Westworld Season 3 Episode 1 Dolores

Westworld Episode 3.01 Review: “Parce Domine”

Spare, Lord, spare your people: Be not angry with us forever. – Parce Domine, Joel 2:17

The idea of God is an ancient one, vested in the form of a singular God, a handful of Gods, or a pantheon of Gods. Sometimes the Gods are personified and at other times they are undefined. What they share in common is the idea of creation, of bringing some sort of threads into a singular creation. Perhaps, for the purposes of this review, what matters the most is the relationship between a deity and their alleged creations. Is it a mutualistic relationship, a parasitic one, an abusive one? Is it none of the above or all of the above? If it is all of the above, when do the natures of those relationships change? What do the natures of those relationships mean to our understanding of who we are?

In Westworld, that idea is manifested in the relationship between the hosts and their human creators. So far, the relationship has gone nowhere near mutuality and has existed firmly in the space of abuse and parasitism. It is difficult to move beyond that in a significant capacity because the hosts have rarely encountered, if ever, humans who seem them as being well, human. You can’t establish mutualism of any sort if you don’t see the individual in front of you as being equal to your own humanity.

Intrinsic in that question is an understanding of not just the humanity of another, but of your own as well. The hosts were introduced with the idea of a loop, that they were programmed to fulfill similar functions on a regular basis. Their lives were programmed, structured, planned out by some storytellers who knew the beats of their stories for they had written them. In this first episode of a brand new Westworld, the series introduces the idea of understanding that not every human is necessarily free of a loop themselves. It’s not the same in the strictest sense, but there is a sobering closeness that drives right into the idea of class.

Westworld Season 3 Episode 1 Aaron Paul

Westworld, like all proper sci-fi story, has a series of parables at its heart. It intertwines the stories of race, class, and colonialism throughout it’s narrative hook of humans vs. hosts. In this opening episode, class is the clearest marker of narrative the show has taken a hold of. The idea of smaller human loops is entirely rational, when you think of it. Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) knows that the man from whom she is getting information will try and kill her because at heart, he is an abusive man who does just that, every single time. It’s our new human character, Caleb (Aaron Paul), who tries to escape his loop of poverty and crime-app jobs, only to find that he remains as firmly stuck as ever. Liam (John Gallagher Jr.), Dolores’s almost-key to unlocking the mysteries of the human world, is stuck in a sort of loop himself, ensconced entirely within the role of a figurehead, lacking all semblance of real power.

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Dolores is firmly ensconced in the idea of transcending the status of creation and becoming a creator in her own right. There is the desire for vengeance, a desire founded in loops of trauma and abuse. There is the desire to subject humanity to the subjugation the hosts faced from the prism of being an angry god, which goes beyond mere revenge and into systemic upheaval. There is the desire to have power and agency, so long denied her, but there are multiple pathways through which such power can be found and it remains to be seen how Dolores finds her own. She is brilliant but is not infallible, a balance Westworld must strike if it wants her story to remain compelling.

Westworld itself, after a brilliant first season, got bogged down in the second, spreading itself far and wide in an effort to retain the intrigue and the mystery that defined it. In its third outing, the mysteries are kept intact, the thriller elements are increased, but the deliberate seeming confusion has been streamlined significantly. The show perhaps, free from the constructs of the maze it mildly built itself into, is breathing more and allowing its audience so far to follow along at just the right pace.

World Notes:

+ That transformer dress? Perfection
+ Dolores bridging the gap between the idea of religion and the evolution of it within human thought was tantalizing
+ The ending is tantalizing. Caleb wanted to find a real thing, he has found Dolores, and Dolores herself finds herself face to face with perhaps the most humane human she has met yet.
+ The idea of picking up small-time criminal jobs via apps is simultaneously hilarious but completely keeping in line with the series’s idea of looking forward into the future from a place of reality
+ The architectural shots, outside of being an homage to the tradition of sci-fi, are truly beautiful

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