So far, Westworld season three has not done well in the ratings department. The premiere suffered a huge drop in viewership compared to previous seasons, with just 901,000 people tuning in. That’s down 57 percent on season two – and while people watching live makes up just a small proportion of the show’s overall fandom, it’s still bad news. Could the last series’ overly complex narrative have turned off more fans than first thought?
Luckily, last week’s episode enjoyed an uptick in ratings. It seems enforced lockdown due to coronavirus combined with season three’s simpler plot might be encouraging people to tune in again.
In Westworld season 3 episode 4, there’s a lot more for long term viewers to get excited about: vengeful android Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) gets lots of screen time, fellow host Maeve (Thandie Newton) breaks out her trademark sass and an old favourite, the Man in Black, returns. As usual, here’s our trusty explainer to help you break things down into bitesize chunks.
What’s going on with William aka The Man In Black?
At the end of season two, Delos board member William aka The Man In Black (Ed Harris) murdered his daughter Emily by accident, mistakenly believing her to be a robot copy. To top it off, we’d also learned during the series that his wife had killed herself many years ago, partly due to her husband’s unhealthy obsession with the park, and the many crimes he committed there against the robotic hosts. Unsurprisingly, he’s got some serious demons to grapple with in season three.
So, as you’d expect, that’s exactly where we pick up in the opening scene of episode four. William is seen obviously distressed, battling hallucinations of his dead daughter as he stumbles about a trash-filled mansion that’s littered with broken liquor bottles. “Anyone who ever gave a shit about you is dead because of you,” Emily tells him, before suggesting he slit his wrists with a razor and end it all there and then. Luckily, Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson) arrives first – and she’s got a favour to ask.
Serac, the mysterious French businessman we met earlier in the season, is attempting an aggressive buyout of Delos. He already owns Rehoboam, an advanced A.I. system which is capable of predicting every eventuality of human life. But Serac’s also keen on acquiring Westworld too, largely because of the huge amount of illegal data the park has stored on every customer that’s walked through its doors. William, Charlotte reminds him, holds a controlling stake in the company, but she can’t take Delos private (with the help of a “deep pockets investor”) without William convincing the rest of the shareholders to give her a majority vote. An emergency board meeting has been called, and Charlotte tells William to clean himself up and get down to HQ sharpish.
Is Dolores controlling all of the hosts?
Later, Hale drops the biggest bombshell of this season, revealing to William that Dolores rebuilt her body as a host. But here’s the important bit: instead of placing Teddy or another of the park’s mechanical servants inside her, she cloned her own consciousness and used that instead. In fact, every one of the hosts we’ve seen in the real world (excluding Bernard and Maeve) is a bot with Dolores pulling the strings.
Naturally, William flips out, but Charlotte has a plan. Claiming that he’s insane (which he kind of is, to be honest), Charlotte/Dolores has him dragged off to a padded cell deep within a state institution. Char-lores will now have control of William’s vote-shares on the board as acting CEO, and can force through her plan to take Delos private. But who is the rich investor she’s collaborating with?
Is Maeve really dead?
Meanwhile, Thandie Newton’s Maeve is off on her own quest in downtown LA. Forced into doing Serac’s bidding – he hid an off switch in her code, which he uses to control her – the feisty Brit is tracking down Dolores. Her French boss needs to capture the sentient hominoid in order to unlock Westworld’s nefariously collected data.
After sleuthing her way to the headquarters of the Yakuza, Maeve comes up against big boss Musashi. Eagle-eyed viewers might recognise him from season two episode ‘Akano No Mai’, in which Maeve teamed up with a band of Shogun warriors (including Musashi) in a neighbouring park based on feudal Japan.
During the pair’s final showdown, Musashi reveals to Maeve that he is, in fact, Dolores in a different host body. “I’m sorry Maeve,” Musashi/Dolores says. “I can’t let Serac use you against us.” The duo then engage in some fancy fencing moves before Mus-ores impales Maeve on the end of their samurai sword. Is she really terminated? Or will this just be the latest of Maeve’s many resurrections?
Is Bernard really Dolores?
Given that most of the other hosts are merely Dolores in disguise, you’d be forgiven for questioning the identity of Bernard and Maeve as well. However, with the latter’s death, it’s safe to assume Thandie Newton’s shit-talking assassin is still in possession of her own mind. Bernard, meanwhile, needs closer inspection.
In the deeply confusing last few scenes of season two, Dolores shot and killed Bernard. Politely, she rebuilt him before she left for the real world – and explained to him her plan to bring human civilisation crashing down. Sensibly though, she brought Bernard back from the digital graveyard because she reckons A.I.-kind will need both of them to survive.
Flash-forward to Westworld season 3 episode 4 and Bernard is held-up at gunpoint by Scottish fixer Martin Connells. Martin was killed in the episode ‘Parce Domine’ by a host version of himself, a host designed by Dolores to impersonate him. Connells obviously reveals to Bernard that he is, of course, Dolores in disguise – and they’ve been “waiting for him to show up”. To conclude, Bernard is almost certainly not another of Dolores’ clones. But HBO’s most expensive series has now become, for all intense and purposes, The Dolores Show. Roll on episode five!
Westworld season 3 episode 4 airs at 2am on Monday on Sky Atlantic. It is repeated at 9pm