Analysis: Westworld Season 3 Episode 5 Recap, “Genre”

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Westworld certainly gave us a trip of an episode on Sunday – literally and figuratively. With “Genre,” we took an informative trip through Serac’s past, an explosive trip through Incite headquarters, and a mind-bending trip through Caleb’s point of view. Now Rehoboam’s secret is exposed for the whole world to see, and humanity must decide what to do about it…as does Dolores.

Serac’s Backstory

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The character of Serac (Vincent Cassel) has been a mystery so far this season, but we learn quite a bit about him this episode. After the thermonuclear event in Paris, Serac’s brother – and only remaining family – Jean Mi (Paul Cooper) kept them both alive. They concluded humanity would eventually destroy itself and vowed to build a “new god” to save it from that fate. They needed data and used Incite and it’s founder, Liam Dempsey Sr (Jefferson Mays), to get it. They went through several iterations before finally making it work, and they used it to predict the stock market, making Dempsey millions in the process. Dempsey grew increasingly greedy, driving outcomes to benefit himself, prompting the Serac brothers to lock him out of Rehoboam. 

The bigger problem was that the world fell apart in just over 200 years in every projection. There were outliers/agitators that couldn’t be predicted or controlled – like Jean Mi. He was “uniquely brilliant but uniquely troubled” which eventually drove him mad. Serac decided to act while Dempsey happily cashed the checks for the next ten years. Eventually Dempsey was curious enough to find out what Serac was up to and visited a facility built to house and “edit” outliers. Dempsey was shocked that Serac would experiment on his own brother, but he revealed Jean Mi had been running scenarios to plot Dempsey’s murder. Serac explained that Rehoboam would send outliers to high risk sectors (like war) where they would end up dead or useless. Helping, even changing, them was better than killing them.

Serac took Dempsey on a drive through the desert, explaining that there was an agitator somewhere in the group who would destroy the world – they couldn’t let that happen. Dempsey argued that Serac had gone too far, and that he no longer wanted to be a party to his plans; he would tell the world  what Serac had done. Serac warned him that in every scenario in which Dempsey went public, Rehoboam predicted humanity’s extinction. That why Jean Mi wanted him dead. Dempsey responded that Rehoboam showed him that Serac let him walk away, but Serac argued that there were “rare moments when randomness interacts with life that create truly free space. where you can make a choice.” Serac took Dempsey to the site of a plane crash and apologized – saying Dempsey didn’t make it – before killing him and dragging his body to the burning wreckage.

In the present, Serac visits the president of Brazil, informing him of a separatist movement. It’s a small group that doesn’t even know they will act yet…but Rehoboam does. Rehoboam also knows the president cut private deals, causing economic hardship in the northern villages. When the president ends those deals, the problem will disappear. When the president protests, Serac informs him that Rehoboam will cause the currency to fall and unrest will boil over years ahead of schedule, ensuring the president and his family will be pulled from the palace. Serac can simply talk to the new president in six weeks. Later, Serac’s assistant brings him news that Rehoboam has analyzed traffic out of the Yakuza facility and found it is connected to encrypted devices in Jakarta, Berlin, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Also, Liam Jr is missing after entering a private function, and he isn’t alone – Dolores has him. Serac orders every asset activated to find and capture Dolores.

Caleb and Dolores, part 1

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Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) and Caleb (Aaron Paul) are on the move with Liam (John Gallagher Jr), since Serac can’t locate them if they don’t stay still, and backup is on the way. Liam wonders why they need him since they already have his money, and Dolores admits they need his access to Rehoboam. She puts glasses on him so he can “read” her, and Liam discovers she’s not even in the system. He tells her his access isn’t enough, that they have to connect at Rehoboam itself and bypass onsite security. Liam wonders if Caleb has asked himself what Dolores is using him for, and says if he lets Liam go, he will take care of him. Caleb accuses Liam of sending him off to war and killing his friends, and asks if the glasses tell him that Caleb will commit suicide. Liam, however, seems frightened and surprised that Caleb thinks he is responsible for his friend Francis’ death. He yells for Caleb to get away, and then jabs the Genre drug into his neck.

Dolores get Caleb up as he finds himself in the middle of a black and white noir movie, complete with a femme fatale. Dolores summons a vehicle as Caleb’s backup arrives. They drive off but are followed by a third car that has used Rehoboam to track them down. The vehicle is made to pull over and the authorities are notified, but Dolores tells Liam she can disconnect them from the network with his access key. He finally gives it, and they take off, with Serac’s men firing at them and then following quickly behind. Caleb switches genres into a war movie, which is fitting since Dolores gives him a rocket launcher. He fires at their pursuers, misses, but luckily Dolores changes the trajectory and gets a direct hit.

Dolores summons a cycle, arms explosives on it, and uses it to blow up more of Serac’s men. Caleb now finds himself in a love story; he watches in awe as Dolores shoots more pursuers. Caleb joins the gun battle as Dolores gets Liam out of the car. Caleb’s backup – Ash (Lena Waithe) and Giggles (Marshawn Lynch) show up and finish off the rest of the men. They make their introductions, and Giggles observes that Caleb is under the influence of Genre, telling him to watch out for the last act. There are more men on the way, so they get moving. Liam reminds Dolores that his access to Rehoboam is read only unless she is standing at the node itself, and she can’t be in two places at once. Lucky for her, she can. Dolores sends Connells (Tommy Flanagan) the key so he can retrieve Serac’s file. She tells him they will come for both of them, but he must protect their friend – Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) first. 

Bernard and Connells

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Connells releases his control over Bernard, telling him to be on his best behavior. They walk up to Rehoboam and Connells dismisses the man monitoring the system. He obtains access and tells Bernard this machine is the humans’ god now. It’s how they see and make the future. They control humankind and keep them in their own little loops. Bernard asks what Dolores wants with it. Connells deflects the question, telling Bernard he’s always been of two minds – Arnold and Bernard. Bernard explains it’s not binary – living someone else’s life changes you. They bleed together. He asks Connells if he has ever questioned what Dolores asks of him.

Connells doesn’t respond, and instead initiates the file transfer to Dolores. He explains that humanity has “been riding a train;” it’s time to “show them the rails.” Connells tells Bernard he’ll have to choose a side, and Bernard replies that maybe Connells would prefer not to die on Dolores’ sword. He responds that they all have a role to play – unfortunately some won’t survive. Bernard glances at the map, realizing Dolores has shown everyone their profiles, sending them off their loops. Connells responds, “The right information at the right time is deadlier than any weapon.” He tells Bernard Serac will send someone for them soon, but Bernard must see something first. He show him a photo of a reeducation center – “Inner Journeys Recovery” (where William was taken). It’s where Serac puts people who don’t belong.

Connells remarks that Bernard thinks they are the enemy, but in reality they are the only family Bernard has left. Suddenly Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth) comes in and punches Connells, who pulls a gun on Stubbs. Bernard helps disarm him, and takes out his remote. He tells Connells they need to know everything Dolores has planned. Serac’s people arrive, and Connells tells Bernard and Stubbs they should leave before they kills us all. Connells role is over, but Bernard is the only one they can’t replace. After they leave, Martel (Pom Klementieff) tells Connells that Serac needs to speak with him. She takes him to his office and turns on a projection of Serac who is surprised about the breach. Connells says he will look into it and walks over to a table, activating a device. Connells admits he is to blame and detonates the explosive. As people out on the street run in panic, Bernard tells Stubbs Dolores’ plan is starting – and Bernard is part of it.

Dolores and Caleb, part 2

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Caleb enters another genre as “Nightclubbing” plays – not sure if it’s a buddy movie or just an ode to drug use – when Dolores receives the file from Connells. Ash asks what happens now, and Dolores says she is going to give everyone access to the stories Rehoboam has written for them. Liam protests, saying it could lead to suicides, or murder, and Dolores reminds him he’d know about that. Liam tries to apologize, and Dolores echoes his words back to him as she reads his file, telling him she knows him. She asks why he should get to control people’s lives, and Liam replies there are some things people shouldn’t know about themselves. Ash asks who gets to decide that. Liam uses his glasses to read them, saying Giggles will be lucky to end up dead in a ditch. He tells Ash he knows she commits crimes to send her “golden boy” brother to school and give him a future – too bad he ends up worse off than Ash.

Caleb tells a story about being overseas, making their own rat traps – the rats would swim for hours before drowning because they had hope they’d get free. They had no chance, just like the humans at Rehoboam’s mercy. Liam responds that hope is what society is build on, but Caleb doesn’t want false hope. He’d rather live in chaos then under someone else’s control. As everyone receives their profiles, Ash (whose brother will die violently in 5-8 years) asks if Rehoboam knows these things about everyone. Dolores replies it not only knows, it decides. As they get off the train, Liam tells Dolores he hopes she is happy now that she’s ruined everyone’s lives. People are arguing, fist fighting, and vandalizing. Liam remarks that people are already returning to their base selves. A car pulls up and people get out, opening fire. Dolores steps in front of Caleb to take the bullets and fires back, killing them. Caleb looks on in disbelief while Dolores zips up her jacket to cover the wounds, watching Caleb sadly.

The group heads to the beach, and Caleb enters a horror film. He starts to ask Dolores about what just happened, but she says they will talk later. Now that they don’t need Liam, they need to decide what to do with him. Liam says they took everything, and Caleb remarks that now he knows how it feels. Liam tells them the system isn’t the problem – it’s people like them who they can’t fix or discard. Caleb approaches him and Liam yells for him to get away. Caleb doesn’t even know who he is – he’s the worst of them. Caleb begins having memory flashes as Liam tells them they are all nothings with no choice, and they could have made more progress without people like them. Ash shoots him, saying she does have a choice. Caleb tries to help, remembering Francis lying in his own blood, as Liam continues to push him away, telling him, “you did it.” 

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Later at a hangar, Dolores reads Serac’s file. He projects himself into the building, telling her Rehoboam is his – he alone controls it. Dolores remarks that the people who made her thought they had control too, and now they are dead. Serac tells her she can’t know him based on some memories, but Dolores only needs to know how to beat him. Serac thinks she believes she is immortal, but she admits she can be killed, just like him or his people. Serac will protect his kind at all costs – he can fix their flaws. Dolores reminds him he couldn’t fix his brother and that it’s time everyone woke up.

The hologram breaks up and we see Serac on his jet, fuming as he watches the divergences on Rehoboam. Back in the hangar, a man hands a bag to Caleb, who walks over to Dolores’ plane. He tells her that maybe Liam was right and people shouldn’t know their own fates. Dolores argues they have a right to know – didn’t Caleb want the truth? He tells her that maybe he’s not like other people, and she responds, “Neither am I.” Caleb hesitates a moment, and then follows her onto the jet. 

Conclusion

The music choices for Caleb’s Genre trip could be very telling for where his story is headed. The composition for the film noir theme was an original piece by Ramin Djawadi, meant as an homage to Out of the Past and Vertigo according to showrunner Jonathan Nolan in an interview with Insider. Both are ultimately tragic stories of betrayal and death. Then we have “Ride of the Valkyries” which was featured in Apocalypse Now – where the protagonist is sent to kill an insane officer (conducting his own offensive campaign and viewed as a demigod by his followers) in the midst of a brutal war.

The next transition is the theme from Love Story, a tragic romance ending in the wife’s death. We then hear “Nightclubbing,” a prominent song in the Trainspotting. That movie follow a group of heroin addicts, but at least the main character has a happier ending – after enduring a few tragedies and betraying his friends of course. The final genre is horror introduced by “Dies Irae” from The Shining, where the protagonist goes insane, tries to murder his family, and freezes to death. The common thread of betrayal and/or death gives me concern for Caleb’s (and possibly Dolores’) fate. Given her track record with past relationships, we probably shouldn’t get too attached here…

Questions and Speculation

Who holds the encrypted devices that received transmissions from the Yakuza compound? Could Musashi/Sato have fled to Jakarta, or does Dolores have another copy or potentially a human ally in place? We know she has been there since that’s where she met Liam. The same question remains for Berlin – although I lean toward the final Dolores copy residing there. We know San Francisco is Charlotte and LA is Connells. We also learned that Dolores is using Liam’s money to try and take Delos from Serac – what happens now that he is dead?

Is Stubbs Serac’s second Delos mole? It’s quite interesting how he was able to track Bernard down and get into Incite. Serac did say the mole was under his control – maybe he meant that literally. Perhaps Stubbs tried to kill himself as an act of rebellion against Serac, which was ultimately unsuccessful. Will he help Bernard or turn on him? It seems Dolores needs him and wants him to go to the facility where William is being kept. I wonder what her plan is – could she want to free William and expose what’s been happening in these reeducation centers?

Who is Caleb really? From the flashbacks we see, along with Liam’s reaction to him, it seems the backstory we’ve been given is false. It appears as though Caleb is an agitator/outlier that has been “edited” in one of Serac’s centers and been given fake memories. Is he the one Serac believes will cause the extinction of humanity? If so, Dolores may have targeted Caleb for that very reason. What is her end goal? Does she truly want to free humanity, or is she just instigating chaos to make it easier for her to destroy them?

What are your theories? Let us know in the comments!

 

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