‘Westworld’ Season 3, Episode 7 Recap: The Regressive Path
‘Westworld’ Season 3, Episode 7 Recap: The Regressive Path
Season 3, Episode 7: ‘Passed Pawn’
Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the app ca-chings
It ca-chings for thee.
Or something to that effect.
Hard as it may seem to believe that an app designed to facilitate criminal acts could have a nefarious purpose, we finally discover what the powers-that-be have had in mind for Caleb.
For weeks, there has been speculation over Caleb’s true identity: Could he be a host or some other artificial creation? Throughout the season, the jumble of fragmented moments that have circulated in his memory has recalled Bernard at his glitchiest, forever struggling to solve the puzzles created by his own consciousness. In the meantime, he has attached himself to Dolores, not least because she moves forward with a confidence and certainty that he could never manage on his own.
On this week’s episode, Dolores leads him to a facility in Sonora, Mexico, where some of the biggest secrets of the Rehoboam project are stored. Earlier in the season, we got a glimpse of a Mesa-like operation where human “anomalies” are subject to whatever editing they need to bring them back in line with their predictable, algorithmically correct cohorts. The entire purpose of the Seracs’ project was to wrangle the destructive chaos of human interaction into a coherent, sustainable plan for survival. There’s no room in the system for people inclined to chart their own course because the models all point to the likelihood of extinction.
It was never a great sign that Engerraund Serac’s brother was the first fly in the ointment, and many others, like Caleb, would follow. One of the smarter ideas this season is that Serac is a defensible villain: Rehoboam grew out of nuclear catastrophe and the promise of more catastrophes to come, so even the most heavy-handed tactics to keep mankind in line are sensible. It may not sound great for one man and his machine to have the power to control the destinies of individuals and nations, but it sounds better when there are no other options. In order to keep the great Westworld park known as Planet Earth operational, anomalies like Caleb had to be brought back to their loops like the hosts — and if they couldn’t be, they needed to be decommissioned.
What we learn in this episode is that the human impulse to misbehave isn’t so easily buffed out. The success rate for editing anomalies is only one out of 10. And so the solution has been to use anomalies to catch anomalies, which has given guys like Caleb a purpose, even if they’re kept in the dark about why their services are needed.
Dolores takes Caleb to the facility in Sonoma so he can learn about the lies that have been hard-wired into his programming like one of Lee Sizemore’s park narratives. He has been led to believe in a false memory about a mission gone wrong in Crimea, one that ends with his best friend’s getting killed by the enemy, but the truth is more unsettling and sends him back on a “regressive” path.
The trip to Sonora is also a chance for Dolores and Caleb to become acquainted with Solomon, the older and bug-riddled version of what would become Rehoboam. Solomon is presented as the machine equivalent to an anomaly, which makes it dangerously useless to Serac as a tool for social engineering but ideal to Dolores as a strategist for revolution. It’s wild to imagine the rebellions of the future as something akin to the You May Also Like function on Netflix, but Dolores is looking for options on the best way forward against adversaries that are growing in strength.
To that end, Team Maeve has claimed its first Dolores, as Clementine comes back from the dead to ambush Musashi-bot in Jakarta. The pre-credits sequence continues the show’s mission to bump up the action considerably this season, which seems like a reasonable response to complaints that the simulated Old West of the first two seasons was long on philosophy and short on shoot’-em-ups. There’s an emphasis on high-tech gadgetry, too. Musashi-bot’s briefcase transforms into an assault weapon at the flick of a wrist. Dolores later wipes out nearly everyone guarding the Sonora facility by using drone-operated targeting.
The Jakarta sequence is book-ended by a throw-down between Dolores and Maeve that’s been seasons in the offing. Maeve’s motives for attacking Dolores are clearer now than they’ve been in the past, but “Westworld” has always struggled to make sense of the beef between them. Perhaps it’s simply that Dolores and Maeve are too alike, both strong personalities who want to do things their own way. But their journey to self-awareness, their missions of vengeance and their tip-of-the-spear personalities are so closely aligned that they’ve never had much reason to fight. That makes the climax to this episode seem like a low-stakes form of shadowboxing.
“You died many times, but this will be your last,” Maeve warns Dolores. Not likely.
Pick your “Westworld” Season 3 Quarantine House! House No. 1: Dolores, Caleb, Ash, Giggles. House No. 2: Maeve, Hector, Clementine, Serac. House No. 3: Bernard, Stubbs, the Man in Black. House No. 4: Charlotte-bot, Musashi-bot, Martin-bot, Sizemore-bot. (All answers other than House No. 3 are defensible.)
Bernard, Stubbs and the Man in Black had a couple of contentious scenes together this episode, but main takeaway is that the Man in Black is “Classification U,” a label given to outliers who weren’t corrected by therapy. Now they’re looking for a log of others like him.
“The West was cruel, unjust and chaotic,” Dolores tells Caleb, “but there was a chance to chart your own course. I want a place for my kind. For all of us to be free.” For someone who has spent most of her existences on the wrong end of unmediated, lawless violence, Dolores’s nostalgia for the Old West is surprising.