In Westworld’s three seasons, Dolores has been responsible for many of the show’s most shocking moments: shooting Robert Ford in the head, shooting Bernard in the head just so she could rebuild him again, and killing Charlotte Hale while in a copy of Charlotte Hale’s body. In this week’s “The Mother of Exiles,” Dolores pulls off her boldest move yet. The host messiah reveals that there’s not one, not two, not three … but actually four Doloreses running about the world, with the possibility of one more being out there.
With so many characters this week (including so many Doloreses), we’re going to switch up this week’s recap by breaking down everything that happened leading up to Dolores’s big reveal, and the moment that all of the characters and story lines converged for the twist, before closing with a look at the latest technology being used in 2053.
Just like the current trend in the NBA, this episode is all about dynamic duos. There’s Delos executives Charlotte and William (!), Dolores and her ever-compliant human sidekick Caleb, Maeve and her new boss Serac, and last, but certainly not least, the beer-crushing swole brothers Bernard and Stubbs.
In the episode’s cold open, we finally get our first sight of William in Season 3. Our former Man in Black has definitely seen better days: He’s in a mansion, surrounded by broken bottles and torn-up furniture, walking around barefoot screaming things like, “I know what’s real!” (He does not.) William is unraveling, understandably haunted by the guilt of, you know, killing his own daughter in Season 2. And just as he’s about to cut his arm open at the behest of Emily, Charlotte Hale arrives at the mansion to bring him back to reality and fill him in on Serac’s attempted Delos takeover. She convinces William to clean himself up and finally get out of the house that night to convince the rest of the Delos board to take the company private.
Dolores and Caleb, meanwhile, are busy pulling off the easiest bank heist of all time. After buying Caleb a fresh suit and stealing the blood of a hapless private equity guy, the duo heads to a bank specifically catered towards society’s 1 percenters. Using the stolen blood they’ve injected into Caleb’s forearm, as well as a hash key provided by their Incite inside man Martin Connells, their plan is to gain access to Liam Dempsey Jr.’s account and withdraw all of his money. The only real stakes of the situation: Caleb needs to keep his heart rate down long enough to prevent his blood marker from degrading before they can use it to access Dempsey’s account (a task that probably would be easier if Dolores hadn’t told him that she’d kill everyone on sight if he failed to do so). But Caleb manages to get the job done with only a slight hiccup, and they walk out of there as billionaires without Dolores ever having to go full Baba Yaga.
Maeve finds herself in Singapore, in the company of an even richer man, the trillionaire Engerraund Serac. We learn of the Rehoboam manager’s motivations, as he reveals to Maeve that his home city of Paris was destroyed when he was a child in what appears to have been a nuclear war.
Serac’s mission became to prevent such a man-made tragedy from happening again, and to do that he needed to understand humanity’s very core. Though largely against her will, Serac later gets Maeve to go after someone called “The Mortician,” the last known contact to Dolores, Serac’s white whale who holds the key to all of the stolen Delos data that will provide an even deeper look into the human mind. Maeve leaves to track down the Mortician, who leads her directly into the heart of Yakuza territory.
And finally, Bernard and Stubbs. Honestly, not much happens with these two early in this episode save for some good banter, some brews, and Stubbs’s fantastic tourist shirt:
Bernard and Stubbs have managed to travel all the way from Westworld to California by sea from the sound of it, and the two are hiding out in a motel in Victorville as they wait for the right opportunity to kidnap Liam before Dolores gets to him. Bernard’s running theory is that Dolores’s master plan is to kill humans and replace them with different hosts, starting with Incite Inc.’s figurehead. It’s a solid theory, of course, but we’ll have to give Bernard only partial credit on this one.
The Big Dolores Reveal
With all the pieces on the board, that brings us to the fourth episode’s main event. While Maeve terrorizes the centuries-old Japanese crime syndicate, remarkably still in power despite their continued use of katanas in 2053, most of the others are on their way to a massive, uh, sex fundraiser; a crossover between an orgy and a black-tie auction for charity with some big Eyes Wide Shut energy thrown into the mix—and, in classic Westworld form, a deeply distracting classical rendition of The Weeknd’s “Wicked Games.”
Liam is in attendance, hanging out with his annoying friends, but he’s unaware that his ex-girlfriend Dolores, and Caleb, Bernard, and Stubbs are all there keeping a close eye on him. Bernard plans to use his host remote control to question Liam on the identities of the other humans Dolores is controlling, but when Liam finally discovers that all of his money is gone, Bernard and Stubbs intercept him only to learn that Dolores hasn’t replaced him with a host. As the two attempt to get him out of the building, Dolores puts her own plan into motion. The first step? Going toe-to-toe with the same guy who managed to fight off seven armed Delos guards with little more than an ax. And, well, it doesn’t go so great for our guy Stubbs this time around:
As Stubbs gets hurled off a balcony by Dolores, Bernard leads Liam to their getaway car, but they’re stopped by Caleb before they can escape. Soon after, Connells shows up and kills all the Incite guards before pulling his gun on Bernard.
In Singapore, Maeve is closing in on her own target: a Yakuza boss named Sato. But when she finally finds him, she sees Musashi, the Japanese Hector of Shogunworld from Season 2. As Maeve questions Musashi, Bernard stares down Connells, and poor William—who has finally worked up the courage to step outside of his house again—prepares to head to the Delos meeting with Charlotte, all three of them begin to inch closer to the same conclusion.
“Who did she put inside you? Is that you in there, Teddy?” Maeve asks Musashi.
“Who are you, really? Who would she have trusted?” Bernard asks Connells.
“Who the fuck are you?” William asks Charlotte.
“Your oldest friend,” Charlotte replies.
William slowly tilts his head, looking like the blinking white guy meme for a few moments. “Dolores?”
All along, Westworld had us thinking that Dolores smuggled out five other host control units when fleeing the parks in the Season 2 finale but, with the exception of Bernard, Dolores brought only copies of herself.
“If you want something done right,” Dolores, in Musashi’s body, says to Maeve. “Do it yourself.”
At William’s mansion, Dolores has played William to perfection. The story she told him about the Delos board meeting was another lie, and the two Delos employees who arrived to take them there were really workers from a private mental health hospital. As Charlotte explains, with William being committed to the facility, the Delos board will deem him incompetent and transfer all his voting power back over to her, effectively giving Dolores complete control over Delos.
Maeve, meanwhile, fights Musashi and ends up taking a katana to the stomach. She appears to be dead, but Musashi leaves before he’s able to retrieve her control unit as a group of armed men arrive outside the Yakuza base. With this being Maeve’s 1,000th on-screen death, you’d think it wouldn’t come as much of a surprise, but this is the first time we’ve witnessed her die outside of a Delos park, leaving her fate as a mystery for now.
In the episode’s final scene, the Man in Black is decked out in all white as a new resident of the Inner Journey’s Recovery Center. As he sits down in his new room, taking in his new reality, Dolores—wearing her classic rancher’s daughter outfit from several lifetimes ago—appears out of the darkness. “I guess you’ve reached the center of your maze, William,” Dolores says as she sits next to him, relishing in the moment after being tortured by him for many years in Westworld. “Welcome to the end of the game.”
As William sits, Dolores disappears; she was just the product of another one of his visions. For decades, as Westworld’s terrorizing Man in Black, William searched for the center of the maze, believing that it was a game Arnold designed for the guests. But as we learned in the Season 1 finale, “The Bicameral Mind,” the game was meant for the hosts, a symbol to represent their inner journey into discovering the nature of their existence; the path to their consciousness. Now that William has found his own inner center, will he manage to find a way back out into society? Or will his mind continue to slowly degrade like the host copy of his stepfather eventually did?
Meanwhile, Dolores, along with her mini army of Doloreses, now has Delos, Incite’s Liam Dempsey Jr., and even the damn Yakuza at her disposal. But with every twist and turn that her plan takes, as well as her consistent ambivalence towards both human and host life, Dolores’s intentions and the end goal for her revolution become increasingly muddled. “The Mother of Exiles”—the title of the fourth episode—is another name for the Statue of Liberty, the guiding beacon welcoming those oppressed in foreign lands to a new world built on freedom. If Dolores is Westworld’s Mother of Exiles, is her intention still to save her own kind and welcome them to a better world? Maybe Dolores is hoping to recreate a Malkovich-inside-Malkovich type of situation where everywhere she looks, she sees a world full of Doloreses? Or does she—possibly with some part of Wyatt still fueling her motives—just want to exact her revenge on humans?
“You said you were going to build a new world for all of us, but you just want to for yourself,” Maeve says to Musashi, after Dolores reveals herself.
“The thing we’re going to do isn’t easy,” he (but really she) replies. “But there will be a place for the others in the world we’ll build.”
Dolores has made her move, and has quickly acquired a lot of power in doing so—now it’s just a matter of what she chooses to do with it.
How Does It Work? A Running Series
So, shopping in 2053 seems pretty incredible. With a wide array of suit selections at his disposal on the store’s mirror-screen hybrid standing before him, Caleb is a tap away from previewing his new look without the hassle of putting any clothing onto his body. The mirror’s video game-style interface makes it feel like a real-life trip to your neighborhood store in NBA 2k20’s MyPlayer mode, except Caleb fortunately doesn’t have to worry about absurdly high VC price tags (it’s probably safe to say that Dolores had this one covered anyway).
And, perhaps the best part, if your self-esteem is a little low like Caleb’s seems to be (he glumly says to Dolores: “I don’t know where to start, it’s not really my style”), the mirror is there to be your personal hype man. “Great fit!” it eagerly tells Caleb, as he looks back at his reflection unconvinced. Even if the mirror just says whatever it thinks you want to hear, I’m already sold.
With the return of Liam’s annoying rich friend unsurprisingly comes the introduction of another drug of the future: Genre. As he explains it, the drug is a “digital-psychopharma hybrid,” which “hits your implant, then your bloodstream,” before sending you “straight to the silent era and back.” Now, I have no idea what any of that means. Do you forget how to speak? Do you start seeing in black and white? Or is it like that wild sequence in Legion, where sound no longer exists and you start seeing title cards everywhere?
At any rate, the drug supposedly makes you open-minded, and we see that it’s pretty damn effective at that. There’s at least one couple, presumably under Genre’s mysterious influence, that is remarkably unfazed when they see Dolores firing a gun at the sex fundraiser. (The gun had a silencer on it, but really, nobody notices this?!) Even as Dolores proceeds to beat the living hell out of Stubbs, both of Liam’s annoying friends watch as the woman they know as Laura—who they both believe to be dead—smack this beefy guy around. While one of them is clearly shocked and manages to squeak out her name as she walks by, the other one simply looks down at the Genre in her hand and says: “Goddamn, this is good.”
Given everything that’s likely in store for humanity with Dolores’s one-woman army (so to speak) making big moves, it seems like everybody should start stockpiling this drug as soon as possible.
Disclosure: HBO is an initial investor in The Ringer.