What is happening in our world? Who is doing what? what is going on now? These are questions that will be answered. Enjoy.
‘Westworld’ Season 3, Episode 1 Recap Explained
I was afraid of this day. Absolutely terrified. I spent all week readying myself for it. I even guilted my two deskmates into helping me prepare for my ultimate demise—attempting to recap Westworld for the return of its third season. I haven’t studied this hard since college, when I had to cram Bleak House (which, by the way, is a beach read compared to seasons one and two of Westworld) in a week.
So you can imagine what it felt like when, suddenly, the weight of a thousand Hemsworths was lifted from me: Aaron Paul, in prime form, Lena Waithe, and freaking Beast Mode Marshawn Lynch (he’s just drippin’!), strutting, slo-mo, away from a heist job, Death Grips’s “Bubbles Buried in This Jungle” blaring in the background.
Westworld, you dog! I knew you could do it. After over 20 hours of time-fuckery, body-swapping, and robo-yeehawin’, Westworld, ladies and gentlebots, had… fun. Consider my light-up mood T-Shirt set to EXCITED. Let’s do this.
Season Three, Episode One of Westworld, “Parce Domine” (translation: “Spare, Lord”) opens with Dolores Abernathy, three months removed from the events of Season Two, having undergone a complete human glow-up. She has a boyfriend—we’ll get to him in a minute—some fancy clothes, money, and doing some light espionage. When the episode opens, she’s in Beihai, China, shaking down a former Westworld guest. Turns out he’s a Delos investor who used to be involved with a company called INCITE. Dolores steals the files he stole from INCITE, chases him, and he trips, smashes his head on the side of his pool, dies.
So, INCITE. Looks like we have a Google to Delos’s Amazon. We’re introduced to the company when Dolores visits an INCITE party in London, where beau, Liam Dempsey, is being honored for inventing stuff. We’re told that Liam is the “son of the guy who saved the world through algorithms.” The guy who says that also cracks a joke about the Delos/Westworld massacre—which is now a major news story, by the way—wondering if Westworld participated in some simulation-within-a-simulation “headfuckery,” which feels like a self-own from Westworld’s writers. Dolores also tells someone she’s from “a small town out West” (told ya Westworld unbuttoned its top button for Season Three).
What’s INCITE up to? Well, Dolores is using Boy Genius to figure out the secrets behind INCITE’s big invention—a supercomputer that sounds similar to a Delos product, The Forge. Only this one, it seems, is capable of not only predicting human behavior, but making “strategies” using that info. We learn that Liam is just a figurehead. It’s daddy—i.e. the Logan Delos of INCITE—who has the keys to whatever’s deep inside the predictive supercomputer. But he’s dead, and his partner is the one who locked Liam out. Want to learn more about INCITE? Check out its kinda-spooky website.
It’s funny (well, not funny, but still): Back when Westworld debuted in October 2016, robots were a legitimate, culturally-appropriate villain to have in a TV show. A month after Season One, Episode One’s premiere, Corporate America personified was elected president, instantly aging nearly every show on TV. Fears changed. Aside from prez, Google, Amazon, Facebook, Uber, you name it, all squeezed us a little bit tighter. Westworld briefly tapped into this with Delos’s Season Two antics, but in INCITE, it finally set up a main villain—a monolithic, secretive, data-mining corporation—for our trying (and trying, still trying, always trying) times.
Whoo! Okay, maybe Westworld isn’t done with the headfuckery. Let’s catch up with someone else… how about Bernard? Here’s something I didn’t expect: A nearly shot-for-shot recreation of Thanos in his Endgame garden with Bernard swapped in. Apparently, Bernard is the scapegoat for all the murderous shit that went down in the park. We find this out in a quick, separate scene where robot Charlotte Hale sits at a Delos board meeting, mutes a guy, and tries to convince the Delos Jedi Council to proceed with park operations, despite the massacre (she doesn’t have the power to do that). But whose brain orb is in Hale’s body? Seemed a little too convincingly tough to be Teddy, but judging by the Season Three trailers’ Hale-Dolores cuddling, it’s hard to make a case for anyone else.
Back to Bernard. He’s working as a butcher (interesting choice, pegged him more as a carpenter, or maybe a substitute teacher) in the Philippines, hiding from the feds. His butcher buddies figure out who he is and try to blackmail him—turns out Bernard has some Hulk/Banner thing going on, and can use a garage door opener-looking button to switch back and forth between SoftBernard and BeastBernard. BeastBernard beats up the butchers, and in the episode’s closing moments, jumps on a boat to Westworld, saying he’s “looking for a friend.” There aren’t too many familiar faces in the park, but in this season’s final trailer, Bernard is reunited with (alleged robot) Ashley Stubbs, telling him, “The plan… it’s starting.”
All right, now, let’s introduce the best thing to happen to Westworld since its piano cover of “Back to Black”: Aaron Paul. He plays Caleb Nichols, a war veteran who day-jobs as a construction worker in Los Angeles, and night-shifts as—now, I love this, but it’s weird as hell—a criminal on RI¢O, a dark-web app where you can pick up illegal jobs à la carte. Want to take the gig? Select “Fuck yeah.” Nay? “No, I like being basic.” I’m glad “basic” made it into the lexicon of the 2050s.
We get our best look at Westworld’s version of the 2050s—which takes place in an alternate version of our reality—through Caleb’s eyes. It’s… just as bleak as ours. And that’s probably the point Westworld’s creators are trying to make. Is this the path we’re headed toward? Jobs are automated, war is still running rampant, even criminality has been made easier through an app. Just with that glossy Blade Runner sheen.
Throughout the episode, Caleb talks to Francis, played by Kid Cudi, whom he fought with in whatever war he was fighting (exactly what war feels like it’ll be important) through a Her-looking earpiece. Turns out, like ScarJo’s Samantha, Francis is AI—he died in combat. Near the end of the episode, Caleb finally “unsubscribes” from him. For what it’s worth, talking to Francis might have been part of some civilian reentry program from the military—which involves therapy and Caleb “keeping his score up.”
Anyway, RI¢O. That’s where the fun’s at. Caleb takes three jobs from the app during the episode—two with the demolition crew of Waithe and Lynch, and one that involves him driving a Land Rover to deliver a mysterious package to a group of INCITE henchmen. Meanwhile, Dolores is tased by an INCITE goon while trying to pry info from Liam and brought to where Caleb makes the dropoff.
Naturally, Dolores wakes up, and kicks off a Kingsman-esque brawl that’s one of the best Westworld sequences I can remember in a long time. We see a dude get run over in a dash cam! She replaces the aforementioned goon with a robot version of said goon, but is badly hurt—so she goes in an underpass, where she’s met by Caleb, who doubles back to the dropoff scene after unsubbing from Francis. And there you have it: The someone Caleb wanted to meet.
Suddenly, that “Sweet Child of Mine”-scored final Season Three trailer suddenly makes a ton more sense. The partner of Liam Dempsey’s father is likely the man we saw telling Maeve to go after Doris. Along with him, whatever he’s cooking in that giant computer orb seems to be Season Three’s Big Bad. And, going by the previews we’ve seen, Dolores will put together the “five of us” team that includes Caleb, Bernard, robot Hale, and maybe even The Man in Black, to stop the partner, Maeve, and whatever the doomsday plan is.
So, Season Three, Episode One, of Westworld: No Man in Black, no Westworld, no Maeve, no Valleys or Forges or Cradles. And you know what? I’m good with that! Consider this a “Fuck yeah,” Westworld.