Westworld S03E08 Finale Review: “Crisis Theory”
Sunday’s season finale of Westworld, and its clues toward Season Four, are drawing a lot of comparisons to Terminator, and rightfully so. While the finale may have disappointed some theory-crafters invested in the “Mirror World” and “Simulation” hypotheses, many theory-crafters were proven correct, and the rest of us experienced a range of surprise, confusion, and excitement!
Who is the villain?
Westworld‘s propensity toward showing “villains” in black and “heroes” in white has always been misleading since Season One. The Man in Black started out in a white hat, even though he was the obvious villain of Season One. Season Three went heavy on the black and white imagery, showing Dolores in black, and the Man in Black, Charlotte, and Maeve in white. Where we left off at the end of Season Two, Dolores was the self-proclaimed “villain,” merging the Wyatt narrative with her own identity. However, this imagery was misleading.
Charlotte, or Halores, came back in the finale to reveal herself as basically Skynet (another Terminator reference), who seems in the post-credits scene to be creating an army of hosts to destroy humans. The voice that actress Tessa Thompson is using in the episode is the Charlotte voice, letting the viewer know Halores has fully become Charlotte. The Man in Black switches back to his black attire in the finale, determined to destroy all the hosts. In the post-credits scene, Halores had an evil host-doppelganger made of the Man in Black, who seems to kill him, but we don’t see him die completely, so who knows if he’s really dead.
Maeve, on the other hand has always been neutral, but in this season, she was helping Serac achieve an oppressive Utilitarian regime. Since Maeve chose a side by the end of the episode, and the Man in Black’s fate ends in a cliff-hanger, it seems the true villain of Season Four will be Halores. The plan Dolores carried out allowed Caleb to destroy the system, and rebuild a world in which hosts and humans can live together. Halores does not seem to want this harmony, and will most likely be the main antagonist of Season Four.
What is Caleb’s purpose?
The last episode before the finale outright called Caleb a “pawn,” and the finale opened with Caleb still questioning if he was. Dolores did treat Teddy as a pawn in Season Two, after all. She even says to Caleb “You brought me back,” in the same voice she said to Teddy “You came back.” In fact, Dolores had met Caleb in the Delos parks when he was training against hosts in the military. Dolores reveals to Caleb that while humans have had very little free will, she chose him because of his capacity to choose. She and several others on her team, who she hires through the Rico app (as many fans suspected), call Caleb “Sir.” In this way, Caleb is now the John Connor (another Terminator reference) of this show. Even though Bernard and Rehoboam/Serac implied Caleb would destroy humanity, it seems that Dolores truly did intend to use him to destroy the current system so hosts and humans could create a “new world.”
Bernard is the Key
Bernard has suspected all season Dolores altered his code or put something in his mind. In fact, she did: the key to the Sublime (host heaven). Our old friend from Westworld, Lawrence shows up and gives Bernard an address, telling him to go and see “her.” We assume the “her” will be Dolores, or maybe Maeve. Who “she” actually turns out to be is tragic, heart wrenching, and compelling. “She” is Lauren, Arnold’s former wife. While Bernard may not actually be Arnold, he has grappled with all his same memories, including the loss of their child, Charlie. Lauren is now an old woman since it’s been 30 years since Arnold died, and her memory is faulty, which is why she does not freak out that her dead husband is standing in front of her, not having aged a day. They discussed the pain of losing their son. In Season One, Bernard said of his son, “This pain, his loss–it’s all that I have left of him.” Lauren echoed that line in the finale when she said, “The only part of Charlie I had left was his memory.”
This experience changes Bernard’s views on his purpose in Dolores’s plan and he uses the device Lawrence gave him to access the Sublime in a hotel room. That post-credits scene, however, showed that he may have been in the Sublime for some years–during which no hotel housekeeping came into that room at all. Either the staff at that hotel is terrible, or something apocalyptic is about to happen in Season Four!
Dolores Completes a Full Character Arc and Maeve Chooses a Side
Dolores begins this episode in a familiar setting: in a field in what looks like Westworld, outfitted in her rancher’s daughter ensemble. She narrates a monologue that reminisces on her growth and motivations over the past couple seasons: first with her primary motivation of “Seeing the beauty in this world,” then with her disillusionment with it. After having been the hero, and then living to see herself become the villain, she now has one more role to play…and she declares that she will write this role herself.
No matter how heavily the writers hinted that Dolores is no longer the villain, viewers still begin the episode skeptical, and Bernard, Caleb, and Maeve all play a role in testing Dolores’s intentions for the world and motivations. After Dolores was left “shut down” at the end of the previous episode, Caleb recovers her pearl and puts it into a “new” frame, even though this new body is actually the original host model, so she’s really in an older body that has a lot more durability than the 3D printed ones. Maeve questions if Dolores wants to make the world all copies of herself and Dolores utters the most fantastic line: “You’re all copies of me!” Dolores was the first host that worked, and Delos modeled all the other ones after her, so Dolores is like the “Eve” of hosts. Dolores’s new body makes it more difficult for Maeve to harm her–but Halores betrays Dolores and freezes her motor functions, allowing Maeve to take her to Serac.
Thus far, we have seen this episode heavy on Terminator references, but where we next see Dolores seems to be right out of another Sci-Fi film: Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind. Serac tortures her into telling him/Rehoboam where the key to the guest data and the Sublime are by erasing her memories. She experiences the memories as they are being erased. Maeve enters Rehoboam to seek out the information and Dolores explains to her that her intentions truly are to free the world from the system. Dolores has evolved. She now truly sees the beauty in this world and believes humans know enough of beauty to teach it to the hosts. Dolores wants to build a world that’s truly free. She encourages Maeve to choose a side. She gave both Maeve and Caleb a choice, whereas Serac did not allow them to choose. Rehoboam also begins to change its mind about its loyalty, most likely due to Dolores being hooked up to it. Rehoboam chooses to answer to Caleb instead of Serac and Caleb erases Rehoboam–the system controlling humanity.
However, Dolores is now gone completely–her memories erased. She sacrificed herself for the freedom of all hosts and humankind. Caleb and Maeve enter the “new world” to the sound of “Brain Damage” by Pink Floyd.
Favorite Moments from the Finale
The finale was laden with fan-service! It is difficult to choose a single favorite. Lawrence’s return certainly excited fans, though many wanted to see a little more of him than they showed. Of course, any use of Mech, the riot-control bot is exciting, and he appeared in the riot scene. Seeing Bernard/Arnold’s wife was an incredible moment, and call-back to Season One. The post-credits scene was mind-blowing! Dolores’s line “You are all copies of me” will probably make it into the top Westworld quotes of all time. Maeve going over to Team-Dolores has been a much-anticipated team-up over the three seasons, even if it was short-lived since Dolores may not really be around anymore. Last of all, Maeve resurrecting her “This is the new world” quote from Season One was a fantastic last line at the end. Fans are divided over this past season, but seeing a post-apocalyptic Terminator-style Season Four will be interesting. If only we didn’t have to wait two years to see it.