***Spoiler Warning: This post contains spoilers for Westworld through Season 3, Episode 1. Spoilers***
With its sleek, new opening credits featuring mirror images fading into each other and pulling away, Westworld purportedly plunged us into a whole new world, though there are those of us who believe we’re still in the same old simulation. Condemned to repeat human mistakes, Dolores thinks she’s escaped her humble beginnings, when in fact she’s caught up in the same terrible and violent loops. And as much as we’re being led to believe the former rancher’s daughter broke out of the park, is wreaking havoc on the dastardly people who controlled her world, “Parce Domine” truly felt like its own version of Futureworld, and left us looking sideways at a certain helpful newcomer.
Bookended by Maeve and Dolores, each with her own German character in seemingly different timelines (all of this has happened before and will happen again), most of the hour is spent traversing the streets of “neo-Los Angeles” alongside the Deathbringer and Caleb Nichols (Aaron Paul), separated until the familiar damsel-in-distresslike fall into a would-be hero’s arms. Before their meet-cute, Dolores (alias, Lara Espen) focuses on her new boyfriend Liam, aka the castrated head of Insight, Inc., and pseudo-owner of Rehoboam — a godlike machine that has a plan (“strategies”) for everyone. While Dolores is out gathering world-conquering resources, Caleb falls into repetitive crime loops (thanks, RICO app!), while suffering the same career fate as myriad real-life veterans who struggle to reintegrate in the civilian world.
Repurposed as Armand Delgado (aka Damaged Arnold), Bernard doesn’t even trust himself and so, answers his own prompted questions, though whose choice it is to send him back to Westworld remains to be seen. Not-Charlotte (is that you, Teddy?) easily commands the Delos board meeting, taking the company private and putting Hosts back into production, but Dolores seems to have that last part covered.
Through sweeping city views, opulent parties, and grand-scale technology the likes we witnessed in Delos proper, we flit alongside the near-effortless machine that is the park’s oldest Host, hellbent on her singular mission. The breadth of the new world feels as open and free with possibility as the fields and valleys Dolores and Teddy once roamed; the skyline mimics those majestic Westworld cliffs. Though she has no one but an earpiece to whisper shared dreams to now, a Host should be careful what she wishes for. Dolores’ quest for revenge only brings her ever closer to becoming exactly what she seeks to destroy.
I can’t imagine a better season opener than this episode that, despite the hype, thoroughly exceeded my expectations. The visuals were simply beautiful and brilliantly futuristic, something Westworld has always excelled at. It felt next level, and shows (and films) like this always make me wonder why we can’t accomplish some of the advancements in the real world. I want to fly in a cool Delos car. Well, maybe not Delos brand …
Parce Domine is a Roman Catholic chant/hymn — the loose translation of the phrase is: Spare your people, lord.
The tablets we saw people taking are described as “limbic sedatives”. The limbic system is a complicated area of the brain; simply put, it affects emotion and memory, and you can read more here.
Dolores’ temporary boy toy Liam Dempsey, Jr. (John Gallagher Jr.) is the son of one of the co-founders of Incite, Inc. and his father (Jefferson Mays) is sure to be a Hybrid by the time we meet him. Something I’m wondering is, despite Delos’ problems with Hybrids, could Dempsey Sr. have figured it out, and is he one? Because that supermachine Rehoboam is clearly more advanced than whatever Delos had going on. Was he one of the people information was being smuggled out of Westworld to?
Serac, the other co-founder (I believe) of Incite and the person who has access to Rehoboam is being played by Vincent Cassel. We’ll meet him in next week’s “The Winter Line” — also, unfortunately, featuring the stunt casting of Game of Thrones‘ creators/showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss as Delos technicians.
Speaking of Rehoboam, it’s a biblical name referring to the first King of Judah following the downfall of Solomon, King of Israel. Interestingly, there’s this tidbit via Wikipedia:
So the Lord became angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned from the Lord God of Israel … Therefore the Lord said to Solomon, “Because you have done this, and have not kept My covenant and My statutes, which I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom away from you and give it to your servant. Nevertheless I will not do it in your days, for the sake of your father David; I will tear it out of the hand of your son.” 1 Kings 11:1-13
One could look at Liam as the son from whom Dolores will take Rehoboam.
For a few minutes, I wondered if Liam was the secret brother Logan never knew about. His daddy issues seem quite similar to the Delos son.
In that hour, we’ll get to see plenty more of Maeve and Warworld — Park 3 — which was briefly shown after the end credits tonight.
What is happening with the immediate auto-doubles that are reminding me of Robert Patrick’s T-1000 the way they show up out of nowhere? Where is Dolores having them printed now? Does she even need the equipment to print Hosts or is it all controlled through the power of her mind now, as so many things are (leasing the apartment, vehicles under her command)? Presumably, since she read most if not all of Westworld’s guest files, she has the information to print a copy of any former guest — in effect, she’s reenacting the whole Futureworld plot, herself — ***Spoiler*** without needing an entire team of technicians or to kidnap humans while they sleep.
Dolores’ fall into Caleb’s arms was very calculated on her part, so she somehow knows he is safe. I don’t for one minute think that’s because he’s human, though. The shots of him waking are reminiscent of the Hosts of seasons past, his mother said “You’re not my son,” and Caleb told the dude with the gun that he’s already been shot in the head. He also wonders to the guy on the phone telling Caleb he doesn’t have a position for him, “Any other shape I can squeeze myself into?” Oh, and his best friend was a robot (technically … AI of a sort), too. That was a good reveal, and let’s take a moment to appreciate how great Aaron Paul was this hour. I loved him as Jesse Pinkman and emotionally, he’s letting it all out here again with Caleb.
If “Armand Delgado” is Damaged Arnold, perhaps Lara Espen is anagrammed to teach humanity a lesson (Learn Apes)?
Bernard appeared to be leaving for Westworld from a port in Rizal, Palawan Island (Philippines), though I think he’s also still parkside. As my astute daughter reminded me, at the end of Season 2, Dolores told Bernard he’d be working with her and clearly he’s trying to avoid that. The question is, can he? Does he have the ability to choose his own adventure, so to speak? I doubt the “friend” he’s looking for is Dolores (unless that remark was a funny backhand at her).
Those new credits are as per usual, stunningly beautiful, and also very different from previous seasons’ openings. I keep thinking about the mirror images coming toward each other and pulling away, reflecting and merging, perhaps representative of Hosts trying and being unable to break from their creators’ image. It feels like there could be something in there about thinking you’re touching something real and that image only being a reflection … a mirage. Notice (again) the eye imagery which links to 1976’s Futureworld. The red at the end is new and happens right after the eagle starts to disintegrate, indicating death and destruction.
These lines are all carefully chosen and only fuel my belief that there are no humans left alive, and/or Dolores is in Futureworld, another park.
“How ironic if they put a simulation within a simulation …”
“No one knows what the system is doing. Other than its original architect.”
“Algorithms, that’s the way everything is going to be someday.”
“You have a tactical mistake really. You want to be the dominant species but you’ve built your whole world with things like me.”
“None of this is real. We’re living in a simulation.”
Aside from Aaron Paul, this hour we met Francis (Kid Cudi), Martin Connells (Tommy Flanagan) — now working on Team Dolores), Ash (Lena Waithe), Giggles (Marshawn Lynch), Brompton (Russell Wong), Liam Dempsey, Jr. (John Gallagher, Jr.), Liang (Jenson Cheng), and Guardians of the Galaxy’s own Mantis — Martel (Pom Klementieff).
At the board meeting, we learned 113 were massacred (“Largely board members and park employees …”) — compared with the 50 dead guests, and 95 technicians killed or wounded in Futureworld.
For the record, Bernard was on trial 342 — self-diagnostic and his last contact with Dolores was reportedly 92 days, 7 hours, 5 minutes, and 33 seconds ago.
Music This Hour:
Italy’s History in the 19th Century, David Tinson
99 Luftballons, Nena
Bubbles Buried in this Jungle, Death Grips
Irish Cream, David Anthony
Dissolved Girl, Massive Attack
Dazed and Confused, Emphatroit
Common People, Pulp