Westworld has changed. In some ways this is a good thing. The show isn’t repeating itself. In other ways, well, I’ve said it before: The first season was so good I still think it probably should have been a one-off.
I do appreciate how the show isn’t dragging each mystery out for too long. Unlike the past two seasons, we’re getting answers to at least some of our questions rather quickly.
In ‘The Mother Of Exiles” we learn the identity of the Hosts that Dolores brought with her from the park. Interestingly, the reveal was my initial guess—not even a guess so much as an assumption. In my review of the Season 3 premiere I wrote:
“We don’t see the park, but we do get a scene with Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson) or at least the robot version of Hale—so basically Dolores. Dolores, so far as I can tell, is now split or replicated across two bodies. Charlotte/Dolores is now running things at Delos, which is a pretty marvelous coup. Meanwhile Dolores is attempting to infiltrate Incite for reasons we don’t yet understand.”
I started to question this when I remembered that she was putting “pearls” in several different fake human bodies. Surely she’d brought along Teddy or some other allies?
I should have gone with my gut. Dolores replicated herself across five different Hosts. Hale, the Incite security chief Connells, Shogun World’s Musashi. This leaves us with two more unknowns I believe, unless we’re counting Bernard. I don’t think we are. I think he and the new Dolores body that Dolores-in-Hale made are separate from the five that Dolores is creating in her own image.
The title of this episode is ‘The Mother of Exiles’ and it’s funny to me because it makes me think ‘The Mother of Dragons’ and there are quite a few similarities between Dolores and Daenerys from Game of Thrones.
Superficially, they’re both attractive blond women. They both started out young and naive and became ruthless and ambitious over time, willing to kill anyone who gets in their way. Both are megalomaniacs trying to conquer their respective worlds in order to institute a new world order that they believe will be Utopian. Both end up opposed by their closest compatriots.
Beyond this big reveal we had some fun action. Dolores enlists Cal to steal all of poor Liam Dempsey’s money so when the billionaire goes to hire a high-end blond prostitute (he has a type) his account is denied. HBO really loves any excuse to put a bunch of skin onscreen and the entire masquerade ball scene was as good an excuse as any. Flesh and then some.
Dolores and Cal show up to kidnap Dempsey but Bernard and Stubbs get to him first. They try to get away but Dolores is there guns blazing. Stubbs stays behind to slow her down and Bernard and Dempsey run with Cal on their heels.
He catches up to them and then Connells shows up, shoots the four security guards he’s with and then tells Dempsey to run and Cal to chase him. This is when we get the big reveal, which happens across all the storylines. Connells is actually Dolores!
Over in Maeve’s storyline, the machine-mind controlling Host takes on Serac’s mission to go find and stop Dolores. Serac is not a very good person, clearly, but he’s out to save the world, or at least says so and seems genuinely to believe, thanks to his Incite machine, Rehoboam, that Dolores will end the world if she isn’t stopped.
Maeve makes her way to the Yakuza that Dolores has enlisted to help her and comes face to face with Musashi. Only he isn’t Musashi at all, though he pretends to be at first. Musashi is Dolores! There’s a fight and Maeve is killed, though I suspect there must be some backup of her at Serac’s estate. Maeve can’t be dead-dead, right?
In the final storyline, Hale visits the Man in Black. William has seen better days. His place is a pig-sty. He’s drinking like a fish. He keeps seeing visions of his daughter, who he murdered last season. She taunts him. She never let’s him be.
Hale tells William to clean up. They need to go talk to the board about the hostile takeover. But it’s all a trap. She’s taking him to have him committed and tossed into a mental facility. She tricks him, revealing that she is in fact Dolores at just the right moment. He tries to go after her and she acts terrified. He’s ranting on about how she isn’t really Hale and the men—who turn out to be from the asylum—need no convincing that he’s unhinged. They drug him, and while they’re not looking Charlotte needles him with something else. What could it be?
In the final scene Dolores, garbed in her old park dress, visits William in his cell. They talk and she tells him to ask her the question he wants to ask her. “Am I me?” he whispers.
“Welcome to the end of the game,” she replies. And then she’s gone. Was she ever there? William, his face a maze of wrinkles, sits alone and stares off into nothing.
So what does this mean? Is William a Host? Is he just crazy, imagining things? Was he once real and after his body died, he was put into a Host version of himself? That seems like the most sensible theory, but I wonder.
Why did he kill his daughter? Just because he thought she was a Host isn’t really reason enough. It wasn’t necessary, unless it was part of his Narrative. Unless he never had a choice in any of this.
I’m not sure and I’m not sure whether I care that much, the way I used to care about this show’s mysteries and the answers it gave us to Big Questions. Dolores found the center of the maze at the end of Season 1 and that was a pretty good way to wrap up the story. Quite brilliant, actually. Everything since has been just fine but not the same. An after-thought, in so many ways.
I can’t really say yet whether or not I like Season 3. It’s interesting and exciting at times. The cool, silent self-driving cars and all the high-tech trappings of the “real world” are neat. But Dolores’s journey felt complete at the end of Season 1 and ever since she’s become a one-note character. Hale/Dolores is far more interesting now as she struggles with her two identities. I wonder, does Connells/Dolores also struggle? Or was he just the right fit for her?