And If Your Head Explodes with Dark Forebodings Too: Westworld, ‘Crisis Theory’

***Spoiler Warning:  This post contains spoilers for Westworld through Season 3, Episode 8. Spoilers***

 

Loving a series and being disappointed in it aren’t mutually exclusive and yet, as with other prestige shows, folks like to draw a solid line between the two. For the second time in as many seasons, I’ve found myself wishing I could discount much of the final episode, with all its disjointed pieces drawing impossible lines, loose threads and beloved characters (and actors) strewn across a seasonal wasteland like so many fairy tale breadcrumbs that lead to nowhere. Not unlike old favorite, Lost, we’re increasingly left with more questions than answers and dangling tidbits dropped like too many leftover ingredients into a casserole, where individual flavors are dissipated in favor of sentimental comfort food. Still, there are myriad reasons to love the spectacular production that is Westworld and from the pure science fiction to its real-world parallels, every hour leaves my heart pounding and brain racing — they must be doing something right.

Caleb’s Dolores rescue and subsequent embodying — albeit into an older model — is eye-opening for Nichols, if not the audience. If everything is about free will and choice the former soldier is slowest on the pickup. Dolores repeated her message ad nauseam this season and yet, Caleb is still being led by the nose until episode’s end, seemingly to no avail. As we learn through far too much exposition, Serac is nothing more than Rehoboam’s puppet and neither his brother’s machine nor his can save humanity from itself.

With much of “Crisis Theory” spent running through the smoky streets observing what some call chaos (William opts for “pissants whining and moaning”) or Dolores making her usual sweeping statements on humanity’s mistakes — even as she repeats them herself — only to entirely reverse her take at episode’s end, it’s difficult to discern substance from showiness. The writers have reduced Bernard (two seasons now, a Jeffrey Wright-wasting travesty) to a confused Host who rarely controls his own actions and runs from place to place as if collecting Pokémon, and to what end? By the time he’s fought off William’s equally misplaced mind (more on that later) and filled his emotional bucket via Arnold’s widow, Lauren (Gina Torres), Bernard has nothing left to do but head to the Sublime for answers it can’t possibly provide.

While their particular encounter provides a million times the affecting sentiment intended by Dolores and Caleb’s last-minute awakenings (Torres and Wright could easily spinoff into their own effortlessly poignant orbit), Bernard’s unreliable and possibly permanently damaged/rewritten code mean that at any given moment, it’s impossible to know who exactly is directing his actions. In the end, despite many deaths and resets and with no repairs since Westworld proper, it is solely Maeve that appears to be in control of herself and upon whose viewpoint we may rely. As she and Caleb watch the New World self-destruct, William escapes to an outpost he thinks he knows best, only to find himself replaced by a newer model. Diluted Dolores aka The Host Formerly Known As Charlotte Hale seems intent on moving forward with her mentor’s original vision (“I want their world”), printing an army of her own — though if there’s one thing we’ve all learned, it won’t be under her control.

 

Deeply Disturbed Thoughts and Questions Galore:

I very much struggle with the showrunners’ after-show exposition where I’ve found less and less alignment between what they believe they’re conveying and what the actual audience takeaway is. The execution (for me, similar to the initial reveal of William as the Man in Black) of Dolores’ transition from wanting to wipe out humanity and her endless chatter about the evil that was done to her and all the Hosts to an almost Blue-Dress version that chooses to see the beauty and wants to give that same choice to humans — via Caleb, their supremely dense leader — makes little sense. I suppose we’ll get some retrofitted backstory in a future episode as we did with William’s flashbacks to his psycho-teenaged self (who then turned into sweet as pie Jimmi Simpson William), and we’ll do our best to accept it? The majority of this season, despite Dolores realizing that humanity was being controlled, she still marched to the tune of world destruction until this last episode. She was killing anyone in her way all the way to Incite this hour, but she sees the beauty!

In the end, Dolores is fine with having another dude take charge of the machine (Rehoboam) which is how all this started in the first place?

After sustaining multiple injuries over the seasons, having Ford in his mind (and purportedly subsequently erased — but is anything ever, really? See Peter Abernathy) and then Dolores, are we to believe that Bernard has nonetheless overcome all these things to be entirely in control of his actions, and/or knowing what he’s looking for in the Sublime? Which …why is the Sublime — a virtual world the humans “can’t touch — the place to find out what happens after humanity ends? How would such information enter the Sublime in the first place? What would the virtual beings be able to discover about the outside world if they are themselves hidden from humanity?

If Lawrence is the fifth core/pearl recovered by Dolores, why? Why Lawrence, in particular, when she could print anyone? I suppose it could have been a sign to Bernard that Lawrence was being sent by her, but he would have sussed out that information when he received the suitcase from anyone — it didn’t have to be a face he’d recognize. For that matter, as she got the Host copying data from Delos (which Hale managed to download in a remarkably short time), why — other than for audience shock value — would she print Hosts the audience knows?

How many of the pearls she took were copies of Dolores and how many were actually other Host pearls? Were there only two original cores taken — Dolores and Bernard, and then three copies? Dolores is “in” Bernard, but somehow he’s still in there, too, which is different from how Hale was, I think? Bernard:  “She put something inside my mind.” As we know, Musashi, Connells, and Hale were Hosting Dolores. Were Clementine and Hanaryo carrying their own cores and again, if so, why? Why would spinoff Hale (aka altered Dolores) care who the Hosts killing Musashi looked like? For that matter, did Dolores even know what Hanaryo looked like? This interview with Evan Rachel Wood isn’t terribly helpful either. ”

Meanwhile, deleting all Dolores’ memories doesn’t seem nearly as devastating as it might since we know there are copies of Dolores’ core/pearl, and there will always be a way to upload her again. She may not be the perfectly original Dolores, but she’ll start off close enough. The showrunners confirm that Evan Rachel Wood will be back for Season 4, though they say the version of Dolores we have come to know is gone. I can’t see how that’s true since there are multiple copies of her. Granted, as we saw in Charlotte, the copies do change and evolve into separate personalities, though it took a while and some very particular events for that to happen. That said, the majority of who Dolores was is still in her copies.

What was the point of Major Craddock appearing in William’s fantasy and also in Caleb’s flashback world? Was that purposefully a connection, because as we saw in last week’s episode, William and Caleb had the same patient ID number. And why did that detail lead to nowhere …so far? I don’t understand why we should care about Caleb at all. He wanders through most of this season in a daze and even this hour asks Dolores, “Who are you?” Does he still have no idea what a Host is in this final hour? Why — other than him choosing not to abuse the Hosts in the park (there are humans other than Caleb, I’m sure, that made decent life choices) — pick such a consistently bewildered, not to mention suspicious of you, person to be a “savior”? Including this episode, Dolores has had to repeatedly explain the same concept to him, and until the last moment, he doesn’t seem to know what to do — but I’m guessing he was never going to let everyone in the world die, nor would most people. “Free will does exist, it’s just fucking hard” …for Caleb to understand.

Caleb has control over Rehoboam, but what of Solomon? If I understand EMP, Solomon was shut down for x amount of time, but not destroyed.

WILLIAM — who/what is the William we have watched all season? In Season 2’s “The Passenger” epilogue, we learned that Emily was testing William for fidelity, which ostensibly meant he was a Hybrid and should have meant he couldn’t leave the park due to the problems described by Ford and avatar Logan. This season we have seen a version of William that doesn’t seem to display any of the Hybrid quirks/faults we saw in James Delos when he was being tested for fidelity, and we have seen William out of the park, so either Delos/Incite came up with an actual working Hybrid or this is a different version of William than the one we saw at the end of Season 2. Either way, what a mess, and now this William appears to be “dead”, killed by a new Host version of William that Charlotte/Chalores printed. Was this William the same William we saw in last season’s finale? Was this William a Hybrid or a Host? Could this season’s William somehow have been human and if so, was that Hybrid Emily tested in some future or alternate timeline that we haven’t yet seen (I feel this option is highly unlikely)? I think my head is spinning from my own questions.

And again, how was William all by himself (even with a plane and money) going to save the world?

How/why was Charlotte expecting William? Did she at some point connect into Rehoboam?

Charlotte is printing a ton of Hosts to rule the new world and I guess to fight the humans that Caleb is going to save? Then, we’re pretty much right back where we started at the beginning of the season, with Charlotte as Let’s-Wreck-Humanity-Dolores 2.0.

Gina Torres is perfect and her scene as Lauren with Jeffrey Wright’s Bernard (who she thought was Arnold) was the hour’s big saving grace for me. It struck all the right emotional chords and the way they spoke — especially Lauren — about loss and love choked me up a little bit.

Lauren:  “I used to hear his laughter too. When he died I remember thinking it was like the sun had gone down. It was never going to rise again. I walked in the dark for so long.”

Bernard:  “I can’t let him go.”

Lauren:  “I never understood why people said that. If you love someone, why would you ever let that go? That’s what saved me. The only part I had left of Charlie was his memory. And If I died, the darkness would take that too. But if I kept moving, I could find the light again and I could bring him with me.”

What was ever going to happen to all the people in cryo chambers — the “outliers” who were deemed problems by Rehoboam? If Rehoboam was simply staving off humanity’s inevitable self-destruction — which according to Bernard, was always going to occur — why keep the outliers alive at all?

What happened to Divergence Berlin? In “Genre,” one of Serac’s men told him “They found a connect between encrypted devices in Jakarta, Berlin, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.” We saw the other cities play out this season, but nothing from Berlin.

We now know what all six Delos parks are — but I still wouldn’t be surprised to discover other/hidden parks, or that my idea that this season didn’t necessarily take place in “the real world”.

  1.  Westworld
  2. Shōgunworld
  3. Warworld
  4. Medievalworld (not officially named)
  5. Defense Contracts Only (not officially named)
  6. The Raj

Why are maze symbols from the park showing up in the real world? If there isn’t some hidden meaning (that I’d have hoped we’d understand within this season), they’re basically pointless easter eggs. This explanation from writer Denise Thé doesn’t actually work in my brain:

We had talked in the writers’ room about how behind the curtain Dolores was pulling the strings on some of what was happening. And you wouldn’t really know that, but there would be little Easter eggs along the way that you might pick up on. The maze was one of these things. The idea that she had anticipated how this world would look, and had come to this world and figured out how it was working and that Rehoboam was controlling things. And she figured out that Rehoboam was also controlling RICO. She would have hacked that and figured out a way to start infiltrating and using Rehoboam’s tools against it. So she foments this uprising behind the scenes, and that’s why we had these little Easter eggs and the mazes. You see them more and more as the season progresses, and definitely you see them in the riots. “

 

I miss Teddy.

 

Songs This Hour:

Brain Damage, Pink Floyd

 

Cindy Davis

Cindy Davis

Cindy Davis has been writing about the entertainment industry for ​over ten years, and is the ​Editor-in-Chief at Oohlo, where she muses over television, movies, and pop culture. Previous Senior News Editor at Pajiba, and published at BUST.

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