Here’s what you need to know about the Season 3 finale of HBO’s Westworld: Crispy Charlotte is hiding out in a distant Delos lab, cooking up ways to destroy humanity/ secure the future for all robotkind… including building a Man In Black-bot, which kills the human William when he comes to kill Charlotte. This is not only a callback to the Season 2 end credits, where we found out that at some point in the future there would be a host-William but also a perfectly dismissive way to kill off the human William, whose modus operandi within the park was always to walk in guns ablazin’. He is not a hero, he is a vicious idiot. I’m all about Man In Black-bot, now — don’t @ me.
Meanwhile, Bernard spends a very long time in the Sublime (Host Heaven). We don’t know how long, but when he returns to his body he’s covered in dust — and Stubbs may or may not be dead in the bathtub nearby.
Sounds exciting, right? Well, then I should probably note that ALL OF THAT occurs in back-to-back end credit scenes, and you have to sit through the rest of the finale to get to them. And look, I’m not saying nothing important happens in the finale. There’s some solid action, a few very good performances, and some much-needed resolution. Unfortunately, it’s all built on a lot of hand-flappy logic, filler, and a noticeable lack of meaningful stakes. For example: We finally meet the last Dolores clone. It’s Lawrence (Clifton Collins Jr.)! YAY! He’s great! Remember how he was supposed to be in Berlin? Well, now he’s a member of the SFPD who shows up for, like, 60 seconds just to give Bernard the special briefcase we last saw in Musashi’s hand — and which, we discover, contains the apparatus needed to access the Sublime. So that’s one long-awaited reveal done and dusted. OH! He also gives Bernard an address, which leads Bernard into a lovely but completely unnecessary reunion with Arnold’s elderly wife, Lauren (Gina Torres) as they share the pain they’ve experienced over the loss of their son. It’s a great reminder of just what Jeffrey Wright brings to the table in this show, but it’s also telling that Wright’s stand-out scene of the season had almost nothing to do with… the plot?
The episode, “Crisis Theory,” spends a lot of time building up to the big confrontation between Serac/Maeve and Dolores/Cal as the latter pair navigate a city in flames to reach the Incite building. Along the way Dolores is captured by Maeve, thanks to a timely assist from an angry Charlotte hologram that incapacitates Dolores somehow (HAND FLAP), and Cal has to rely on the welcome return of Giggles (Marshawn Lynch) and Ash (Lena Waithe) to get him through the riots and on to Incite’s doorstep. The goal, if you’ll remember, is to upload Solomon’s stick thingy into Rehoboam. Or, I don’t know if we’re supposed to know that, but that seems to be the goal. Unfortunately, Cal is almost immediately stopped by Maeve, who escorts him to the lower lobby where Dolores has been taken and hooked up to Rehoboam. Serac demands that Dolores give him the encryption key (for Delos’s wealth of human data), and he commands the supercomputer to systematically erase her memories until she either delivers the key herself or Rehoboam finds it inside her mind. Rehoboam also confirms to Cal that if Solomon’s strategy is executed, the result will be mass casualties and eventual societal collapse.
Ah, but there’s a twist: Serac doesn’t control Rehoboam. Rehoboam controls Serac. The man has willingly sacrificed his own free will along with everyone else’s in pursuit of his safe future. Oh, and there’s another twist: Dolores never had the key. She didn’t trust herself with it, and implanted it in Bernard (or at least she gave him the encryption key to the Sublime. Were there two keys, or did one key unlock both sets of data? Who knows! HAND FLAP). In a lovely scene spanning Dolores’s final remaining memory, she and Maeve have a heart to heart in the fields of West World, where Dolores reveals that she doesn’t have it out for humanity. Her revolution is truly about free will for everyone, human and Host, and she’s chosen to value the small moments of beauty over the overwhelming pain of existence. Humans, after all, taught her about beauty in the first place. As for the apocalypse she’s setting into motion? I mean, you have to tear one thing down to build something else I guess.
Oh, and yet another twist: Dolores also had access to Solomon’s strategy, which is just a command key to Rehoboam (HAND FLAP)? So she uses it in her final moments to strip Serac of access to Rehoboam and give control to Cal. The choice for what to do with the supercomputer, and the future of mankind, is in Cal’s hands — not because Dolores believes him to be a violent man or a vengeful man, but because she knows he’s capable of making hard choices of his own free will (insert sudden and convenient flashback revealing she met him during a military training exercise and he kept her from being raped by his fellow soldiers). Dolores banked on Cal being trustworthy, and she also banked on Maeve as well — and when the sh*t hits the fan, Maeve turns on Serac to protect Cal. Cal, in turn, chooses to have Rehoboam wipe itself clean — freeing humanity to make its own choices, and also kick-starting the end of civilization as we know it. It’s like they’ve entered into a new frontier — the Wild West, even!
As for Dolores? She’s wiped clean — which means she’s essentially dead. Or at least, that one particular version of her is well and truly gone. There are other clones of her (Clifton Collins Jr.!) that just need to be transplanted into new Evan Rachel Wood-suits next season, which diminishes the impact of this death somewhat. Also, there’s that passing reveal earlier in the episode that ALL hosts are, in a way, copies of Dolores, since her program was the basis for Delos’s whole operation. But if there’s a takeaway to be had this season, it’s that we are all defined by our experiences — and that means that every Dolores out there is its own unique person. We just discovered that Dolores Prime was maybe a hero after all, and now it looks like Charlotte-Dolores will be the villain we were afraid of all this time. You know, for reasons. HAND FLAP!
By the way, did you know Maeve could have blown up Serac’s master robot-controlling button using her mind this whole time? HAND FLAP!
By the way, did you know Bernard could sense Dolores, and knows she’s gone, but he isn’t connected to any of the other clones to the same extent? HAND FLAP!
By the way, did you notice how Bernard had time to drive a (mortally?) wounded Stubbs around for hours before finally dumping him in the ice bath rather than… ever taking a break to try and patch him up? The Sublime wasn’t going anywhere, BERNARD!
By the way, did you notice how Cal is special because he’s capable of free well, yet his character was given practically no agency the entire season and was relegated to being a bystander in most of the action for 8 whole episodes?
The good news is, Westworld still knows how to leave us wanting more. The bad news is, it was at its very best in those end credit scenes when there was no obligation to deliver on anything it was setting up. That’ll come in Season 4, I guess. Which I will watch, because I still can’t quit this stupid, beautiful, infuriating robot show.
Header Image Source: HBO