Analysis: Westworld Season 3 Episode 3 Recap, “The Absence of Field”

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Who is in Charlotte Hale? Unfortunately, we didn’t get an answer to episode three’s central mystery. We did get a few other interesting reveals however, such as Caleb’s tragic backstory (and probable future), Charlotte’s son and her ties to Serac, and the existence of more than one mole in Delos’ ranks.

Dolores and Charlotte

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The episode opens with host Charlotte (Tessa Thompson) watching a video of human Charlotte during the park massacre – she is sending a tearful message to her son, Nathan. We then see a flashback of Charlotte’s body being created, and Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) calming the newly transplanted host who doesn’t remember who they are. As their memories come back, Dolores show the host that they now have to masquerade as Charlotte in order to infiltrate Delos and create more of their kind, as they are outnumbered for now. Dolores assures the host that the world humans have built will be easy to take down, but they must move quickly, and Charlotte needs to go home before she is missed.

Rehoboam informs us that Elevated Scrutiny is needed in San Francisco for “special circumstances” as host Charlotte inspects a riot control robot – one of 300 Delos has made. They are working on new buyers, and Charlotte is certain they can find some use for them (I bet). In other news, someone has been buying up 38% of Delos stock which will prevent them from going private. Later, Delos employee Irene (Nadine Lewington) informs Charlotte that Serac is behind the takeover. Unfortunately he is a ghost – they can’t find any information about him online – but they can trace him via a negative space of $1 trillion. Irene also notes that Delos initiated a data transaction with him two decades ago and wonders what he will do now that they have found him.

Charlotte goes home, encountering her ex, Jake (Michael Ealy). She is initially confused by his presence but then aggressively comes on to him before he stops her, reminding her their son is home. Charlotte forgot to pick him up again. Jake says she doesn’t get to cut Nathan (Jaxon Thomas Williams) out her life and mockingly tells her to lie and say it’ll never happen again – it’s what she does best. Charlotte goes in to see Nathan, and awkwardly tries to comfort him as he accuses her of not loving him, and of not being his mommy. He wants his old mommy back.

Back at work, Charlotte is informed that there is a leak inside Delos as there are a number of missing host control units. They are mostly low level side narratives, with the exception of Maeve. The thief had admin access to the park, so is someone high up in the company, and has likely been feeding information to the buyer (Serac). Charlotte is now desperate to see Dolores and meets her at a hotel bar. Dolores takes her to a room and observes Charlotte has been cutting herself; Charlotte admits she feels like the real Charlotte is trying to take back control. Dolores worries that perhaps she is identifying with that predatory Charlotte too much, assures her she is not alone, and explains no matter what happens she must survive – their kind depends on it.

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Charlotte then informs Dolores of their dilemma – Serac is trying to take over Delos and there is a mole inside the company feeding him information. Dolores tells her to find the mole and make a counter offer; they will also need to convince the board to go along with their agenda, which means paying a visit to an “old friend” (William I assume). Charlotte wants to know if they will ever be able to be themselves again, and Dolores assures her they will – they just need to outsmart the humans to survive. She then tells Charlotte to never hurt herself again and tells her to rest, lying down with her to comfort her.

Charlotte wakes after Dolores has gone and goes back to her office. A man comes in with a file that was overlooked on the initial logs from the park massacre – it’s the video of human Charlotte talking to Nathan from the beginning of the episode. She is crying, telling Nathan how much she loves him, and then sings their song – “You Are My Sunshine.”  Charlotte is then told the school called; she is running late again. When she arrives, she sees a man with Nathan on his lap, holding his hand as he pets the man’s dog. Charlotte tells Nathan to get his things and then proceeds to choke the pedophile, telling him how nice it was for him to disable the cameras for her. Once he’s dead, Charlotte takes his dog to Nathan, telling him he is her sunshine.

Later, Charlotte watches the video again. She remembers Dolores saying they have to be smarter and recalls a series of mysterious tone messages she received over the course of the episode. She realizes the tones play “You Are My Sunshine” and serve as a password for making a phone call. Charlotte tells the person on the other end she wants to meet, and is sent a car that then locks her inside. She arrives at a compound, where Martel (Pom Klementieff) puts a pair of glasses on her (for monitoring? recording?). Serac (Vincent Cassel) asks if she’s forgotten their arrangement and thinks she’s been playing her role a little too well.

Charlotte argues that the situation has been challenging, but Serac demands what she promised – the data profile for every guest to the parks. Charlotte insists the assets were lost in the massacre and no one could have predicted it. Serac counters that he did and had informed Charlotte it would happen. She came to him, confident she could smuggle out the information. She admits the assets are still out there somewhere, but that no one has the encryption key. Serac already knows this, as he has someone else under his control. Someone who has told him where the key is – in Dolores’ mind. Charlotte explains she has a team searching for the data but she needs time. “Time is a luxury my dear, of which you have very little,” Serac replies before his hologram disappears.

Dolores and Caleb

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In the Caleb (Aaron Paul) and Dolores storyline, we see Caleb call an ambulance to help the wounded Dolores. He goes with her, saying she shouldn’t be alone. The EMTs are confused by the diagnostic machines, which indicate Dolores shouldn’t even be alive (that should be a big red flag, Caleb). Before they can figure it out, they are pulled over by corrupt cops who are there to “clean up” a high value target. Caleb calls their bluff, causing them to open fire and kill both EMTs. Dolores kills both men and drags one body into the police vehicle, using his identification to commandeer it (another big red flag). She asks Caleb his name, tells him he needs to disappear, and says the less he knows about Dolores the better.

Caleb gets a notification from the RICO app – he is now a high-value target and is wanted for questioning. He goes to hospital to tell his mother he’s going away for a while, but she doesn’t recognize him and wants her son back. As he leaves, he is accosted by armed men who want to know where the “girl” is – she’s worth a lot of money. Caleb refuses to talk, so they take him to a high rise under construction and threaten to throw him to his death. They reactivate the implant (or “drip”) in his mouth and use a tablet to skyrocket his adrenaline and his heart rate before taking him to the edge of the building. Caleb’s construction robot assistant, George, activates and goes to – presumably – help Caleb but is thrown off by the men and smashes on the concrete below.

Meanwhile Dolores is leaving the hotel where she took Charlotte and talking to Connells, who tells her Liam is grieving her loss. She instructs him to find out what he knows about Serac, and then asks for information on Caleb Nichols. Connells says he “met with some unexpected guests,” and Incite has lowered his life expectancy. As she rushes to save him, Caleb has a series of flashbacks: looking down at waves crashing at night, his friends Francis, a shooting, and a child at a diner with strawberry ice cream dripping from his shoe. The men tell him they will only ask where the girl is one more time, and Dolores responds “right here.” She kills the men while Caleb saves himself from cardiac arrest.

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Caleb recommends they get off the streets so they can’t be tracked, but Dolores just tells Connells to have monitoring scrub surveillance and send her Caleb’s profile. She takes Caleb to breakfast at a diner very familiar to him, seats him in his usual table, and orders his meal. She knows he visits here every year on the date his mother abandoned him at age eight. She shows him a transcript from that day, demonstrates she know every detail and that his mother was later institutionalized for schizophrenia. Caleb is furious, and Dolores explains that Incite fed Rehoboam everyone’s data. They created a “mirror world” and made a composite of everyone to manage every aspect of their lives, using predictive algorithms.

She takes Caleb to a pier and confesses that the most likely outcome for his life is that he will commit suicide there in 10 to 12 years. He protests that they can’t know that, but Dolores knows better – he has come here often to contemplate it. She tells him he might have had a chance to do something with his life, but Rehoboam has “put him in a cage.” He is restricted to manual labor, “unfit for social promotion and reproduction,” marriage is not recommended and children not approved. They won’t invest in someone who is going to take his own life, but not investing makes him frustrated and hopeless, ensuring the outcome – it’s a self fulfilling prophecy. Dolores and Caleb are alike, they have both been boxed into a role and had their lives decided for them.

Dolores confesses that Caleb has surprised her by not giving her up to the men who would have killed him. “You made a choice no one else in your shoes would have made.” She gives him another choice: accept money from her and go on the run, or help her take down the system. Dolores plans to start a revolution to show the world as it really is, but the man in power won’t go down easily. Caleb tells her that she is the first real thing that has happened to him in a long time, and since he is a dead man either way, as least joining her gives him the chance to decide who he wants to be.

Conclusion

Charlotte is facing mounting pressure from within and without: her identity crisis threatens to cause a breakdown, Dolores needs her to turn the mole (not knowing Charlotte is one of at least two inside the company) and fix the issue of Delos going private, and Serac threatens her life if she can’t produce the guest data he desires. She also knows she needs to help Dolores succeed in destroying Incite for her to have any chance of returning to her true host body – whoever that may be.

Caleb also faces a crisis of sorts – is he the person Rehoboam says he is, or does he have it in him to be something more? Dolores is giving him the opportunity to test his limits and find out his true potential, but the outcome could mean his death. How far will he be willing to go in her revolution, and what will he do once he finds out the “real thing” he’d been hoping for isn’t even human?

Questions and Speculation

The reveal that Charlotte is the mole isn’t terribly surprising, as there are very few known power people left inside Delos. I’m sure her son being named “Nathan Hale” wasn’t a coincidence, and was meant to clue us in to her spy status. Who is the other leak? Bernard and Stubbs are high up enough perhaps, but I find it unlikely that either of them would have fed information to Serac – Bernard was in the dark about Delos’ secret data collection, and Stubbs seems programmed for host protection only (of course that could be a ruse). William is certainly an option, but why? Money? Perhaps seeing the failed immortality project with James Delos led him to find another way to increase his wealth.

Why did we see a Charlotte body being created in Arnold’s home at the beginning of the episode? Dolores left the park inside of Charlotte, so she would have needed to create a new Dolores body – not Charlotte. Are there now two versions of Charlotte, or was this just a mistake? We at least get some clues to which host is inside: someone who knows Charlotte and that she tried to kill the hosts, someone with an intimate knowledge and strong connection to Dolores (and of whom Dolores feels very protective), and someone with parental instincts who can be prompted to violence over a threat to their offspring. I’m still leaning toward Peter Abernathy – who fits all those criteria very nicely.

Why does Serac want the guest data from the Delos? We see he already has extensive control over people’s lives with Rehoboam. We seem to get a hint that the RICO app is part of that as well, with how quickly Dolores and Caleb were added as targets. Perhaps Serac’s influence doesn’t extend to the wealthy and privileged (who are the only ones who could afford the parks). He could be planning to blackmail them for money (not that he needs it), add their data to Rehoboam, or maybe even clone them in an attempt to completely take over the world.

What are your theories? Let’s hear them in the comments!

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