“I only know what I tell me.”
This short, stunning line of dialogue is spoken by Caleb (Aaron Paul) to Caleb (still Aaron Paul), both of whom—along with many other Calebs—are in a unique hell in “Fidelity.” He’s already faced the devastating news that he failed to stop Hale (Tessa Thompson) from taking over the world 23 years ago, but things manage to get worse when he discovers as a Host that hasn’t achieved fidelity, he’s beginning to malfunction.
Hale’s been bothering to make 277 previous copies of Caleb because she’s desperate to discover how he was able to resist her mind-control parasite, thus becoming the first Outlier. Her hope is that if she figures it out, she can prevent Outliers from “infecting” her Hosts and causing them to commit suicide. When he was human, Caleb taunted Hale by claiming she knew how he was able to break free of her control, so all she needs to do is keep creating more Calebs until she learns the answer.
Hale tells him all this in his cell, bringing in a comically large hourglass to indicate his incipient demise. She also tells him his daughter Frankie (Aurora Perrineau) is alive, which causes Caleb to break into tears of bittersweet joy, a moment powerfully acted by Paul, even after Hale taunts him that she’s slipped one of her Hosts into Frankie’s Outlier rebellion. After Hale leaves, his cell’s opaque windows become clear, and Caleb gets another distressing shock—he’s not alone. Several other Host versions of himself occupy similar cells, and they’re all in various stages of falling apart.
It’s the first of many entertaining and unnerving moments in “Fidelity” of Caleb getting forcibly reminded he’s no longer human. But luckily, an especially degraded version of Caleb gives our Caleb a clue about needing more time, so he checks the hourglass and finds a small cartridge in it, which knocks him out so he appears to be dead. One of Hale’s Drone Hosts hits the termination button, causing jets of fire to erupt from the ceiling. The only escape is through a grate on the floor… which mysteriously has a small arrow etched into it, indicating how the grate needs to be opened.
When Caleb escapes, he drops into a pile of bones and ash—clearly the remains of Calebs who weren’t so lucky. As he travels through the bowels of the Olympiad Entertainment building, he starts seeing signs that he’s not the first Caleb to have made this exact escape. There’s an ashen handprint on a wall, where a previous Caleb braced himself. After a fight with a Drone Host, he finds a bloody handprint on the wall, indicating a Caleb had already experienced that exact same brawl, and perhaps even received the same wound.
But nothing beats the horrific scene Caleb finds after crawling into the vents. There’s a dying Caleb by an opening, and when our Caleb looks down it, he sees a giant drop with the bloody corpses of two other Calebs on the ground who were so desperate to escape they risked the drop. Luckily, the dying Caleb has an idea—to act as a human cushion so our Caleb can survive the fall. It’s a sacrifice, but the two Calebs are united in wanting to contact Frankie. They drop. Our Caleb lives. The other Caleb dies horrifically. And finally, Caleb makes it to the roof of the building, where he uses a construction lift’s radio to send an audio message to Frankie.
It doesn’t require a genius to know that Hale engineered Caleb’s escape; if multiple previous Calebs had taken the same route, Hale would have figured it out before getting to Caleb #278. Certainly she would have searched the building high and low for him to make sure he didn’t get truly free. But Caleb only finds this out after delivering his message, when Hale appears, holding the cartridge she clearly left in the hourglass, and says she’s waited a long time for him to get far enough so she can hear the message in hopes it would contain some clue. It doesn’t, so Hale breaks Caleb’s neck and has a new Caleb Host made.
If you think about it for more than a minute, none of this makes sense. Why did Hale make the escape so elaborate? If everything had to be exactly this way for Caleb to send a message to Frankie, does that mean she was making copies of Caleb specifically to be in the other jail cells to freak him out and give him the clue to the cartridge? Did she place the other Calebs there, or was she intentionally leaving corpses laying about the building for him to find? Also, why was Hale letting this take place in the real world instead of a simulation, saving precious time and resources?
I didn’t care about these questions in the slightest when watching “Fidelity” because again, it was so enjoyably eerie, and I only partially care about them now. I can always do some hand-waving at Westworld when it’s entertaining. What irritates me far more are the two flashback scenes awkwardly crammed into the episode. The first is of young Frankie skinning her knee and refusing to walk on it. Caleb gives her a pep talk, where he reveals the incredibly cheesy way he managed to resist Hale’s flies: “You know what kind of person can’t be beat? The kind that doesn’t give up.”
The second stars young Frankie, just after Hale took over the world, finding the young Outlier Jay with her mother. After they escape, Frankie says something about how Jay can be her new brother, which Jay angrily refutes, having lost his actual brother to Hale’s anti-Outlier machinations.
Cut to Frankie and Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) in the present, heading to the desolate remains of Mobworld to revive Maeve (Thandiwe Newton). Frankie is suspicious when Bernard reveals how much he knows about repairing Hosts, and even more suspicious when Bernard somehow knows that even the rooms of Mobworld were able to scan a person’s data instantly by having the room scan Frankie. However, she still wants Maeve rebuilt because she recognized her from long ago, when Maeve came by the house to warn their family to hide. If anyone knows what happened to her father, Frankie thinks, it must be Maeve.
When the other rebels join them in Mobworld, Jay (Daniel Wu) announces Hale knew they were coming, and that there’s a traitor among them. Frankie instantly shoots Bernard, who she pegged as a Host the minute Bernard took her scanned data, which could be used to make a Host version of her. (Bernard’s reason for making the copy: “It’s complicated.” Sigh.) However, she wants both Bernard and Stubbs alive at least long enough for Maeve to be completed, much to Jay’s displeasure. That gives Bernard an opportunity later to tell Frankie that one of the returning rebels is one of Hale’s Hosts, but he—somehow—doesn’t know which one it is. It’s Jay, as Frankie discovers when he says something about being like a brother to her, which tips her off thanks to the ham-fisted flashback from earlier. They have a big fight, and the reawakened Maeve kills Jay and rescues Frankie at the last second. The end.
Still, “Fidelity” is an effective episode thanks to the classic Westworld mind-fuckery of Caleb’s storyline—one good enough that I don’t mind the rest of What the Hell Is Going on With Christina™ being delayed for another week (or more). But there are only two episodes left and the world is still under Hale’s thumb, Caleb’s non-functional, Christina is probably Dolores but with her memory erased, and Bernard still isn’t telling anyone what the plan is. Season four has been a marked improvement over last season, but it’s high time Westworld picks up the pace.
- Bernard specifically mentions Hale has one of those mega-simulators, which is leading me to be pre-smug about my belief that Dolores is in it, generating narratives for the Hale-controlled people in the real world.
- You’re telling me that there’s technology that can remotely find people who break free of Hale’s mind control, but there’s no test that can differentiate between a Host and a human? Like, shouldn’t everyone in the rebellion have to walk through a metal detector every once in a while?
- How can the Drone Hosts hear someone blink, but even with that map that locates Outliers, seemingly can’t distinguish them otherwise?
- How did Hale know the rebels were coming to the city if she hadn’t replaced Jay yet? And is this something meaningful to the narrative or just a plot hole? You truly never can tell with Westworld.
- One of Caleb’s memories is of walking in a field with his daughter—and it looks almost exactly like Maeve’s frequently shown memory of her walking in a field with her daughter. Is this just a parallel, or has some of Maeve’s data made it into Caleb’s core?
- Do nurses really eat their patient’s pudding while they’re unconscious, or was Caleb’s future wife just a monster of the highest order?
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