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Westworld season 3 episode 4 recap: The Man in Black returns and all those pearls explained

On Sunday, HBO brought Ed Harris back. Characters start to diverge as they make moves toward their goals.

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The Man in Black returns and is haunted by his past.


On Sunday night, HBO aired episode four of Westworld's third season, which finally brought back William -- aka the Man in Black (Ed Harris) -- as well as his daughter Emily (Katja Herbers). We also got some major answers as to who's inside Charlotte Hale and the other hosts in Dolores' (Evan Rachel Wood) squad. This episode continues to explore the themes of identity, masks and being someone you're not.

If episode 1 was about introducing viewers to the "real" world of 2058 and episodes 2 and 3 were about getting characters into their storyline battle positions, then tonight's episode has characters making major moves toward their goals. There is a lot to breakdown.

Tonight's episode, aptly titled "The Mother of Exiles", sees Dolores buy Caleb (Aaron Paul) a suit, Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) buy Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth) some beer and Liam Dempsey Jr. (John Gallagher) try to buy a lady not wearing pants.

Read: Westworld season 3 gets futuristic gadgets and tech so right

But before we jump into the fourth episode, if you need a refresher on the first two seasons, read our Westworld season 1 and 2 recap. Also check out our interview with Jeffrey Wright who explains what happiness looks like for Bernard.

Spoilers ahead.

The Man in Black rides again

Continuing the "who are you" theme from last week, we see William haunted by Dolores and the ghost of his daughter Emily asking, "William. Who are you?" To which he replies, "I know you're not real. I know who the fuck I am." The sequence is gorgeously shot with an extreme ultrawide-angle lens that distorts his house and literally bends his reality.

Emily reminds William that everyone who cared about him is dead: herself, mom, grandpa, Logan. Emily's confrontation of her father plays like a scene from MacBeth. It's intense, raw, and confounding. My favorite moments in Westworld are when genuine emotion comes out from under all the puzzle pieces and this was definitely one of those moments.

At the end of the season 2 finale, after the credits we saw a scene of William descending on an elevator to be greeted by a host version of his daughter Emily. We also saw that there are host versions of William as well. So in this scene is William, William? Is he a host? Is it a nightmare?

And what better way to end such a scene than to have William point a gun at Charlotte Hale and say, "You're not real either."

She replies, "Real enough to not want a gun pointed at my face. Are you with me now? Good because it's time to come back to reality." Reminder: she's a robot in the "real" world which might actually be nothing more than a simulation on Incite's Rehoboam machine.

Under the guise of needing William's help to prevent Serac (Vincent Cassel) from stealing Delos, she has William committed and therefore gains a majority of control over Delos which will allow her to take it private. As we learn at the end, Hale is actually occupied by a copy of Dolores. As William is being taken away to a private mental hospital, Hale uses her finger to prick his neck.

And then we see justice at last. Well, kind of. Dressed in a bright white jumpsuit, the Man in Black is no more. He is visited by a vision of Dolores as she was in the Westworld park and explains with relish that this is all part of the game. The scene cuts to a wide shot of William all alone. Is Dolores just another delusion? Is this it for William or will he have the motivation to stop Dolores after what she did to him in the form of Hale?

Dolores shows Bernard his completed house

Let's talk about a scene that seems to be a flashback. Dolores shows Bernard his house. She points out that the house he was building is finished.

Bernard explains that he didn't finish it and then we hear his whispered voice say, "This isn't real." But perhaps this is a construct Dolores created to ease Bernard back into reality. Or perhaps it is a hint that the "real" world we've been shown this season is nothing more than a simulation? The latter explanation would fit rather well with the theme of masks that appears throughout this episode.

Also, in season 2 when Bernard is in the virtual world of the Cradle, the aspect ratio goes to widescreen. We saw that with Maeve as well when she was in the Warworld simulation in season 3 episode 2. So this Bernard and Dolores scene is likely a simulation, too.


The wide aspect ratio of this Bernard and Dolores scene indicates this is likely a simulation.


We still don't know Dolores' plan for Bernard and neither does Bernard. We get a hint that perhaps it's more of a teacher/student thing when Dolores reminds Bernard that he taught her that anything was possible and that they could live however they want. The scene ends with her asking him if he believes that still.

Bernard and Stubbs look for Dolores

We catch up with the two in a hotel in Victorville, CA where we can see rockets taking off and landing a la Space X. In comparison to the other cities we see in the future, this town looks pretty crap-tacular. Stubbs has the best line about the less than stellar accommodations.

"I just want to thank you Bernard for bringing me to this shit hole. It makes me look back on my time in the murder simulation theme park with fondness."


As he brings Stubbs some beer, Bernard sees a child which triggers a flashback of his own "child" from season 1.


The two have surmised that Dolores is taking a "kill and replace" approach to get what she wants. They assume she has killed Liam Dempsey Jr. and replaced him with one of her hosts pretending to be him. Bernard plans to get close to the Liam host and use a button he created to control it and find out the other humans Dolores plans to copy and replace.

The button is curious because we saw Serac with a similar button in episode 2 that he used to override Maeve. And we see a button that Bernard uses on himself several times throughout the season so far. But it's Bernard's button that I'm curious about. In those moments, what is it in himself that he is toggling on and off? Is a piece of Dolores also copied inside him?

Serac and Maeve look for Dolores

We learn a bit more about Serac -- like the fact that he has a brother -- and they witnessed Paris being nuked. Over drinks with Maeve, Serac explains that Dolores has two keys. One to the data Delos collected about its guests and the other a key that would allow Maeve to join her daughter in the Valley (aka host heaven). So we are back to characters searching for a key to open up something mysterious they want.


Serac as a kid witnessing the destruction of Paris.


Serac explains that the data Delos collected is more complete than the Rehoboam machine he created for Incite. He takes Maeve to Bernard's house where there's a "man with information tied to a chair" scene. I really like the show's take on this trope and how Serac uses data to show the captive's future when he does cooperate and when he doesn't. But all that is undone when Serac kills the man. I get it. The act shows Serac's power and is a reminder to Maeve about what is at stake.

Maeve searches for the Mortician, who helped Dolores get the identities of five people. As she searches for the Matrix-like named character, we see Maeve being able to control electronics, gadgets and any other device with a microchip. She's able to fight her way to see the Mortician which results in a scene that echoes the eye manufacturing scene in the original Blade Runner. Then she walks into a Yakuza hideout taking out a handful of well-armed guards by overriding their auto-aiming arm guns, along with some swift samurai sword work.

That's when she meets the head of the Yakuza, Musashi (Hiroyuki Sanada) from season 2 in Shogun World. Or at least it's his host body with someone else inside of it. More on that in a second.

After a sword fight, Musashi stabs Maeve with a fatal blow, leaving her in a pool of her own blood and a white liquid that looks similar to what host bodies are created with. Musashi picks up his sword and goes to cut open her head (my guess is to get her pearl) but runs away when he learns that people tracking her are on the way.

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A Dolores divergence detected

We catch up with Dolores buying Caleb a suit as they embark on her plan. Along with an ill-gotten blood marker from a banker, Caleb transfers Liam Dempsey Jr.'s money to Dolores. On the way into the bank Caleb asks what if his blood marker doesn't work.

"We do it the old-fashioned way," replies Dolores who smiles. "I kill everyone."

And that brings us to an actual masquerade party where things start to diverge. Liam Dempsey Jr. is trying to bid on a lady wearing no pants, but has no money because Caleb and Dolores took it. And that's when Bernard and Stubbs grab Liam and try to control him, only to realize that he isn't a host.


Dolores (or an apparition) pays William a visit at the hospital he's been committed to.


Dolores and her Martin Connells host are there, also trying to nab Dempsey. This leads to a reunion and a badass but brief fight between Stubbs and Dolores who throws him off a balcony.

Who are the pearls?

Since the end of season 2, one of the biggest questions was the identity of the five host pearls that Dolores has in her possession. We know Bernard was one of them, but we don't learn anything new about them in episode 4.

However we do learn that the Charlotte Hale host, the Martin Connells host and the Musashi host all have copies of Dolores inside them. I can't say I called this 100% last week, but I was very close -- like 90%. This makes things inherently unpredictable. And the truth is that perhaps Dolores never intended to use all the pearls, but by having them it kept them from being used against her.