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Spoilers below for the latest episode of Westworld, so be warned.
My brain hurts at just the thought of Westworld Season 3 already being 5/8 of the way through, but to be honest, there are many things about Season 3 that have pushed my brain to the snapping point. Episode 5, titled "Genre," certainly earned its share of quizzical looks and presumptive "Aha!" moments, from Caleb's hallucinatory experience with the drug also named "genre" to Serac's ability to set up just about any situation he pleases. (Weird, though, that he so conspicuously left Liam Dempsey Sr.'s blood spatter on that non-destroyed plane wing.)
I definitely have lots of questions about some of those moments and several others, which are currently in good company with all the unanswered questions about the Man in Black's return in "The Mother of Exiles." But rather than loose inquiries about Westworld's twisty narrative and characters, I'd rather throw out some theories that I've been forming as Season 3 has gone on. (Note that I'm not pompously under the impression that these theories are all exclusive to me, but I generally don't do a lot of online theory-searching, specifically to not be persuaded by others.)
The Maeve And Caleb Storylines Take Place In Two Different Timelines
Westworld's first two seasons were very tightly hinged on fractured timelines giving viewers false expectations, and I don't believe co-creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy completely departed from that approach. To me, Season 3's clearest possible time setting switch would involve the Caleb and Maeve stories being set apart by an as-yet-undecipherable gap in time. One root of this theory is the Episode 4 scene where Serac takes Maeve to Arnold's house, supposedly three months after a divergence occurred there, which we're made to assume is when Dolores created the other hosts. But what if that's not entirely the case?
For one, Arnold's house looked like it hadn't been used for Host-cloning purposes in years, rather than months, though that's hardly the strongest sign of proof. But also consider that Vincent Cassel remains ageless throughout the episode, despite Serac's flashbacks showcasing events from several different years, so it's difficult to ascertain how old he is at any given time. Finally, I'm suspicious about Maeve's story connecting only with Serac's so far, and only after she "escaped" her simulation experiment. But does this mean that Serac sought Maeve out before taking his fight directly to Dolores and Cal, or did he only draft Maeve after his previous plans were thrwarted?
Some Or All Of Westworld Season 3 Has Been A Rehoboam Simulation
Sharing a lot of the same ground as the first, this theory assumes that viewers are indeed being tricked by some of what we've seen so far. But rather than the two major storylines being separated by time, they'd be separated by the fabric of reality itself. Serac is someone who only goes on the offensive after he's established how to avoid all negative outcomes, which is where Rehobaom becomes handy AF. For all audiences know, some of Dolores' victorious moments with Caleb may be simulated fabrications originating from Serac's Rehoboam experiments to determine the best way to undermine the hosts' power.
The "everything is a Rehoboam simulation" theory was spreading before the tech had been named, but many people seem convinced that it's an all-or-nothing situation when it comes to what's "real" and what isn't. Vincent Cassel himself seemed to confirm recently that Serac is fully a human being, and neither a secret Host nor a Rehoboam avatar. Now, Cassel didn't stress that Serac has been a living and breathing human in every single scene he appears in, which is fine, since's often portrayed as a hologram. However, it still provides more than enough virtual rope to keep the partial-simulation theory lassoed close until proven right or wrong.
Caleb Was Responsible For Something Truly Catastrophic
From his mother's degenerative mental disease to the choppy flashbacks Caleb had while being psychoanalyzed by the A.I. version of his brother-in-arms Francis (voiced by Kid Cudi), Westworld has made it clear that the Aaron Paul character is dealing with memory-related issues on a regular basis. We know that he lucidly remembers certain traumas, such as the day his mother abandoned him to be raised by milkshakes, but Caleb's drug trip in Episode 5 brought a few more major memories to light, which Caleb was not ready to handle. (It was an interesting semi-reveal, given the real-world studies about how memories are linked to psychoactive substances.)
Previously, I would've guessed that Caleb's military work solely involved lower-tier Black Ops missions for the CIA or another clandestine government agency. But if Liam Jr.'s judgmental pre-death outburst in Episode 5 was sincere, and not just heightened through Caleb's P.O.V., it's perhaps implied that Caleb was responsible for something far more massively traumatic. (He was too young to have blown Paris up, though not for later divergences.) The flashbacks made it look like Veronica Mars vet Enrico Colantoni will be a victim whose death Caleb blocked out. But how important was that mystery character, and is there a deeper conspiracy behind why Caleb can't remember things?
Bernard And Stubbs Are Unwittingly Also Dolores' Clones
Though Jeffrey Wright's Bernard is one of Westworld's most important and celebrated characters, he's one of few whose narrative can remain entirely opaque from premiere to finale. As such, it's not at all surprising that the show hasn't yet delivered exhaustive explanations for why Dolores recreated Bernard ahead of her war against Serac and humanity. What if the Host pearl that she loaded with Bernard's data and Arnold's memories already had Dolores' information in its core? In other words, what if Bernard is a Dolores minion who just doesn't know it yet? As Martin put it: "You've always been of two minds, haven't you, Bernard?"
Think about it. Characters like Charlotte Hale and Martin Connells were already on morally dubious paths when Dolores stepped in, while Bernard has almost always kept to his best behavior, at least when others weren't controlling him. And what better way to keep Bernard convinced that he's on the level than by giving him brazen respect and loyalty via Luke Hemsworth's Ashley Stubbs, whose suicide-gone-wrong story never rang legit to me. The main question here is "Why?" In this case, I'd think Dolores would use Bernard and Stubbs to protagonistically earn Serac's trust through shared target, only for the Host duo to blindly double-cross the trillionaire at every step.
At Least One Of Dolores' Clones Will Rebel Against Her
The seeds for this theory were definitely planted (just below skin level) when the show revealed that the Charlotte Hale duplicate has struggled with self-mutilation impulses, presumably related to maintaining dual identities. Episode 5 went deeper down this narrative pathway with Bernard and Martin's conversation, in which the former straight-up asked the Tommy Flanagan character if he ever questioned what Dolores tasked him with doing. He mentioned worlds bleeding, which possibly ties into the idea that Dolores' memories have been popping into Bernard's head.
Actions spoke much louder than words when Martin didn't immediately respond to Bernard's question with dismissive A.I. Scottish-ness; he instead broke eye contact to contemplate the idea. Granted, Martin sacrificed himself like a motherfucker in order to take out key members of Serac's security team. Still, Westworld is always instilling in viewers the idea that Host sentience runs against the grain of Host subservience, so just because one version of Dolores is running the show, that doesn't mean her counterparts' coding will remain exactly the same. Thematically speaking, this show has just about earned the right to eventually turn into a Battle Royale of pseudo-Doloreses.
We Haven't Seen The Last Of The Dempsey Family
Westworld laid out a blueprint of Liam Dempsey Sr.'s adult life in "Genre," though almost entirely through the skewed eyes of Serac, his admittedly frank murderer. Strangely enough, the episode also (probably) killed off Liam Jr., with Lena Waithe's Ash doing the shooting. It's obviously possible that the Dempsey males' deaths coincided in order to push the focus entirely on Serac.
However, considering the family's multi-generational importance in respect to Rehoboam and Serac's history, I can't help but think that viewers still have a few things left to learn about the Dempsey family tree. Perhaps Liam Sr. had some kind of personal or business relationship with Robert Ford, or maybe someone else from the Dempsey family tree will suddenly show up to deliver some left-field chaos.
Space Is Definitely Involved... Somehow... For Someone
In the Westworld theory meta-verse, the topic of space inevitably pops up in some fashion, because science fiction demands it to be so! I wasn't part of that train of thought before, but I'm now a paying traveler. Admittedly, it's largely based on two instances, though there definitely may have been things I missed. Early in Episode 4, Bernard gazed into the distance as two space shuttles were landing, just before another craft made its fiery launch upward. An innocuous scene meant to drive home how out of place Bernard is in the real world, complete with a memory of Arnold's son? Could be, but...
Episode 5 then came along and delivered another one of Ramin Djawadi's stellar instrumental covers, this time for David Bowie's "Space Odyssey." It started up while Caleb witnessed the outside world reacting to everyone's Rehoboam info getting leaked, and the tune ended disturbingly whenever Dolores shot down those would-be assassins, all while taking a few shots of her own. Unlike Bernard's scene mentioned above, the on-screen visuals for "Space Odyssey" didn't appear to showcase anything space-related, but my expectations for Westworld to finally get spacey in Season 3 were not stunted. After seeing a legitimate Game of Thrones dragon, nothing is off the table, people.
With three episodes left to go in Season 3, Westworld airs Sunday nights on HBO at 9:00 p.m. ET.