***Spoiler Warning: This post contains spoilers for Westworld through Season 3, Episode 5. Spoilers***
“I suppose I should start by telling you about myself.” In a wholly engaging time-tripping ride through multiple viewpoints of a cat and mouse race, Engerraund Serac opens the hour by narrating its creation story to Rehoboam — the purportedly all-knowing machine Serac created with his brother Jean Mi (Paul Cooper). Shades of Battlestar Galactica‘s god(s) infatuation blend with so many Robert Ford and Arnold Weber parallels, it’s as if we’re rewatching portions of Season 1.
When Dempsey Jr. hits Caleb with the dose of Genre he skipped at last week’s party, we’re spun into the disordered chaos everyone’s so anxiously trying to avoid. Those magic glasses reveal unseen answers behind the masks, but Caleb — like Bernard — remains confused by the nature of his own reality. Fully in techno-control, Dolores (Abernathy, Dolores Abernathy) gains Dempsey’s access just in time to avoid imminent capture, directs a robotic Caleb through the ensuing chase and firefight, and ends up oceanside with a couple of Caleb’s RicoFriends (Giggles and Ash).
At Incite, Bernard and Stubbs ambush Connells (aka Dolores) as Lowe attempts to discern the scope of his frenemy’s plan, in which he may unwittingly play a role. Having acquired enough executive privilege to control the entirety of Delos’ human data, in a flood, Dolores frees it all to the original owners. As Rehoboam may have predicted, chaos reigns — “Look at them, already returned to their base selves” — and though Caleb seems distraught at his partner’s actions, he doesn’t seem to notice his own exclusion; Dempsey Jr. has seen Nichols’ true colors.
As the Doloreses (Dolori?) continue carrying out their conspiracy, Serac flips between stories present and past, gives a peek behind the curtain. In rooms of glass reminiscent of park Hostcages, the worldly wizard keeps those “flies in the ointment” — the outlier population who might cause unpredictable problems in his would-be new utopia. Having already taken out the elder Dempsey (who funded Rehoboam, then got in the way) Serac desperately clings to control and trying to stay steps ahead but from the looks of his Divergence-o-meter, there’s no waking from the swirling tornado Dolores has sent his way.
Though of course Serac narrated Rehoboam’s creation for audience sake, isn’t it curious that he could tell the machine anything it didn’t already know (“Rehoboam is privy to all“)? He spoke directly to it: “So we came to the new world with one goal, to build a god. So we built you.” Alone on a plane later in the hour, Serac then continues his story, “I knew that you and I built a fragile beast.” Notice that now — seemingly still speaking to the machine, he’s addressing it as his brother. I think it’s very possible that Jean Mi — his mind/consciousness — is now part of Rehoboam.
Likewise, I find it interesting that he ostensibly refers to the United States — or more specifically, Los Angeles — as “The New World” (which regular readers know I believe is actually Park 5 in Westworld). Why? Is it merely a generality; was he speaking of The New World as the world post-Rehoboam?
The parallels between Serac and Ford continue, with the repeating shots of the boys together as children and later, the scenes of Serac and Jean Mi as younger adults working on Rehoboam. The adult brothers’ scenes are similar to the Season 1 shots of Ford in “The Adversary” and “The Stray,” while the shots of them as children feature the young boys clothed so much alike they could all be from the same family. Serac describes Jean Mi much like Ford described Arnold, as being incredibly smart and going mad.
“But such is the case with great minds. He was uniquely brilliant, but also uniquely troubled. He didn’t fit the world anymore and the world didn’t fit him. And it drove him mad.” [Serac]
The shots of the young boys on a grassy hill –Serac running his fingers through the grass like Maeve used to do — with the clean-up crew suited up in the distance should mean the boys would at least suffer some sort of radiation exposure/sickness. It makes no sense that they could be that close to the event and remain fine.
Serac also describes problems with Rehoboam’s ability to predict as “Flies in the ointment“, which is definitely akin to Ford’s grandiose poetic-speak.
Speaking of flies, that seemed another Season 1 callback and possibly a hint we’re parkside. In the scene with President Filo, there were many flies bothering the character throughout his conversation with Serac and yet, none appeared near Serac. Was he there in simulation mode, or is he also not human? Because …
If it was some sort of nuclear disaster that wiped out Paris, how are Serac and his brother alive and or not affected (His brother does appear to have blood dripping from his nose)? Serac said they were later treated with anti-radiation, but if they were on their own for any length of time, they were exposed to massive radiation (presuming, of course, there isn’t some major change to how nuclear disaster works in the future). The clean-up crew was suited up and wearing protective masks not far from the boys, so how were they okay?
Back to my (probably crazy) theory that The New World is inside a park (Number 5): When asked where the group (Dolores, Caleb, Giggles, Ash) is headed, Dolores replies “West” and they go to the subway, down escalators that all look remarkably like Westworld proper. Incite advertisements are EVERYWHERE, not unlike all the Westworld signs and videos we used to see in the entrances/exits to the park. Now, are there escalators to most subway/tube entrances/exits? Of course. But they don’t all look so similar to what we’ve seen of Westworld.
Connells: “They’ve all been riding a train — we’re going to show them the rails.” Indeed.
If I haven’t already mentioned, there are shades of Minority Report and stopping people/events before they happen in the idea of Rehoboam. Likewise, there is no perfect system, and so if Serac gets “news”, ” …that means it’s unexpected and which is never good.” So then, in the office with Connells (Dolores), why does Serac not know Dolores is in Connells and how can he be surprised that the breach came from inside his organization (Connells)? Does Serac’s ability to know things through Rehoboam depend on whether he is somewhere virtually or in-person (if, in fact, he is ever somewhere in-person)?
I have a strong feeling that Bernard wasn’t “off” when Connells (aka Dolores) turned him on.
In last week’s episode, Bernard seemed to recognize that Dolores was in Connells but in this hour, Bernard says to Connells “Have you ever questioned what she’s asking you to do?” That indicates he isn’t aware she’s Hosting Connells. Why the disconnect? If, and I think this is a good possibility, there are multiple copies of Bernard running around (could even be multiple Connells), that could explain it. Note: My son viewed this in a different manner — he thinks it could be that the copies of Hosts are beginning to develop individual personalities. That’s a very interesting theory to me.
Why does Connells (Dolores) tell Bernard he’s the only one they can’t replace? What is it about Bernard and is it related to Connells’ other comment that “You’ve always been of two minds“? Is Ford still around? (Is Ford in Serac or Rehoboam?)
Sebastion tells Serac there’s news from the Yakuza — ” …Found a connect between devices in Jakarta, Berlin, San Francisco, and Los Angeles“; is that Maeve?
In “The Absence of Field,” Dolores said Serac was building a mirror world. I’m wondering if (unbeknownst to Dolores) that mirror is of Westworld and not the “real world”? The place where he was keeping his brother and the other “outliers” who could throw off Rehoboam is practically identical to Westworld’s glass rooms where the Hosts were created, tested, modified, repaired and tossed in piles like garbage. Dempsey looks almost (not quite) as disturbed during the scene as Maeve did when she first experienced a walk through Westworld’s underground.
“There are some things people shouldn’t know about themselves.”
Interestingly, Caleb doesn’t receive his information when Dolores releases the data and is mystified by Liam Jr.’s comments that Caleb is “the worst of them” and doesn’t even know who he is. During Caleb’s flashbacks, he is restrained in what appears to be a hospital environment — he also flashes to his friend Francis dying, and I get the feeling Caleb is the one who killed Francis (“You did it, you did it“). There’s yet another flash that shows Caleb possibly torturing a man with a sack over his head. Dolores clearly knows who Caleb is and is willfully staying silent — why? I certainly don’t think Caleb is human and yet, he is absolutely mystified that Dolores keeps getting wounded and somehow still fine. (Was Caleb part of the Westworld cleanup crew?) He can’t be ignorant of the idea of Westworld and Hosts, though that’s how Caleb is being portrayed to the audience (even as his construction partner was a robot). There is something so innocent about him that I have an inkling he might be …Teddy? Yeah, I know, it’s another crazy theory but for now, I’m going with it. Remember, Dolores upped Teddy’s aggression before he committed Teddycide and after he killed a boatload of people. And before you remind me he’s in the virtual world, that doesn’t preclude the idea that Dolores took a copy of his core.
What’s in the bag Caleb took on the plane? Has to be a weapon, right?
It’s no surprise (Breaking Bad) Aaron Paul did a great job of playing out the effects of being on Genre. I’m consistently blown away by Evan Rachel Wood’s continually evolving performance as Dolores and this hour was also punctuated by Vincent Cassel’s pitch-perfect take on an initially-well-intentioned-turned-megalomaniac. He’s equally able to inspire sympathy and disdain for Serac and that gorgeous accent doesn’t hurt, does it?
Liam Dempsey Sr. (Jefferson Mays) mentions that he fed Serac and Jean Mi yottabytes of Incite’s data; if you’re wondering, a yottabyte is a unit of data measurement equal to 1000000000000000000000000 bytes.
“Saul David, and now this one.” Dempsey Sr. also mentions Rehoboam’s previous incarnations which, unlike most people’s (including mine) assumptions are not biblical references. Showrunner Jonathan Nolan confirms the names are actually his homage to John Brunner’s science fiction novel, Stand on Zanzibar.
Nolan listed the genres and movies referenced throughout Caleb’s Genre trip as:
Vertigo/Out of the Past: Film Noir
Ride of the Valkyries: Action
Love Story/Trainspotting: Romance and Drama
The Shining: Thriller and Horror
He also mentioned that Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971) inspired the idea for the Genre drug, specifically Violet Beauregarde’s multi-course gum.
Alexandre Bar played young Serac, and Paul Cooper played his brother Jean Mi.
Chuckle of the week: Liam’s “Basic” t-shirt.
Music This Hour:
Ride of the Valkyries, Richard Wagner
Theme from Love Story, Francis Lai
Bubbles Buried in This Jungle, Death Grips
Nightclubbing, Iggy Pop
Space Oddity, The Classic Rock String Quartet
The Shining, Redrumer