Westworld recap: It’s Terminator: The Rise of Caleb
In the penultimate episode of Westworld season 3, Dolores and Maeve have an epic fight, Caleb finally learns his true past, we meet another giant AI ball, and William starts a fresh rampage
Dolores and Maeve have an epic fight, Caleb finally learns his true past (and, it seems, his future), we meet another giant AI ball, and William starts a fresh rampage in the penultimate season 3 episode of HBO’s Westworld.
The hour opened in Indonesia (because, why not Indonesia?) with the Musashi edition of Dolores in a club. Musashi-Dolores gets a message from a very annoyed Haloros telling him that she’s had a change of heart about following her plan and is now going rogue. This idea was my favorite thing in this episode — that Dolores is so inherently a rebel that she ultimately rebels against herself (or, at least, one of her copies does). Enter Maeve’s resurrected commandos Clementine Pennyfeather and Hanaryo to take him out. (Also: Was Dolores committing cultural appropriation by walking around as Musashi? Discuss.)
Then we jump over to Dolores and Caleb in Mexico, horseback riding across a landscape that looks rather familiar. We’re told this show isn’t just reusing previous filming locations, but this is the same patch of land that inspired the design of Westworld. Dolores gives a few more hints about her planned revolution to set the humans free. This is a bit confusing as we thought she already did that with the AI ball data dump. How much more free are we talking about, exactly? She also tells Caleb that he should step up and be a leader in this revolution, prompting Caleb to remind us “I’m just a construction worker.”
They arrive at a high-tech facility in the desert. Dolores uses a smart sniper rifle to take out the guards, even inside buildings and around corners. It’s a bit curious that this technology exists because during Caleb’s flashback, sniping two other nearby guys required launching bombs from space (speaking of which: There is no way Westworld, eventually, doesn’t take this story into space, right?).
Once inside the facility, Caleb starts leaning into those flashbacks as he pieces together his past. One thing that’s tough to swallow in this episode is that it hinges on two rather big coincidences — well, there are explanations for both things, but they feel and play like coincidences: That Stubbs and Bernard just happen to meet up with William even though they’re at “Inner Journeys” for an entirely different reason, and that Caleb’s post-war rehab and Dolores’ giant AI ball location are likewise in the same location. It would make far more sense for Caleb and Williams’ rehab to have been in the same location and for Stubbs and Bernard’s data access point to be where Dolores went, rather than having all these things be in places they don’t seem like they should be. Just thinking about this makes the AI ball in my head hurt.
Speaking of which, yes, there’s another giant AI ball! And we didn’t even really get to meet the first one. This ball, named Solomon, is based on Serac’s brother who was schizophrenic (he was the Arnold of French brother duo). We learn — there’s a lot of “we learn” in the first half of this episode — that the only way the main AI ball at Incite can work properly and keep humanity on track is if certain outlier people are removed from society before they can change the course of civilization. All those people were stored in a giant facility apparently guarded by just four people (storing them is better than killing them, the AI ball points out, though we also see Caleb killing one outlier’s guards in order to kidnap him so…).
Anyway, early in their conversation, the giant AI ball (I’m not calling it Solomon, just no) demands to know of his visitors: “What is your objective here?” I love that a robot intelligence that’s been sitting in a warehouse for years is impatient for these two to get to their point. Dolores wants the AI ball to reveal a certain strategy from its array of future simulation projections of life on Earth to bring about her “revolution.” The AI ball refuses her request and we ready for a battle of wits and logic between Dolores and the giant ball. Then Dolores simply points out that humans shouldn’t get to be in charge, and the AI ball says, “Okay, sure then.”
Then Maeve shows up and Dolores and Maeve start having conversations via host wifi which require Maeve to look like she’s concentrating very hard. They have a fight that’s actually very cool looking, both robo-goddesses in black leather in their long-awaited showdown. Maeve leaves Dolores disarmed (sorry). Dolores retreats to that giant EMP that Caleb helpfully pointed out earlier. She hits its big red “In Case of Insane AI Ball Escape” button. The EMP instantly shuts down both Dolores and Maeve.
Elsewhere, William tells Bernard and Stubbs that he’ll kill them if they don’t kill him first, and Bernard decides not to kill Williams despite Stubbs wanting too. Between these two hosts, Stubbs is not supposed to be the smart one. So later William gets a shotgun and apparently kills them both, . It seems William’s big revelation from his therapy is that his mission in life is to destroy all hosts. That William liked to the kill hosts was pretty much all we knew about him during the show’s first season, so I’m not sure that really qualifies as a breakthrough. But yes, it’s different in that now he’s looking to do it outside the game to help destroy the product he helped create. Before Bernard goes down he reveals that Dolores won’t destroy humanity, that Caleb will.
This is intercut with Caleb collecting the insane AI ball’s plan for the revolution and storming angrily away full of purpose. He leaves behind Dolores. (Wouldn’t he try to take her with him? Couldn’t he switch her off and on again?) He’s on a mission that might be to destroy humanity without realizing it. Either way, Caleb has gone from being used and manipulated by Incite’s giant AI ball to being apparently used and manipulated by host Dolores, simply switching machine masters, once again a pale shadow of free will.