"Let the priests, the Lord's ministers, cry between the veranda and the altar, and let them say: Spare your people, O Lordand do not accuse your inheritance that the Gentiles should rule over them; that's why they should say among people: Where is her god"- Joel 2:17, King James Version
"The real gods are coming. And they're very angry." – Dolores Abernathy
This piece contains heavy spoilers for the premiere of season three of Westworld. You will probably only want to read it after watching the episode.
Westworld's third season premiere, "Parce Domine," is the first episode of the show that takes place entirely outside the park (well, unless you count this post-credits scene). We don't even see the well-known dark corridors of the mesa, nor do we hear the name "Robert Ford" once. Dolores has slipped her bonds, carried a stolen body and taken five pearls, and she is free.
It's just not free – not really. At least not yet.
Welcome to the real world
In the pre-credit sequence, Dolores appears in the home of a wealthy Delos shareholder (and former park visitor) and gives us some pointers on how she wants to correct this situation. She discarded almost everything from her rancher's daughter – but she's no longer really Wyatt.
Her time reading books in the smithy gave her a very penetrating insight into human behavior – especially the behavior of certain people. The sequence sets the tone for the season and also introduces us to some technologies that will play an important role in telling the story – like the augmented reality glasses that attach them to Discount Brand Liam Neeson's face.
Enlarge /. It is never a good sign that Dolores ties AR glasses to your face with a zipper.
When the credits roll onto S3E1, we learned a lot more about the world beyond the park. The most important part of the information seems to be that a big data company called "Incite" has developed a "strategy engine" that "saved the world". The name of the engine is Rehabeam, after Solomon's son, and it seems to be in control of a large amount of things – things ranging from traffic patterns to potential assessment of people's suitability for careers. And maybe more than that.
(The parallels between Solomon and an omniscient wise computer system are obvious, but if you actually call your expert system "Rehabeam" instead of "Solomon", this becomes a threatening premonition – Rehabeam had to pay for his father Solomon sins and in Presided over a war-breaking kingdom.)
Dolores begins the episode by collecting some data about Incite and spends most of her screen time secretly extracting information from Liam Dempsey, Incite's CEO, and the son of the man who allegedly designed Rehabeam.
This is probably a representative view of the Rehaboam strategy. This is the first thing we see at the beginning of the episode before moving on to Gerald's Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day.
This comes before the first meeting with Caleb.
And we get this here before we meet Dolores and her magical transformer evening dress.
But towards the end of the episode we find that poor Liam is just a means to an end and that she is actually chasing someone else – a shadow figure called "Serac". Serac is the one who really built Rehabeam. Oh, and according to Liam, Serac is the only person who knows what Rehabeam is actually doing – apparently Incite no longer controls its creation and has no idea what it is actually about.
I feel like I've heard this song before. And the last time it ended up with many people dying.
The future is not all that matters
We also spend some time following Caleb Nichols, played by Aaron Paul from Breaking Bad. Caleb is trapped in his own loop as thoroughly as any other host – he wakes up, talks to his old war buddy on the phone, and wastes time on what appears to be just a robot watching him install fiber optic cables and his visits sick mother and then a grindr-but-for-crime app called "Rico" to make enough money to pay his mother's hospital bills.
While Dolores takes us through the highlights of the real world and shows us the glamorous and fully networked lifestyle of the ultra-rich in the future, Caleb is our proxy, our window into the world of people who are not fabulously rich or otherwise connected.
It's a world that seems beautiful enough during the day – green spaces dominate and we seem to have made good progress in combating climate change – but Caleb just doesn't seem to be getting anywhere. He is dealing with a war-related PTSD, but is forced not to solve his problems with a human doctor, but with an AI that only lasts a few generations of Dr. Sbaitso feels removed (and is about as effective).
(My wife Laura, who is much smarter than Westworld about me and would probably write this review if she didn't have her own full-time job, points out the downright palliative ways to speak to a deceased relative with a therapeutic AI like Francis telling the things that you couldn't say in real life. I think there would be real value there – that sounds like technology that could potentially have a positive effect on the grieving process. The difference and Francis, I guess is that Caleb makes it clear that his continued receipt of "benefits" depends on the interaction with Francis, and not just on the interaction – actually demonstrable progress. That seems a little … I don't know, crypto data Laura also points out that it could be difficult for someone to get into the "acceptance" phase of grief when your disembodied voice is dead en loved one holds you in the "denial" phase. And if you have already accepted that person's death, how would it be Maging to be forced to hear her voice again?)
Francis calls Caleb a lot. Francis is thirsty.
Here's Francis bothering Caleb at work.
As we find out at the end of the episode, Francis is of course an AI therapy bot.
So Caleb turns to crime to pay the bills. Must take from The Man to pay for The Man.
At night we see the stratification of society in full swing – while the rich go into crazy sex clubs and pop designer drugs, Caleb and people like him, whose "score" is too low in an unsettled social credit system to get good jobs participate in the crime gig economy so they can make enough money to get through. The more things change, the more they seem to stay the same.
At the climax of the episode, Caleb decides he's finished playing – trying to maintain his social credit doesn't get him anywhere. "I think if I want to go on with my life," he says to Dr. Sbaitso, "I have to find something – someone – really."
And then Dolores falls into his arms. Fate always seems to deliver it to the right person at the right time, in the park or in some other way.
Shades of Futureworld
Apart from finding Caleb, we also see that Dolores is not alone in our world – after all, she brought these five host control units out of the park.
Although we don't yet know exactly who is in each of these units, we do know that at least two of them are currently active: there is someone who drives around Charlotte Hale's host body, and there is also someone who drives Liam's Majordomo / security chief Connels . played by this guy from Gladiator with the bad facial scar.
Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia in Valencia, Spain, stands for Delos Corporate HQ. "src =" https://cdn.arstechnica.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/ww03-deloshq-640×360.jpg "width =" 640 "height =" 360 "srcset =" https: // cdn .arstechnica.net / wp-content / uploads / 2020/03 / ww03-deloshq-1280×720.jpg 2x”/>Enlarge /. The Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia in Valencia, Spain, represents Delos' corporate headquarters.
It can be said with certainty that Dolores' concrete plans aim to achieve this by replacing key people with hosts. With Host-Hale as CEO of Delos (and control of the remaining William’s shares through an AI proxy) and Host-Connels that are running Incite effectively, Dolores holds several powerful cards in hand.
Replacing powerful people with robots was a key feature of the Futureworld box office bombing in 1976, the sequel to Westworld in 1973. Fans have speculated for years whether the later seasons of the show would include this particular detail, and here we are. (Although hopefully we will not penetrate into the beyond of the western world, because if so, God will help us.)
A short word about the opening credits
I'll deal with the opening credits a bit more over the next week or two, but right now I want to highlight the importance of the last shot in the closing credits where a drone host is immersed in a vermilion pool of liquid.
Red is one of the three key colors in Westworld's visual palette, and the other two are white and black. In general, white generally represents the hosts themselves; Black generally represents the park and its stories; and red generally represents humanity or the corruption of humanity's hosts.
Also note that these three colors dominate the last shot of the end credits each season – and for season three, the host being lowered into the goop is a faceless drone.
Season one: white.
Season two: black.
Season three: red.
There is a lot to talk about here and we will deal with it soon.
Hello old friends
I haven't talked about poor Bernard, who has been hiding in an artificial meat farm somewhere in the Philippines for the past three months. He appears to be caught in his own loop and endlessly diagnosing himself. He is afraid that Dolores has rebuilt it with hidden instructions or corruption in his code. (And after being burned by Ford's little surprise in season two, it's no wonder he's worried about being played again.)
Bernard cheerfully murdered some guys to escape and hopped on a ship heading Westworld – based on the flash of cards we see, it appears to be in the South China Sea.
The park is exactly lat / longHowever, this is a good confirmation on the screen.) "Src =" https://cdn.arstechnica.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/ww03-map-640×360.jpg "width =" 640 "height = "360" srcset = "https://cdn.arstechnica.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/ww03-map-1280×720.jpg 2x”/>Enlarge /. Here is Westworld! (Fans had previously determined the exact lat / long of the park, but this is a good confirmation on the screen.)
(Of course, eagle-eye editors on the Westworld subreddit clarified this three years ago and managed to set the location of the park at a certain latitude and longitude. No Easter egg survives contact with Reddit for a very long time.)
It's a safe assumption that Bernard, who is sailing into the sunset – along with the episode's post credits scene – indicates that we'll be visiting our old territory in the next episode.
That's all for this week, folks – everyone is leaving analysis mode and going back to your loops.