A solid episode, with a compelling story for Charlotte Hale…
After two brilliant episodes that took the series in exciting new directions, Decoherence scrambles to readjust the chess pieces before the final two episodes of Westworld‘s third season. An eliminated Maeve is resurrected back in War World, Charlotte/Delores plays a game of cat and mouse with Serac and William faces his demons in a psychiatric facility. While it doesn’t quite have the magic of the last two instalments, it is another strong entry that sets up what is sure to be a thrilling end to an altogether exciting season of television.
While The Mother of Exiles could have easily served as William’s swansong, his return this week was a welcome surprise. My biggest gripe is that we didn’t get more time spent with his hallucinatory therapy session with his various selves – if season three had kept the 10-episode length and devoted an entire episode to his conversations with the other Williams, I would have been happy. Needless to say, the moments we got were fascinating, particularly the duality between the well-dressed businessman William and his ‘Man in Black’ counterpart. It was also great to see Jimmi Simpson back, playing off Ed Haris, all the way up to the inevitable violence as he unleashed his rage on the various Williams, laughed on by Peter Mullan’s James Delos; the perfect choice to chair his twisted therapy session?
The idea of William believing himself to be the good guy is strange, but just the sort of demented narrative that we’ve come to love from Westworld. His rescue at the hands of Bernard and Ashley sets him on one side of the battlefield with the big confrontation with Delores to come.
“Now, now boys. Don’t you know a lady likes a little warm-up before you brandish your weapon at her?”
Thandie Newton was at her finest again, delivering witty one liners and taking out a squadron of Nazi soldiers. But at the same time, I couldn’t help but feel she was being a little wasted, relegated back to War World after being stabbed in the heart by Delores/Musashi. While Delores is getting this epic narrative this season, Maeve has been largely relegated to the park. When we know that a showdown with Delores is inevitable, there is a sense that season three is buying its time, with Maeve perhaps the biggest casualty of the ‘holding pattern’.
Still, her return to War World allowed her to recruit some allies; her partner in crime Lee Sizemore (Simon Quarterman), proving that death can’t keep a good man down and Hector (Rodrigo Santoro), who finally got his memories back. Hector’s death at the hands of Delores/Charlotte was one of the episode’s great tragedies, fuelling Maeve’s inevitable revenge, after she survived the incident at Delos.
Delores/Charlotte’s story was the real highlight, of the episode, with Tessa Thompson delivering the emotional journey of her connection to the real Charlotte’s family, playing off against Serac and getting to go full on Terminator mode (Delores-style) in the dramatic final act. From the moment it was revealed that Charlotte had been in league with Serac, I wondered how long it would be, before he realised her true identity. The showdown in the Deloes board room was a thrilling moment; her attempts to poison him with the rest of the board members outdone by him as he revealed he had been on to her from the start.
The irony that it was her consideration for her son – something the real Charlotte would never have done – offered an interesting perspective; she carried neither the cold ruthlessness of the host personality within her, not the woman she was impersonating. Her attempts to save them was the episode’s other greatest tragedy and one that makes her the wild card, going into the final two episodes.
Decoherence was a good episode, but not a great one. Maeve’s story never really developed and not enough time was spent with William ‘s ‘insanity’. But the journey of Delores/Charlotte was a compelling one, filled with terrific action and traumatic emotional twists and beats. It set the stage for a dramatic final two episodes; let’s hope the pay off is a satisfying one.
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