The Algorithm Is Real
Westworld has always been a show about the mystery box and raising thought provoking questions within its plot. While both of these are advanced this week, against the backdrop of some psychedelic visuals and interesting but distracting musical cues, the big take-away within this noise comes from Serac and understanding his motives.
With more clarity around exactly what he’s doing, and some eye opening flashbacks from his past, things come crashing down in a big way this week, paving the way for an exciting and unpredictable finish to this season.
We begin episode 5 of Westworld with a look at Serac’s past. In the wake of the nuclear blast in Paris, he stuck by his brother. With humanity hurtling toward extinction, Serac decided to build his own God and as we pan out, Serac’s watch holds the exact same white and black inkblot we’ve seen in several establishing shots this season, as we’ve skipped across to different locations around the world.
In the past, we see Serac and his brother together striking a deal with Dempsey to use the data he obtained to try and make the orb work. Jumping forward 18 months we see it was actually Dempsey’s Father that struck this deal and he regrets investing in this concept.
Serac’s brother whispers a suggestion to kill Liam’s father in order to keep their project going but Serac ignores this and instead focuses on persuading Dempsey with something simple – the stock market. Managing to predict stocks accurately for 15 minutes in the future, Dempsey’s small-minded push for greed only focused on the finances.
For Serac, he figured out early on that they could use this to shape humanity’s destiny. Unfortunately in every prediction the world completely comes undone and the stock market crashes, along with Serac’s brother losing his mind. That doesn’t stop Serac though, who starts experimenting on his brother.
In the present, Serac organizes his workers and demands all assets to be activated in order to hunt for Dolores, Dempsey and Caleb. As we cut across and see Dolores, she decides to keep Dempsey alive in order to get full access. Dempsey outsmarts Caleb though, knocking him out on the ground and feeding him a Genre drug that makes him hallucinate and see everything through a grainy filter that’s reminisce of old black and white thrillers.
Unfortunately Serac sends his men to hunt and kill them. As bullets rain down on their vehicle, Dempsey has no choice but to give up his control to Dolores as they race away. Classical music merges with this cyber world as Dolores tasks Caleb with shooting the guards as they race toward them.
Controlling the car manually, Dolores guides the missile to take out the cars as a gunfight ensues. Caleb calls on his old friends for help and they hurry off together while Dolores uses Bernard and Martin Connells to hack into the system at the same time.
Overlooking their “God”, Connells talks to him about Dolores’ plan but interestingly, Bernard probes and asks whether he’s ever questioned what she’s asking him to do, especially given it changes you being in someone else’s body.
Dolores decides to open up the files to everyone and allow them to see what the system has stored in its algorithm. Instead of allowing one person to control all of this, she decides it’s better for people to see everything for themselves.
As the argument rages on while they race through the tunnels in the train, Dempsey uses the glasses to push home truths on Caleb’s friends. It’s not enough though and Dolores presses ahead, deciding to show every person everything the system has on them – including their death date, social status score, occupation prospects and everything in between.
It’s a shocking and destructive reality and this throws in the very real possibility of where our future is currently heading. As Dolores and co. get off the train and start heading outside, Bernard realizes that Dolores has given everyone in the entire world this information.
Meanwhile, Stubbs arrives and blindsides Connells with Bernard. Unfortunately, Serac’s guards arrive at the complex, prompting Connells to tell Bernard and Stubbs to leave, as he reveals to a projection of Serac that he’s the mole. Detonating the building, Bernard and Stubbs manage to make their way outside as they see the carnage begin to grip the world.
While Caleb’s friends leave, after having shot Dempsey in the stomach, Caleb tries in vain to save Dempsey’s life. Only, as Dempsey passes away his final words “you did it” cause Caleb to incredulously ask just what he means.
Meanwhile, Serac learns Dolores was searching for his files. As the episode closes out, we see him orchestrating a plane crash and staging Dempsey’s death in the past – which Dolores sees play out in her mind’s eye. “It’s time everyone woke up”, she says as Serac realizes Dolores has gotten the upper-hand.
With another episode focused around thought provoking questions surrounding our reality, the psychedelic trip gripping the first half of this episode is both the best and worst part of this. On the one hand, it perfectly captures how expressive and vital music can be to setting the tone of a piece, while at the same time feeling distracting and overly artistic for the sake of the plot.
Trying to decipher Westworld’s puzzle box is hard enough at times but seeing the world ironically descend into the Wild West – after building a theme park primarily to keep these animalistic tendencies confined to one place – is a really interesting form of poetic irony and I’d imagine in the episodes to come we’ll see this play out far more prominently.
Westworld has always been a show about the big picture though and right now it’s far too early to speculate on exactly how this one will end. Although not quite as shocking and gripping as the previous episode, Westworld continues to deliver an enthralling sci-fi world on the verge of collapse.