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Westworld recap: season 3 finale – a ridiculous, stupid, thrilling end | Television & radio


Spoiler alert: this blog is published after Westworld airs on HBO in the US and Sky Atlantic in the UK on Sunday night/Monday morning. Do not read unless you have watched season three, episode eight.

Dolores is dead. Serac is dead. The Rohohohoboam got switched off. Stubbs is bleeding out in a tub drinking rubbish booze, while William survives till the credits but not beyond. Giggles got shot. Lawrence is a cop. Bernard has ascended to the sublime. Hale is a hologram and Caleb got his hair mussed. Did I miss anyone out?

Oh yes, Maeve. The undisputed champion of the new normal, in which buildings are blowing up and everyone is rioting, but at least they did it of their own free will. Having begun this finale knocked out on the floor of a hangar, she ends it surveying chaos, but she seems pretty happy about it. “This is the new world,” she tells Caleb, “and in this world you can be whoever the fuck you want.”

She really is one for the swearing, our Maeve, but after all she’s been through, I’ll allow it. After dispatching one Dolores in last week’s battle, she finds herself face to face with another almost immediately. Caleb has used one last control unit to build a new, battle-ready Dolores that is not made from milk and doesn’t have any blood. You may be asking yourself why anyone would bother with that palaver when this new Dolores just pulls on her skin like a glove and is ready to fight, but, viewer, we have no time. Instead we have to cut straight to Maeve coming at Dolores with her katana and, this time, getting her ass kicked.

New Dolores is rough, tough and great with a windmill kick. She has Maeve on the floor and could finish her should she choose to, but no – choice is the whole point. She gets up, leaves Maeve to find her own path – and is immediately floored by herself.

When I say “herself”, I mean Hale, who got sizzled like a sausage in an exploding car the other week, but is back in hologram form. Hale is, of course, Dolores, but also a bit Hale, which is why she is pissed off with Dolores, who kind of left Hale in the lurch when it came to the whole Delos takeover thing. Got it? Good, because the fact that Hale is Hale but also Dolores means she has the power to tighten Dolores’s neck nut remotely, or something, making the Abernathy gal slumps to the floor. This happens just in time for Maeve to scoop her up and take her to Serac.





Bernard enters the simulation



Where is my mind? Bernard enters the simulation. Photograph: HBO

Meanwhile, Caleb is charging across town trying to get to the Rohohoboam and switch it off with his big dongle of doom (it flashes red). There are pockets of heavy rioting along the route; this looks set to affect journey time. Thankfully, you can always rely on Rent-a-Goon, who spirit up some meat to help Caleb march through the crowds. On the way, he meets Giggles and Ash, who are leading the revolution against Serac (and helping Dolores, even though they don’t know it). Giggles gets shot, although not before he has the chance to do some mini-Beast Mode action on a canister of tear gas and a concrete wall. Eventually, Caleb gets through to a police chopper and, after a wistful glance at his pals, flies off to a rendezvous with fate.

The climactic location for this season is a tableaux not unlike a sculpture in a Renaissance chapel – except with added machine guns. Dolores is laid out prone in the centre, her limbs attached to luminous white tubes. Above, in all his throbbing red glory, looms the Rohohohoboam. Gathered around are a gaggle of goons and their boss, Serac. Soon Maeve enters, too: she has intercepted Caleb and the scene is complete. All are solemnly gathered to watch the uploading of Dolores to the ether and the end of the host rebellion.

Except it doesn’t happen that way. Dolores is true to her word. She doesn’t want to eliminate humans or create a homeland for hosts; she just wants everyone to have the freedom to choose. Maeve understands this after teleporting (again, don’t quiz me on the science) to Dolores’s safe space, a prairie of the mind. The pair convene in a wheat field and, just minutes after they were tearing metal chunks out of each other, they agree that really they are not so different after all. They just want to give the good things a chance and make the bad things to go away (yes, that does appear to be the sum argument of this intellectually portentous sci-fi drama).

Who can argue with that? Certainly not Serac, who gets a katana to the gut, alongside all his goons, after Maeve switches sides and makes quick sword-work of her former accomplices. Dolores isn’t able to argue, either, as she has “died”, having sacrificed her “life” so that others could be free to mess up theirs. In some confusing plot machinations that are once more beyond me, the Rohohoboam has copped it, too, as Dolores’s last memory was of Caleb receiving instructions from Solomon – once that was uploaded to the omniscient orb, it gave Caleb the power to switch Rohohohoboam off. Which he did.

And breathe. That was the summary of the hectic action in a finale that was ridiculous and stupid, but also pacy and thrilling enough to keep me engaged. By far the best scene, however, occurred in the part of the programme that didn’t have to be there.

Bernard’s progress throughout this entire series, it turns out, was redundant. His motivation, that he had to stop Dolores, was allowed to wither with one perfunctory line of dialogue: “I misjudged her … she wasn’t trying to exterminate the human race, she was trying to save it.”

But in his encounter with Lauren – the widow of Arnold, the man on whom the host Bernard was based – there was some genuinely touching television. Bernard has been plagued by memories of a son he never had – Arnold’s son Charlie, who died young. In meeting Lauren, Bernard finally gets to talk to someone about it, someone who can understand what he has seen and also felt. Lauren, by now an old woman, has for her part accrued wisdom from being able to pass through the stages of grief. Don’t be haunted by these memories, she tells Bernard. It was only the recollection of her child that allowed her to keep living. “If you loved someone”, she says, “why would you ever let them go?”

Westworld has been recommissioned for a fourth season, but given the current state of the world, goodness only knows when they will film it. So, until then, fellow divergees, take care!

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