Westworld is back with a vengeance – or Dolores is, at any rate. The premiere picks up roughly where season two left off, with Dolores enacting her plan for world domination (?) while humans – and Bernard – try to stop her. With Dolores now in the real world we are introduced to new stunning locations and an interesting cast of characters, so let’s jump right in for some predictive analysis!
The episode is titled “Parce Domine” (Spare, Lord) which is a Gregorian chant – the full text of which is “Spare, Lord, spare your people: Be not angry with us forever.” It begins with a cold open and an indication of a “divergence” in Beihai, China. Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) is definitely angry as she pays a visit to Gerald (Thomas Kretschmann), a Delos investor/former Incite employee. We first see Gerald desperately try to sell his shares as news of the park massacre breaks, but that’s the least of his worries.
As Gerald heads to bed later in the scene, he pops in some kind of drug (one of Incite’s limbic tabs – more on that later) before lying down next to his wife. A short time later his Alexa goes haywire as Dolores hacks it, locking Gerald in his home, lighting the fire pits outside, and blaring opera music. He awakes to find Dolores swimming in his pool. She remembers him from his violent bachelor party visit to the park, and later taunts him with images of the first wife he murdered.
We later follow the robot formerly known as Charlotte (Tessa Thompson) – whoever is inside her head remains a mystery – as she meets with the Delos board. It’s been three month since the host uprising, and Delos stock is in the toilet. Charlotte, now interim CEO, wants to make Delos a private company, saying the lawsuits will settle out and the brand will recover. She argues that most of the people killed were board members and employees, and that the park was always about embracing danger and now it’s “bonafide.”
Charlotte reminds the board there are potentially valuable proprietary assets worth saving (human data from the Forge no doubt). She is told she needs approval from a mysterious someone whose chair is empty – probably William (Ed Harris) – but he has a machine shareholder as a proxy which approves her decision. Charlotte demands they resume host production and pool their resources over the next 48 hours. When they protest, she counters that “robots don’t kill people, people kill people” and reveals that Bernard has been blamed for orchestrating the massacre and is being hunted by the authorities.
Bernard (Jeffrey Wright)is in hiding and working on some sort of industrial farm, going by the name Armand Delgado (an anagram for Damaged Arnold, discovered by Insider’s Kim Renfro). After worriedly looking at news of the manhunt for him, he heads to his hut to run a self diagnotic – number 342 to be exact. Bernard has been continually checking to see if anyone has tampered with his code, or if he has had any contact with Dolores since she recreated him 92 days ago. He receives a no on both accounts, and is also informed he would never lie to himself.
He returns to the facility for work and is approached by two workers who have realized his true identity. Bernard doesn’t want any trouble, but they are going to give him some anyway. They incapacitate him with a cattle prod and attempt to extort him for money to keep quiet. Bernard protests that the massacre wasn’t what they think and that “something bad is coming for you all. She’s had months to plan.” The men persist, so Bernard uses some sort of remote control on himself, asking that he not hurt them too badly. I don’t think he listened because they both look pretty dead to me…
After Bernard flees, we see him in a village. He approaches men on a dock, pulling out a wad of cash. He explains he’s looking for friend and wants to go to the island holding the Delos parks – specifically Westworld.
Now that Dolores has Gerald’s wealth and Incite’s files, she seems to be on a mission to not only take over Delos but to infiltrate Incite via the founder’s son, Liam Dempsey (John Gallagher Jr.). We are told there is “Elevated Scrutiny” and “Special Circumstances” in London, U.R.E.W – United Republic of England and Wales perhaps? – as Dolores, going by the name Lara Espen, meets Liam at a party in his honor. Liam tells her about Incite’s strategy engine, Rehoboam (created by Liam’s father), that has saved the world through algorithms.
Liam convinces “Lara” to come to Los Angeles with him, and she agrees. They go into Incite headquarters and see the giant sphere that is Rehoboam, which was designed in a weekend but took 15 years to build. Liam’s father thought humanity’s biggest problem was unrealized potential, and that charting a course for every person could make the world a better place (has it though?). Liam is pulled away for a meeting, and Dolores goes to a neighboring building to spy.
Liam meets with a woman named Martel (Pom Klementieff), who says there’s been turbulence and discrepancies in the data. Someone may be accessing Rehoboam and testing system. Liam argues that Rehoboam would alert them if someone tried – but only if the attempt came from the outside. The two argue over whose side has the leak, and Liam says he (likely Serac, his father’s partner) should concern himself with actual problems like the “shitshow” at Delos. Martel asks why that would concern her side and wonders if Liam has been using Rehoboam to keep tabs on them. She remarks that killing Liam would be inconvenient but that Rehoboam could help them deal with the fallout.
Later, Liam tells Dolores that sometimes he wants to kill Rehoboam, and that he has never had control over it. His father’s partner locked him out, and he doesn’t know what the system is doing – no one does, except the architect. Dolores presses him for information, but if Liam were to planning to tell who the architect was, “he’d” know and Liam would already be dead. Liam’s assistant? bodyguard? Martin (Tommy Flanagan) comes in and injects something into Dolores, incapacitating her. Martin informs him that “Lara Espen” died a decade ago, and that her impersonator – Dolores – send an encrypted text asking someone to meet her once she lured Liam out. Martin offers to take care of it and “clean up the mess.”
Martin meets up with some men who have procured a box of syringes (more on that shortly), and they proceed to inject her, but she refuses to die. A car pulls up, forcing Martin to go dispatch whoever it is, and Dolores uses the opportunity to take out his men. Martin gets away, but after a brief chase Martin abadons the car and takes off on foot. Dolores catches up to him and shoots him. He attempts to crawl away but can’t escape. Dolores finally gets the name of Liam’s father’s parther – Serac. He controls Rehoboam. Martin taunts her saying she will never get close to Liam now, but Dolores won’t have to; she’s created a host clone of Martin to do it for her. She kills the real Martin and sends the clone away as she fights off more men who have come looking for her, getting seriously injured in the process.
We are introduced to a new character, Caleb Nichols (Aaron Paul) after Rehoboam reports “Anomaly detected, LA”. Minor irregularities. Analysis required,” which indicates Caleb isn’t falling in line with the program. We see Caleb go about his day as we hear phone conversations with his friend and former fellow soldier, Francis (Kid Cudi). Francis gives encouraging advice, but Caleb is barely getting by working his construction job, and he has a mother in the hospital with dementia. He’s advised to put her in a state run facility, but Caleb attempts to supplement his income with petty crime.
Caleb uses an app called RICO to apply for criminal jobs that range from transportation, to theft, to murder, just to name a few. Caleb sticks to the lower tier options like redistributive justice, and he meets up with Ash (Lena Waithe) and Giggles (Marshawn Lynch) – who has an amazing shirt that broadcasts his current mood – for a hit on an ATM. Ash and Caleb have met before, and she tells him he needs to get his stats up, do more “personals.” Caleb prefers to be an underachiever, however, and is worried they are being monitored. Luckily Ash has a device that disables cameras and “loggers” (something tells me that will come in handy later), and they go on to pull off the ATM theft without a hitch.
We continue to hear Caleb’s calls with Francis (who tries to help Caleb stay optimistic and hardworking) as Caleb has flashbacks to some traumatic event from his time in the Army. He also applies for better job opportunities but keeps being turned down. Caleb also visits a therapist who wants him to keep talking to Francis and stick with the program or it won’t work. Caleb later accepts another RICO job – party cleanup – which involves helping a naked man in a club on a bad trip. The man wanted to try a beta limbic and went crazy. He has broken his tablet (funny that humans have them like the park hosts did), and is screaming about “shadow people” and saying he’s seen the light. Caleb wants to call an ambulance, but the naked man has a prior arrest and “high net worth,” and wealthy people don’t deserve to be subjected to a long jail sentence – just like our world, huh?
Caleb recalls Francis telling him, “They built the world to be a game, and then they rigged it to make sure they always won” as they were being medivacked out from wherever the Army had sent them. We later hear Francis tell him “what happened to us was fucked up” but that he has to let it go. Caleb gets a call from a bot turning him down for a job, so he heads to RICO again for an “A to B.” Caleb drives to meet a man and is handed a bag, then meets more men under an overpass. They pull a box out, and when Caleb questions them about it, one of the men pulls out a gun. Caleb explains this isn’t his first time being held at gunpoint, or even being shot in the head for that matter. The man relents and Caleb walks away, spying Martin and his men with Dolores.
He gets another call from Francis who says “even if the game is rigged you still have to play to have a chance to win.” Caleb responds the real Francis said the system didn’t care if they lived or died. Francis never made it back, and Caleb is done talking to a simulation for his therapy program. As Caleb walks on, he sees Dolores after her shootout – injured and holding the walls inside a tunnel for support. He asks if she needs help, and then catches her as she finally collapses.
Post Credits Scene
Maeve wakes up in WarWorld – a 1940s era park set during World War Two. She’s sitting in a chair with a gun, then gets up and looks at herself in the mirror. There is a dead man on the floor, and a beaten and bloodied man tied to chair who pleads with her in German. Maeve appears not to understand what’s happening as she looks out the window onto an occupied town full of Nazi soldiers.
There are some nice echoes back to season one. Bernard’s industrial farm is visually similar to the Delos park facility, with its butcher area reminding us of the damaged hosts bodies being patched up by techs, who were also referred to as butchers. When the men confront Bernard, one says, “I wouldn’t have had you pegged as butcher” – which is a bit of a joke because Bernard was a programmer, not a tech. We see Caleb waking up in bed several times much like Dolores did while living out her loop, and him catching her at the end of the episode parallels William catching her during his park visit with Logan…hopefully things will work out better for Caleb.
Biblical references abound this episode – starting with the new title sequence, which at one point seemed to echo Michelangelo’s “The Creation of Adam” (discussed prominently by Dr. Ford in season one). We also have Rehoboam, seemingly a new version of the “Solomon Build” mentioned in the premiere date announcement teaser in January. Rehoboam was also a king of Israel who succeeded his father, King Solomon. Solomon was noted for his wisdom, but Rehoboam did not live up to his father and endured rebellions and civil wars, leading to the splitting of the kingdom (foreshadowing, perhaps?).
We also have Caleb, which means “a dog” or “faithful, devotion, whole hearted, bold, brave.” The biblical Caleb was one of the 12 spies Moses sent into Canaan, and only he and Joshua trusted that God would help them overcome their enemies – they were rewarded by being able to enter the promised land. Dolores considers the hosts like gods, as she tells Martin, “You were free. You had no god, but you tried to build one – only that thing you built isn’t god. The real gods are coming, and they are very angry.” Will she reward Caleb for his loyalty and faithfulness, assuming he helps her with her revolution?
Questions and Speculation
What is Dolores planning, exactly? She seems less intent on killing all humans and more interested in freedom for them and the hosts, and it seems destroying Rehoboam may be key to that end. One of Liam’s colleagues believes the world is just a simulation, and Dolores tells him that people believe the things that help them – the human mind evolved to believe in a higher power. Is that what Rehoboam has become for them? Perhaps the world isn’t a true simulation, but humans do seem to be stuck in loops planned by the system – “there’s a path for everyone.” It analyzes the data and puts people into buckets, ordering their lives for them. It may even be behind the RICO app as a method of controlling crime.
Caleb seems to recognize this and to be attempting to rebel in whatever small way he can. He turned off his mouth implant, which seems to connect to the limbic tabs people use to drug themselves. Do these implants also connect to Rehoboam, as a mind control technique? Maybe that’s why Caleb isn’t falling in line, and why the man who took an illegal, experimental tab went haywire. Perhaps it allowed him to see the truth behind the algorithms.
How does any of this relate to Delos? Is there a link between it and Incite? Could Delos have been selling the data they collected on the powerful, wealthy people who visited the park to Incite? If humans can be cloned into hosts, could Incite potentially use that data to program them with those memories? Season 2 showed that it doesn’t work to entirely recreate a person, but perhaps you can get close enough to fool the people who interact with them. I imagine that would give Incite an incredible amount of control over the world (and it would tie into the sequel to the original Westworld movie, Futureworld).
Who is in Charlotte? Teddy is in the Sublime, and Angela was blown up along with her backup programming. It could be Clementine or Peter Abernathy, although they were both pretty damaged in season two. Did Dolores put one of them in Martin as well? Where is William, and was his machine shareholder being controlled by Dolores (probably)? Finally, is Maeve fully conscious again? If so, she may decide to join up with Dolores eventually if she plans to free humans as well as hosts.
What did you think of the premiere? Be sure to leave your reviews and predictions in the comments!