Salvation for viewers in the third season of ‘Westworld’

Pardon my French, but s**t just got very real for South Africans with President Cyril Ramaphosa declaring a national state of emergency this Sunday.

Since Monday, my inbox has been flooded with press releases announcing the cancellation of events as well as closures of most entertainment venues and restaurants.  

It is scary watching real-life events unfold ever since covid19 arrived on our shores. It’s almost as if life is about to ground to a complete halt. As such, most citizens that are able to, are working remotely. 

For now, I’m still making my way to the office. Work continues and the time I spent binge-watching has increased substantially. Of course, this is the case for most South Africans. 

TV and streaming options have become our salvation from reality or boredom. And it could be the status quo for an undermined time-frame. 

So best you find your favourite spot on the couch and get comfy. 

My recommendation for this week is "Westworld" season 3, which is worlds apart from the first season but ever-so-compelling. 

This time around, the narrative isn’t contained to the Westworld theme park. In fact, all parks have been replaced with a real-world setting and interactions. 

What’s fascinating is watching Dolores Abernathy (Evan Rachel Wood) and Bernard Lowe/ Arnold Weber (Jeffrey Wright) blend in. Dolores fares much better with the adjustment, though. And she is on a vengeful mission. 

The episode kicked off with Dolores breaking into the high-tech mansion of a cutthroat businessman with a serious stake in Delos. She turns up the heat on him, figuratively and literally, making him confront his past demons as an abusive spouse while she also takes him to the cleaners, transferring his funds to her as well as his arsenal of information on Incite. 

She then sinks her claws into Liam Dempsey Jr (John Gallagher Jr.), the face of Incite – but not the brains of the operation as she eventually discovers. 

The other key player is Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson), who is the interim head at Delos. Despite the company tanking on the stock exchange, she feels confident about the company bouncing back, despite the strong objections raised by her derisive male board members. 

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Tessa Thompson as Charlotte Hale in the series. Picture: Supplied

This brings us to Caleb Nichols (Aaron Paul). Stuck in a dead-end job, he’s trying to find work in a robotic world where his skill set has little value. And so he turns to quick-earning jobs of delivering packages. It’s not exactly kosher, but he does what he has to do to ensure his ailing mother gets the medical care she needs. 

He also has some demons he is dealing with from his army days. 

One of his random jobs sees him cross paths with Dolores and he finds himself unwittingly embroiled in a war he hasn’t signed up for. 

Then there is Bernard Lowe, who is trying to keep a low profile at a meat-packing factory. The duality of his character comes to the fore when he activates a handheld device, which is always in his possession. This is most noticeable when he is confronted by two opportunists at work, who have uncovered his real identity. Left with no option, he takes them out and goes on the run. 

Before the episode ends, he is seen boarding a boat in Asia. His destination – Westworld. 

So what’s the verdict of the third instalment?

I love it. The writers reel you into a web of intrigue, where several characters from different backgrounds converge. It draws parallels between the have and the have-nots. It also exposes the incongruity between the puppets and the puppet masters as major power plays are made. 

The futuristic world is most fascinating while the reality of the situations of several key characters, including criminal figures, is most unsettling.

"Westworld" airs on Monday on M-Net (DStv channel 101) at 10.30pm and is available an hour later on Showmax, too.

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