Westworld is having some fun in tonight’s episode, “Genre.” Sampling different styles of filmmaking and some excellent music to draw the viewer into Jesse Pinkman’s latest experience with drugs, this one’s a trip.
When we last saw Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) and Caleb (Aaron Paul), they were abducting Liam Dempsey (John Gallagher) from a sex and drugs gala. We catch up with them moments later– their actions, but not yet their location, known to Serac (Vincent Cassel). As they rush to maximize their advantage, Liam surprises Caleb by dosing him with the bio/tech party drug his friends gave him, “genre,” and the adventure gets cinematic.
Genre delivers a mix of chemical and technological stimulus to humans who have the implants that are apparently common in this era. Its effect is a series of five states of altered reality that make whatever you’re experiencing feel like you’re living in different film genres. It moves from film noir to action to party to romance to reality, with cinematography and soundtrack to match.
Interspersed with scenes from Dolores’ plan as it kicks into gear (as seen through Caleb’s changing lens) are flashbacks that tell Serac’s origin story– and Rehoboam’s.
It doesn’t take long for Serac’s men to find Liam and initiate battle with Dolores. Their attack pushes the hostage dweeb to give up his biometric key to Dolores so she can override their driverless vehicle’s system and wrest control of it from Serac. Conveniently, Liam’s move also gives Dolores what she needs to access the deepest levels of Rehoboam.
She passes the key to her Martin Connells (Tommy Flanagan) self, just as he and his captive, Bernarnold (Jeffrey Wright), arrive at Rehoboam’s control panel. His first task is to pull every file on Serac and transfer them to Dolores. His second is to send everyone on Earth the files Incite has collected on their pasts, present and futures. (Remember when Black Widow uploaded all of SHIELD’s files to the web in Winter Soldier? That.)
As soon as the people have the information they are free, and society breaks down immediately. There is chaos in the streets by the time Dolores and her crew, which has expanded to include Giggles (Marshawn Lynch) and Ash (Lena Waithe), emerge into them.
In the chaotic streets, Dolores’ team encounters an ambush. Some armed thugs pull up and start shooting at Caleb, and Dolores steps in front of him to save his life. He’s still tripping, but he registers that she hasn’t been killed despite several significant hits. She zips up her jacket to conceal her new wounds and promises him they can talk about it later.
Now that she has undone Rehoboam, Dolores doesn’t need Liam anymore. She offers to let the others decide what to do with him, and as he rails at them for “being their own cages,” Ash shoots him. She and Giggles walk off into their new, unwritten futures, and Dolores takes Caleb to an airplane hangar so they can move on to the next step of her plan.
As they board a plane, possibly one Serac owns, Caleb expresses doubt that people can handle seeing their Incite files. He suggests that he was able to deal with it because he isn’t like other people. Dolores says to him meaningfully, “Neither am I,” and they depart to the genius selection of Fischerspooner’s “Emerge.” (The music video is at the bottom of this post.) The lyrics as they fly away?
You don’t need to
Emerge from nothing
You don’t need to
You don’t need to
Feels good too…
The Serac backstory Dolores has transferred from Rehoboam to her own brain is that he and his unstable genius older brother survived the nuclear devastation of Paris when they were boys. They went on to co-invent Rehoboam to help save humanity from itself by using data to predict and strategize future outcomes and steer events towards the optimal possibilities.
They received early financial backing from Liam Dempsey Sr. (Jefferson Mays), but he was a short-sighted and greedy man who made himself a liability when he discovered that Serac had begun imprisoning “outlier” people in a facility where they were being experimented on. Serac’s intention was to prevent unpredictable people, like his brother, from upsetting the balanced world he was building with Rehoboam. Dempsey’s interference led to Serac killing him and staging his death to look like a plane crash.
When Martin-Dolores breaches Rehoboam, he first tries to recruit Bernarnold to Dolores’ side in the war-in-progress by tipping him off to Serac’s facility for outliers. Unfortunately, both Ashley Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth) and Martel (Pom Klementieff) show up right then. Martin-Dolores tells the other Hosts to run for it, because Bernarnold is the only one they can’t replace, then lures Martel to his corner office.
In the office, Martel summons an angry hologram of Serac. Martin-Dolores pretends to be walking to his desk to look into how a breach happened on his watch, but as soon as he’s at his terminal he surprises Serac by saying that he was the breach and detonating a charge that obliterates both him and Martel.
Hologram Serac next tries to talk to Dolores as she’s boarding the plane, telling her that accessing his files doesn’t mean she knows him now. She tells him ominously that she doesn’t need to know him– just how to beat him. She disconnects the call, leaving him frustrated on another airplane as his world falls apart below.