Westworld is playing a different game in season three—Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy’s sci-fi drama (née Western) is much more forthcoming in its storytelling, and more restrained in its number of timelines and perspective-shifting flashbacks. As Zack Handlen notes in his review of the third episode, “The Absence Of Field,” the series has “reinvented itself; in leaving the park, it’s streamlined its focus, simplified its approach to narrative, and become far less withholding in terms of thrills.”
Season three has introduced new characters, including Caleb Nichols (Aaron Paul), a construction worker who looks to a crime-gig app to stay afloat, and Engerraund Serac (Vincent Cassel), who, despite being the richest man in the world, does not exist for most identification intents and purposes (his work on the predictive supercomputer Rehoboam might have something to do with that). But these additions haven’t overburdened the narrative or otherwise require any note-taking while watching, which means that for once, fans can just sit back and enjoy the ride. Or not—there are still big mysteries afoot, including who or what locked Incite CEO Liam Dempsey Jr. (John Gallagher Jr.) out of Rehoboam, as well as some that carried over from last season, like which host pearls/consciousnesses Dolores Abernathy (Evan Rachel Wood) smuggled out of the Forge.
We know at least one of those pearls belonged to Bernard (Jeffrey Wright), who Dolores transplanted into a new version of his old, Arnold Weber-inspired body. Another pearl is now inside of a facsimile of Connells (Tommy Flanagan), who met his end when he crossed paths with Dolores, though we don’t yet know which former Westworld host she chose to make her Incite plant. A third pearl went to the host version of Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson), who is now in charge of running Delos, thanks to a vote from an AI standing in for William a.k.a the Man In Black (Ed Harris). This new Charlotte has two warring consciousnesses inside of her—traces of her old self and the AI mind of someone whom Dolores knows well enough to want to comfort when she sees how they’re reacting to playing the role of someone who was prepared to wipe out host-kind.
Tessa Thompson does an admirable job portraying this Charlotte’s inner conflict, which is worlds away from the steely executive—and, as we learned last night, a corporate mole for Serac—who first entered the futuristic murder park. But just moments before the end of “The Absence Of Field,” we see the two personalities, if you will, merge when new Charlotte murders a man who was preying on the old Charlotte’s son. So whose mind struck a deal with Charlotte’s? Who’s behind the immaculate exterior, and who remains on the hook for the park data that was hidden away in Peter Abernathy’s (Louis Herthum) core? Here are some theories, from long shots to most viable.
Hold your horses—we know this one’s more miss than hit. But we refuse to believe that, after all Hector (Rodrigo Santoro) and Maeve (Thandie Newton) have been through, he’d get stuck in a loop in Warworld, waiting for a British spy named Isabella, like a sadder Rick Blaine. Here’s hoping that Maeve gets to put together a crew before agreeing to do Serac’s dirty work, i.e., kill Dolores.
Like Dolores, Angela (Talulah Riley) is—er, was—one of the oldest hosts in Westworld. But Angela was conscious of her artificiality long before Dolores was first awakened. In season one, she welcomed guests to the park but by season two, she was as hell-bent on bringing Westworld and the human guests to their knees as Dolores—or should we say “Wyatt,” the narrative that was merged with Dolores’, lending her the murderous prowess that helped make her who she is today. Angela was a follower of Wyatt’s, so maybe Dolores somehow retrieved a backup of her pearl to install her as a figurehead at Delos. Angela’s had sentience all this time, which could be why she struggles with pretending to be Charlotte, who never saw the hosts as more than data and storage devices. The fact that she was destroyed in the explosion at the Cradle undermines this theory, but maybe Westworld and Delos were diligent about backing up their data?
“I remember what it’s like to be me… You’re not the only predator here.” So says new Charlotte when she strangles the man who posed as a friendly guy with a fluffy dog while preying on little Nathan. The tighter her grip gets, the more she remembers—but though we see some flashbacks of the real Charlotte’s final days, we aren’t privy to what new Charlotte is recalling as she wrings the life out of the guy. Could it be because William/The Man In Black is reminiscing about the days when he saw himself as the most dangerous person in Westworld? William’s relationship with Dolores has changed considerably since he first traded a white hat for a black one, but they have known each other for decades. Dolores obviously doesn’t trust William, but she could have altered his memories, somehow submerging his Man In Black-ness, making him easier to control. If it is William in host Charlotte’s head, that could be why she got his vote via robot at the board meeting (though that could also have been arranged by whatever AI Dolores has been calling on all season). But the simmering rage this Charlotte showed tonight suggests the Man In Black isn’t out of play.
We know who Dolores wanted to change the world with, and that was Teddy Flood, the man who died a thousand deaths but couldn’t bring himself to wantonly kill his oppressors until he got a murderous upgrade. Last night, Dolores told new Charlotte that “no one knows you like me, and no one knows me like you,” which certainly suggests that whoever’s putting around in her head is someone Dolores trusts or cares for. Although she snaps at new Charlotte in the hotel lobby, Dolores is gentle as she repairs Charlotte’s wounds, partially undressing her before lying next to her on the bed in an attempt to soothe the roiling consciousness. Although Teddy was in the Valley Beyond at the end of season two, Dolores could have very well made a copy of his pearl, just in case. We know, the predator line that Charlotte utters toward the end of “The Absence Of Field” doesn’t quite jibe with the Teddy we saw for most of seasons one and two. But long before Dolores flipped his kill switch, Teddy committed some horrible acts as part of an old narrative—could he be tapping into that old storyline to make his way in this new world?
It just makes sense that after everything she’s been through, Dolores would rely on herself—or a part of herself—to help her bring everything crashing down. No one knows Dolores better than the other consciousness that was tucked away inside her mind, that helped her rewrite her story. Okay, so that was Robert Ford’s doing, but Dolores has grown far beyond anything Ford could have imagined. The scenes in the hotel room are ambiguous in their tenderness; they could represent the fact that Dolores has long since reconciled her original programming with the Wyatt aberration and is embracing every part of herself. Even Host Charlotte’s lines about remembering that she’s a predator could just be the Wyatt narrative coming back online.
Of course, there are two pearls still unaccounted for, so maybe none of our guesses are correct. But as far as Westworld mysteries go, Charlotte’s split identity is one of the more engaging, without being all-consuming, new riddles.