Directed by Anna Foerster
Written by Karrie Crouse
* For a recap & review of 3×04, “The Mother of Exiles” – click here
* For a recap & review of 3×06, “Decoherence” – click here
We’re privy to a bit of history concerning Engerraund Serac, whose life was altered when a bomb was dropped on his home. He and his brother wanted to “build a god” to replace the one that never actually existed in the first place. But you can never predict everything, even with all that technology at one’s fingertips. Today, Serac tries to keep watch over the present and future as much as possible. His wide technological reach allows him a significant degree of power. He can all but fully read the future, which presents certain benefits, such keeping an eye on EVERYBODY, even into their potential future(s) like some kind of temporal fascist.
More about Serac explains that he and his brother got into business with Liam Dempsey Sr (Jefferson Mays). Looks like Dempsey was getting sick of a machine that seems only to “predict the fucking past.” He was more than disappointed, raging against the Serac brothers until making the decision to stop funding the Rehoboam project. That didn’t bother Engerraund. He believed in his brother. He also worried about his brother who was troubled.
Speaking of troubles, Serac’s discovered some of what Dolores is up to, spotting him with Dempsey Jr. Liam’s being kept real close to Dolores and Caleb. He realises Dolores is a “blank space” in the system, unable to find anything about her with those fancy glasses. She explains what’s going on with Serac and that they have to band together or perish. This doesn’t convince Liam, who goes to work attempting to bribe Caleb before using those glasses and getting a look at the ex-soldier’s identity. Poor Caleb gets dosed with the Genre drug given to Dempsey last episode. Of course Dolores makes sure Liam doesn’t get away. That doesn’t help Caleb, now trapped in a “psycho–pharma hybrid” nightmare which leaves him feeling like he’s in a film noir, complete with black-and-white, plus a score.
“There is a time to leave things behind”
When Dolores and the gang get into a vehicle they’re barely on the road when Dempsey’s people— or rather, Serac’s people— are seen following close behind. They’re shut down at the roadside when men with guns get out and start firing, leaving Liam with little choice but to give his key over to Dolores so she can override the system, taking them back on a chase again. The entire time Caleb’s rolling, experiencing Genre at every turn. Such a wonderful use of Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries” here, especially in an episode titled “Genre” where we’ve already had some film noir, and Dolores definitely exudes big Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore energy. Dolores gives Caleb a weapon to use, and no matter his drug-induced aiming she targets his explosive to take out one of the vehicles following them. The two of them make QUITE a team.
Caleb shifts into the romance genre when he fawns over Dolores who’s firing off shots and causing well-timed explosions. He snaps out of it just in time to see his friends Ash and Giggles arrive, bringing their specific music-themed brand of violence to the streets. They all do some more shooting while “Bubbles Buried in This Jungle” by Death Grips bangs in the background. Good god, is this ever one of the series’s best episodes! The next act of Genre starts with Iggy Pop’s “Nightclubbing” as Caleb and the crew move into the subway. He’s sure there are still people following them, and it’s more than surely not just part of his trip’s inherent paranoia.
Although it’s fun to watch Dolores kick ass it’s simultaneously unfortunate and depressing to see Bernard back under the thumb, just after he’d really freed himself from everything. Bernard gets to see Rehoboam while Martin’s working. He’s afforded a glimpse of the ultimate plan Dolores is working towards. Rehoboam + the Delos Parks data is effectively a way to enslave humanity. Dolores wants to do to humans what humans did to her and her kind.
More of the past as we witness how the Seracs financially convinced Dempsey Sr that Rehoboam would work. They siphoned millions of dollars from corporate accounts and played them in the stock market. Dempsey enjoyed the money, whereas the Seracs were more intoxicated by “the power” that their creation offered. However, greed played its role in ruining things, as did the unpredictability of human nature— something even Rehoboam cannot fully predict.
On the subway, Caleb talks about being overseas and the rat problem they had to deal with, telling the group about how they were forced to drown rats by using makeshift traps. He relates those rats to people in the face of Rehoboam. He’d prefer chaos to being controlled by someone like Dempsey, and this prompts Delores to send everyone their “Incite profiles” which could potentially cause mayhem. This move will give everyone a look at how they’ve been manipulated by technology, and offer a glimpse into their own past, present, and future, right down to when/how they’ll die, the opinions others have about them, and so much more. It’s bittersweet because Dolores has freed humankind from their tech shackles. She’s also initiating mass devastation with untold consequences around the globe. Another great song here with a classical rendition of “Space Oddity” by the one and only David Bowie (who also co-wrote “Nightclubbing” used earlier in this episode). Caleb and Dolores see the results as they walk back into the streets. He first thinks it’s another aspect of Genre, but Giggles tells him: “This is reality, man.” He nearly gets shot when a couple people step out of a car to fire at him, though Dolores steps in front of the bullets and kills his would-be assassins.
“It’s not just what it knows, it’s what it decides for you— for everyone.”
Another flashback shows Dempsey walking through a stark white room that consists of other smaller rooms in which people are confined— a futuristic psychiatric hospital. Serac’s brother had mentally collapsed, and Engerraund was looking after him, as best he could. His brother was one of the “outliers” that cannot be predicted like the rest of humanity. He found out his brother was running scenarios through Rehoboam, and claims Dempsey Sr would’ve been killed if his brother kept it up.
Martin a.k.a Dolores shows Bernard the creepy hospital where Serac confines his outliers. Then they’re interrupted by Stubbs, finally coming to help his buddy Bernard out of trouble. They’re likewise about to confront Serac’s people, before Martin advises them to leave and he gets taken to see Engerraund. Martin blows himself and his captors up, nearly getting Serac if the tech inventor weren’t present via hologram. Serac later finds out Dolores was looking for his cognitive history.
More movie references with music from The Shining as Dolores and Caleb head for their next destination. Caleb keeps having flashbacks while Liam yells at him and the others, only coming to when Ash fires a shot into Dempsey. This brings further flashbacks of Francis at war, visions of another man from Caleb’s past, and general confusion. The former soldier’s no longer sure of his own identity.
Yet another look at the past shows Serac taking Dempsey Sr out to the desert. He brought Dempsey out there to explore a “bubble of agency,” to show Dempsey a speculative future that ended with murder. Again we’re shown in no uncertain terms that Serac is not the man he pretends to be, certainly not the pacific who dreams of peace. Will these past memories in Serac’s head help Dolores? And how, exactly? Also, is Caleb being manipulated by Dolores just like any other technological system? What happens when he finally figures himself out?
The episode ends with “Emerge” by Fischerspooner.
One more stunning episode in Westworld‘s third season.
This is easily the best season yet. The scope has become larger, the performances are even more intense, the action is beyond thrilling, and the stakes are higher. Love seeing Wood and Cassel face off. Two incredibly strong acting talents.
“Decoherence” is next.