It was an even bigger episode than usual this week for Westworld, both in terms of moving Dolores’ plan into hyperdrive, and discovering more about Serac’s shady backstory. But the best — and weirdest bits — all involved Caleb taking a drug called Genre and going on Westworld’s equivalent of an acid trip.
Episode 5 is fittingly called Genre, and was co-written by series creator Jonathan Nolan and Karrie Crouse. A lot happened, including more screen time for the brilliant Lena Waithe and Marshawn Lynch, and a possible romance between Caleb and Dolores. Let’s get stuck into everything that went down.
Serac and his messed up childhood
Via French subtitles and a flashback, we learn that as a child Serac (Vincent Cassel) and his brother, Jean Mi (Paul Cooper), an extremely intelligent and philosophical 10-year-old, became disenchanted with the state of the world after they witnessed Paris being nuked. Understandable.
Believing God had never existed in the first place, and that “humanity was hurtling towards extinction,” they decided to build a god to save them. Those are goals we should all have as 10-year-olds.
And that, we learn, is the thesis behind Rehoboam, the machine they eventually built that essentially put humanity on a loop.
But as we know, that didn’t work out.
When the brothers are older, in what looks like their 20s, they go into business with the now-deceased Liam Dempsey Sr. (Jefferson Mays), co-founder of Incite. Incite puts the entire world’s data in their hands. But, thinking iterations of Rehoboam don’t work, Dempsey Sr. pulls the plug.
Dolores and Caleb are a thing
Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) and Caleb (Aaron Paul), have a little chat with Liam Dempsey Jr. (John Gallagher Jr.) about his options, after they kidnapped him last episode. Dempsey Jr., Dolores reminds us, is trying to outbid Serac on Delos, and Serac isn’t happy about it. She kindly offers to help Dempsey Jr. if he gives them the key to Rehoboam, so they can study Serac’s past, present and future, and take him down.
But Dempsey Jr. says his key isn’t enough. “Either we find a way to defeat him together, or we all die,” Dolores says, and then with absolutely zero team spirit, Dempsey Jr. stab-injects Caleb with a new party drug and tries to escape. In new territory for Westworld, the drug turns everything into a cheesy black-and-white ’50s noir for Caleb, moody orchestrals and all.
Hopping into a car, the trio are almost immediately pursued by Serac’s assets. On top of that, Caleb’s head is stuck in a heightened state of paranoia.
Mid-gun battle, Caleb starts to hear Ride of the Valkyries. It’s weird. Caleb shoots a guided-missile and blows their pursuers up in perfect time with the crescendo of the music.
It gets even weirder: Caleb’s mind mixes with a haze of sickly sweet romantic music. In the middle of the street, he stares longingly at a glowing Dolores as she guns down the next batch of thugs. It seems like more will happen between these two, and if it does, let’s hope they stay off the hallucinogens.
Dolores releases Rehoboam’s data
Ash (Waithe) and Giggles (Lynch) join Dolores’ party, explaining Caleb’s weird internal soundtrack is the result of “genre,” “a movie marathon” drug.
The gang stay on the move, hopping on a train out west — a train that’s definitely a metaphor for what’s about to happen. While debating whether to release Rehoboam’s information on everyone and reveal to them that their lives have been prewritten — or on train tracks — Caleb impresses Dolores with his allegory about rats and how he would rather live in chaos than a world controlled by Incite.
Sending over Dempsey Jr.’s access key, Dolores instructs Martin Connells (Tommy Flanagan), aka a copy of herself in Martin Connells’ cloned body, to release Rehoboam’s data.
People on the real train get a notification on their phones and see their files containing their prewritten stories, including predictions of when they’ll die. It’s pretty grim.
As Caleb, Dolores and the gang leave the train station, they encounter more people realizing their reality is a lie. Amid people throwing rocks at shop windows as well as just having a sit on the ground, two of Serac’s shooters hop out of a car and aim at Caleb.
Dolores, emotionless, steps in front of him and takes the bullets. She then shoots the thugs dead. Caleb gapes at Dolores’ torso, peppered with bullet holes. Yet she’s still breathing.
Serac ‘edits’ his brother
In the past, after Serac and his brother get Dempsey Sr. back on board by showing him how they can manipulate the stock market and make bank, we see Dempsey Sr. discover how messed up Serac really is.
Serac reveals he’s been experimenting on “editing” his own brother, who’s too “impulsive” and “chaotic” for this new anal world they’re trying to have Rehoboam build. Serac’s brother had also been planning on murdering Dempsey Sr.
Goodbye Connells, hello Stubbs
Connells shows Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) pictures of one of many Reeducation Centers where Serac sends society’s “outliers,” presumably including his brother, to reform them on their “inner journey’s recovery.”
But then — surprise! — Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth) jumps out from behind a door to save Bernard, the pair of them overpowering Connells and demanding he tell them everything Dolores has planned.
But Connells reveals his role is finished, and Bernard and Stubbs flee before Pom Klementieff’s Martel, who works for Serac, takes Connells away to be killed.
Connells, getting the last laugh, blows himself, Martel and a few other thugs up.
Caleb’s traumatic flashbacks
On a beach somewhere, Dolores, Caleb and the gang deliberate what to do with Dempsey Jr., having stripped him of his money and access to Rehoboam’s data.
To stop him taunting them all for being a problem to society, Ash shoots Dempsey Jr. in the stomach. While Dempsey Jr.’s in the sand dying, Caleb has more confusing flashbacks.
Caleb sees fragments of memory from his time serving in the army: He seems to lead a man with a bag over his head into a deserted warehouse, where Caleb looks like he’s about to shoot him.
Then he remembers being on an operating table, overseen by a woman in a sleek white outfit we haven’t seen before (she’s played by Bahia Haifi Gold and credited as Dr. Greene). Was he in one of the rehabilitation clinics?
Before he can figure it out, Dempsey Jr. dies. His final words are, “You did it.”
Caleb asks Dolores, “Who do they think I am?”
Caleb’s character has had a layer of mystery to him since the first episode, and it would make sense if he’d had his memory wiped at some point.
In the past, Serac takes Dempsey Sr. to the desert, where they philosophize about agency. Dempsey Sr. thinks Serac won’t harm him, since Rehoboam predicted he wouldn’t. But Westworld’s themes about free will come into play, and Serac goes ahead and brutally bashes Dempsey Sr. to death.
In the present, Dolores stands off with a hologram of Serac. She knows about his brother, and declares, “It’s time everyone woke up.” Caleb and Dolores then jump in a jet (are they heading for one of those reeducation centers?), bringing a particularly bizarre episode of Westworld to an end.
Deeper into the maze
- A young Serac runs his hand through a field of wheat, calling back to season 1 and 2. And Gladiator.
- Serac seems to have his own personal connection to Rehoboam in his wristwatch. The white face looks like it has a coffee stain circle in it. But on Vincent Cassel, it looks chic. Vincent Cassel can pull anything off.
- Alexandre Bar, who plays the twentysomething Serac, is one of those eerily good casting choices: Bar and Cassel have the exact same chin and bone structure.
- Serac and his brother call iterations of their machine after figures in the Hebrew bible, from Solomon to his son Rehoboam.
- Dempsey Jr. wears a T-shirt with a print that describes him perfectly: “Basic.”
- No Maeve, Charlotte or the Man in Black this week.