Updated: Nov 4, 2020
Looking back at season one, William/The Man in Black was one of the most compelling storylines on the show. The dual story narrative focusing on William as a young man experiencing the park for the first time juxtaposed with his harden nature later life centered the central mysteries of the show. It helped illustrate the idea of free will to choose our destiny, themes Westworld continues to explore well into season three.
This week's episode, "Decoherence" should have been entitled deconstructed as it completely dismantles and rewrites William's story from that first season. Interestingly, the writers felt compelled to give us more of William's backstory here, with only a few episodes of season three left. More interestingly, why are we changing his core functions to create a divergence in his narrative?
Back in season one, young William was a caring, empathetic person. That is until he experienced the park. William's journey with Dolores unleashed darkness in him that would further expand into his personal and business life, eventually leading to an incoherent sense of reality that he experienced much of season two and here in season three.
"Decoherence" changes the story. It wasn't the journey through the park that made William the man he is today. No, it was always his innate nature to be the violent and ruthless William of today, who now finds himself stuck in a mental institute in Mexico. William never had a chance to be anything other than the cunning businessman that would later murder his daughter. This reveal completely undermines William as a character.
You could make the argument that William's therapy session from Hell broke him out of his loop. While true, are we supposed to believe he is a changed man? It wasn't an accident that he was dressed all in white when declaring he knows his purpose, believing he is the hero of this story, the Man in White who will save the world. But the show just removed all semblance of humanity from William by showing he couldn't turn out any differently.
His new narrative contradicts the thematic arguments the show has been making this season. Humanity is robbed of free will by Serac's machine. Dolores has spent the entire season dismantling this belief by working to give free will back to the disenfranchised. William's therapy essentially debunks this idea. His destiny was never in doubt with his human code written from birth, determining his ultimate fate.
I don't know where he goes from here, but maybe that's the point. The Man in Black is at his best when he is at his most unpredictable. One thing is for sure, he will play a vital role in the end game as he is now with Bernard, and Dolores is keeping tabs on his location.
Speaking of Dolores, this week's other storyline focused on Serac's take over of Delos and Halores's (the show's name for the host version of Hale) attempt to stop him. Unlike the William storyline, the Serac and Dolores showdown was quite fun.
Dolores has managed to get the best of Serac lately. Dolores released all of Incite's information to the public, and one of her hosts mortally wounded Maeve. His only major play left is to take control of Delos. Up until this point, it hasn't been clear why Serac wants to take over Delos. After arriving at the company, he quickly moved to erase all of the company's IP, save for a handful of host to help Maeve in her quest. So it seems he wanted to buy the company to gain access to its data to erase anything that could risk his control. At the very least, Dolores will have a more difficult time gaining any new allies from her former home.
The scene of park employees burning the deactivated host bodies is cathartic in a lot of ways. Watching the show burn down the foundation it's narrative has been built on feels monumental. The show has moved past the park, and this scene indicates the writers are ready to leave the setting behind for better stories outside the confines of Westworld. We are in a new world now, whether that be a real one or a simulated one. Either way, the show is making an effort to move past the parks for something new, even if the writing can sometimes fall back into the trappings of season two.
With all of that said, Halores was able to save the data before the hosts were all destroyed. Dolores has access to a machine that can create host bodies. On top of this, Ford had a secret office no one in the park knew about with several hosts. Bernard visited this area earlier in the season when he recruited Stubbs. All of this is to say that the writers left a backdoor into the park in case they ever need it.
Serac's actions this week allowed him to take some power back from Dolores. Serac is an astute character who understands the world around him. It should come as no surprise that someone who spent his entire adult life learning about people knows how to read people. This skill was in full effect this week.
He correctly guesses that Hale is a mole put in place to control the Delos board. Similar to last week, Dolores planned to trap Serac in a room to kill him using a planted bomb. Reading the situation correctly, Serac used a hologram version of himself to interact with Hale and the board, thwarting Dolores's plan to kill him.
Of course, Halores made a mistake this week by allowing Serac to discover her love of Hale's family. As Dolores's consciousness lives in Hale's body, she continues to evolve, growing more empathetic towards her family. Serac used this information to determine she wasn't the real Hale. More importantly, he was able to hurt Halores by killing her family. For a minute, it seemed Hale would take herself out of the picture for the rest of the season by escaping with her family. After Serac blew up Hale's car, with her loved ones inside, that is no longer an option. The look of shock, horror, and anger permeate Halores's face as she slowly crawls out of the car and stands to examine the wreckage.
I couldn't help but think this was Dolores's plan all along. As the Dolores in the simulation chatted about with Maeve, the Dolores in Hale is no longer the same being. She has changed into something different, becoming a more empathetic person. I wouldn't put it past Dolores to create a situation where Halores felt emboldened to the idea of taking Serac down.
Dolores and Maeve spent a short time this week exchanging philosophical barbs while Maeve's conscience was kept in the Warworld simulation to build her a new body. Though only a small portion of the episode, Thandie Newton is always great, so it was fun watching her story unfold outside of the main arcs.
While Maeve is in the simulation, Serac has also connected the orbs to several other hosts that Maeve has recruited to help her take down Dolores while they have new bodies built as well. There are five orbs in total, including Maeve and Hector. The owner of the other known orb was more of a surprise. Serac's team was able to extract Dolores's orb from Connells' body after sacrificing himself last week. Sensing her presence in the simulation, Maeve sought out Dolores to find out what her plan is.
The last two are left unknown. If you do some digging, the IP code on one of the screens matches that of Clementine. Previews for the season feature Clementine, but she has yet to appear this season. It would make sense that Maeve would recruit her most trusted ally from the park to help her in the real world. The final park orb is still a mystery. It could be a multitude of players, but don't be surprised to see Teddy show up here. Westworld likes to cut to a character's emotional core, and this would be the best way to throw Dolores off of her game.
The meeting between Dolores and Maeva was one of the fun moments of the episode as the two came face to face before the inevitable showdown in the coming weeks. They are like Professor X and Magneto in the X-Men universe. Both are trying to do right by their kind, just in drastically different ways. Maeve has less interest in the bloodshed while Dolores sees this as the only path to freedom. These two are on a collision course, and this conversation punctuated the fact that they have no option but to fight one another.
It is hard to see both of them escaping this season alive at this point. Maeve, in particular, seems to be in a no-win situation. It doesn't matter if defeats or loses to Dolores as Serac still has control of her IP. He is the man that ordered the murder of a child and his father to stop Dolores. Serac won't think twice while deleting her IP once he gets what he wants. I'm not sure how Maeve makes it out of this.
But then again, she is a survivor. So don't be surprised when she finds her way out of yet another sticky situation.