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May 02, 2020

Analysis Mode: Questions and theories heading into the Westworld Season 3 finale

Television HBO
Aaron-Paul-Westworld_050220_SIPA Sthanlee B. Mirador/Sipa USA

Aaron Paul arrives at the HBO’s "Westworld" Season 3 premiere. The season finale will air on Sunday night.

Bring yourselves back online.

After seven mind-bending episodes of Westworld, we've reached the center of the Season 3 maze, and boy are there a lot of unanswered questions. Like, probably more than there should be heading into a season finale. But that's Westworld. 

Let's take a look at some things we learned from last week's episode and how they could play out in the finale, "Crisis Theory," on Sunday night. 

Choose your fighters

Before getting into some questions, let's take a minute to set the stage for this finale by reminding everyone of who is working with who and what the sides actually look like.

First up, there's Team Dolores. At one point this season, she seemed to be running shit in the real world with four robots (three that we've seen) and Caleb. Since, however, we've seen two of those robots — Connels and, in the most recent episode, Musashi — die. We've also seen Charlotte appear to switch sides and join Team Maeve. At least that's the implication from the cold open of Episode 7. If that's the case, that would mean that Team Dolores is down to Dolores, Caleb and whoever she put that last missing pearl in (more on that in a minute). 

Then there's Team Maeve. She started from the bottom all on her own, and now it appears her crew is much larger than her opposition's. In addition to Maeve, there's also the hosts she was printing in Episode 6, two of whom we saw in the penultimate episode's opening scene. In addition to Clementine and Hanaryo, Serac was also printing a Hector body for her, and although Hector's pearl was destroyed by Charlotte two weeks ago, perhaps there's a chance she's figured out how to take Lee Sizemore's consciousness from the simulation and upload it into Hector's body. It would be quite poetic since he's previously said that Hector's story is based on who he's always wanted to be. 

Then there's Charlotte, who it appears believes Dolores was the one who tried to kill her at the end of Episode 6. For now, it seems safe to assume she's aligned with Maeve. If that's the case, then Maeve has nearly all the host units — including the Dolores pearls from Connels, which Charlotte stole from Serac, and Musashi, which was taking along with the upper half of his body last week — working for her, and Dolores might be in trouble. 

We're also not counting Serac as a member of Maeve's team, because the assertion here is that she is not truly working for Serac — and he is only using her — so their true interests are far from aligned. 

And finally, there's Bernard, Stubbs and the Man in Black, who seem to be off doing their own thing, but there's a good chance all these different paths converge in the finale. 

So, to recap, let's do a side-by-side:

CalebClementineMan in Black
Missing PearlHanaryoBernard
 Charlotte (Dolores)Stubbs
 Conells (Pearl) 
 Mushashi (Pearl) 
 Hector (???) 

Those are some tough odds for Dolores... 

Where has Charlotte gone?

After seeing her nearly blown to bits in the end of Episode 6 — I'm still not sure how she survived — we only caught a shadowy glimpse of Charlotte last week, when she called Musashi in the cold open to warn him that she had sent Clementine and Hanaryo to kill him. Interestingly, she looked like she was healing from the explosion. 

Where is the last missing pearl?

As we all know, Dolores stole five additional pearls from Westworld at the end of Season 2. So far, we can only account for four of them: Bernard, Charlotte (Dolores), Connels (Dolores) and Musashi (also Dolores). But what about that last one?

Earlier in the season, one of Serac's henchman told him that there were five divergences they were tracking, and all the locations matched up with places we've already seen her copies: Los Angeles, San Francisco, China and Jakarta. But there was one we haven't seen yet: Berlin. 

So that begs the question, what has Dolores been doing in Germany, and how will that come into play in the finale. Here's one theory that doesn't have a ton of evidence to support it but just makes a lot of sense and would be a pretty big reveal in the finale: What if the Dolores in Berlin is actually the original Dolores? 

It seems very silly of Dolores to put herself in harms way this often when she created a handful of clones to do her bidding. It might also explain some of those flashbacks and a couple continuity issues. For example, there's always been the question of how Dolores transferred herself back into her own body after leaving the park in Charlotte's. Maybe that first Dolores we see training Charlotte isn't the original, just the first one she made upon her return and has one of the clone Dolores pearls in it? Maybe she's still in that Charlotte body. 

It would also explain why the Dolores we've seen most this season, the one we believe to be the original, has seemed to come around so much on humans, actually feeling sympathetic toward them. It's always seemed weird that after humans tortured, raped and murdered her for 30 years that she would suddenly come to see things from their side and try to save humanity from itself. That doesn't seem like the Dolores we spent the first two seasons getting to know.

Either way, I think there's a good chance we meet the final Dolores bot this week. 

[Note: After reading this, SB Nation Radio's Eytan Shander hit me up and offered an idea that I really like. What if the Charlotte we saw at the beginning of Episode 7, the one who looked miraculously healed, was actually the final Dolores pearl, still inside the Charlotte body she used to escape Westworld. Would explain how she appeared to get rid of those burns in such a short amount of time.]

Who is Caleb?

Is last week's episode, we got a look at what Caleb is. And, if you've been reading these posts regularly, that reveal shouldn't have come as much of a surprise. Here's what I wrote about Caleb a few weeks back:

The most interesting part of all of this is that Caleb seems to have little memory of his past, only seeing flashes (not unlike what was happening with Bernard's de-addressed memories in Season 2). 

Later in the episode, we learn that Serac was building a facility for the outliers he believed were causing the divergences within his system. He says that after he and his brother were exposed to radiation, he realized, "We have the ability to edit people."

Is there a chance Caleb was one of those people? Or perhaps he was one of the people working for Serac to help round up these "agitators." Either way, it seems like portions of Caleb's memory have been intentionally hidden from him, although we don't yet know why. Perhaps an answer will come when we finally get a reliable look at exactly what happened to him.

There have previously been continuity issues in the flashbacks with Kid Cudi's character, Francis, and in many of them it doesn't look like Caleb was working for the military at all, or if he was, it was for some sort of black ops mission, perhaps lending to the idea that Caleb was working for someone other than than the military and had his memories changed to make him think he was soldier, rather than a mercenary.  [MORE]

But we still don't know exactly WHO he is, and why he's so integral to the story. Aside from the countless parallels to the hosts from Season 1 that we've seen with Caleb, there was also a lot of stuff happening at the Sonora facility that could give some insight into that. Since those scenes were spliced throughout the entire episode, we decided to break that portion off into its own segment so you can get all the information at once.

Here are some of my notes from the Sonora scenes I took during my re-watch:

• Dolores says they have to find Solomon. After a pause, Caleb asks, "Who's Solomon?" The minute he says that, a pathway to a door lights up and lights continue to lead them to Solomon. Why did it respond to Caleb but not Dolores?

 We learn Caleb has been there before (more than once) for his reconditioning.

 Why is Solomon still running? If he's a schizophrenic AI, why did Serac leave him plugged in?

 Solomon can imitate voices. Already knows Caleb's. Has he imitated anyone else's, like Serac's in his flashback? Could he have imitated Charlotte's voice in that call to Musashi earlier in the episode? His default voice belongs to Serac's brother, Jean Mi. 

 Solomon doesn't know Dolores' "pathways." She says, "I'm not one of them, I'm like you." He replies, "No. You are a Delos product." Dolores later adds, "Maybe, but we both outlived our original purposes." But are they really that different? As we saw last season with Dolores and Wyatt, they're both schizophrenic AI machines.

 Solomon says reconditioning is only effective 10% of the time, but it happened to work for Caleb. Doesn't this reconditioning sound a lot like what the Delos techs were doing with the hosts exhibiting abhorrent behaviors in Season 1? And the Season 1 comparisons don't stop there...

 Dolores and Caleb then walk into the human version of cold storage. In the Season 1 finale, the hosts in cold storage are awoken and play a major part in Dolores revolution inside the park. Could these humans, who appear to be in cryo-sleep, be awoken and help Caleb finish Dolores revolution outside the park?

 When Caleb and Dolores enter that "storage room" they are greeted by a hologram Serac who is talking to Jean Mi. Why does that hologram appear for Caleb if he's not Jean Mi? More interesting, perhaps, is the fact that Serac ends with "The man I was no longer exists." Is this a clue that Serac is actually dead and we're just seeing Rehoboam?

 When they venture further into the room, it appears Jean Mi pops up in the middle of the apparatus and appears to be in freezing. 

RANDOM THEORY TIME! What if Jean Mi's consciousness is somehow trapped inside Solomon? Could this season really be a battle between the two Serac brother playing out through their own creations, meaning the Serac we've been seeing all along has actually been a projection of Rehoboam? OK, back to the action...

 Solomon then explains that the room is full of outliers who, unlike Caleb, were unable to successfully complete reconditioning, and that they didn't fit the projections so they had to "change the data." He then goes on to explain more of Calebs backstory. 

 Dolores convinces Solomon to run new strategies for her that are different from the current one. "The final one. The one Jean Mi asked you to make just before Serac condemned him to this." "That was 15 years ago," replies Solomon, "That strategy deciphered from this world. The prime movers are dead, or here with me." Dolores then says, "Then make it fit this world. And [Caleb]," before giving Caleb a pep talk and going off to battle Maeve. 

 A few minutes later, Caleb gets the real story of what happened to Francis and learns that he killed him (sort of in self defense, but also after getting a RICO request). Caleb is rightfully pissed off and blames Solomon, but when he goes to leave, Solomon gives a warning: "If you deviate from this course, you will not achieve your desired outcome." And Caleb has a change of heart.

 Solomon gives Caleb a flash drive with the plan on it and goes to offer him one last warning before Dolores hits the button on the EMP, but it gets cut off at the worst possible time: "I must warn you—" That's not ominous or anything...

 Caleb then walks out and finds a one-armed Dolores laying on the ground next to Maeve. He picks up her virtual assistant which says, "Hello, Caleb. I have some instructions for you."

 We're also left wondering what the lasting impact of the EMP is on Dolores, Maeve and Solomon. Have they been wiped? Well they wake up after a short nap? We'll see. 

There was A LOT to digest in those scenes. 

Will the Man in Black succeed in killing all the hosts?

Almost certainly not.

I honestly haven't understood William's role this entire season — and the same can be said about Stubbs and to a lesser extent Bernard, since he presumably had to test the new Dolores bots for fidelity. It seemed like last season could be the end for his time on the show, but they brought him back for one more, and unless they have some big change going, he'd be one of my favorites to die in the season finale. 

There also seems to be some sort of link between the Man in Black and Caleb, as they're both outliers and their ID numbers on their Incite accounts are almost exactly the same

I guess we'll find out on Sunday night... 

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