Westworld: 3.08 Crisis Theory
Another season of Westworld comes to an end and, as with the previous two seasons, there is a lot to digest. At a shorter eight-episode length, the pacing of the narrative has been tighter; while I would have quite happily enjoyed a couple more episodes in this immerse world, the finale never felt rushed or cut down. By the time the credits rolled to Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon - and we were treated a to a surprise post-credit scene with William - the real world was as changed as the fictional world we experienced in the first two seasons.
Crisis Theory managed to take the time to answer the majority of dangling plot threads, without feel exposition-heavy. With LA racked with riots following the Insight data breach, we followed Caleb to a secret Delos warehouse where Delores was resurrected one final time. It was fairly obvious that we hadn't seen the last of Delores or Maeve after the EMP pulse was set off last episode - and indeed, Maeve was soon resurrected again, courtesy of Serac. Delores, however, was rebuilt by Caleb - the old-style hosts with the split faces brining her back to her original design. Delores, after all, was the original host before all others.
The second showdown between Maeve and Delores was far more satisfying than last week's; both demonstrating spectacular hand to hand combat skills, and Delores back in full Terminator-mode to take down a group a group or armed police. Seeing Delores defeated and captured by Serac, her memory being erased as she was uploaded into Insight in search of the key, it was soon clear that our hero Maeve was not on the right side. Only when she connected with Delores's final memory, did the moment come we had all been hoping for; Maeve overcoming her programming and killing Serac and his men, courtesy of some devious trickery by Delores.
The return to Westworld in their shared mind was a wonderful full-circle moment, packed with some surprising revelations, not least Delores's motivation for freeing humanity of Insight. The idea that she was trying to give humanity back the beauty of the world they shared with her, was an intriguing twist on the whole takedown of humanity that has driven this season. Humanity has lost its free-will, thanks to Serac and Insight, unable to experience the real beauty of everything under the controlled, manipulation of their lives. By taking away Insight, humanity might regain that beauty, with Caleb leading the way through the choices he has made.
Caleb's journey has been one of the most fascinating aspects of season three. The finale came full circle as his choices made in his past - namely saving Delores and a number of other hosts from harm, is what made Delores chose him to lead this new world. In the wake of Insight's destruction, I'm intrigued to see where his journey goes, particularly with Maeve now at his side. Serac has also been an intriguing presence this season; a villain without ever feeling truly hammy or overtly evil; I understood his motivation even if I didn't believe them and Vincent Cassel brought everything to the role. The idea that even someone as powerful as him was under the direct control of Insight, was another fun twist as everything came together in the season's final act.
Charlotte / Delores was certainly a wild card in the finale episode, seeking revenge against Delores for abandoning her and then setting up her own army of hosts in the season's closing scene. While her take down of Delores was an cool moment, I can't help but feel that her storyline is just getting going. The post-credit scene with the vengeful William was a terrific hook for the fourth season; in his rage against the hosts, he was outdone by himself; after the fantastic therapy session with him others selves, being killed by a fake persona was a bold - if tragic - conclusion to his journey. I love the idea that the William next season will be a host impersonation of the Man in Black from the previous seasons and hopefully with a bit more central focus in overall story. With the streamlined nature of Delores and Maeve's journeys this season, his role in season three - like Charlotte - feels more of a set up for season four.
Poor Ashley didn't get a whole lot to do this episode; shot in the chest by William, he barely survived the finale at Bernard's side. As for Bernard, this was a great episode for Jeffrey Wright, letting loose in the kickass alternate personality glimpsed in the season opener. As the holder of the key, his journey into the Sublime raises further questions for season four. He is the one step to Maeve finding her daughter and he is sure to have more secrets to tell as the story of Westworld unfolds.
There were lots of moments in the finale - and indeed the episode preceding it - that need answers. Just how many hosts have ben resurrected by Maeve remains a mystery; we saw Hanaryo and Clementine last week and Lawrence made a surprise appearance this week, saving Bernard from William at the last moment. What Bernard uncovered in the Sublime, just what Charlotte and host-William's plans are and where Caleb and Maeve will go in this new chaotic world, all offer plenty of right material for a fourth season. And what about Delores? Given how prominently Evan Rachel Wood's Delores has been in the first three seasons, I would be surprised if she didn't return in some form next time.
Crisis Theory was a bold, fast-paced finale with plenty of big revelations, lots of twists in the narrative and some crowd-pleasing character moments. It was also superbly directed by Jennifer Getzinger; not just the character pieces by the huge sequences in LA as Caleb navigated the riots and Delores and Caleb's thrilling journey towards Insight against enemy forces. This was certainly Westworld's most high-stakes episode so far. It brought another strong season to a satsifying climax, turning everything on its head as the narratives of Delores, Serac and William went in unexpected new directions. There were a number of dangling plot threads from the season that need further exploration; but given how successful the streamlined storytelling of season three has brought, these loose ends can be forgiven.
Once again, Westworld is heading into the unknown and that is a very exciting thing. Roll on season four...