SPOILERS for Westworld Season 3 Episode 1 ‘Parce Domine’
Finally, Westworld has returned and with a brand new skin that makes it almost unrecognisable in comparison to the previous two seasons. In the past, Westworld has taken place within Delos’ many parks, with its mysteries and narratives contained almost entirely within the park borders. This time, the story has ventured out of the parks and into the real world. It’s a world where technology is king as humans have figured out ways to utilise robots and AI to enhance everyday life and people take drug-like hallucinogens to help them dream of specific scenarios as they sleep…and probably also while they’re awake.
Getting used to this new tone is definitely an adjustment, but a very welcome one, as this new action-packed focus is a fresh change of pace from the mind-boggling mysteries of the previous seasons. The mysteries are very much still present, and will still probably be mind-blowing, but for now it seems the show is slightly rebranding itself. There are a couple of familiar faces that pop up throughout the episode, but there’s also a whole new cast of characters and storylines to go along with them. So, let’s get into the breakdown.
Caleb makes his first appearance
As Westworld has been given a sleek new identity, it makes sense to kick this off with the newly introduced Caleb, played by Aaron Paul, a veteran and construction worker by day who partakes in petty crime by night. This episode serves as an introduction to his character where we learn that he is seeing a therapist as a result of the psychological toll of the war and communicating with an AI version of his deceased friend as part of a therapy program.
Through each of our scenes with Caleb, it becomes increasingly clear that at some point he’s going to come into contact with Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) through one of his odd crime jobs, the same crime jobs that bought us cameos from Marshawn Lynch and Lena Waithe early in the episode. More on this once we get into Dolores’ extensive journey through this episode.
Dolores has a plan
This really is Dolores’ episode as we catch back up with her now that she’s infiltrated the real world. We kick things off presumably in China, where Dolores hacks into the house of someone who has a major stake in Delos to retrieve some pretty specific information. She places some AI-powered glasses on him and proceeds to haunt him with memories of his past, then from here it becomes known that she’s after access to a company known as ‘Incite’. She effortlessly gets what she wants from him before disappearing like a force ghost. It appears that she can project herself through the AI technology that is embedded in every house.
Delores really seems to be exploring the world as next up, she makes her way to London, where her next goal is to get close to the figurehead of Incite, Liam Dempsey Jr. (John Gallagher Jr.) to uncover more information about the illusive company. She arrives back in LA with Liam, a city where she apparently has ‘friends’ she’s been meaning to see, and tracks Liam to a meeting with Martel (Pom Klementieff). Meanwhile we begin to learn about a mysterious system known as Rehoboam, some sort of strategy and surveillance supercomputer that even Liam doesn’t know the true use of.
Dolores’ goal here becomes clear, she’s trying to get information on who the co-founder of Incite and Rehoboam is, as he’s the one who holds the key to whatever Dolores is planning. Liam is reluctant to give this information, seemingly due to the surveillance power of Rehoboam, but just as she’s about to squeeze this information out of him she is incapacitated by Martin Connells (Tommy Flanagan). He not only discovered that she wasn’t who she said she was, he sees that she was planning a rendezvous with someone.
Dolores is transported to the rendezvous point in a incapacitated state where her path almost crosses with Caleb for the first time. In the meantime, Caleb accepted another job which saw him delivering a car and package to Dolores’ captors. He recognises something shady is going on, but continues on his way. Dolores is transported to the meeting point where Martin and his men are waiting for whoever was meant to meet her. A car rocks up to the meeting point right as Dolores wakes from her clearly self-induced sleep and massacres all of the men who captured her, aside from Martin… of course.
However, it doesn’t take long before she catches up to Martin and squeezes some more information out of him. He tells her that someone known as Serac is the one in control of Rehoboam before the mysterious car from earlier arrives at the scene. Out of the car walks a host version of Martin who kills the real version, so now Dolores can have a man of her own on the inside. In this moment it’s unclear who is in control of this host version as it’s relatively clear from their conversation that someone Dolores knows is in the body.
A shootout with more remaining guards ensues and Dolores eliminates them all before stumbling into a nearby tunnel with a gunshot wound. At the same time, Caleb is passing through the area where he comes across an injured Dolores. It looks like these two are going to form an interesting bond in the coming episodes that could spell danger for Caleb.
Who is Charlotte Hale?
Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson) returns for one scene in this episode, but as the real Charlotte died in the previous season, it’s still unclear who is in her body. She walks into a meeting with the higher-ups of Delos and has since taken the role of interim CEO. She makes the executive decision to continue operating and pumping resources into the parks, despite the disapproval of the directors around her. She also explains how Delos was able to shift the blame for what happened in Westworld by placing it all on Bernard Lowe (Jeffrey Wright) as the mastermind of the host revolt.
Now, as for who is in the body of Charlotte Hale, I have a couple of conflicting thoughts. The only person who read Hale’s code in the Forge is Dolores, so it seems that only she would be able to mimic Hale without being detected. But, Dolores is out hunting for information on Incite so it wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense for it to be her unless she is jumping between bodies. Other than that, it would have to be another host she bought out of the park and your guess is as good as mine there.
Bernard on the run
Now sporting a shaved head and wild beard, Bernard is laying low working on a farm under the alias Armand Delgado. This is where we find out we are currently set 92 days since the end of season two where Bernard walks out of the door to Arnold’s home. It seems like he’s managed to separate his consciousness into two distinct personalities, one that represents his calm and rational side and one that represents the brute force he displayed while in control by Ford. By using a button he can switch between the two of them at will. We see Bernard analysing himself to make sure he’s not being controlled or influenced by Dolores in any way, understandably so based on what he went through in season two.
Later in the episode, a couple of his coworkers discovered his true identity and were determined to cash in the bounty on his head, however, Bernard goes full Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by unleashing the beast inside him to beat the men to near death. In the fight, he mentions that Dolores has been planning something for months and that he needs someone to help him if he’s to have any chance of stopping her.
Right at the end of the episode Bernard approaches some locals at a port in Palawan, mentioning that he’s looking for a friend and that he needs some shifty off-the-books passage back to Westworld. This is big as now we can speculate who he’s going back to Westworld for. It’s probably one of the hosts, potentially Maeve, or there could be more surprises in store that we haven’t seen coming. We’ll just have to wait and see.
This isn’t the last we’ve seen of Maeve
After the sneaky post-credits scenes Westworld has placed at the end of both its season finales, I decided to let the credits run through for this first episode, not expecting to see anything. But sure enough, there was a scene waiting that teases us with more action set within one of Delos’ parks… but not Westworld.
The scene opens up with Maeve (Thandie Newton), who looks to be shocked that she’s alive, waking up in a room alongside a German soldier tied to a chair. As she walks up to the window it’s clear she’s not in Westworld anymore, she’s now been relocated to another Delos park, Warworld a Nazi-occupied region during the events of WWII. This is very exciting as not only do we get to see more of Maeve, but we also get to see another park, following on from the introductions of Shogunworld and The Raj in season 2.
So with that, Westworld has returned with some familiar faces and an almost entirely new story. There’s a new mysterious organisation, new lead characters and more mysteries that are sure to hold a number of shocks and surprises over time. From here we still need to find out exactly what Dolores has in store for the human race, how Aaron Paul’s Caleb is going to impact her story, who Bernard is going to find in Westworld and what’s going to happen with Maeve in Warworld. All of that, plus we haven’t even seen anything of Ed Harris’ William yet, among other returning characters.