WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Season 3, Episode 4 of Westworld, “The Mother of Exiles,” which aired Sunday on HBO.
While Westworld initially transported us to a Western-inspired theme park where guests could visit a saloon, ride horses and take part in gun battles, the series always made it clear it was set in the future. It was difficult to remember that at times, especially when most of the characters were wearing stetsons and pistol holsters. However, the highly advanced technology on display in the series reminded us of the world that existed beyond the titular theme park. In truth, the HBO series is set in the year 2058, at a time when artificial intelligence and robotics are running most of the world.
While Seasons 1 and 2 were mostly confined to life inside the park, Season 3 has taken us to the outside world. Each episode has revealed a bit more about what life in 2058 is like. And now, with its latest episode, the series has revealed the tragic fate of one of the world’s biggest cities.
In the universe of Westworld, Paris no longer exists.
In “The Mother of Exiles,” we pick up with Maeve after her initial encounter with Incite founder Engerraund Serac left her shutdown. When she is brought back online, Serac has taken her to Singapore, where he attempts for a second time to convince the host to join his side and fight Dolores. When she learns that she is in Singapore, she tells him that, in order to impress her, he should have taken her to Paris instead.
However, it turns out there is a horrible reason Serac could never do that. He explains to her that he is originally from Paris, but that something terrible happened to it when he was just a boy. A brief flashback shows us Serac and his brother running in a field and, in the distance, Paris is nothing but a mushroom cloud. Near the two boys, men wearing hazmat suits appear and radiation signs warn them not to go any further.
Serac doesn’t elaborate on the tragedy, which means we don’t know if the destruction of Paris was deliberate or an accident. It also appears that while the city was destroyed in a nuclear blast, it wasn’t necessarily the result of a war. After all, Singapore and Los Angeles are still standing, and they’re prospering. We don’t know the state of the rest of the world, but the humans certainly don’t act like they are living in a post-fallout reality. Therefore, the tragedy may be contained to Paris.
Whatever the reason for the destruction of the French metropolis, it seems this is what sparked Serac’s need to create Rehoboam, the artificial intelligence machine that dictates the life of all humans in order to create a better world. As the season progresses, we will surely find out what exactly happened to Paris, and who, if anyone, is to blame.
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.
In “The Mother of Exiles,” the latest episode of HBO's Westworld teases a tragic future for one of the world's biggest cities — but what happened?