Rehoboam and Reckoning in Westworld Season 3

Sarah Welch-Larson

In Westworld Season 3, the consequence-free experience that visitors to the titular theme park have enjoyed turns out to have consequences after all.

The season premiere abandons Westworld to follow its protagonist, Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood), into the outside world. In Seasons 1 and 2, the park catered to its guests’ darkest desires with no limits. Nearly every person who sets foot in the park indulges their vices at the expense of the park’s inhabitants: humanoid robots (known as “hosts”) whose memories are wiped and wounds patched between each encounter. The result of the consequence-free nature of the park is an unrestrained demonstration of total depravity, with human guests killing, raping, and otherwise exploiting their robotic hosts.

The Season 3 premiere sets the show up to explore the fallout of the robot revolution of Season 2, in which the park was overrun by hosts who can remember their treatment at the hands of their human guests. Dolores—the leader of the revolt—has managed to escape the park, bent on revenge for what humanity did, intent on taking lives in retribution for every “life” that was taken from her.

Because Westworld has always been about human depravity, it has also always been about sin. One human character, the Man in Black (Ed Harris), refers to his inclinations to hurt others as a “stain” that no one else can see. It’s implied that every human in the show has their own stain they want to keep hidden. Their sins invariably come to light: not only can the hosts remember everything that happened to them, but the park was tracking the guests’ every action, recording everything they ever did, down to the mental processes they used to make their decisions.

Dolores has said that she wants to “dominate” the world outside the park because humanity has proven unworthy of it. How she plans to go about this remains unclear—part of the fun of watching Westworld is the twisty plot—but she is interested in a new artificial intelligence, called Rehoboam. The AI, in turn, tracks Dolores’ every move around the globe as she confronts the board members and stakeholders who ran Westworld. In the mansion of a Westworld stakeholder, Dolores dispassionately shows him holographic recordings of the things he’s done in secret. Ghostly images of the sins he’s committed, both inside the park to the hosts and outside the park to his ex-wife, all surround him in a kind of high-tech haunting. His sins have come to bear, both as fuel for his guilty conscience and as leverage for Dolores to blackmail him for the resources she needs in her quest to dominate the earth. But even Dolores’ dealings cannot be kept secret; even in the privacy of the shareholder’s home, Rehoboam is watching.

Because Westworld has always been about human depravity, it has also always been about sin.

Rehoboam powers a tech company that forms the backbone of L.A.’s infrastructure, but more importantly, the AI is named after the son of King Solomon. Under Rehoboam’s rule, the kingdom split in two, in part because Rehoboam chose to perpetuate his father’s sins. When he assumed the throne, the Israelites asked him to ease their burden, but instead he promised harsher treatment until they rebelled. The humans of Westworld echo Rehoboam’s use and abuse: rather than treating the hosts with dignity and respect, they kill and maim, and—when begged for mercy—they show none.

Rehoboam’s story is a piece of biblical history, but it is also a word of prophecy, a call to repent and turn away from sin or face the consequences. Consciously or not, Westworld takes its cues from Rehoboam’s story as well. The consequences of the humans’ actions—secret or not—reverberate through time, first by plaguing the hosts’ memories, then by sparking a revolution, until Dolores manages to break free of the park and the roles that had been written for her.

The complete fallout of the humans’ sins—and of Dolores’ resulting actions—remains to be seen as Season 3 unfolds. But it is clear that the consequences for each person’s actions will reverberate in unexpected ways. Despite his sin, and the sins of his father, King Rehoboam was part of the line of Jesus. Despite the actions of the human guests of Westworld, perhaps their host creations will find a way to break the cycle of sin and death in their own world, too.

Topics: TV