Monday, April 27, 2020

REVIEW: 'Westworld' - Caleb Explores His Past and Is Enraged By What He Discovers in 'Passed Pawn'

HBO's Westworld - Episode 3.07 "Passed Pawn"

A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of HBO's Westworld.

"Passed Pawn" was written by Gina Atwater and directed by Helen Shaver

Caleb served as a new perspective on humanity. The first two seasons suggested that humankind was inherently awful and evil. They could always be trusted to abuse the world around them which was especially brutal for the hosts. With Caleb, he offered the perspective that there is a class of humanity that functions like hosts as well. They exist in order to serve others while their futures are mapped out in depressing clarity. The comparison grows even more brutal in this hour. This is a story that depicts how Caleb's life and memories have been invaded and changed. He has been implanted with thoughts in the hopes of making him a more acceptable person in society. He functions as an outlier just like Dolores. The AI that manages the world can't accurately predict how he will react in any given situation. As such, Serac created a program for those personalities to be altered. Caleb was the rare success story. He was allowed his freedom once more. He wasn't stored away in stasis hopeful that one day a "cure" would be found. This is data that is significant to Serac and his machine. He pinpointed a problem. He created a solution that ensured that humanity would thrive. He just had to take away a percentage of the population. He could create the narrative that they were simply missing or dead. No one should be too concerned about what happened to them. But it's also a story about power and the corrosive nature of how desperate people will be to keep a hold of it. Caleb is forced to kill his friend because the system was set up to keep them both confined to their positions in life. They had the sole purpose of taking out any targets that the AI deemed unworthy or problematic. Caleb's memory was altered to give himself a better alternative to the truth. However, he is rightfully filled with rage. It's a powerful story. One that brings a strong focal point to the narrative as it heads to its conclusion. A lot of this season has been messy. That quality is still apparent. Bernard, Stubbs and William are just wandering around together and spewing exposition that may be important or may just explain how Dolores pulled her grand plan off. They also offer the tease that Dolores will end humanity by coopting a human to her cause. That is Caleb's grand purpose. She may be forcing him to wake up to his true reality. However, she also has a very specific role for him to play that serves her needs. She has to coerce him into accepting it. As such, she is just as cold and callous as the people she is trying to stop. It's understandable why Maeve doesn't want that kind of personality dictating whether or not her daughter's world is safe. She wants to know that the hosts that escaped the park won't be disturbed in their new society. It was a peaceful offer. One that Dolores helped facilitate. But Serac has his own plans in motion. He is trying to preserve his hold on the world. He wants to prevent its destruction. He only cares about one version of this reality. The one he created and can control. William may have purpose knowing that he has to kill every host in order to maintain human control over the world. He doesn't care what the future becomes. He just knows that chaos follows Dolores everywhere she goes. That may only continue the longer that the hosts survive. It's clear and precise to him. But it's the most dramatic and climatic when it comes to Dolores and Maeve's epic fight. They have been pitted against each other this season. As such, this moment was always inevitable. And yes, it is very thrilling to watch. This show conducts action so well. It's so inventive and fun. But the fighting is deemed necessary because Dolores perceives that Maeve has aligned herself fully with Serac. She can't support anyone with that ideology. And yes, that is a complicated message. Maeve is free but under Serac's control. She is willing to do whatever it takes for her simple goal of reuniting with her daughter. That includes preventing Dolores from succeeding in her goal. But it may be too late to stop things. Dolores and Maeve eliminate each other while Caleb is armed with information. He has the plans. On the surface level, all of this works. As has been apparent for a long time though, there isn't much nuance underneath. That makes it hard to see the show as all that pleasurable and deep. It still makes for a fine viewing experience. One that can even be thrilling and exciting at times. The audience can just also find so many plot holes that are so obvious and weird - like Charlotte working with Maeve shortly after killing Hector.