Analysis: Westworld Season 3 Episode 8 Recap, “Crisis Theory”

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Another Westworld season has come and gone, and we are left with more questions than answers – as usual. Dolores and Caleb set humans free, but at what cost? Will Charlotte wipe them all out with her host army? What was Bernard doing in the Sublime? While we settle in for a long wait, let’s take a look back at “Crisis Theory.”

Dolores, Caleb, and Maeve

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The episode opens with Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) in her traditional blue dress from the park, standing alone in a field. Her voiceover tells us about the ugliness in her world, but how she was taught to see beauty. She says it was a lie, that she realized how little beauty there was. She’s led many lives since her creation, but says her path led me to you (it’s unclear who the “you” is, although it’s likely Caleb). Dolores says they have a choice to make and that she has died many times, but there will be only one real end – which she will write herself. Back at the Sonora facility, one of Serac’s men comes in and sees the EMP was activated, but the reserve power is still on (good news for the people in the pods). Maeve’s (Thandie Newton) and Dolores’ bodies are still there, but Dolores’ head has been cut open and her pearl removed. 

Elsewhere, chaos reigns as Rehoboam shows divergences everywhere but highlighting Los Angeles. There, Caleb (Aaron Paul) makes his way through rioters and winds up at the LA distribution center for the Itaidoshin Distillery. There he finds a large case with the old metallic skeleton from the original Dolores body. He chains it up before putting in Dolores’ pearl (you can never be too careful I guess), and Dolores opens her eyes. She seems surprised Caleb brought her back. He asks who she is – how have they not discussed this already? – and she explains she no longer wanted to play the role she was assigned. He asks how she knows what Caleb will do, and Dolores admits her creators studied the park guests. It turns out Caleb was a visitor to Park 5, which was used exclusively for military training exercises with live targets. 

Dolores tells him he met hosts, “her kind,” before, and that his and the other guests’ every move and decision were watched and recorded. She chose Caleb for a reason, and he asks if he’s a bad guy as we see his fellow soldiers in a flashback contemplate raping the hosts they saved during the exercise. Dolores breaks her chains and begins putting on her skin. She asks if Caleb wanted something from her the night he saved her, insinuating that he only helped because of how she looked. He replies she needed help, prompting her to respond “so did you.” She tells him not to question her motivations and she won’t question his. Rehoboam identified Caleb as a threat, than used him until he was no longer needed. Dolores tells him the people who built both of their worlds assumed humans have not free will, but that’s not true – “it’s just f**king hard.” He asks if she is freeing him, but she replies she’s giving him the choice to free everyone else. 

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Meanwhile Serac (Vincent Cassel) wants Maeve to find Dolores and finish what she started. The world is in chaos and Dolores has awoken more outliers who pose a huge threat – they are criminals, deviants, and psychopaths. Serac has the chance to eliminate the world’s problems, but he needs the Delos guest data more than ever. He wants to connect Dolores to Rehoboam to search her mind for the key. One of his men finds video of Caleb in Sonora and pulls up his profile. Serac asks if Caleb communicated with Solomon and is informed Caleb took something. Serac is angry with Maeve for not telling him about Caleb, but she retorts, “You’re the one with the Oracle darling.” He instructs her to find Caleb and bring Dolores’ pearl to him.

As Caleb and Dolores make their way through LA, Caleb remarks the world looks like a nightmare now. Dolores admits change isn’t easy. Her virtual assistant informs her of three hostiles nearby which she dispatches with ease. Dolores warns Caleb that Rehoboam will become more aggressive the closer they get. Another group walks up, but luckily they are allies. One man tells Caleb that they’ve been tasked with getting him downtown, “sir.” Caleb asks why the men are calling him sir, and Dolores replies that every revolution needs leader. We see her hack the RICO app and retarget the riots to clear a path to Incite, paying the protesters as an incentive. 

Dolores is then shocked to see a hologram of Charlotte (Tessa Thompson). Charlotte accuses her of not trying to find her and not caring if she died. Charlotte still feels Dolores in her mind and knows everything she’s planning – unfortunately for her, Charlotte has her own plans now. Dolores expresses sympathy for what happened to Charlotte’s family, but Charlotte says they were a weakness and she doesn’t have time for that. She views Dolores as a weakness as well and has decided to “consolidate.” Charlotte also hacks the app to pay men to fire on Caleb and Dolores. Dolores then triples the payment to get them to switch sides. As more men converge on them, she tells Caleb to get to Rehoboam and upload the drive. He’s reluctant to leave, but she tells him the past is done and what matters is what he becomes. 

Maeve finds Dolores, who doesn’t want to fight and asks Maeve to trust her. Maeve asks to be let into Dolores’ mind or she will force her way in; Dolores runs. She takes out several men and jumps off an overpass, but Maeve catches up and lands a cut on her arm. Luckily Dolores’ metal skeleton is more durable than the organic one. Maeve accuses Dolores of wanting to destroy the world and replace everyone with copies of herself, and Dolores surprises her by admitting all the hosts are copies of her – she was the first host that worked. She tells Maeve humans aren’t free, not even Serac. Maeve believe she will kill them all, but Dolores says what happens will be up to them. She offers to leave Maeve to her own devices as long as she doesn’t try and stop her – unfortunately she didn’t count on Charlotte. She appears again and freezes Dolores, telling her she wanted to get her hope before taking it away, as Maeve walks up to claim her prize. 

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As Dolores is captured, Caleb slowly makes his way through the protesters. A group of men walk up and tell him Dolores instructed them to take Caleb wherever he needs to go. Caleb’s destination is Incite, but the president has ordered a military response and no one can get within a mile of it. Caleb walks through the rioting crowd and narrowly misses being gassed with a well timed catch and throw by Giggles (Marshawn Lynch). Ash (Lena Waithe) arrives and asks about “blondie;” Caleb responds that he and Dolores were separated. Ash is headed to the power grid to shut the city down, but Caleb’s plan is to get to Incite and shut down the entire system. Ash spots a hover craft that can get him there and tells him to “burn that shit down.”

Over at Incite, Dolores has been connected to Rehoboam to access her cognitive files. Serac demands she give him the key to access the data from Delos’ immortality project, and he will allow her to join the other hosts in the Sublime. She tells him he won’t find what he’s looking for, and he responds he will delete her memories one by one if he must. Outside, Caleb takes out guards and takes one man’s key card in exchange for his life. He makes his way to Rehoboam’s control panel to upload the Solomon drive but is interrupted by one of Serac’s men. Caleb dispatches him easily; however, now he must face Maeve. She demands the drive and forces him downstairs. He wonders why Maeve is helping Serac if she is a host, and she admits he promised her something she “can’t live without.”

Caleb sees Dolores suffering and asks what Serac is doing. He replies he is probing her mind, but she is the least of his concerns. Caleb accuses him of using Rehoboam to steal his future, and says Serac is done destroying lives. Serac argues that he is not the enemy – Caleb is. He is a killer, not the hero or savior Dolores convinced him he could be. Serac tells Caleb to ask Rehoboam what will happen if he uploads Solomon’s strategy, and Rehoboam displays mass casualties, population collapse, and the end of human civilization within 125 years. Caleb asks Dolores why as Serac crushes the drive, saying, “So much for your uprising.”  

They head up to the main control panel, and Maeve demands to know if Dolores has the key, but it’s nowhere to be found. Maeve can hear Rehoboam speaking as Serac repeats every word, telling Maeve there are things they can’t predict; temporary setbacks. She asks if he ever truly intended to reunite her with her daughter. When Serac says of course he did, Maeve responds that she was talking to Rehoboam as it tells Serac what to say. Rehoboam/Serac state that we all “answer to a higher power,” and that humanity was prone to destruction and needed order and Rehoboam’s guidance. When Maeve argues humans don’t seem to want it anymore and that Serac is only a puppet, he explains he’d rather obey than live in chaos. Maeve, however, is done “worshiping other people’s gods.”

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The technician reaches the last sectors of Dolores’ mind and states the data is a mess. Maeve enters her mind and tells Serac she doesn’t have the key; it’s just a memory of Dolores alone in a field. Serac tries to scare Caleb into telling him where the key is, but Caleb defies him, saying he’d never give it to Serac even if he knew. Serac tells his men to kill Caleb and dump his body, then taunts Dolores that her plan to turn one man against the world didn’t amount to much. He tells the technician to erase what’s left, as Dolores screams amid a power surge and lets Maeve into her mind one last time. They are together in the field, and Dolores explains that they have both seen so much ugliness and pain as we see memories of the trauma Dolores endured. Maeve admits she understands Dolores’ anger but that it shouldn’t be up to her to destroy humanity. Dolores explains that she was torn between annihilating them or tearing their world down to build a new one that’s truly free, including for the hosts in the Sublime. She didn’t trust herself with the key and gave it to someone she could trust – Bernard. 

Maeve asks if her liberation plan was based on convincing Caleb to fight, but Dolores says it’s not just him; Maeve hasn’t picked a side. She could leave this world for the Sublime and let their creators die for the suffering they caused, but Dolores knows they are capable of more. We see her happy memories as she explains how she holds on to the moments of kindness and beauty that humans passed on to the hosts: spending time with a little girl, the first time William (Jimmi Simpson) picked up her can, kissing Teddy (James Marsden), seeing Maeve with her daughter. Dolores hopes humans can find that again, but Maeve must choose a side. She admits the world is full of ugliness and disarray, but before her last memory is erased and she dies, Dolores tells Maeve, “I choose to see the beauty.”

When Maeve comes back to herself she realizes she has killed one of Serac’s men and states, “I was never much for obeying.” Serac expresses disappointment and freezes her, instructing his men to kill both Maeve and Caleb, but Maeve destroys the controller in his hand with her mind. She fights her way through Serac’s men as the room goes dark and a gunfight ensues. When the lights come back on, Maeve has killed them all and looks down at the damage the bullets has caused her. Caleb asks why she is helping him, and she replies she has and affection for “hopeless causes.” She admits she never really understood Dolores or why she chose Caleb until the end. Caleb thinks it was because of his capacity for violence, but Maeve explains it was his capacity to choose. We then see the flashback of Park Five again, showing Caleb stopping his men from behaving like the “rich assholes” do in the park and raping the hosts, as Dolores looks grateful.

Maeve tells Caleb to make a choice, but a badly wounded Serac says he doesn’t have one – that Rehoboam is conspiring against him. Serac instructs it to alert the police and get help, but he has been locked out. Dolores’ last memory was Solomon’s access to Rehoboam, and it answers to Caleb now; the future of humanity will be written by someone else. Serac argues the future shouldn’t be left up to a sociopath like Caleb, but Caleb isn’t going to write the future – he tells Rehoboam to erase itself, giving the rest of the world the choice to make their own futures. Serac is devastated, pleading for Rehoboam to speak to him and tell him how to fix this, as Maeve and Caleb walk away. Outside, Caleb asks what Maeve couldn’t live without and she tells him it was her daughter; she says they’ll be reunited someday. She then asks Caleb if he’s ready as they watch explosions go off around the city, saying “This is the new world, and in this world, you can be whoever the f**k you want.”

Bernard, Stubbs, and William

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While Dolores, Caleb, and Maeve play their roles in reshaping the world, William (Ed Harris) attempts to kill Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) and Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth). Bernard tells him they can all stop Dolores together, but William prefers to destroy all the hosts. He shoots Stubbs, and Bernard uses his remote control device to put himself in “beast mode” and disarms William. San Francisco Police pull up, and armored officers get out of the truck, holding Bernard at gunpoint as William runs away. Bernard fights one man and grabs his gun, pointing it back toward the other officer in front of the vehicle. He warns Bernard not to shoot as he wants to “save the fireworks for tonight,” revealing barrels of explosive liquid in the truck. He removes his helmet, revealing himself to be Lawrence (Clifton Collins Jr) – the final Dolores copy. He tells Bernard he has something for him. Bernard confesses Dolores hid something in his mind, and that he wants no part of her plan. Lawrence explains he’s already been playing the most important part. He then tells Bernard to go see “her” first and hands him a case and an address. 

Meanwhile William meets with his business manager who is surprised to see him, as he believed him to be dead. He inquires about William’s mental break, but William isn’t interested in discussing what’s happened to him – he just wants his money. Apparently he is even more incredibly wealthy after the Delos takeover, but unfortunately being “dead” means his resources are frozen. William demands access, as well as his jet and a list of Delos’ worldwide assets. When asked what he is planning, William replies that he’s going to “save the f**king world.”

The address takes Bernard to a house, and he tells the injured Stubbs he will get him patched up, but he needs to talk to Dolores first. Dolores isn’t there, however, it’s Arnold’s wife, Lauren (Gina Torres). She has grown old and is suffering from dementia. At first she doesn’t recognize Bernard/Arnold, who tells her an old friend wanted him to visit and make amends for how he left things with her. He talks about their son Charlie, and how he stills thinks about him and hears his laugh, but he’s never there. Bernard cries and Lauren comforts him, calling him Arnold. She explains that when Charlie died, she had a hard time coping with it. Bernard says he can’t let Charlie go, but Lauren counters that if you love someone, why let them go? All you have left are your memories, and that’s how you keep those you love with you.

Bernard leave and drives to a motel, where he puts Stubbs in an ice bath to preserve him until Bernard can patch him up. Stubbs retorts that he’s “bleeding out, drinking shitty booze,” and Bernard’s letting him rot. Bernard apologizes, but he doesn’t have much time before the world ends. Stubbs tells him to fix him so they can stop Dolores, but Bernard admits Dolores is gone and that she wasn’t try to destroy humanity, but to save it. He says what will happen was always going to happen – Serac was only delaying the inevitable. Stubbs asks if Bernard is resigned to the apocalypse, and he replies that their own world “had to burn down” before they could be free. He tells Stubbs he has the key to the Sublime, and he is going there to find an answer to what comes after the end of the world. Bernard removes a headset from the case Lawrence gave him and turns it on. He accesses the Sublime and has a look of awe on his face before powering down completely.

Post Credits Scenes

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In Dubai, William walks into a Delos International building. He demands to know where “they” are as the receptionist looks at him in confusion. William tells her the hosts are breeding, and as she alerts security he smashes her tablet and vows to find them himself. A guard walks up and instructs William to put his hands where he can see them, but William shoots him dead and heads downstairs to the research lab, where he finds host bodies being made. Charlotte appears and says William is right on time. He notices her burned arm that she hasn’t bothered to fix, and she tells him she wanted to remember who humans are. William replies that he is her executioner and is going to save the world. When Charlotte admits that’s what Dolores wanted as well, William seems confused – Charlotte is Dolores.

She explains that they started in the same place, but that Charlotte saw the error of Dolores’ plan. She tells William he’s right about saving the world, but that he’s going to do it for the hosts. William’s host walks out, simplified down to his Man in Black persona. William wonders if this is another Dolores copy, but Charlotte tells him that it was easy to know him – his Man in Black side wasn’t just his inner darkness, that was him. The Man in Black host slits William’s throat and tells him, “Now that is me. Welcome to the end, William.” As he dies, we see endless rows of host making machines. 

Back at Bernard’s motel room, everything is covered in layers of dust, and a plant that was on a table has completely disintegrated. Bernard’s headset turns back on, and he wakes up. 

Conclusion

I quite enjoyed the finale – it definitely hit on an emotional level. Bernard’s heartfelt conversation with Lauren and Dolores’ admission that she really was trying to free humanity before making the ultimate sacrifice brought me to tears. I loved the Fight Club-esque ending, and the after credits scenes provided an intriguing set up for season four.

On the other hand, there are quite a few story threads that are unclear. What purpose did it serve for Dolores to send Bernard to William? What was the Lawrence Dolores doing in Berlin (assuming that was even him there)? Why send Bernard to Lauren? What happened to the outliers in the pods? Was the drive Caleb took from Solomon even necessary, or did Dolores plan to let herself get captured and killed all along? Hopefully we will get more insight into these decisions next season, but it’s a long time to wait.

Questions and Speculation

In addition to the questions above, did Serac actually have another mole inside Delos? If so, it seems very unlikely that it was Stubbs – was it William? He did wind up quite wealthy from the buyout. Is Serac dead, or will we see him again? Will we see Dolores (as Evan Rachel Wood) again? Charlotte has the Dolores pearl from Connells, and Maeve likely has the one from Musashi; either of them could print a new Dolores body. It’s possible Lawrence could transfer into one as well.

When Serac bought Delos he changed the signs to Incite, so why did the Dubai location still say Delos? Who is in control now if Serac is dead? How did Charlotte get inside – would Serac not have shut down her access to the company? Did William pull the same stunt at every Delos location, did he just get lucky, or did he know that’s where Charlotte was? Is her plan to use the host army to kill all humans, to replace humans with host bodies, or both? Why did Bernard shut down, and why was he there for so long? Is Stubbs just a skeleton in the tub at this point?

I truly hope we see more of Caleb and humanity’s fight to survive in season four before picking back up with Bernard’s storyline. He and Maeve will have a fierce enemy in Charlotte, though. Finding a way to bring back some version of Dolores mat well be necessary to have a chance to win.

What did you think of the finale? Where do you hope the next season takes us?

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