It felt like we got a season finale a week early in Westworld tonight, so much so that we had to triple check that there is indeed still one more instalment left in the HBO show’s third season (sure is – ‘Crisis Theory’ airs on May 3).
A highly eventful seventh episode saw Dolores and Maeve go toe-to-toe and motherboard-to-motherboard in a climactic clash, and gave closure on Caleb’s backstory, finally filling in why the show has brought this muddled construction worker along for the metaphysical ride.
‘Passed Pawn’ was very busy plot-wise and yet quite coherent – unlikely to confuse and frustrate people as some season two episodes did. Nevertheless, you may be left with a few question marks, which we’ll try and scrub out for you below…
What is Dolores’ shiny new weapon?
Dolores debuted the kind of gun you’d get if you forced Elon Musk to devise tech for the US military this week – a sniper rifle with a drone for a sight. The drone launches from a mount on the gun itself, flies off, tags targets and allows the rifle to automatically take precision shots. Not sure why the drone wouldn’t just do the shooting itself too, but hey, it looked cool!
The gun proved pivotal in Maeve’s boss fight with Dolores, Maeve proving able to hack the rifle and turn it against her nemesis.
How is Clementine back in the real world?
Guess who’s back? I think we’re safe to assume this is who Maeve was reprinting at the close of episode six, using ex-park stalwart Clementine here to take out host Yakuza boss, Sato. If the identity of her face-tattooed accomplice escaped you, that was Sakura, who you may remember from Shogunworld.
With so many hosts and re-printed hosts now out in the real world, it seems like Pandora’s Box has been fully opened, and Westworld-originating hosts are now an indelible part of human society.
How much of Caleb’s past is a lie?
One big reveal this episode was that the fragments of Caleb’s memory we’ve been witnessing this season were somewhat of a misdirection. Rehoboam’s obsolete but still functioning previous iteration, Solomon, informed Caleb that the AR reconditioning therapy he received worked in tandem with the limbic drugs he was prescribed to “create dissociative memories” – essentially to scramble them.
We learned that the GTA-style crime app Caleb had been using was actually a covert way for Rehoboam to use humans to hunt down ‘outliers’, people deemed to pose a serious threat to the course of humanity. There is some doubt as to whether Caleb was even in the army at all by this point, this ‘tactical op gone wrong’ story simply being implanted in his mind as a more palatable explanation for his friend Francis’ death than the truth: that Caleb killed him after the app pitted the friends against each other.
If you’re not fussed about knowing the intricate details, then know the character arc purpose of all this – to turn Caleb against humanity itself. We learned that Caleb’s on a path to lead humanity, as Dolores put it, or end humanity, as Bernard prophesied. Who knows if the befuddled construction worker has it in him to commit genocide, but humans sure have been responsible for royally fucking with his life.
Are Maeve and Dolores dead?
You can be forgiven for this moment in the episode slipping past you, as it was only very briefly that Caleb made reference to the facility housing Solomon having an “EMP” (electromagnetic pulse).
About to be finished off by Maeve, Dolores went full kamikaze, triggering the EMP and knocking out herself, Maeve, Solomon and every robot in the facility. All are now out of action, but in Westworld, of course, death is even less permanent than it was in Game of Thrones.
Maeve, or a version of Maeve, is surely knocking around in the ol’ Westworld cloud somewhere, which Serac owns. Dolores might have trouble getting hold of another Dolores Abernathy body in the immediate future though, so I’d expect next week’s episode to centre around the version of Dolores currently running through the circuits of the Charlotte Hale-shaped host.
What about the imprisoned “outliers”?
Amid all the katanas and drone-operated rifles and French-accented AIs it would be easy to forget about these poor souls, humans deemed dangerous who were housed in chambers by Serac and essentially put in stasis – a bit like in The Matrix. With the facility’s entire grid being knocked out by the EMP, where does this leave these “outliers”? Dead? About to stage a jailbreak? To be continued (and not forgotten about, hopefully).