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Westworld: Season 3, Episode 4 (The Mother of Exiles) - Review

Westworld

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 5 out of 5

REVENGE is a dish best served cold. It’s an old saying but an apt one for the fourth episode of Westworld‘s increasingly brilliant fourth season.

Questions were answered, others posed, as per usual. But there were wider implications too. The nature of revenge, for instance, as well as reality. And what of control… series creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy have opted to explore the notion of cloning in this third run of episodes, examining themes concerning identity and power.

As Westworld episodes go, The Mother of Exiles was one of the more straight-forward. It involved corporate power struggles, atoning for the sins of the past and the unveiling of identities.

[Spoilers ahead]

First and foremost, there was the question of returning character William (Ed Harris), aka the Man in Black. One of Westworld‘s most ruthless, yet enigmatic characters, found himself in a confused state, questioning his own reality and his actions.

In season two, he had been seen shooting and killing his daughter. Now, she was tormenting him. Was he, too, a host, pre-programmed to end her life? Or had he taken the decision out of pure evil? Whichever answer proved true, neither offered solace or comfort. As such, William’s sins had now fully caught up with him, even consumed him.

There to exploit this confusion was Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood), who by episode’s end had persuaded him to take his company, Delos, off the stock market and turn it private, thereby handing over control to Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson) and prevent Serac (Vincent Cassel) from buying it.

But wait… in doing so, the question surrounding the true identity of Charlotte in the previous week’s episode was also answered. Charlotte is Dolores.

What’s more, there are five of her. Rather than smuggling out allies from the Westworld theme park, Dolores had, in fact, taken the decision to retrieve clones of herself, planting them inside Martin Connells (Tommy Flanagan), the bodyguard of Dolores’ tech giant ‘boyfriend’ Liam Dempsey (Jefferson Mays), as well as newly unveiled yakuza kingpin Sato (Hiroyuki Sanada), previously seen as samurai legend Musashi in season two.

There is a fifth Dolores but they have yet to be revealed. But it means that Dolores has created an army in her own image, reliant upon herself rather than anyone else.

But herein lies another of the questions being posed by the fourth season [and Joy and Nolan]. Is original Dolores fully in control of her clones or will they develop a mind and purpose of their own over the course of the season?

Of course, there was a lot more going on around this reveal too. Sato, for instance, was only uncovered once he had been tracked down by Maeve (Thandie Newtwon) at the behest of Serac, in his mission to find and kill Dolores.

These scenes provided a lot of the episode’s action, particularly as she had to follow a trail of suspects, beginning with a dealer and ending with ‘the Mortician’. Maeve got to exercise her control over weaponry, forcing many of her armed adversaries to turn their machine guns on themselves. But as powerful as she undoubtedly remains, she eventually proved no match for Sato once the Dolores reveal had been made, ending the episode lying in a pool of her own blood, mixed with host’s milk, having succumbed to Sato’s blade.

Bernard (Jeffrey Wright), meanwhile, had been seen tracking down Liam, believing him to be another of Dolores’ hosts. This placed him and ally Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth) in a race against time against Dolores and Caleb (Aaron Paul) to locate him.

In turn, this led to a thrilling confrontation between Stubbs and Dolores in the lobby of an Eyes Wide Shut inspired party, which Dolores eventually won, before then confronting Bernard and unveiling Martin as another clone.

Keeping up? It’s a task. But The Mother of Exiles did, at the very least, draw the new battle-lines in supremely thrilling fashion. There were fights, expert double crosses and jaw-dropping reveals. And that question of freedom lay at the heart of it.

Is team Dolores the team worth rooting for, given she has targeted humanity? Is humanity worth saving? Can we trust Serac as someone to root for? Or will humanity’s last hope for survival and decency rest with the likes of Maeve and Bernard?

It’s a wondrous mix of possibility that’s endlessly intriguing and shot through with moral and ethical dilemmas. And yet, we still can’t predict where we’re heading and what – for a lot of the time – is really going on.

We are, in some respects, as confused and alone as William… at first seduced by the possibilities and scenarios offered by Westworld and now struggling to understand what constitutes reality. Unlike William, however, we’re still exhilarated by the idea of uncovering its secrets.

Read our review of the previous episode