Westworld: Passed Pawn
April 27, 2020 11:05 PM - Season 3, Episode 7 - Subscribe

A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.

Secrets are revealed in an unrevealing way on Westworld (Zack Handlen for TV/AV Club; rating: B)
To give [Westworld] credit, “Passed Pawn” is at least aware of why ["rewiring" bad guys*] might be a problem. The big revelation of the episode is that Caleb was a victim of Serac’s great plan for the future. The artificial intelligence programs (both Rehoboam, and the earlier version we meet tonight called Solomon) Serac and his brother built to save the world both ran into the problem of certain people—“ouliers”—who were just going to fuck things up if left to their own devices. So Serac’s big genius leap was to “reprogram” the problem children into behaving the way he wanted them to, in order to better account for the variables. Not all of the reprogramming worked, but Caleb’s did; and the other big revelation is that not only was Caleb working for Serac’s system without realizing it, bringing in other outliers as a bounty hunter, his best bud Francis wasn’t shot overseas. Caleb did the shooting himself, when the system needed to tie up some loose ends, and then brainwashed him out of remembering it.
* There's a whole paragraph about Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze, the 1975 Warner Brothers movie adapting the pulp hero to the big screen, which provides some more nuance than this summary, but that's the gist of it.

Creating Westworld's Reality - Behind the Scenes of Season 3 Episode 7 (4:17)
posted by filthy light thief (23 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Hm. My wife was rapt throughout the episode; I had correctly understood the plot elements up to and including William and the shotgun by like maybe ten minutes in? So all the reveals and action were suuuuuper predictable, or so it seemed to me. Hardly watched a minute of it after that. I feel somewhat bad about it.
posted by mwhybark at 11:27 PM on April 27, 2020 [1 favorite]


It was fairly obvious something was up with Caleb all the way along, although I was intrigued to see just how his story played out. Also enjoyed the drone vs. drone battle at the end, a nice way to spice up yet another fistfight.

Apropos of the news that Westworld has been renewed for Season 4 (and probably 5 and 6), it's clear they had to announce it before this ep because it's plain there was no way they could wrap everything up in the next ep. In fact I wonder why they waited so long to announce the renewal.
posted by adrianhon at 1:35 AM on April 28, 2020 [1 favorite]


Some of the dialogue--Ed Harris: "I faced my demons"

The way Westworld is being received on io9 v. AV Club is making me think a little bit about stuff I've been hearing how SFF reviewers tends to be rapturous about things that could be much better. The Charlotte stuff is good, but why does she suddenly turn on Delores? And does it to benefit Serac, the people who killed her family? There are about twenty million similar questions that could be asked of the characters. Like, Delores, yo, that's your plan, get killed by Maeve and let Caleb bring down the human race?

And WTF with Ed Harris and Bernard and Poor Man's Thor wandering around?

Don't get me wrong: amazing work in the big fight scene.
posted by angrycat at 3:33 AM on April 28, 2020 [3 favorites]


I have no idea why Dolores and Maeve are fighting, but I'm here for it.
posted by betweenthebars at 5:41 AM on April 28, 2020 [1 favorite]


I'm going to start with my most superficial comment: Aaron Paul's hair in the show's present is distractingly wrong. I don't know if it's a wig, but it makes him look balding. I wanted his reveal to explain why he had that awful hair. The main part of the reveal that felt true to me was that Rico was an app created by the system.

The Charlotte stuff is good, but why does she suddenly turn on Delores?

See, this worked for me. How different is Dolores from William if she created copies of herself to endure torture and then die? Isn't that what Charlotte and the security guy were intended to do? Complete a mission and then be disposed of. It's interesting that the Dolores hosts didn't form a hive mind; they were still separate beings with their own emotional truths.

The utter squandering of Jeffrey Wright and Bernard's storyline sucks. I still think the best moment of the entire show is Bernard discovering that he's a host, and there's been so few of those emotional character moments this season. I have no clue what Maeve's motivations are. I'm not even sure I understand where her daughter and the others went, and why it's important to keep them safe.
posted by gladly at 5:45 AM on April 28, 2020 [4 favorites]


It's hard to feel invested in a long fight scene when I know that at the end they will both survive and have another long fight scene in the next episode.
posted by tofu_crouton at 6:24 AM on April 28, 2020 [2 favorites]


I have no idea why Dolores and Maeve are fighting, but I'm here for it.
Do they even know? Dolores straight up asks Maeve and gets nothing in response. Maybe it's just because they have some cool toys they want to play soldiers with.
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 7:47 AM on April 28, 2020 [4 favorites]


I thought Mssr. Sazerac promised Maeve that she would get teleported to the digital island of misfit hosts with her "daughter" and whatnot if she dealt with Dolores and Halores and Dolores Jrs, but maybe that was just the bait and Maeve saw through it? I mean, it's also possible that if Serac has Maeve's host control module, he has access to her programming, sooooo.

Otherwise, yeah, this felt like a lot of exposition for the audience in the back who were busy making out all season long. I'm still here for it because it's a good cyberpunk-y presentation (that briefcase SMG, oh yes), but I do miss the emotional notes from earlier seasons.

I mean at this point it's what, Dolores prime, Caleb, and Assorted Dolores Clones (any left?) fighting against reprogramming and loss of agency, versus Chalores (agent of chaos), versus Maeve, Clem, Hanaryo/Armistice (the tattooed woman) and Serac's Perfectly Predictable World.

God only knows how Bernard, Discount Thor, and William fit in to that. I assume William is anti-Serac, or maybe just pro-Delos, and Bernard seems to be an independent investigator for Dolores?

And I'm not sure they're really conveying the emotional horror of Serac's plans _or_ what he's fighting against. I mean, on the face of it, assuming he's right and human society crashes without manipulation, is having a small fraction of a percent of people being put on ice until better pharmaceuticals are developed _really_ that bad? Or is that assumption flawed because Solomon/Rehoboam aren't actually predicting the future all that well? I suppose that assumes that the App-managed-Unmanageables would otherwise be killing themselves without the app, but at least the app just keeps the killing from leaking out to innocent civilians?

The opening bar in Jakarta was awfully familiar. John Wick, maybe?
posted by Kyol at 8:11 AM on April 28, 2020 [6 favorites]


Favorited for "Discount Thor," lol
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 9:44 AM on April 28, 2020


Maeve's motivation appears to be make the plot reach certain marks, which is pretty ironic given that the writers were telling her story of breaking out of her own plot, only to trap her in theirs (at least her plot made sense within its context). I still don't understand her fixation on her daughter though - I thought she had a moment of realization in s1? s2? where she realized that was a false desire.
posted by kokaku at 12:29 PM on April 28, 2020 [6 favorites]


I have no clue what Maeve's motivations are. I'm not even sure I understand where her daughter and the others went, and why it's important to keep them safe.

Why, they went to silicon heaven, of course!
posted by mwhybark at 4:54 PM on April 28, 2020 [1 favorite]


Well yeah, Clementine is back. I guess she's on Maeve's side as she seemed to be shooting at the Chinese drug lord Delores. What if this is a meta battle inside one of the one of those spheres. Simulation inside a simulation inside a drugged fever dream of a soldier dying in CrimeaWorld.

And so what if one of the hosts is tortured, can't they just disable the pain mode and flip into full blenderMode?

And why hasn't there been a flashback to a young Ford?

Still haven't found out if the giant AI sphere(s) are cgi or some art work somewhere. Must be cgi if there's two of them.
posted by sammyo at 5:54 PM on April 28, 2020 [1 favorite]


amazing that you can build a computer that can predict the world and manipulate it but can't get rid of money or even capitalism

this episode brought you by "ripoffs of the matrix: man can't handle another system"
posted by lalochezia at 6:43 PM on April 28, 2020 [4 favorites]


I just finished binge-watching The Leftovers yesterday and I think it has ruined me for other TV for a while. I've had no problem with this season of Westworld so far but this episode rang particularly hollow.

• The big reveal that Caleb was a bounty hunter for the system he hates, shot his own best friend, and was brainwashed to forget it was intellectually cool but not emotionally relatable.

• The fight between Dolores and Maeve was fun, but like the interlude last week when Simulated Maeve beat up a hundred Nazis just to pass the time, it felt like it was in there just to get the action quota above a certain level.

• As mentioned above, Halores's turn against Dolores doesn't feel organic (pun not intended). I get she's mad at Dolores for treating her as expendable, but siding with the guy who is definitely going to kill her as soon as he can seems like a weird flex.

• The William and Bernard side plot better pay off well, because it's just a slog. (Stubbs is not Discount Thor, he's Premium Larry!)

Things I did like:

• Enrico Colantini! Glad to see Sherriff Mars is still an outlier even outside of Neptune CA.

• Dolores and Maeve's drone allies getting bored with the host fight and deciding to just shoot each other instead.

• The return of Clementine and Hanaryo, though I wish it were Hanaryo and Armistice so they could keep up their mutual fascination. (I thought Clementine's pearl was irrevocably erased and that's why she was in zombie mode last season?)

• Solomon the schizophrenic AI reminded me of Durandal and GladOS. Not nearly as good a conversationalist though.

• As pointed out by Zach Handlen in the review linked above, those outliers in the cryo-coffins are all dead thanks to the EMP, right?

• Riot Control Voltron, please come home! All is forgiven.
posted by ejs at 8:47 PM on April 28, 2020 [5 favorites]


amazing that you can build a computer that can predict the world and manipulate it but can't get rid of money or even capitalism

Money and capitalism is how they manipulate the world. That was made explicit in the Rehoboam origin story episode, when the first use of the AI was to predict the stock market and make beaucoup bucks from it.
posted by ejs at 8:49 PM on April 28, 2020


Maeve wants Delores' pearl because it contains the key to her daughter. At least that is my understanding. If Maeve succeeds, I'm curious how she plans to defeat Serac without the help of Delores or Solomon. "Serac" is just an avatar of Rehoboam, right? Sorry I always catch on slow.
posted by Brocktoon at 10:35 PM on April 28, 2020 [1 favorite]


And I'm not sure they're really conveying the emotional horror of Serac's plans _or_ what he's fighting against. I mean, on the face of it, assuming he's right and human society crashes without manipulation, is having a small fraction of a percent of people being put on ice until better pharmaceuticals are developed _really_ that bad?
This depends on what is meant by "human society crashes".
Perhaps it's nuclear/climate Armageddon or perhaps it's a world without billionaires.
Whoever determines the "failure state" of each simulation is the one making the decision on whether icing the outliers is a good choice.

I would have strong suspicions that powerful people remaining powerful would be a major part of what is considered a successful outcome.
posted by fullerine at 11:22 PM on April 28, 2020


The "everything you try" leads to a nuke, is a pretty common prophecy trope since that Oedipus playwright came up with a clever idea to freak the audience.

The entire show is shown from quite a narrow insular viewpoints, the hosts and a few ultra important players, but perhaps important mostly in their eyes. The huge events on the Westworld island seems to be akin to a really big roller coaster accident, a lot of deaths but just a blip in the news cycle. The ending I want is a pull back that has a legitimate police force arresting the billionaires, a few shots of them in a court room and a legitimate news commentator explaining that a small group of delusional robot builders got caught up in a silly game that got out of hand and would take a few months to unwind. Then a sentence reading where they all get 20 years, the gavel comes down, the camera pulls back and it's Dolores in judges robes.
posted by sammyo at 4:11 AM on April 29, 2020 [1 favorite]


"Serac" is just an avatar of Rehoboam, right?

I think the jury is still out on that? We've seen at least a few scenes where someone actually interacted with the god-in-the-clouds (versus his annoying hologram presentations), but hell, given the in-universe brainwashing techniques, who's to say that Solomon failed to scrub Jean Mi into a perfect avatar, but Rehoboam and Serac were more simpatico? So even if he was a human agent at the beginning, Rehoboam has sanded down all the rough corners until Serac was more compliant.

Or it's just about the money and power, as always.
posted by Kyol at 5:59 AM on April 29, 2020 [1 favorite]


Given that it’s Westworld and we have Maeve and now Clementine, shouldn’t it be Two-Bit Thor?
posted by mwhybark at 4:58 PM on April 29, 2020 [1 favorite]


And Rehoboam also sanded down the MIB I guess. I think his daughter warned him previously.
posted by Brocktoon at 5:04 PM on April 29, 2020


Colantoni played a recurring role in Person of Interest, which had creators and themes in common with Westworld.
posted by Pronoiac at 7:59 AM on April 30, 2020 [1 favorite]


I figured out the answer to the question "How did Caleb Get Here". The answer is I don't really care. Ugh, this episode. Introducing yet another storyline, an obvious hook for Season 4: The Adventures of Caleb and the Book That Predicts The Future. Still Caleb's story makes more sense to me than Dolores, or Maeve, or Bernard. I have no idea what any of them are doing or why. This season has lost me. Oh well, one more episode to go.
posted by Nelson at 7:29 AM on May 20, 2020 [1 favorite]


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