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Who Can Stop Dolores on ‘Westworld’?

In an episode that was partially a drug trip and partially a flashback, the Host to Rule Them All took another relatively easy step in her plot to destroy humanity

HBO/Ringer illustration

Dolores just can’t stop winning. She’s winning so much you wouldn’t even believe it. After pulling off quite the twist last week, Westworld’s Mother of Exiles is now in full command of the war against Engerraund Serac and humanity. Dolores has already assembled an All-Star team that largely features versions of herself, and the fifth episode of Westworld’s third season, “Genre,” finds her taking shots at Serac as she tears down his structured world and leads it into a state of anarchy.

This week, we will focus on the episode’s key characters before considering some of the many, many questions looming over the final three episodes of the season.

This Week’s Key Characters

Dolores

All screenshots via HBO

Picking up where we left off at the end of the fourth episode, Dolores and Caleb are in the middle of kidnapping Liam Dempsey Jr., who they’ve managed to dress up in a shirt with a very fitting description:

Dolores is keeping Liam around in order to gain access to the supercomputer Rehoboam and its wealth of information; all they need from Liam is his private key. Everything goes smoothly enough until Liam injects a party drug straight into Caleb’s neck in a fruitless attempt to escape. Genre, the drug that doubles as the title of the episode, was first introduced at that weird sex fundraiser last episode, and when Liam’s annoying rich friend said that it sends you “straight to the silent era and back,” well, apparently he wasn’t kidding.

After the group resurfaces from an underground tunnel, Caleb begins to see colors drain from the world around him and everything shifts to black and white. As Marshawn Lynch eloquently characterizes the drug later on, “It’s like five Drips in one; a movie marathon.” But rather than cycling through different movie genres, which honestly sounds pretty incredible, it’s really more like experiencing life through different Instagram filters while your music is set to shuffle.

As Caleb goes about his bad solo trip, Dolores notices that they’ve been located by Serac’s henchmen and calls for a getaway driverless Uber. Their car is automatically pulled over after being tagged for an Amber Alert, bringing them close enough to getting killed by Serac’s security team that Liam reluctantly grants them his private key. This allows Dolores to take control of Incite’s systems, including their vehicle, initiating a car chase that features homing missiles, zero drivers, a lot of missed bullets, and Caleb vibing out to “Ride of the Valkyries” as he switches genres. Though the trio never seemed to be in any grave danger thanks to the incompetence of Serac’s henchmen—for a company built on a global database with so much information it can predict and alter people’s futures, you’d think they’d be able to hire better security!—Dolores and Co. are saved by the triumphant return of Lena Waithe and Marshawn Lynch.

(Within moments, Marshawn greatly improves the entire situation, killing bad guys while wearing his mood shirt, and immediately referring to Liam as “Little Lord Fauntleroy.”)

Dolores and her new crew escape through the subway as she commences the next phase of her plan: unleashing the power of Rehoboam. With the help of Martin Connells (but actually Dolores), who’s at Incite’s headquarters along with his prisoner Bernard, Dolores uses Liam’s access to take control of Rehoboam. After retrieving files containing Serac’s memories (more on that in a bit), she directs her Scottish self to release all of Rehoboam’s files—containing personal assessments and projections—directly to the phones of the people. And as it turns out, the future is bleak for everybody!

Dolores watches as all the humans in their subway car receive their Incite files and begin to read in horror as they find out their causes of death and how they’re actually perceived (and controlled) by the world. Just look at the pain washing over this guy’s face as he learns that his colleagues think of him as being “loud” and “flaky”:

When Dolores and her crew exit the subway, they see that anarchy has already been unleashed in the streets of Los Angeles: hijacked Ubers, fights, broken windows, and spilt planters. Caleb, still tripping off the drugs, looks around in awe and asks, “What Genre is this?” And Marshawn, our drug connoisseur and dedicated wordsmith, turns to reply: “This reality, man.” Dolores has sent humans “off their loops,” as Bernard describes it, a feat she’s now accomplished in two disparate, yet parallel worlds. With humanity rebooting itself and returning to its unpredictable roots, Dolores’s revolution has truly begun.

In the episode’s final moments, after Lena Waithe shoots Liam on the beach and leaves with Marshawn, Dolores and Serac finally meet at an airfield through Serac’s increasingly impressive hologram technology (did you see the way he just kept spinning without moving his legs?). Dolores walks around Serac like a shark circling its prey.

“Your god can’t protect you, or your people,” she says to Serac, speaking of Rehoboam.

“I would sacrifice much more to protect my kind,” he replies. “We are flawed, but I can change that.”

“Like you changed your brother?” Dolores asks, mid-dunk on Serac. “It’s time everyone woke up.” And then she just walks directly through him.

Dolores gained power and influence over the human world with each episode, and now she’s gone as far as changing their entire way of life, jeopardizing everything that Serac has been building.

Serac

While Dolores creates a world of chaos, we begin to learn more about the man who dedicated his entire life toward building order. The fifth episode is told in part through a series of flashbacks in Serac’s life (that Dolores is presumably watching after accessing his Incite file), providing a window into the mind behind Incite, while finally telling the origin story of the machine that reshaped the world. In the episode’s cold open, we return to the moment that Serac and his brother left France after witnessing Paris’s destruction. Having watched humankind tear itself apart firsthand, the Serac boys set out to build a god capable of charting a path for humanity to save itself.

As we learn more about Serac and his brother, a tortured genius, we also get to see what Liam Dempsey Sr. was like back in the day. It doesn’t come as much of a surprise, but it turns out that he’s exactly like his son; just another classic, clueless rich guy. Liam was the money behind Rehoboam, but he had no idea how it worked or what its real purpose was—all that mattered to him was that it made him richer.

Though Liam nearly pulled the plug on the Rehoboam project in the beginning, eventually the system started showing tangible results and he happily got rich off of it for a decade before getting curious about how the Serac brothers’ machine actually worked. While snooping around one of Incite’s facilities, Liam stumbles across rooms full of test subjects who Serac refers to as “outliers,” those who the system is incapable of predicting or controlling—a group that includes Serac’s brother. In order to maintain the balance in the world manicured by Rehoboam, these people essentially needed to be removed from the picture. “As long as they are a part of us, there is no future for us,” Serac tells Liam. So Rehoboam isolates them, or sends them to high-risk sectors like war, just as it did to Caleb. Liam Dempsey Sr., like his son, was never really the brightest guy, but he did apparently have some morals at least. He thinks that Serac has gone too far with Rehoboam, and he attempts to go public with the truth behind what their system is doing, but the Frenchman kills him before he has the chance.

By experimenting on his own brother and, you know, killing a dude to protect company secrets, Serac has clearly demonstrated that he is ruthless and steadfast in his mission to course-correct human history. But so far, he has been completely ill-equipped in preventing Dolores from unraveling his life’s work. Rehoboam changed the world for the better (apparently), but Serac’s vision of an ideal world is built on order and predictability while Dolores prefers one built on freedom and choice (or maybe she just wants to watch the world burn). With Dolores’s true motivations in question, it’s hard to say who humanity should root for in this situation. But either way, if Serac doesn’t step up and put those trillions of dollars of his to work, the fate of the world will be left in the hands of a radical, vengeful host.

A List of Currently Unanswerable Questions

Typically we close out these weekly recaps with a look at technological achievements like the mood shirts, eyewear, and clothing stores of the future, but we’ve reached the traditional point in a Westworld season where it’s best to take a deep breath and reflect on the 1,000 questions swirling around in your head. With the lack of a major reveal in the fifth episode and the season finale quickly approaching, another DoFoures-level twist is likely on the way. And though “Genre” provided many answers to the mystery of Serac’s past and we finally have a solid grasp on what this big red and black supercomputer does, this episode further complicated what we know about Caleb. Here are some of my most pressing questions from the episode and the season heading into its final episodes:

  • What happened to Caleb while he was at war, and what exactly did Liam’s glasses reveal about Caleb’s past?
  • What did Caleb do to the guy being played by Enrico Colantoni, and who is he?
  • What actually happened to Caleb’s friend Francis?
  • Is Caleb a human, host, or something else entirely?
  • Does Marshawn own only one shirt, or does he have an entire closet full of mood shirts?
  • Where was literally any nation’s government during Incite’s rise to power, and how did the entire world allow one company to gain global dominance in a few decades?
  • What is Bernard’s role in Dolores’s plans?
  • Why is Bernard the only one who can’t be replaced, as Connells/Dolores said?
  • How the hell did Stubbs emerge out of an elevator at exactly the right time to take out Connells and save Bernard?
  • Which host does the final “pearl” belong to? Is it another copy of Dolores?
  • What will Dolores decide to do with the forgotten hosts of Westworld once the war against Serac and humanity is over?
  • Maeve totally isn’t actually dead yet, right?

With much of the Westworld’s third season still remaining, I expect that many of these questions will be answered soon enough, just as I anticipate that many more will follow in their place.

Disclosure: HBO is an initial investor in The Ringer.