Before “is this a simulation or the real world” threatens to eclipse “is this person a human or a host” as the season’s prevailing mystery, any potential ambiguity is clarified by a small but crucial device: the simulation is presented in a different aspect ratio, making it instantly obvious which is which, and presumably neutralizing theories about whether other locations and plotlines are real or simulated as well. Westworld has a tendency to court this kind of wild speculation, and there are already Reddit theories that the Los Angeles we saw in Westworld’s premiere is fake. It’s something of a relief to find this simulation clearly delineated, if only because it defines the stakes concretely and does not distract from the action. We know what’s real, we know what isn’t, and we know that Maeve needs to escape this place.
If Maeve’s escape plan seems familiar, that’s because it’s virtually identical to the scheme Rick Sanchez devises to escape a similar simulation in an episode of Rick and Morty. Much like Rick, Maeve quickly determines that the simulation in which she’s trapped must have limited processing power, and reasons that she may be able to break the program if she can overwhelm the system. And while she doesn’t perform her new song “The Recipe for Concentrated Dark Matter” to a crowd of simulated concertogers, she does stump some lab techs by posing complicated math problems and overloads the mainframe by orchestrating a massive Nazi shoot-out. This is the Westworld equivalent of instructing everyone whose first name begins with an “l” who isn’t Hispanic to walk in a circle the same number of times as the square root of your age times ten.
Westworld Season 3 Images
Program frozen and system crashed, Maeve swiftly concocts a way to actually leave the simulation proper — by commandeering a maintenance drone and steering it toward freedom in the real world. This maneuver occasions another action set piece featuring armed guards and first-person carnage, and like the action sequences in the premiere, it’s a spectacular showcase of bravura blockbuster filmmaking — a taut chase made with flair. And while it doesn’t amount to much, leaving the robot destroyed on the front lawn of a computer lab and Maeve in the hands of another would-be master, it at least affords a respite from exposition.
The respite is brief. In the aftermath of these exploits, Maeve finds herself in the company of the mysterious Serac, played by the great French actor Vincent Cassel. You may recall that Serac is the other co-founder of Incite, alongside Liam Dempsey, and is the creator of the strategy engine, Rehoboam, that is gradually emerging as the center of the season. Dolores revealed toward the end of the last episode that it’s really Serac, not Dempsey, that she is after — and we now discover, in a convenient bit of symmetry, that Serac is after Dolores, too. Maeve’s episode-long adventure in a simulated world ultimately amounts to this exchange with Serac and the mission he commissions her to execute: find Dolores and destroy her. Which of course sets up the central drama of the season to come very nicely. It’s Maeve vs Dolores: host against host, free will against free will.
Meanwhile, as Maeve conducts her escape, there’s Bernard, who has reunited with Ashley Stubbs, recently repaired after a botched suicide attempt. Seeking the “pure” technical analysis only a Delos tablet can provide, Bernard and Stubbs make their way to the labs of “Park 4,” a medieval-themed park where to-scale host dragons are being tinkered with by lab techs played by Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. (The much-anticipated cameo is one of the episode’s few moments of real surprise and delight – watch the video below to see how it came together.)As for Bernard, what’s he after? He tells Stubbs that he wants to locate Maeve, because he needs her help to find Dolores, who we know he fears might have messed with his programming — and who he wants to prevent from eradicating the entire human race. But these motivations are inexplicable. Dolores, Bernard tries to explain, saved him because she apparently “needs a check on herself,” but why she needs that, and what that entails, remains unclear. Is she conflicted? Does she like the challenge? It doesn’t seem like an intriguing mystery so much as a vague bit of screenwriting, and it makes the Bernard material in the episode feel aimless and dull.
The episode culminates in new directions for old protagonists. Over in Westworld, Bernard has reprogrammed Stubbs to be his private Terminator buddy, duty-bound to protect him as they embark on the still-confusing quest to conscript Maeve and thwart Dolores. While Maeve herself, currently a guest of Serac in his lavish villa, will no doubt be meeting up with her imminently. It took some time to move us away from the detritus of former seasons and toward the frontier of the developing action, but the good news is that the players are all in position, poised to coincide in Los Angeles. If this narrative detour is what it takes to follow through on the promise of the premiere, so be it — may it be justified by the much-anticipated collision.