The structural challenges of Westworld have never been more apparent than in its season three finale, an episode that is almost entirely engulfed by the shocker of a post-credits scene. It’s a scene that surely piqued enough fan interest for audiences to be ready for this HBO sci-fi adventure to come back for a fourth season. William (Ed Harris) calmly struts into Delos’s Dubai offices, shoots a security guard, and in his hubris of “saving the world,” presumably goes to wipe out the hosts forever. Instead, he discovers Charlotte (Tessa Thompson) waiting for him with a clone of William himself – but as the Man in Black. Charlotte assures him that he would be saving the world, but not for humans. He would save the world for the hosts instead and, with that knowledge, William is finely killed. Charlotte and the Man in Black look over his bleeding body, Ramin Djawadi’s excellent score pumps in the background, and an army of hosts is waiting to be born.
That single scene has the right mixture of clarity, mystery, and intellectual drive that this season’s denouement has been somewhat missing. The first half of this season had the mixture intact and while there was certainly an expectation that there were some larger mysteries at play. With the fifth instalment, however, some of those larger mysteries began to crack a bit. The role of Caleb (Aaron Paul) became more important, but his role never seemed to become deeper and complex. The reveal that he made a choice not to inflict violence on Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) when they met each other far into the past was a nice one and added some certainty to Dolores’s decision-making at the beginning of the season. But Caleb’s potential prominence in season four might present a problem if his character doesn’t move beyond a man who makes a choice.
After an excellent showcase in episode two, Maeve (Thandie Newton) was faced with a choice: she could either help Serac (Vincent Cassel) kill Dolores and meet her daughter in the Valley Beyond or have her life as a host be determined by Serac for as long as he choose. It was in many ways a Hobson’s choice for Maeve, but there was something else at play here. In season two, Maeve at one point told Dolores that her violent methodology of revolution was simply a “prayer at the altar [of humanity].” It was an interesting development for the series to take – that different hosts would have different ideas of how to revolt and chart their own path. But the sharpness of that exploration was missing in the second half of this season. It was touching for Maeve to hold Dolores’s hands in what would become Dolores’s final moments and dream of seeing the beauty in the world. But the emotional power of that scene was somewhat limited because the season simply hadn’t devoted the requisite amount of time to the relationship between the two.
The post-credits sequence from above aside, the episode’s most powerful moments and where the season pulled together most beautifully in its end was in that aforementioned moment between Maeve and Dolores. Even if it wasn’t as powerful as it could have been, the consequences of that sequence underline a key thesis statement of Westworld. Dolores tells Caleb that free will is difficult to exercise. She isn’t under the impression that it’s any sort of walk in the proverbial park. But the freedom and choice to do so is important. Dolores could see the ugliness in the world and indeed it’s what she had seen as Wyatt, but as she realized what the real world was and how choice was robbed from even most humans, she started to recognize the value in seeing the beauty in the world. The world is literally on fire around her and the darkness is aplenty. But only through seeing the light in the darkness can there be some hope, something to live for, a future where you a choice and your free will means something. I don’t know, as always, where this show is going, but I wait for Westworld to unveil what kind of future that could be.
See you all for the next season!
+ I’m so hyped for what Charlotte (I’m not sure what else to call her!) is going to do next season.
+ The idea of there being a park loaned out to defense contractors so that they could get better at killing people is so genuinely horrifying, if unsurprising. That was a fantastic reveal.
+ The fight choreography this season is excellent.
+ “It took money to build this world, Caleb. It’s going to take money to bring it down.”
+ “We Will Not Be Categorized” is a great protest sign.
+ The scene where Bernard visits an elderly Lauren (Gina Torres, excellent as always) was devastatingly beautiful.
+ “I was never one for obeying.”
+ Farewell to Serac.
+ “Humanity never reckoned with its sins.”