Welcome To The Real World
Westworld Season 1 remains one of my favourite TV seasons in recent memory. At the time, season 2 did well to follow up on that success but the series clearly had issues with its overarching narrative, becoming a little too convoluted for its own good. On repeat viewings, season 2 doesn’t hold up as well and now with the show plunging into its third season, Westworld needed to shake things up to keep the show exciting and relevant.
Step forward Season 3, which takes the story to the cyber-connected future of life outside Westworld. Blending elements of cyberpunk, Terminator and the familiar puzzle box elements that made the previous seasons so endearing, Westworld gets off to a good start here, with a 70 minute episode that introduces new concepts, new faces and familiar story beats, all wrapped up in a promising new chapter for this sci-fi series.
We begin episode 1 of Season 3 of Westworld in Bengai, China, with an investor seeing news of the Delos massacre that occurred last season and cursing his luck. As he turns in for the night and sleeps, the AI controlling the house switches itself on. As music blares, this man finds himself tied up in bed and with a gas mask on. Outside however, is Dolores, who lets herself into the house and confronts him. This man, as it turns out, is actually one of the men from the park that entered as a guest and abused her.
Dolores shows him the dead body of his wife lying face down in the pool and she manipulate him into eventually giving up money and the confidential files he stole from his previous company, Insight. As Dolores walks away, this man swings a golf club at her but misses, subsequently falling into the pool and cracking his head open.
We then jump to Los Angeles with Caleb, who answers a call from Francis and allowing us to see more of his life, working construction during the day and a secret night shift alongside this. The shadowy night-time activities include a variety of crimes courtesy of an app on his phone. Caleb’s task this night is to break into a vault and steal a stash of money before driving away.
Meanwhile, the AI Charlotte arries at the company for a board meeting. It’s been 3 months since the Delos Park incident and she confidentally tells them they’re going to resume construction on the AI hosts. “Hosts don’t kill people,” She goes on, looking around the room, “People kill people,”
Bernard meanwhile, has adopted a new identity as Armand, a slaughterhouse worker. He keeps to himself mostly and in private, runs diagnostics on himself in the hope of finding more answers.
In London, U.R.E.W, Dolores arrives for a meeting with Liam Dempsey, a man who happens to be the co-owner of Insight. Dolores is encouraged to join Dempsey as he heads back to the States for a meeting.
Caleb heads to therapy and is encouraged to embrace the program he’s on, while continuing to receive calls from Francis. That evening, Caleb does another job, with Francis’ voice in his head telling him to stay positive. As he heads to the job, he finds an AI going crazy after trying illegals, shouting about ‘shadow people’.
Dolores makes it back to LA where she learns more about the AI operating around the city. Dempsey shows her a large sphere that has numerous thoughts; a “path for everyone”. As he drives away for a private meeting, Dolores follows in hot pursuit on her bike, securing a lease to a hotel room across the road from Dempsey, where she listens to the meeting on the rooftop taking place as they discuss whether there is a leak in the company.
At work, Bernard is confronted by two of his fellow workers who realize who he is. They shock him down to the ground and talk about their cash reward. Bernard tells them something bad is coming and he can’t stop it, which unfortunately sees him snap and go full-on Terminator, as he man-handles both of them and beats them to a pulp.
Caleb receives bad news and learns he hasn’t got the job, but even worse realizes with crushing clarity that the voice on the phone is an AI rejecting him. Meanwhile, Dolores sits with Dempsey and listens as the boss questions whether he should just switch everything off. It turns out he doesnt have access to the inner-workings of the system, only the outer shell. No one knows what the system is doing apart from the original architect.
Just before he divulges this name to Dolores, Dempsey’s head of security, Martin Connells, arrives and shocks her to the ground. He advises Dempsey that things are not what he seems and goes on to admit Dolores is clearly the leak here, promising to clean up the mess by tying Dolores up.
Connells drives away with her in his car, proceeding to inject her in the neck with 2 shots before presumably killing her. Only, a car arrives distratcing the guards long enough for Dolores to break free and murder them all. Dolores charges after Connells and shoots him down to the ground.
She manages to obtain a crucial name from him as he bleeds out on the ground, and as Dolores stands tall she tells him the real Gods are coming and they’re very angry. An AI replica of Connells then steps out of the car and takes his spot, infiltrating the company while Dolores hauls the real body away, dispatching all the guards one by one.
Caleb speaks to Francis again and they discuss the rigged game they find themselves in. As we soon learn, Francis died in combat years back and the voice Caleb’s been communicating with is just an AI. Caleb unsubscribes from this service and as he heads off, he finds Dolores in a tunnel, prompting him to help her out.
Bernard meanwhile is back on the run and makes it to a remote village where he offers up some money to a fishermen and tells him he’s looking for westworld, where the episode ends.
With Dolores now on a murderous rampage and a lot more of a Terminator vibe about her, this is contrasted nicely by Bernard’s desire to try and find peace and failing to do so. Caleb is an interesting new addition to the show as well and it’s great to see Ramin Djawadi back on composing duties; his orchestral score for the first two seasons are easily some of the best memories from those episodes.
There’s a lot more worldbuilding this time around too and with the globe-hopping story jumping around to different areas, and the teasing glimpses of more puzzle box mysteries ready to be deciphered, Westworld does well to kick things off on the right foot, but whether the rest of the season can follow suit or not, remains to be seen. So far so good though!