Westworld season 3 episode 6 recap: The Man in Black finds a new purpose
In one of the darkest episodes yet, we go deep into William's twisted mind. Plus -- a surprise cameo in the weirdest of places.
Jennifer BissetFormer Senior Editor / Culture
Jennifer Bisset was a senior editor for CNET. She covered film and TV news and reviews. The movie that inspired her to want a career in film is Lost in Translation. She won Best New Journalist in 2019 at the Australian IT Journalism Awards.
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Best New Journalist 2019 Australian IT Journalism Awards
In a relatively Dolores-lite episode this week on Westworld, we reunite with Maeve, the Man in Black and Charlotte. While Maeve gathers help in the fight against Dolores and the Man in Black goes to a twisted group therapy session, Charlotte, aka Halores, has the cool fight sequence of the week, which inevitably ends in tragedy.
The sixth episode of season 3 is called Decoherence, and was written by Suzanne Wrubel and series co-creator Lisa Joy. It sees Maeve confront Dolores in the big standoff teased in the promo trailer, but it's not the grand showdown you expect. In a darker episode, compared with last week, Tessa Thompson finally gets to take Halores to compelling places, and this is her standout episode. Get the rundown below.
Warning: Spoilers ahead.
Maeve needs help
We open in what looks like the Sublime, a virtual heaven for the consciousness of hosts. Maeve (Thandie Newton), who didn't let being stabbed in episode 4 keep her down, has a moment with her daughter, a resident of the Sublime since the end of last season.
But this isn't real and Serac (Vincent Cassel) waltzes into the scene, offering Maeve a reward for hunting down Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood): He'll take her back to her perfect memories of living with her daughter.
But instead, Maeve, sharp-witted as ever, says all she wants is what Dolores has: "Help."
We cut to a circle of patients, all wearing white jumpsuits, in a mental institution. Just as they start discussing God and His plan for everyone -- boom! -- look who shows up: The Man in Black (Ed Harris).
It wasn't clear we'd see him again after episode 4 revealed his tormented state, haunted by hallucinations of his dead daughter Emily. But he's back, pontificating about his favorite subject -- existentialism -- while making fellow patients burst into tears and undergoing augmented reality therapy.
Halores, Serac and more murder
Halores (a Dolores copy in Charlotte Hale's body) sees more effects of the world spinning out of control after Dolores released everyone's "life projection" files last episode.
After hurrying her son Nathan home through a trashed street in San Francisco, Halores discovers Charlotte's ex-husband Jake (Michael Ealy) with his profile. But instead of trying to find out what becomes of their relationship, he decides, "It's not up to a machine to decide; it's our choice." This clearly touches Halores, hinting more than ever that her beliefs might lead her astray from Dolores' plans.
After Serac's thugs off one of the Delos board members, Halores calls Dolores to concede she failed to take Delos private. In less than two hours, the company will be Serac's.
Dolores instructs Halores to secure all the host-making data from Delos before Serac destroys it. Halores pushes back at Dolores for requesting she put her life in danger -- that will have consequences for her family. "They're not your family," Dolores promptly replies.
Delos has officially been taken over by Incite
Serac instructs the Delos board to erase most of its intellectual property. The only thing he wants: the encryption key, which unlocks the guest data and the Sublime.
In other news: He knows Dolores made multiple copies of herself and suspects there's one in Delos. He orders all employees to be tested for aberrations. Halores gulps.
While quickly making a copy of the host data, she's caught midmission by one of the board members. He makes the mistake of scarpering off to tell Serac, and Halores proceeds to break his neck. That's just a taste of the awesome Tessa Thompson fight scenes to come.
Watch this: Westworld season 3: Incite vs. Delos
William's twisted group therapy session
In a blast from the past, William faces several AR versions of himself, from The Man in Black, a dinner suit version (possibly from season 2, episode 9 when Ford hands him a card with all the data the park has acquired on him), the child version and the Jimmi Simpson version. That's right, he's back!
James Delos, who William was testing last season to see if his consciousness could survive in a host body, also joins in as a kind of moderator, pushing William to explore the key to his "dark urges" -- something traumatic that happened in his childhood home.
William's dad interrogates the child William about something that happened at school. William broke a kid's arm and knocked out three of his teeth -- all because the kid called his dad a drunk. "What the hell is wrong with you?" his dad asks.
But the different versions of William conclude their father drank because of William's violence. He never had a choice, his path to the sadistic Man in Black was always how he was going to turn out.
Realizing what he must do, William murders his other selves, which is supposed to be cathartic -- say goodbye to Jimmi Simpson. Now that William's free from his past, he claims he finally understands his purpose: "I'm the good guy."
Interesting. Even if that's a delusion, it seems William will have a bigger role to play in events involving Dolores.
Maeve and Dolores face off
Maeve wakes up in Warworld. While waiting for Serac to print her a new body, as well as build her some host friends to fight Dolores, she blows off some steam by beating up an entire troop of Nazis.
Accompanied by Lee Sizemore and a restored Hector, a "gift" from Serac, Maeve comes across a version of Dolores that Serac placed in the simulation. In the same glass room where Dolores once interviewed Bernard, Maeve brings Dolores back online and they have a chat.
This is kind of a big stand-off moment, except the simulation-Dolores is a more placid version who hasn't yet launched an attack on all humans. She tries to assure Maeve she'll never hurt her daughter, despite holding the key to the Sublime in her head.
Maeve requests the key, but Dolores can't entrust it to her, since she's aligned herself with Serac. They come to a stalemate, realizing they both have little choice but to fight each other.
Halores uploads the Delos data
Halores, still tinkering in Delos' systems, uses a tracker she placed in William's blood when she had him committed, to find where he is -- apparently a location Dolores has been looking for. After securely stealing all of Delos' data, Halores, practically signaling her death, calls her husband and says she'll be home in half an hour.
Serac holds another board meeting, where he exposes Halores for who she really is, pointing out that the real Charlotte Hale would never have taken the time to check on her son. What a heartless way to expose someone.
As Serac spouts Dolores' catchphrase at her -- "These violent delights have violent ends" -- Halores once again proves she's smarter than everyone, releasing a gas canister that knocks the board members out.
Cue cool fight sequence to Ramin Djawadi's pulsing synths as Halores uses her now iconic cape-jacket to choke a security guard out. Heading into the host printing lab, she then carries out Dolores' plan to prevent Maeve from gaining allies, squishing Hector's pearl to a pulp.
Just before she's captured, Halores brings the Transformer-like riot control robots to her rescue. It would've been a waste if we didn't see them again -- one Hulk-smashes through a wall to pin a guy to death. Another flings a guard like a rag doll into the nearby artificial lake. Stupid fun.
Bernard and Stubbs to the rescue
William, having finished murdering his past selves, emerges from his augmented reality. Who comes to the rescue but Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) and Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth), saying something about the doctors forgetting William in all the chaos. Is this referring to the chaos caused by the Delos data breach from last episode? Or something else?
Maeve unleashed in the real world
Maeve's body is finally complete. She steps out to the real world, but the printer's not done: Hector may be gone forever, but Maeve sees another body midcreation. What pearls are left? Could Maeve make a copy of Dolores, seeing as Serac made one for the simulation?
A tragic ending
Miraculously, Halores escapes and retrieves Jake and Nathan. But hold up, this is Westworld and there are no happy endings.
Intending to drive somewhere where no one will find them, Halores tells her husband, "I can keep you safe." Big mistake. The next moment -- BOOM. The car blows up, witnessed by what appears to be one Serac's lackeys, who then reports the news down his earpiece and departs the scene.
What he doesn't see: Halores survives, dragging her body out from the fiery wreckage, her hair and skin burned to a red, charred layer. A tear drops from her eye, her expression saying it all: She's going to get revenge.
Will that be on Serac? Or Dolores for putting her family in danger? Either way, what a setup for the final two episodes of Westworld.
Deeper into the maze
In what's becoming a favorite motif for Westworld, we once again open in a field of wheat.
AR therapy is such an intriguing use for something that hasn't really taken off in real life.
Can we agree Halores' blush-colored cape-jacket is a fashion moment?
The Jimmi Simpson cameo is an unexpected gift.
Young William reads a book called Sir Rowan and the Lady of Sulon. It doesn't seem to relate to anything in real life...
The Man in Black is now the Man in White.
The sequence in which we get close-ups of how a host body is created is beautiful to watch: The details of the eyebrows and the blood being pumped into the body are really something.
The Hale family car is an absolute beast. It's like this world's version of a minivan-tank.
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