

Engerraund Serac is clearly the main villain of the season and as the Westworld writers have been trying to integrate him into the plot, his involvement has been seeded from the very beginning. He has been a shadow lying in wait for the chaos in the park to unfold so that he could move forward with his own insidious plans for world domination.

Westworld SeracBut a good story needs a compelling villain so this episode does much to establish Serac’s background and motives. The flashback with the nuclear explosion in Paris shows Serac and his brother losing their whole world and then deciding to build a new one. After teaming up with Liam Dempsey Sr., the brothers manage to build several earlier iterations of their omniscient AI system, all using Biblical names like Saul, Solomon, and eventually, Rehoboam. While initially not impressed with the system, the older Dempsey comes to appreciate it when it allows him to get rich.

The Serac brothers aren’t interested in something as pedestrian as money. They are all about control, particularly Engerraund himself. And when he figures out that certain “outliers” in humanity disrupt the system, including his own beloved brother, he isolates and imprisons them in facilities designed to curtail whatever made them special. It’s a disturbing development, one that Dempsey discovers to his own detriment.

And yet for all his efforts, Serac finds himself thwarted by Dolores, and it was interesting to see the cool exterior of the enigmatic Frenchman ruffled by the actions of the destructive host. But a man like that will not take defeat lying down and now that the battle has truly started, he will have some powerful weapons in his arsenal.

“The right information at the right time is deadlier than any weapon.”

Dolores enacts the first phase of her revolution which cleverly involves the biggest data leak in history. She uses Liam Dempsey’s access and coordinates with her other self to send Incite’s information on all humans to the individuals in question. As one reviewer humorously pointed out, this is far, far from GDPR-compliant but it’s effective.

Immediately, chaos ensues as people gasp in horror at the machine’s dire predictions for their futures. And since it is human nature to rebel, all the people become determined to reclaim their agency by going against what Incite has decided for them. Serac’s carefully-calculated and calibrated society breaks down and the disorder also helps Dolores and her allies to escape detection.

Admittedly, it’s a brilliant plan and one that even caught me by surprise. We have been led to believe that Dolores would lead some kind of host uprising by creating and cloning more hosts and having them infiltrate the real world. But it turns out, shrewd as she is, Dolores decided to manipulate people so that they turn on each other. And clearly, she learned a lot about their rebellious and destructive tendencies during her time at the park and she used this to her advantage.

Caleb experiences all of these through shifting perspectives, thanks to a drug forcefully administered by Dempsey. The drug is called “Genre” which also accounts for the episode title and his friend describes the trip as a “movie marathon.” The music and the cinematography of the scenes change from genre to genre, from noir to action and even romance. While impressive, this whole sequence still played out as gimmicky and did not really add to the plot. Clearly, the Westworld writers just wanted to give Aaron Paul another chance to go through a drug-addled haze, which he did so well in Breaking Bad.

Liam Dempsey Jr. is not so fortunate when he goads one of them about their future but since he is just a big of a douche as the rest of his kind, his death is no loss. What’s more intriguing are his last words to Caleb which are a clue to the human’s past. What was it exactly that Caleb did? And could there be more to him than meets the eye? It’s Westworld, so that may well be the case.

Dolores loses one of her clones in Conells while Bernard and Stubbs (who miraculously survived his encounter with Dolores!) escape. Clearly, Dolores considers Bernard important enough to remain protected although she has not yet revealed what she needs him for. But he has witnessed the start of her plan and he might be figuring out what to do next.

The pieces are moving fast on Westworld and some major clashes are on the horizon. Serac will never allow all his hard work to go to waste and Dolores will not back down as she continues her revolution. As the world starts to burn, what will emerge from the ashes?

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