Westworld season 3 episode 3 review: 'The Absence of Field' adds more twists and turns to a complicated plot

Rohini Nair

Mar 30, 2020 19:04:14 IST

This post contains some spoilers for Westworld season 3 episode 3, 'The Absence of Field'.


After the Maeve and Bernard-centric proceedings of Westworld season 3 episode 2 ('The Winter Line'; recap here), we're back in Dolores' corner with episode 3 ('The Absence of Field'). And if the preceding episode had left any lingering doubts at all that Westworld season 3 is bringing out the big guns to impress, then 'The Absence of Field' lays them to rest.

A rundown of what happens, because a lot happens:

Charlotte (Tessa Thompson) is slowly coming to terms with her new body — by which we mean the host that Dolores has placed within the semblance of Charlotte's body, is coming to terms with the trappings of her life.

That life includes an estranged husband; her son Nathan — the very Nathan Charlotte tried to get a message to on the night of the Westworld massacre; and her position at the Delos Corporation. Speaking of Delos, New Charlotte realises she has more on her plate than she and Dolores bargained for: she's been told that some of the hosts' control units were stolen from the Westworld park, and among the untraceable ones is Maeve's.

Further, her plan (or rather, Dolores') to gain full control of Delos by taking it private has hit a snag as someone has been quietly buying up shares and now owns a sizeable chunk of the company. As for who that someone is, why it's Serac. But there's more: There's a mole at Delos who has been feeding Serac information, and Charlotte's discovery of who that is further convolutes this more-twisted-than-a-pretzel plot.

 Westworld season 3 episode 3 review: The Absence of Field adds more twists and turns to a complicated plot

Who is Charlotte Hale? | Still from Westworld season 3 episode 3. HBO

Is that, however, a greater mystery than who is inside Charlotte's body? Let's just say that New Charlotte is nothing like Old Charlotte: Firstly, she (or he?) is horrified at being placed inside the body of Charlotte, who it was known, had no great love for the hosts in Westworld and the other Delos parks (well, she had love, if that glimpse of her joyride with Hector was any indication, but not of the 'amity between all species, and robots are our brethren' kind). Further, New Charlotte is hesitant and timid and needs Dolores' constant reassurance — although she isn't above taking decisive action when it comes to protecting those in her ambit.

Since we can only speculate about New Charlotte's true identity at this juncture, let's move to the other important character in 'The Absence of Field': Caleb Nichols (Aaron Paul). Can we just mention at this point how much the character's already grown on us? It sure makes up for the loss of familiar faces and settings to have a new one to root for. Anyway, back to the plot, and Caleb's attempt — when we last saw him — to save a wounded Dolores. He gets her into an ambulance, only to be involved in a shootout and become a target of those who're hunting Dolores. When they catch up with him, he refuses to sell Dolores out, and she manages to rescue him in the nick of time. So far, so according to plan.

Caleb with Dolores | Still from Westworld season 3 episode 3. HBO

Caleb with Dolores. Are those sparks we see? | Still from Westworld season 3 episode 3. HBO

Things *really* get interesting when Dolores brings him up to speed on the system that dictates all human lives in this world: Before the advent of privacy laws, the Incite Corporation has been feeding data points about every individual — doctor's appointments, their purchases, romantic history, whathaveyou — into the system known as Rehoboam (of which the elusive Serac is co-creator). The system uses this data to create composites of everyone in a mirror world, and using algorithms, determines who you're capable of being. Your prospects of finding a partner, a job — are all dependent on what the system decides you're worth/capable of. Think of it as caste system, that determines what sort of resources and opportunities are made available to you, but one designed and enforced by AI. Dolores tells Caleb she's going to bring in a revolution, and is he on board? Hell, yeah.

What 'The Absence of Field' gets right is its steady uncovering of the wheels within wheels that orchestrate the functioning of this world (oh, and lest we forget, stunning vistas of this futuristic milieu, where it would seem elephants are extinct — but we digress). We mentioned in our 'The Winter Line' review how we loved the Inception-esque underpinnings to the current plot, and this episode takes it a notch higher. What makes for particularly nice symmetry is the way in which season 1's conceit has been subverted in season 3: then, we saw that the hosts were controlled by humans; now, we see that the humans are controlled by AI. The humans are the ones ordained to follow preset 'paths' and loops.

We can't wait to find out where these paths will lead. Bring it on, Westworld!

Westworld season 3 is currently streaming on Hotstar. Watch a promo for episode 4 here —

Updated Date: Mar 30, 2020 19:04:14 IST

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