Season 3, Episode 4: ‘The Mother of Exiles’
“No one knows you like I do. No one knows me like you.”
Those were Dolores’s words to Charlotte-bot in a hotel room on last week’s episode of “Westworld,” which went out of its way to withhold the answer to a question that the show’s fans had been guessing about since the end of Season 2: Whose pearl is inside Charlotte-bot? The line suggested that somehow Dolores had saved Teddy’s pearl and popped it in Charlotte-bot’s head, or maybe it was her father, since both of them had been part of her loop. It was obvious that the writers were teasing us with a little misdirection, but the possible candidates were narrowed.
And now this week, in a flurry of crosscuts across multiple planes of action, comes a mega-reveal: Charlotte-bot is Dolores. Martin Connells, the glowering “fixer” for Liam Dempsey Jr., is now a host and also Dolores. And Musashi (Hiroyuki Sanada), the Singapore yakuza boss sitting on barrels of android amniotic fluid? He’s Dolores, too. Dolores is clearly a believer in the idea that if you want something done right, do it yourself. Now the replicated control units she smuggled out of the park are a Borg-like hive of deadly, calculating, mission-oriented robots who have elegantly coordinated roles to play in the A.I. rebellion.
The twist feels like a cheat, just as the show’s agonizing coyness about Charlotte’s host identity felt like a cheat. The assumption had been that bodies could be reproduced but control units could not, and that the pearls Charlotte-bot took out of the park each belonged to a separate host. But the writers of “Westworld” seek out assumptions like lemon juice to paper cuts, and this particular reveal has been calibrated to sting a little.
Keep in mind, too, that Charlotte-bot told Dolores last week that she felt the real Charlotte was asserting herself, so along with these copies of pearls and copies of bodies, other metaphysical struggles are possible. So the question will then become not only who controls what body but also how much control those bodies can exert over them. Which is essentially a question about what “who” even means. Buckle up for that.
In the meantime, Dolores’s plans are proceeding apace, since she has anticipated everyone’s moves, installed copies of herself in the right host bodies and choreographed an ambush, like Michael Corleone at the baptism in “The Godfather.” She and Caleb use encryption keys in the bloodstream to raid the hapless Dempsey’s bank account. She swiftly neutralizes Bernard and Stubbs’s attempt to stop her from a “kill and replace” plan to install herself at the head of Incite. She uses a Musashi-bot to run a sword through Maeve and put down the Serac threat for now. And, in Caleb, she has found a crucial disciple in the human world — at least for as long as he doesn’t question the mission, as Teddy did.
In Charlotte form, Dolores also makes quick work of William, the Man in Black, but not before Ed Harris does quite a bit of acting. There’s no doubt that William is a tragic figure, though he’s brought all of the tragedies upon himself. He was instrumental in conceiving Westworld and unleashing the robot apocalypse that is currently on the march. His choices also led to his brother-in-law Logan sinking into despair and dying of an overdose, his wife Juliet slicing her wrists in the bathtub and William himself shooting his daughter Emily by accident, due to an itchy trigger finger and a loose grip on reality. Now he’s haunted by all these ghosts, Emily’s especially, and shattering enough mirrors to guarantee several decades of bad luck.
Charlottes comes to William with the ostensible purpose of securing his support to take Delos private before Serac seizes the company in a hostile takeover. But getting him cleaned up and presentable allows the show — and Harris — too much latitude in expressing his mental state. In the first season, when a younger William, played by Jimmi Simpson, was exploring the park, it was fascinating to witness his corruptibility, but the Man In Black character is a caterwauling bore, doomed to rattle around the labyrinth of his own twisted conscience. There’s nothing in the center of that maze.
The question ghost-Emily poses to her father, “What if every choice you ever made wasn’t a choice at all, but something written in your code?,” continues to draw a connection between humans and hosts, and their similar inability to follow their own paths. The message of the third season is that humans have loops, too, and they also have monitors to make sure they stay on them.
A flashback with Dolores and Bernard foreshadows the multiple Doloreses twist: “You taught me that anything was possible. We could be anyone we wanted, live however we want. Isn’t that what you believe?”