Westworld season 3 episode 3 review: Who is Charlotte Hale?

Tessa Thompson in Westworld Season 3. Photograph by John P. Johnson/HBO
Tessa Thompson in Westworld Season 3. Photograph by John P. Johnson/HBO /

As Westworld season 3 continues, the host formerly known as Charlotte Hale begins to question the nature of her reality in new and confusing ways.

One of the biggest questions of Westworld season 3 is exactly who its characters are. Sure, we know that Dolores is in the real world, and now Maeve is too. Bernard is battling some serious inner demons, and new faces like Caleb, Liam and Connells are clearly big pieces of what’s to come.

But we’re still missing a pretty big part of the story – who else is on Team Dolores?

When Dolores fled the park – masquerading as the dead Charlotte Hale – she took six other host “pearls” with her, each containing the consciousness of another being like her. One of them turned out to belong to Bernard Lowe, who Dolores saved and resurrected for reasons that aren’t entirely clear just yet. The other four are a mystery, despite the fact that Dolores is now back in her own body, and something is living in Charlotte. As well as Connells. Who are these hosts? And where are the other (still unidentified) two?

In “The Absence of Field”, we learn more about the real Charlotte Hale than we ever have before. But still precious little about whoever it is that’s inhabiting her body. It turns out that Hale has an ex-husband and young son, and one that she cared enough about to use a host camera to film a last minute goodbye message to when she thought she might not make it out of Westworld. She apparently contained multitudes – anonymously – which seems a rare thing in deed in this world in which someone’s potential suicide a decade in the future impacts their job prospects today.

Furthermore, whoever inside Charlotte’s body is struggling to maintain his or her own sense of identity amidst being submerged in that which once belonged to the dead woman whose face their wearing. This false Charlotte is rapidly growing more lost inside herself, and losing a hold over both who she is and who she’s pretending to be. It’s so bad that whoever is in Charlotte has taken to self-injuring, likely to keep some sort of hold on their own sense of reality.

Charlotte, no matter how you quantify her – old, new, false, real – is rapidly becoming more of an idea than an individual. We seem to be approaching a point where it might not matter who is inside Charlotte’s body, because whoever it is won’t remember what it means to be someone other than Charlotte Hale by the point at which they’re allowed to reveal themselves.

It makes a ton of sense that we don’t quite understand what this Not-Charlotte is attempting to accomplish – it no longer feels as though she even knows herself, no matter how many times Dolores reminds her to remember who she is and why her success is necessary. This is all complicated by the fact that the real Charlotte was apparently following a secret agenda before her death – and was the very mole preparing to sell out Delos that this Charlotte is now pretending to hunt.

Circles upon circles, this show.

Elsewhere, shady corporate financier Serac is the least interesting part of the episode, the architect of supercomputer Rehoboam busily buying up Delos shares so he can… it’s not really clear. Combine the two systems into the world’s most terrifying data collection operation? Maybe. He comes across like your worst nightmare of a tech bro, presenting himself as a literal hologram and reveling in the digital anonymity he’s made for himself.

If Westworld wanted to make sure that Dolores had an adversary that we would feel okay rooting for her against – after all the murder and carnage she’s responsible for – well, I think Serac is that dude. He’s one of the few figures who seems more frightening than she is, and perhaps she is the only one that can stop him. Or, at least, the one who can restore some illusion of choice to the world she’s crashed into.

After all, she doesn’t tell Caleb he won’t kill himself when he gets the chance in ten years. She just wants to make sure the choice about whether or not to do so is his, and not some preordained narrative. (The freedom to make horrible choices is still a type of freedom, after all.)

Next. Westworld review: "The Winter Line". dark

What did you think of “The Absence of Field”? Let us know in the comments.