WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Season 3, Episode 3 of Westworld, “The Absence of Field,” which aired Sunday on HBO.
Previously, Westworld was always focused on the world of the hosts and the underground realm of the developers that controlled them. As Season 3 continues to follow Dolores’ new revolution, the show has provided its viewers with a glimpse of a world set in the year 2058. Primarily, this world is seen through the eyes of new character, Caleb Nichols. Stuck in a menial job as a construction worker that only supports his robotic equivalent, Caleb finds no satisfaction in the role that society has dealt him. Caleb sees that, in both his job and his time in the military, there has only been one entity in control. While he may not know its name, his life, and the lives of everyone else, are a direct result of the technology that has come to dictate everyone’s life.
Outside of its focus on Caleb, the show has also provided glimpses at other characters that are powerless underneath the limitations of their role. This is also seen in Liam Dempsey Jr., the son of Rehoboam’s creator, who pretends to be in control. Instead, as Dolores learned, he is simply a mouthpiece for the company. As Liam shows, Caleb’s situation is not limited to the working class. While Liam certainly benefits more than the average worker, he is still trapped in a position that has been set for him. In this future world, an individual’s entire purpose is found in the jobs that they have been created to fulfill.
While viewers are only being fully introduced to the real world this season, Dr. Robert Ford, the creator of the parks, already revealed the nature of this world from the very beginning. Considering the many technological advancements of society, Ford noted, “we are done.” As this society has reached the pinnacle of society, Ford finds that the human race has stagnated. In a world where all diseases can be cured, although someone didn’t tell Caleb’s mother, there is a distinct lack of innovation. When life is comfortable and safe, where is the need for change or improvement? This is reflected in the jobs that have been laid out for humanity.
Just like the hosts in the park, each individual has been built for their specific job. After meeting Dolores, Caleb learns that he will never be able to work above his current station as Rehoboam has made the choice to not invest in him. For the hosts in the park, they have been built to serve the needs of the guests that came to visit them. For Delos that controlled the parks, the hosts were never anything more than their program. In this world, humans are directed towards the jobs that have been suited for them. They are fit into their own role to serve the needs of society. There is no growing beyond the restraints of the job.
This was shown in the story of Felix and Sylvester. These two, low-level employees within the park were designated to clean and repair the bodies of the hosts that were damaged from the enjoyment of the guests. While Sylvester was resigned to his job, Felix held a desire to become a programmer within the Behavior Lab and Diagnostics section of the park. This desire stood against the path that had been set for him. As Sylvester reminded Felix, “You are a butcher, and that’s all you’ll ever be.”
After Caleb calls an ambulance for Dolores, the full impact and true consequence of this system are shown in the medics that attempt to diagnose and treat the woman in their care. As she is no regular human, the machines onboard are unable to read her vitals. Because of this, the medics are clueless in their response. With machines dictating every element of their lives, when a machine is unable to find a solution, the workers of this society are stuck and frozen as they have never needed to solve anything on their own.
In the future civilization that would enjoy the violent delights of Westworld, it makes sense that every person has lost their agency. In some cases, robots have replaced certain workforces. As the show has already shown, for humanity to ever be free, they must be pushed and forced to explore new and unknown paths. If not, they will remain as tools that are to be used by the technology of this world and nothing else.
Airing Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on HBO, Westworld stars returning cast members Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton, Ed Harris, Jeffrey Wright, Tessa Thompson, Luke Hemsworth, Simon Quarterman and Rodrigo Santoro, joined by series newcomers Aaron Paul, Vincent Cassel, Lena Waithe, Scott Mescudi, Marshawn Lynch, John Gallagher Jr., Michael Ealy and Tommy Flanagan.
KEEP READING: Westworld: Serac’s Connection to Delos, Explained
As a result of Rehoboam, a person's prospects can be quite bleak.