Westworld Post Mortem of “Crisis Theory”

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The revolution has begun, but Westworld season three is finished. We were left saddened by Dolores’ sacrifice and wondering if we will see any version of her in the future, as well as shocked by William’s death by his host clone and confused by Bernard’s trip to the Sublime. We won’t get the answers we seek for quite some time, but we can dig a little deeper into “Crisis Theory” with this week’s interviews and videos!

Showrunners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, and finale co-writer Denise Thé made the rounds with several media outlets after season three wrapped up. Starting with InsiderNolan addresses Dolores’ death. “I would say it’s final. It’s because of that impermanence and the fact that this is – I mean, it’s tricky, right? Because I think people will be expecting otherwise…The idea that her memories would be erased and destroyed one at a time is very evocative and very emotional, and suggests that we will never see Dolores as we’ve known her.” There are a few copies left, so even if it’s not the same Dolores, we may still see some version of her.

Nolan also discusses whether we should see Dolores as good or bad, and suggests it’s not not that easy. “From the beginning, the goal with Evan [Rachel Wood] was to create a character that somehow eludes the standard, and frankly slightly pat definitions, of what a hero or a protagonist or a villain would be. The question with Dolores has always been, whether you understand what she’s doing or not, which box does she fit into? The hero or the villain? The answer being that life is more complicated than that.”

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There is more Dolores discussion over at VarietyWhen asked if Wood will leave the show now that Dolores is gone, Nolan replies, “I f**king hope not.” He adds, “We’re not yet discussing publicly the direction the show is taking, but the fun thing about this show is, you know, from the beginning Lisa and I wanted to make a show that constantly reinvented itself, that could be a different show every season. I think it’s important with a show in which death can be impermanent – these are robots, after all – to mark the occasion with Dolores. That version of that character is gone…we haven’t started talking publicly about exactly what the show looks like going forward. But it looks very different.”

Denise Thé shares her thought’s on Dolores’ sacrifice as well, saying, “I think that it was painful, you know?…When we saw these memories of her being sucked out of her, you got to kind of re-live her life with her and see these different atrocities that were done to her. So, for me that moment where she says that she chose to see beauty is much stronger and that much more beautiful because you kind of have walked this road with her again and re-lived these moments with her. For me, it was a very powerful kind of transcendent moment of her completing her arc and really coming full circle, choosing to love these beings that, in some ways, just tore her life apart, and rising above it.”

Was her sacrifice worth it given that humans have a tendency toward destruction? Lisa Joy compares what happens in season three to the real life turmoil we are facing now and admits, “I think that human history tends to be cyclical, in some ways. It is very hard to have periods of — well, it’s been impossible to have periods of uninterrupted peace, uninterrupted tranquility. Humans have not been good at that. They always break down and then they always reassemble. It’s terrible and it’s difficult, but we are a species that takes out of the wreckage, hopefully, something that they can start and build anew with. The idea that revolution is a part of that cycle of human history isn’t something we invented, it’s just something that is apparent, if you look at any history of any society in world.”
Finally, Nolan clarifies that they don’t have a set number of seasons in mind to finish the story of Westworld. “Lisa and I have never actually talked about a number of seasons…Things change, circumstances change. I think when we sat down to do the show, we didn’t quite realize how difficult it would be to make this show — [laughing] how many years it would take per season. So we’ve never actually talked about how many seasons that plan was, and indeed I think when we had the plan it didn’t actually map out to a specific number of seasons, exactly. It was a beginning, a middle and an end.”
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Talking to Deadline, Nolan delves into William’s character evolution. “We like Ed Harris so much we’d figure let’s cast him in four different roles. There’s the Ed that we see at the end of the second-season finale which is very, very far in the future, further than where we’ve gotten elsewhere in the show. We lay out the suggestion to the audience that however this plays out, it does not play out well. Then you have the Ed who we’ve tracked through this season, until he’s not, and is struggling with this idea of agency, struggling with this idea of does he have free will. This is one of the larger questions of our show from the beginning, which Evan answers in last night’s episode with the best version that we can come up with: ‘Yes, there is free will, but it’s f**king hard.'”

When asked about the meaning of Bernard’s post credits scene, Nolan declines to give details. “From the beginning we talked about a show that would reinvent itself every season, that would be fearless moving forward. That has always been the plan; we’ve always stuck to that plan. I was amused to see people refer to this season as a reboot, but this is what we’ve always been doing. The suggestion with Jeffrey [Wright’s character] there is that some sh*t has gone down, and some time has passed.” I’d certainly say so…it’s possible even more time has passed in the Sublime, just like Maeve’s simulation moved at a much faster speed than the real world.

Nolan adds, “The whole season with Serac and Dolores, they’ve been vying to maintain the key to that alternate universe, and it turns out that Dolores has entrusted it to the one person she trusts the most, which is Bernard. And what he finds, when he accesses that alternative universe are several characters we know and love who have vanished into it during the second season. We’ll continue to explore that, and also ask questions about it in the fourth season.” Hopefully we’ll find out what happened to poor Stubbs on ice in the bathtub too!

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Thé reveals more about William choices in The Hollywood Reporter, saying, “For him, going through this moment in time when we see him on the verge of losing his sanity and having to go into an insane asylum, and having a breakthrough moment with his therapist: owning up to the fact that he killed his daughter and that he deserves to be in a pine box, but in true kind of Westworld form, [his therapist] is not really there for him in this moment. It could have been a moment of redemption, but instead, she’s dealing with her own crisis and she misses it.”

She continues, saying, “It leads to him having a very different epiphany: ‘I’m the good guy.’ It leads him on this path of trying to destroy the hosts. We thought it was important to see how this distorted version of the truth would be his downfall, and how in the end, it might be the thing that turned him into the thing he most wanted to destroy.” Many people have theorized the Man in Black host version of William is the same one we see in the season two post credits scene, but Nolan suggests that may not be the case. “I don’t think it’s fair to assume it.”

Nolan is asked for more details on what relevance Bernard’s post credits scene will have on season four, and he responds, “I remember watching the scene between Bernard and Arnold’s wife and how deeply moving I thought it was as a meditation on life and loss and memory and darkness. Why is it best not to forget those things that are painful, those things that hurt us? It’s so we don’t lose these things to the darkness, so we can bring them into the light. We’re the only vessels of carrying those things back into the light. For me, Bernard’s character has always been, despite the things that have tortured him, very noble. He’s an emissary of his own kind of light. Now, he’s going to travel to some new places and learn some new things, and the question is, what can he bring into the light in the future going forward, if anything?”

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In an interview with Vanity Fair, Thandie Newton shares her thoughts on Maeve’s story this season. “I loved her agency in season one. I loved how uncompromising she was. It’s been strangely frustrating, certainly, for the character. Well, I guess for me too in a way. But all with a purpose. In a way, Maeve’s agency starts again in the season three finale. I’ve spent basically, pretty much [seasons] two and three floundering. Learning some katana skills and creating a path for the audience to better understand what the hosts have been dealing with.” She believes there is a reason for it, however. “I really trust these guys. I think they’re master storytellers.”

Newton adds her two cents to the future of Dolores, saying, “Dolores as we know her is gone, [but] she has populated the world with versions of herself. So maybe there’s a version that’s in a little cupboard somewhere that’s still the old Dolores.” She adds, “Yes, characters do come back, but they’ve always been coming back in really interesting ways. It’s not lazy.” Regardless, Newton is happy to be along for the ride and prefers “to just sit back and be taken on a journey. It’s like trying to put brakes on a roller coaster. So are you going to put all your effort into trying to put brakes on this roller coaster? Like with anything, it’s less painful if you just surrender.”

Finally, SYFY WIRE shares a report from Parrot Analytics which reveals Westworld as the fourth most in-demand sci-fi show in the United States, behind Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Stranger Things, and The Mandalorian. “U.S. demand for Westworld one day after its Season 3 finale was higher than demand one day after the Season 2 finale by 42.3 percent. However, U.S. demand after the Season 1 finale was still 32.5 percent higher than demand after the Season 3 finale.” The outlook is even better worldwide, as it ranks third after Game of Thrones and La Casa de Papel. “It has been 80.59x more in-demand than the average show globally over this time period,” the report says. “On a daily basis during this time it has ranked as high as #2 five times – April 20, April 27-28, and May 4-5, the two days after its season 3 finale.” That’s good news for those of us anxious for season four and beyond!


Check out the final episode of “Creating Westworld’s Reality” for season three below:

Evan Rachel Wood and Aaron Paul share their thoughts about their characters and what it was like working together in this video from HBO.

Wood was also a guest on The Tonight Show and addresses Dolores’ fate.

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