Westworld: 3.04 The Mother of Exiles
Warning - spoilers for season three of Westworld, including the latest episode...
"Welcome to the end game"
As the shortened eight-episode season three of Westworld reached its mid-point, The Mother of Exiles brought together all the various plot threads into a dazzling, laser focused climax, that really turned everything on its head. With those words, Delores stepped up the next phase of her plan, ridding herself of her greatest enemy and achieving wealth and power all in one foul swoop. The beauty of Delores's story this season, is that whether you believe her to be a hero striking vengeance on the men who hurt her or a terrifying villain out to destroy humanity, her journey remains utterly compelling.
The 'mystery' of season three has been just which hosts are walking around in the bodies of Charlotte Hale and Martin Connells. When Maeve came face to face with another familiar host Musashi (Hiroyuki Sanada), her first thought was Teddy, a host I had presumed was now sitting within Charlotte. The truth however, was far more surprising and very in keeping with the narcissism of Delores's character; they were all copies of Delores herself. What better way of regaining control of your master plan, then having everyone working for you who thinks, talks and acts just like you?
The revelation allowed for some delightful showdowns between the seasons key characters and Delores, without having Evan Rachel Wood in every scene. Maeve came face to face with the woman she was sent to stop and failed. Liam Dempsey was betrayed by his 'ex-girlfriend' twice; once when she emptied his bank accounts, stealing all his money and once again when Connells shot dead his wood-be rescuers. Bernard - the only host besides Maeve to make it out of the park - was confronted by his 'best friend and closest ally', while William suffered the greatest defeat of all.
With Ed Harris's doomed character re-entering the series, the key players in season three were set. The journey to his institutionalisation glimpsed in the season two finale was perfectly played. Haunted by the murder of his daughter Grace (Katja Herbers), the opening sequence was a fascinating looks at his madness and grief. "What if every choice you made wasn't a choice at all? Just programmed in your code?" Grace teased, playfully suggesting that he might be a host himself as season two hinted. I suspect the man presented here was very much human; Grace another one of the hosts recreated by Delores to break what was left of his spirit.
Charlotte playing the ally was a cruel touch; playing to his ruthless, megalomaniac side to convince him to snap out of his grief and return to the man he was and help her take down the mysterious player trying to take over Delos. Only when he finally appeared, dressed all in black, confident and ready to take on his enemies, did the episode finally pull the rug out from under him as Charlotte / Delores took control of his assets and packed him away to a mental institution. If the season two finale is anything to go by, he is going to stay there for a long, long time, haunted by the very woman he tormented. Delores. And assuming, this is the end of Ed Harris's time on the show, his fate - coming half way through Delores' master plan, is a perfect way to go.
The Mother of Exiles was an episode packed with fist-pumping moments, a good chunk of them devoted to badass Maeve. Thandie Newton was effortlessly cool, whether it was taking on the Yacuza with a sharp wit and a quick actions, or turning the enemy's weapons against them. It was so much fun to see her out in the real world, taking on the enemy as breathlessly as she did within Westworld. Which made her eventual fate, bleeding out on the floor of the Yacuza lair, all the more shocking. And what a stunning visual moment, Maeve lying in the pool of red blood mixed with the white host fluid; a perfect metaphor if ever there was one.
The sequence at the party was the season highlight do far. With Ramin Djawadi's superb orchestral cover of The Weeknd's Wicked Games, everything converged in perfect fashion. Liam discovering his bank accounts had been cleared just as Bernard and Ashley arrived to rescue him resulted in a thrilling scene of shocks and action. Ashley and Dolores' fight was well choreographed, the surprise of Liam's friends adding a touch of humour, all building to the revelations at the episode's end. Coming off that tense sequence where Delores and Caleb emptied Liam's bank accounts, the episode continued to build and build the suspense to the very last moment.
The Mother of Exiles was a very strong episode, weaving the season's story line into a thrilling climax and offering some terrific surprises. It also served to deliver a powerful, if tragic, conclusion to William's story as Delores's mission went to the next level. If the second half of season three continues at this level, we're in for something rather special indeed...