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Westworld: Season 3, Episode 7 (Passed Pawn) - Review

Westworld Season 3

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 4.5 out of 5

THE penultimate episode of Westworld‘s third season left just about every life hanging in the balance. In doing so, it delivered the big fight the season has long been building to, as well as a major revelation about one of its most interesting new characters.

And, in keeping with grand Westworld tradition, there were also plenty of mind-bending, brain-teasing questions to answer, as the battle between renegade host Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) and world dominator Serac (Vincent Cassel) intensified.

[Spoilers ahead]

The episode began as it intended to go on – in bloody, surprising fashion. Saito, another of the Dolores clones, was taken out in spectacular, samurai-sword wielding fashion in a club by Clementine and Hanaryo (Armistice’s doppelganger from Shogun World)… proof that Maeve’s new army included past Westworld regulars.

Hence, with two of the Dolores clones now killed, and another near barbecued at the end of the previous episode, the stakes are starting to build to extremely high levels for the real Dolores.

Thereafter, the episode divided its time between Dolores and Caleb (Aaron Paul), as they re-entered Westworld in an attempt to connect with Rohohohoboam’s big brother Solomon and establish a new revolution programme, and Bernard (Jeffrey Wright), Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth) and William (Ed Harris) as they attempted to make sense of their new alliance.

The former story provided the most thrills and revelations. For Caleb, in particular, it proved a difficult journey… his past finally revealed to him and his new mission delivered with renewed purpose.

Caleb, it transpires, has been a victim of Serac’s plan for world domination for years. He was an outlier, roped in to being a puppet for Serac’s grander plan for controlling the people who refused to be controlled. Where some flashbacks revealed time spent as a special forces agent operating in a Russian civil war, others revealed similar missions unfolding in LA. And yet, the targets seemed to be eerily the same.

And then there was the question surrounding the fate of Caleb’s best friend, Francis, who was killed on one of the missions. Where once the assumption was that he had been killed by insurgents, the final revelation proved much more heart-breaking for Caleb: he, himself, had killed him, having unwisely de-gagged a target and learnt the truth about their mission.

With Rohohohoboam listening in, Caleb knew too much and Francis was offered a fortune to kill him. Fortunately, Caleb was tipped off to this fact and drew his gun faster.

And so Caleb’s drug-diminished existence suddenly became all too real; his lack of control anger-inducing. His purpose, now, was to take the fight to Serac and become the leader, the revolutionary, that Dolores needed him to be.

But there’s a but… a huge one. Caleb’s existence is also now known to Bernard and Stubbs, who at the end of the episode revealed him to be the man responsible for ending humanity.

And, so, with Caleb on the warpath, now confident in his own destiny and programmed with a new path to revolution by Solomon, the fate of the world lies in his hands. Or so it would appear…

But that’s not all… Not by a long stretch. While Dolores and Caleb conversed with Solomon, Maeve closed in. By episode’s end, Dolores and Maeve had had their big smackdown. But there were no winners.

Dolores lost an arm, Maeve found herself stabbed repeatedly. But just when it seemed that Maeve had the upper hand, Dolores shut them both down. It’s anyone’s guess what the future holds for either character.

And then there’s Stubbs and Bernard. Their fate seemed precarious, too. For having ‘enlisted’ William as an ally (against his will, it has to be said), they found themselves staring down the barrel of William’s shotgun as the episode faded to black.

So, who will be left standing. And with a fourth season now guaranteed, what can we expect from the final episode next week? Where is Westworld heading?

Certainly, the excitement levels are sky high. The much anticipated showdown between Maeve and Dolores delivered the thrills we expected and more, with high-tec weaponry adding an eye-catching and highly stylistic added bonus. Dolores’ gun, in particular, was particularly note-worthy, not least for the way in which it simultaneously took out the guards surrounding Solomon when she and Caleb first arrived.

But it also came in handy when attempting to deal with Maeve and her own personal airborne weapon station.

We’ve come a long way in this season with so many of these characters that the prospect of seeing some of them now die is alarming. Dolores, for all of her faults, doesn’t feel the bad character that Serac and – to a lesser extent – Maeve have painted her out to be.

She’s manipulative, for sure. But her intentions seem far more noble than Serac’s. But it also now seems that Hale may have turned against her, if another opening moment – in which she tried to recruit Saito before his untimely demise, was anything to go by.

As ever with Westworld, big ideas jostled for position with visually stunning sequences. The show’s enduring brilliance lies in its ability to combine both so seamlessly. Sure, we’re not always (and perhaps seldom ever) sure what’s going on, but we’re consistently enthralled and delighted by what unfolds.

It’s part of the show’s continuing appeal that it can exhilarate both the mind and the senses at the same time.

Read our verdict on the previous episode