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As the dust begins to settle, the outlook of what the season will become starts to take shape in ‘The Absence of Field’. After the first two episodes of season 3 focused on dealing with the repercussions of the second season, ‘The Absence of Field’ is the first indication given on how the third season could potentially fit together. Whilst, still focusing on Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson) and how she came to be where she is, we learn how Dolores intends to ‘start the revolution‘, and with this episode the season begins to shape its narrative into what (no doubt) will result in the rug being pulled out from underneath audiences. As I said in my review for the season premiere, I decided against giving a synopsis for each episode, purely because I didn’t know if I could explain something, I had merely convinced myself I understood to begin with! That being said, I think I’m going to take my favourite quote from the episode and use that as my synopsis: ‘what the fuck does that mean’.
Like I said in the introduction, ‘The Absence of Field’ is the first episode this season that is almost liberated because it is allowed to set the chess-pieces of the season in motion as supposed to being forced to pick up the pieces of the season that preceded it or introduce new characters into the fold. Interestingly enough, because it, almost, doesn’t have this burden, it gives insight into the style the season will adapt. Because, like I said, even though the episode moves the plot forward, it does this by also dedicating time to and delving into how Charlotte Hale was created and what has happened to her since season 2. Make no mistake, this episode is centred on Charlotte Hale, and, it wouldn’t surprise me if the next episode would be centered on a different character showing how they’ve come to be since the end of season 2, and tying everything nicely into the ‘next move’ for the plot by the end of the episode. Which is what this episode does. revealing Charlotte Hale has a different host in her head, who (surprise, surprise) is being kept a secret from audiences, and is fighting to take control of the body, as well as being in business with Serac, a deal the original Charlotte Hale made in order to smuggle data to him. Serac demands that Charlotte finds Dolores, in order to find the key to the data, and issues a warning before literally vanishing(!).
And that’s the first indication of where the rest of the season will go, and through Charlotte Hale’s character, the writers are able to bridge the first two episodes together. The first two episodes were clear in setting up a Dolores vs Maeve narrative, and Dolores
for much of the season for the entire season demands a revolution, and it isn’t clear how any of this will be achieved. But, by having Charlotte work for Serac and being a creation of Dolores, it sets these two worlds on a collation course, and the episode also sets the seed for a potential Charlotte betrayal, as Dolores reminds Charlotte she ‘belongs to her’, teasing Dolores knows she’s losing her grip on Charlotte. Which is something that could come to fruition later on in the season.
As Dolores made Charlotte and put a special host into her head, we see a confused Charlotte fight her inner demons, and it is a sheer delight that Tessa Thompson is finally given something to do in this episode. And Tessa Thompson is beyond exceptional in the episode, as she delivers countless iterations of her character when the plot demands it, she plays the original Charlotte delivering what was her final words to her child, channelling fear and love in what has been thus far such a stone-cold character, she also plays a conflicted host trying to break out of her character and is lost in a new world where her only anchor is Dolores who for much of the episode abandons her. Tessa Thompson brings so much to the episode, and carries countless scenes as she is literally asked to do it all. And her chemistry with Evan Rachel Wood is incredible.
This episode isn’t solely based on Charlotte though, as we catch up with Caleb and Dolores after the run in they had in the first episode. Caleb has been introduced to act as a pathway for new audiences or audiences who simply had no idea what went on in the second season, as we learn what this data that Serac wants and Delos has been selling can do and where Dolores’ mind and plan is after it seemed she just wants to kill everything in her way. It’s also very interesting because we see Dolores build a connection with a human, and learn although they are widely different, both of their lives have been chosen for them due to an algorithm. I really have enjoyed Dolores’ role this season so far, becoming such a powerhouse and important character to the show and the progression she has made since the first season as a character is great! Evan Rachel Wood is amazing in all her scenes and (like I said) she revels in this powerful role that she has spent the past two seasons building. Every scene she shares with an actor is astonishing, especially the very intimidate scene we get with Charlotte Hale, that shows just how far this character has come.
So, it turns out season 3 really is different. I do miss the parks, and the fantasy of the first season, but I also really enjoy the grounded reality this season has with powerful characters and so much to explore from everyone. My only problem is, that this season could potentially not have enough substance and instead rely on a twist (as season 2 did) to amaze audiences. But for now, this show has my attention, and I hope I can continue to follow it and not get confused.