Westworld has really been a show of two extremes this year. On the one hand, some of the scenes and individual character moments have been as good as anything shown to us on the small screen in 2020. The big reveal about the multiple Dolores copies, the group therapy session this week and the wider world building have been incredibly well realized.
Alongside this though have been moments that tarnish the overall feel of the show. From plot contrivances and heavy gunfights resulting in Stormtrooper level of poor accuracy, through to superhero strength and intelligence for both Maeve and Dolores, it’s actually the more grounded and realistic segments that are the most intriguing parts of this show.
Episode 6 of Westworld season 3 begins with Serac speaking to Maeve in a field with her daughter present – a pleasant fantasy which sees her request assistance in her upcoming mission. He warns that a more nightmarish vision will be present if she fails again, before we cut to Maeve back inside War-world fighting off the platoon of Nazi soldiers.
After killing them all, she somehow senses her pearl being moved from the facility as Serac’s plan starts to materialize. Part of that plan sees her team up with Hector, who she manages to hack and bring on as an ally, alongside Lee who decided not to go back to work after all.
William meanwhile – now symbolically dressed in white not black – finds himself in a psychiatric hospital talking about purpose and how we’re on this planet to bring about its destruction quicker. On the back of this, William starts to open up to his therapist after some push-back but she’s initially distracted given Dolores has just unveiled the truth about everyone.
William is experimented on not long after, as the screens start blinking out and mentioning an unknown protein in his body. As he’s escorted back to his cell, he watches in horror as his therapist hangs herself in her office. He’s instead visited by Dr Alpert who puts goggles on him and starts his experiment.
This experiment sees a group therapy session with multiple versions of William talking about their purpose. It completely unravels our present William and he’s presented with the concept that he’s never chosen anything in his life.
In San Francisco, USA, Charlotte takes her son home and starts to become frazzled, admitting to being scared. Her partner tells Charlotte that he won’t allow a machine to dictate their relationship (which is ironic, of course) before she heads back to Delos.
On the way one of the board members, Brompton, is assassinated in broad daylight. Charlotte is handed a phone and it happens to be Serac, who tells her that thanks to Dolores’ data leak it’s a lot easier to hide one more dead body behind this chaos.
Mentioning how he’s on his way, Charlotte rings Dolores and tells her what’s happening with Serac. She apologises for failing her as Dolores tasks Charlotte with heading back into Delos and taking the Host Making Data before Serac gets it.
Only, this is easier said than done as Serac arrives all guns blazing, locking down the facility and briefing the team on what he’s found out about the multiple Dolores copies hiding in plain sight. He tasks every single employee to undergo tests and as he leaves, Charlotte heads off and starts to copy the Host data. While she does, Charlotte notices abnormalities with Maeve and as we cut inside the simulation, we see her speaking to the copy of Dolores.
Maeve talks about the power she holds in her head and how it’s not right for one person to have this kind of information hidden. As she speaks, talking about sacrifice, Hector listens in from afar.
Serac calls a Board Meeting and unfortunately he’s figured out Dolores is inside Charlotte, posing as her. He speaks about the irony of her being more kind and caring than her real-world counterpart and goes on to talk about her violent end. However Charlotte is smart, biding her time and manages to gas the room and plot her escape. Only, this Serac happens to be a projection so for now, he’s not dead.
Dolores heads down to the lab and destroys Hector’s pearl, making sure he won’t ever be able to come back – presumably for good this time. Before she can finish her destructive rampage, guards arrive and shoot at her. Un-phased by this, Charlotte grabs the Dolores pearl and starts to fight her way out the building.
As the episode comes to a close, William fights and kills all the previous iterations of himself and believes he’s found his true purpose. Only, the visions suddenly fade before he can elaborate further as Bernard arrives, helping William up as he hints that chaos has gripped the facility.
The final scenes show Maeve now in her new body, ready for vengeance, while Charlotte straps her family in and hurries away, intent on going somewhere no one will find them. Unfortunately their car explodes as she drives off. Charlotte crawls out from the wreckage and looks over the devastation as rage begins to build up inside her.
With no Dolores and Caleb this week, Westworld actually feels a lot more interesting without them around. Given Maeve spends most of her time in the simulation, the episode itself solidifies that the more interesting characters here are William and Charlotte. William finally kills (quite literally) his inner demons and is now driven by more purpose, subtly hinted at with him now wearing white rather than black.
Charlotte is ultimately the most fascinating character here and has been by quite some stretch. Conflicted by her feelings of family and love with her identity crisis and purpose, Charlotte’s character arc has been one of the best elements of season 3. With a big fight still to come between Maeve and Dolores, could Charlotte be the wild card in all this?
Only time will tell of course but so far Bernard has felt more like a hindrance than an actual useful character this year, flitting between different areas and ultimately tasked with bringing the group together. It’s quite a weak motive and this, coupled with the unbelievable amount of bullets that miss our characters, make for an episode that has equal parts brilliance with equal parts contrivances. Season 3 has still been an enjoyable thrill ride though, despite its flaws, but quite how this one will end remains to be seen.