Westworld season 3 episode 5 review: “Genre” sets everyone free

Evan Rachel Wood, Aaron Paul in Westworld Season 3. Photograph by John P. Johnson/HBO
Evan Rachel Wood, Aaron Paul in Westworld Season 3. Photograph by John P. Johnson/HBO /

Westworld season 3 finally tells us a bit more about its mysterious central villain, just as Dolores’ plan kicks into high gear.

As might be expected following last week’s revelation that Dolores is, quite literally, everywhere, this week’s episode of Westworld sees her plan achieve access to supercomputer Rehoboam succeed. But this seeming victory seems like only the beginning of something much larger.

The episode’s narrative is split into two paths – one set in the past, as we learn about Serac’s childhood, his work to build the machine that would ultimately evolve into Rehoboam and his ultimate decision that his beloved brother was one of the “outliers” whose chaotic nature is a danger to the society he’s trying to build.

As fascinating as Vincent Cassell’s performance is and has been, Westworld already has one complex, vaguely evil and morally conflicted conflicted rich guy in its narrative, and I’m not entirely sure why it needed another. Sure, the show needs a figure to give the evils of Incite and the dangers of Rehoboam a human face, but despite his complex newly revealed backstory it doesn’t exactly make him a compelling figure to watch.

He’s a monster, yes. So is William, of course, albeit in a very different way. But only one of those men feels like a character that is actually on some kind of narrative journey. Perhaps Serac is a worthy adversary for Dolores, and this episode certainly does point in that direction.

But does anyone care about what makes him tick?

“Genre’s” other major narrative thread  follows Dolores’ kidnapping of rich kid Liam Dempsey, told through Caleb’s perspective while high on the substance that shares the episode’s title, a party drug for the uber-rich  that distorts his perception of everything around him.

As a result, the basic beats of the story – which are comprised of a pretty straight forward kidnapping, car chase and trip on a subway – suddenly take on new meaning thanks to Caleb’s genre-tinged lenses. Their initial escape with Liam happens in old Hollywood noir black and white, a mundane car chase is suddenly set to explosions and Wagner, and Caleb even watches Dolores mow down a bunch of Serac’s men in slow motion with a machine gun, all while the theme from Love Story plays in the background.

Is this mind-opening drug part of the reason that Caleb’s so insistent that Dolores send everyone their Incite files? It certainly seems like a timely reminder for him that life can – and once did – contain infinite more variety than the algorithmic world Serac and his cronies have built for everyone. (And, hon

Those of us that thought accessing Rehoboam was Dolores’ endgame, well. That’s clearly not the case. Instead, in this installment, she comes across as something of a digital Robin Hood, stealing everyone’s data and giving it back to its rightful owners, even if it contains a few truths they’d probably rather not know.

And in a way, this makes perfect sense. Dolores, who spent her life not even knowing she wasn’t capable of making a choice, would naturally be resist to anyone determined to take agency away from others. Sure, she’s likely to have some sort of a self-serving ulterior motive for this underneath – but that fact doesn’t negate that she likely also still believes in this action for its own sake.

These people are prisoners as much as she once was, in their way.

Of course, the fact that most of them react by lashing out – fighting, looting – does nothing to convince the proponents of Incite’s system that people should be given more free will rather than less. Yet, Liam’s rant about how there are certain people who are useless takers that add nothing to society is repulsive, and illustrates everything that’s wrong with Serac’s plan for the future of the world.

In its final moments, “Genre” presents a world remade – Rehoboam’s prediction clock has gone haywire, Serac seems powerless even as he swears vengeance, Dolores-as-Connels blows herself up, and Westworld hints that we may have been looking in the wrong direction for answers all along.

Because, there’s still the problem of Bernard, and what he’s even still doing in this story.

That, it seems, is set to be the true mystery of season 3 – Dolores herself insists he’s irreplaceable, and Connels Dolores did her best to convince him that the moment was coming when he’d have to choose sides. What that means, of course, remains unclear. But it certainly seems as though Dolores didn’t bring back Bernard out of the kindness of her heart, nor does it feel as though she’s done with the recreated version of Arnold that’s living in his head.

Now that Rehoboam has been neutralized, at least for the moment, maybe we’re finally about to find out.

Next. Westworld season 3 review: "The Mother of Exiles". dark

Westworld season 3 continues next Sunday on HBO.