Westworld Season 3 Episode 3 – ‘The Absence Of Field’
The drama prolonged in Dolores’ exploits in the premiere is followed up in this episode. We get to see action intensify and storylines revisited as Dolores goes about her business in fashion and Charlotte Hale’s assigned role at Delos is explained.
At the beginning of the episode, we see a tape by Charlotte from season two. It shows her in peril and despair during the fall of Westworld. She addresses the video to her son and sings ‘You are my sunshine’ for him. This encapsulates the character arc she has in the episode.
Overview and Recap
Dolores is left severely injured in Caleb’s arms by the end of episode one and it is here where the action is picked up. Caleb calls for an ambulance as Dolores haemorrhages. The doctors are foxed at her inhuman internal system while Caleb gets an oxygen mask to stabilise her. Caleb’s dark web app pings as Dolores is marked as a target. A few moments later a police car waves down the ambulance and two armed men disembark. They place the doctors and Caleb at gunpoint as one approaches Dolores. Similar to her waking abruptly in the premiere, Dolores awakens and disables the man of his gun. She shoots him and his partner who stood around twenty feet from her. Suavely and savagely, she grabs the dead man and drags him in the police car to gain facial recognition to start the vehicle. She leaves and tells Caleb he is a good man and that it would be better he did not know her. Soon later, Caleb discovers that he is target like Dolores given him abetting her.
A host frame like the one in the opening credits is being coated in a white elixir bath. We discover that Dolores is using the machine to recreate Charlotte Hale. Once made, Dolores activates Hale and corrects her framework with a verbal command. The host seems aware of Dolores and other hosts as she questions why she is in the image of Hale. We figure out that Dolores has recreated her in order to infiltrate Delos through assuming the real Hale’s former position.
Caleb visits his mother who we last saw in episode one and reminds her who he is; she reacts bitterly and distastefully. This is a repeat of her previous response. On the way out, Caleb is recognised as Dolores associate by two men. They hold him hostage with a pocketed gun and take him to a building at the construction site he works at. He is interrogated about Dolores whereabouts while held on the edge of a high floor but doesn’t break; he is removed from the edge as his metal mouthpiece, a sort of radar/signalling device from the military, is amplified to disorientate and torture him. He still does not fold.
Incidentally, Dolores is on the look-out for Caleb and narrowly manages to save him. He is confused as to why she saved him. She takes him on a walk and given their wanted status averts attention by disabling local devices. Dolores seems to know a lot about Caleb and takes him to his favourite diner and orders his preferred meal without prompt. She proceeds to talk about Caleb’s worst memory which took place at the diner, when his mom abandoned him as a child. He is enraged before Dolores deflects this feeling and notifies him about the workings of The Rehoboam. Caleb is intrigued and Dolores’ stunt may have been a mode of grooming him towards helping her cause. Also, she has a connection to Caleb ever since he saved her and sees him as an ally.
We join Charlotte Hale at Delos with a couple of employees discussing purposes for salvaged Westworld maintenance robots. An employee informs her that someone is attempting a hostile takeover of the Delos systems; Hale tells her to take care of it. They suspect a mole. Later in the episode we see her return to Hale to discuss the takeover. A man called Serac, without any personal records on any system, is responsible. We met Serac last episode – the sole controlled of The Rehoboam and employer of Maeve for Dolores termination. His takeover would acquire the immense bank of data from Westworld park guests, and its unknown number of remaining parks.
In the late evening, Hale arrives home but has memory loss of her having a partner and son. Her partner reminds her of this and the promise she made to her son about collecting him from school.
Following this, she manages to collect her son the next day. We see him on a bench with a man and dog as the men makes him pet the dog. This is portrayed rather uncomfortably as there are connotations of paedophilia. Hale spots her son and tells him to go and play while she deals with the man. A camera-disabling device is exposed, and she uses it to mask her response to his wrongdoings. She berates and begins to strangle him until loses consciousness and dies. Hale takes his dog and gifts it to her son.
Throughout the episode, we see Charlotte self-harming by gradually slicing her wrist and forearm. She is in distress and calls for Dolores, who has a maternal influence on her, to inform her of the Delos situation. They meet in a hotel lobby. Dolores notices Hale’s injuries and hacks her way to a hotel room to attend to her. Dolores undresses her to gauge the scale of the damage. She had been cutting her skin in the pattern outlining her host framework. Dolores comforts her and tells her to rest in the room. Hale seeks company so Dolores rests with her.
The meeting between Dolores and Caleb is carried forward when we see them walking along a pier. She tells him about The Rehoboam being capable of forecasting the future by gathering information from one’s personal experiences and predicting an outcome. After this uncovering, she tells Caleb of its prediction for his future. It says that he will commit suicide from this very pier around ten years from now. This is a steep delving into fatalism, but Dolores assures Caleb by noting a semblance of hope in the odds being averted. She affirms her ambitions to deal with these predictions and injustices as the scene comes to an end.
To conclude the episode, we see Hale leaving work in a futuristic taxi which is taken over and diverted. She is dropped off and given a pair of glasses which project a hologram of Serac. We realise she works for him as the mole in Delos. This shock ends the episode.
Tessa Thompson portrays her character expertly in balancing Hale’s deep sadness, confusion and attentiveness. I am always impressed by the shift in facial expressions and emotions when hosts are commanded, and Thompson’s techniques are perfect for this as Hale interacts with Dolores and Serac.
Evan Rachel Wood puts in another great performance as she sustains that cold heartedness and distance while developing a relationship and liking for Caleb. Aaron Paul’s reception of this is portrayed with the same aplomb and Caleb’s anger in the café is another example of great acting. The disappointment, but everlasting love for Caleb’s mother is also note-worthy.
Charlotte Hale’s story and role this season is explored in this episode.
When Charlotte Hale is reimagined by Dolores, we get to see the host orbs that Dolores acquired during the collapse of Westworld. One orb is shown with faint but visible blood stains on. This is Bernard’s core. Consequently, Charlotte questions why she has his orb given their confrontation last season. We know that Dolores is a great planner and is void of human misjudgement, so Bernard’s orb clearly has an integral part in her elaborate plan to very broadly put it destroy humanity.
Hale sees Dolores as a mother figure because she brought her into existence. As a result, we are presented with her unnaturally innate dependence on Dolores’ comfort.
We see the remnants of Westworld in the maintenance robots. One is displayed before Hale and unloads into a hulking machine. The collapse of the park makes us embrace the show’s setting in the real world.
Another commendation on the show’s production and visuals is merited through the scene’s setting. It depicts futuristic buildings with crisp points and smooth edges that are deceptively realistic; and the backdrop is just as sublime.
Charlotte Hale has always been a ruthless character and the host version of her embodies this feature.
The way she interrogates and strangles him is portrayed as a cruel, but justified mode of dealing with his misdemeanours.
When Dolores is conversing with Caleb and Hale she lays out the reality that they will get killed in their pursuit of freedom and revenge. She utters the lines used heavily in the promos as Caleb asks her how she will go about destroying the Rehoboam and exposing humanity for what it really is she will.
Caleb: [What are going to do?]
Dolores: Start a revolution.
Due to the melee from episode one, Dolores’ absence detrimentally affected Charlotte, who unloads her plight and predicament. It is here where she notices Hale’s incisions.
Dolores asks Hale about her self-harming and nulls her emotions to get a clear answer. She talks of her struggles to remember details of her life and her wish to leave her role as Charlotte. Dolores tells her to rest in the room, but Hale wishes Dolores stays with her. She stays and they lie on the bed with Dolores hugging her in maternal hug reminiscent of the way Hale hugged her son earlier in the episode.
The malfunctioning of Hale has haunting undertones. Hale’s host orb seems to invoke self-harm to rid of the host by literally pulling the flesh off its inhabitant. This sinister note brings the show back to its sci-fi/horror roots.
Serac and Hale
Well, well, well. This certainly was an unpredictable event. The cliff hanger type endings associated with the show are heightened as this scene is truly perplexing. We see Dolores manufacture Hale so Serac’s influence seems impossible. Nevertheless, this scene throws a curve ball, a spanner in the works.
Serac has proved himself as a master manipulator and seems to control Hale. Therefore, he has her and Maeve at his control. Hale’s role looks like it will be torn and contoured around the whims of Dolores and Serac, but Serac’s activation of her services may override Dolores power over her.
Dolores and Caleb
So far, Dolores has been a singular force with a few host footmen. Caleb’s childhood memory of his mentally unstable mother was moving and emotional and Dolores comes off as brash and harsh. After all, she is a host so lacks some emotional subtlety. Her using Caleb’s anger then explaining The Rehoboam is clearly a form of manipulating him. Dolores has likely never had a connection with a human in the real world like she has with Caleb and this is reciprocated almost. Come the end of this episode, she is enforced by Caleb’s support, but he may not cut the mustard against the formidable Serac.
All in all, this week’s instalment was astounding. We finally get to see Charlotte’s position in the real world and thus her connection to Dolores. Talking of Dolores, Caleb and she seem to have sparked a friendship with Caleb stating that Dolores is the first real thing that has happened to him in his life. Serac’s parasitic intentions are bucked by Hale’s surprise backing of him. This is typical of Westworld with their confusing narratives and contradictory scenes being parts to a massive jigsaw puzzle making us gasp, ‘Oh’, once laid out. The show is setting up for a grand finale which will definitely have the cataclysmic impacts of season one and two.