Westworld: 3.07 Passed Pawn
The biggest lie Westworld has told, is the idea that humanity is free. Heading away from the parks and into the real world, season three has started to peel away at that facade, culminating in this week's episode that showed everything has been carefully manipulated, planned and twisted by Serac and Insight. The truth, Caleb learned this week, is that humanity is as much an engineered program as the hosts themselves.
Blurring the line between hosts and humans is a clever twist, one that brings Delores and Caleb closer together. The revelations about his past - a man seen as disruptive to humanity's perfect utopia reprogrammed into the model citizen - put him front and centre at the season's ongoing mystery and potentially sets him up as the main villain going into the finale, ready to destroy humanity where Delores has failed. Aaron Paul has been a great addition to the cast this year, bringing a mix of grit and vulnerability to his performance and I really felt the betrayal he felt, remembering finally that the friend he was grieving had died at his own hands.
The trip to Mexico offered a real life backdrop to the original Westworld park; the sight of Delores and Caleb riding among the hills was a lovely call back to the gorgeous locales of seasons one and two while the Sonara facility, with its unsuccessful patients locked into cryogenic tubes at the behest of a pzyciophrenic AI created a nightmarish sci-fi horror to accompany Caleb's disturbing trip down memory lane. I'm loving how similar the real world mirrors that of the park, blurring the line between reality and fiction.
Perhaps most interesting, was the showdown between Delores and Maeve. Going into the fight, I wasn't quite sure who the villain was; isn't Delores, in her own way, setting humanity free of the lie they are living under? Isn't Maeve allied with the man that has sold that lie to everyone? At the same time, you can't help but be on Maeve's side as she exacted her bloody vengeance on her fellow host. The battle lines are clearly being drawn; the opening sequence where Maeve's resurrected allies Clementine and Hanaryo took down and beaheaded Musashi / Delores was a cool bit of action, capping the bloody battle at the end that saw Delores literally loose an arm and Maeve, a dagger to the gut. My only complaint about the final battle was that I was expecting more. For all Westworld's big action set-pieces, it all felt rather low key. But perhaps that's just the build up to this anticipated showdown. What happens to the two hosts now that Delores has activated the EMP, is one of the biggest questions going into the finale.
Maeve isn't the only one out for vengeance. The brief appearance of Charlotte at the beginning leaves her a wild card after the events of last week. And William is not planning to eliminate every host out there, starting with Ashley and Bernard. I suspect the distinction between the man in black of the park and the public philanthropist has blurred. With William publicly dead and his company stolen by Serac, he has nothing to loose.
Passed Pawn was another mastroke of storytelling, giving a compelling backstory to Caleb while turning the whole progression of humanity on its head. With Caleb out to brigng everything down, William out to kill all the hosts, Charlotte grieving the loss of her family and Serac at the peak of his power, there is everything to play for. Fortunately, Westworld has been granted a fourth season, meaning the struggle is far from over...