SPOILERS for Westworld Season 3, Episode 4 ‘Genre’
This episode of Westworld sees Dolores’ plan for the human race fast-tracked, more questions are posed in relation to free will and how much knowledge is too much and one character is subjected to a “movie marathon” drug trip. Coming off of last week’s giant game-changing episode I was expecting something a little more slow paced than what we got. It seems, at first, that this is going to be a slower episode, but as the episode progresses and the pace picks up, there’s quite a lot to unpack across two different time periods.
Let’s go back to the beginning
A good chunk of this episode is dedicated to giving us a lot more insight into the mysterious past of Engerraund Serac (Vincent Cassel), beginning from the moment he realised the human race was doomed and it needed to be saved by a god… when he was 10 years old. Alongside his genius brother, Serac began experimenting with building the machine that would be known as Rehoboam, collaborating with Incite boss, Liam Dempsey Sr. (Jefferson Mays).
After much speculation from Dempsey about whether the system was working, Serac showed Dempsey that they could not only predict the rise and fall of the stock market, but also control it to pick a desired outcome. They charted a planned course for the entire human race, one where they could decide the future to make a better world. However, Dempsey got greedy and began making decisions that benefited only himself, so Serac locked him out of the system.
Over time, Serac realised that there were ‘outliers’, people the system couldn’t predict and threatened the accuracy of its outcomes. Treating them as mental patients, Serac kept all of these people locked away in isolation cells, including his brother, with the hope that he could ‘edit’ them to conform with the course Rehoboam had charted. This world really isn’t different from Westworld at all.
Dempsey discovers this location and threatens to reveal to the world all of the information that Rehoboam had gathered on everyone. Serac reveals that in every instance that Dempsey reveals Rehoboam to the public, it always results in the extinction of the human race. So, to prevent that ever happening, Serac kills Dempsey and then goes on to lead the company on his own.
Drugs, action and Dolores’ controversial choice
Catching back up with Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood), Caleb (Aaron Paul) and Liam Dempsey Jr. (John Gallagher Jr.), they’re on the run from Serac’s forces who are no doubt after Liam. From some of what Liam says to Caleb in these early scenes, it appears there may be more to Caleb’s past we don’t know about yet. Liam injects Caleb with the drug that got mentioned in the last episode, ‘genre’, which sends him into a massive trip that lasts the majority of the episode. At first, it turns what Caleb is seeing into a 50s black and white noir film fit with an orchestral playlist.
As they’re tracked down and stopped by Serac’s men, Liam gives Dolores full access to Incite via his private key, allowing her to take control of their vehicle and make their escape. The genre of Caleb’s drug trip changes as ‘Flight of the Valkyries‘ begins playing over the top of a thrilling chase sequence. It’s one of the best action sequences of the series to date, elevated by the craziness going on with Caleb. Once again, Caleb switches into some sort of romance genre before Ash (Lena Waithe) and Giggles (Marshawn Lynch) show up to take out the rest of Serac’s men.
Dolores contacts Martin Connells (Tommy Flanagan), the other Dolores, and sends him Liam’s private key so he can access Serac’s files within Rehoboam. Interestingly, Dolores tells Connells to protect Bernard (Jeffrey Wright), indicating he’s still a major part of her plan. What I really love about this scene is the potential foreshadowing as it touches on an idea I thought of after Dolores’ big reveal at the end of the last episode. Bernard tells Connells that “living another person’s life changes you, worlds bleed, maybe you’ve felt that too” and asks him whether he’s questioned what Dolores is asking him to do. I think this scene is paving the way for a reveal at some point down the road where one of Dolores’ clones turns on her… at this stage, the likely candidate is the clone inside Charlotte Hale.
Dolores receives all of the files on Serac, and it makes sense that we’ve been watching Serac’s past throughout the episode as we are basically seeing what Dolores is seeing, quite clever filmmaking. In what is the biggest moment of the episode, Dolores enacts her plan to throw the world into total chaos, sending everyone in the entire world all of the information that Incite has about them. This is a massive moment as she has just opened the floodgates and shown everyone that their choices up until now haven’t been choices at all. As the perfect instrumental version of ‘Space Oddity‘ begins to play, we see how people have already gone off their tracks, acting against what Rehoboam has decided for them, thus breaking the system.
Amongst the chaos, Dolores gets filled will half a dozen bullets, and to Caleb’s surprise he notices that she doesn’t even flinch and keeps on moving. Her secret won’t be hidden from him for much longer.
Bernard, the irreplaceable one
As Connells is escorting Bernard out of the building he shows Bernard the location of one of the reeducation facilities that Serac is using to house all of the ‘outliers’ who don’t belong. What is really interesting about this scene is that the building he shows Bernard is the same building that William (Ed Harris) ends up in at the end of the previous episode. I think this confirms we haven’t seen the last of William as Bernard may come across him in the next couple of episodes.
Anyway, Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth) bursts through a door, clearly not dead, and helps Bernard overpower Connells. The two of them go to escort Connells out of the building in an effort learn everything about what Dolores has planned. However, Serac’s men arrive and Connells tells Bernard to run as where his role in Dolores’ plan may be finished, Bernard is the only one they can’t replace. Which begs the question, what does Dolores need Bernard for? Hopefully this is an answer we find out soon.
Connells meets with Serac via hologram who knows the security breach came from within the building. Before Serac can kill Connells himself, he activates an explosion killing himself, Martel (Pom Klementieff) and the other guards in the room. So, as this clone of Dolores remained obedient to the path she laid out for him/her, that means there’s one less Dolores running around.
Sorry Serac, but you lose… for now
When we catch back up with Dolores, Caleb, Liam, Ash and Giggles we are welcomed by the theme from The Shining which is just absolutely spine-tingling. As they’re walking along the beach, they’re wondering what to do with Liam, right as Liam begins giving more clues as to who exactly Caleb is. He says things like “you don’t even know who you are” and “you’re the worst of them” as we see a number of short glimpses into Caleb’s past that are all very cryptic. It seems like there’s something mysterious about Caleb’s past that he doesn’t remember for some reason.
In a shocking moment, Ash shoots Liam in the stomach, causing him to bleed to death on the sand. Interestingly, his final words were “you did it”. What did he do Liam, what did he do? Now we have this added mystery of figuring out what exactly happened to Caleb in his past.
Jump forward a little and after learning that Dolores has access to all of his files, Serac gets in contact with her via hologram and the two warring leaders come face to face. It’s clear at this point that Serac has failed to stop Dolores after she has just essentially destroyed all the work that he has put into building a better world. After receiving a mysterious package, Dolores and Caleb board a jet with plans to fly off somewhere.
Well, there’s definitely a lot left to ponder in that episode, from the mystery of Bernard’s importance and the mystery of Caleb’s past to the moral ambiguity of Dolores revealing the eventual fate of every single person on the planet. It wasn’t as slow of an episode as expected, which is great as it seems like it might be a race to the finish over the final three episodes. I really enjoyed the use of this ‘genre’ drug in the episode from a stylistic and experimental perspective, but not so much from a story perspective. It was really interesting to see how the director and the writers were able to inject different genres within the events of the episode and change the visual aesthetic to match that. It did make the key chase sequence very fun and intense, but from a story standpoint it doesn’t really add much at all for being such a key part of the episode. It’s not bad at all, I just don’t see its value beyond a cool stylistic decision. We’ll see next episode if we get more of Maeve and Charlotte, and possibly even more of William.