“Patience is the most overrated virtue,” Serac tells Charlotte at the end of Sunday’s episode of Westworld. That could double as the motto for the Westworld fan base. What fun is it to wait for the season to end when we can just guess how it will end right now? Three episodes into this eight-episode season, Westworld has finally given us enough clues to piece together what (and who) we’re watching. Westworld is our sunshine amid these gray skies, and this week the rays of light are particularly illuminating. That’s a fancy way of saying we think we’re right about these theories, so be aware that you are about to stare into the sun’s glare.
Who is Charlotte?
Three episodes into the third season, we still don’t know which host is in the copy of Charlotte Hale’s body. This episode, though, gave us by far the most evidence to sort through to determine who it is, so let’s go through and use the process of elimination. For this exercise we can make three assumptions:
- It is a character we have seen on the show before.
- It is not a human being.
- Dolores knows this person well enough to trust them (based on her words in the beginning of the episode).
Dolores doesn’t trust many people, making it tough to find a character who fits all of the criteria. But let’s eliminate some options first.
People we can eliminate because they already have appeared in this season:
People who Dolores can trust but may not be able to resurrect:
- Teddy: The Romeo to Dolores’s Juliet. We last saw him in the Valley Beyond, a digital utopia beamed to the cloud. His return would be hard to explain.
- Angela: Dolores’s right-hand gang member. She makes the most sense for Dolores to bring back, but Angela blew herself up in a permanent-seeming death in Season 2. Even if she could return, she wasn’t developed enough as a character to warrant it.
People who could come back but Dolores would not trust:
- Armistice: The girl with the snake tattoo. The two have barely interacted.
- Hector: Maeve’s robber boyfriend, Hector has also barely exchanged words with Dolores, never mind gained her trust.
- Akecheta: Ghost Nation leader from Season 2. Last seen in the Valley Beyond and unlikely to be siding with Dolores right now.
That leaves just four notable characters who could fit the bill. Let’s run through each of them.
Dolores’s father is the most important person to her and therefore a logical candidate. His control unit has been damaged since the end of Season 1, but the show could easily explain that Dolores fixed it (or just hope nobody remembers it was messed up). However, there’s an equal chance—if not a higher chance—that Peter is the host who’s inhabiting the Scottish henchman with the goatee, since we saw that clone show concern for Dolores’s well-being.
Clementine was part of Dolores’s crew in the middle of Season 2, and the fact that they have interacted at all makes her a possibility. But by the end of Season 2, Clementine was a zombie witch of death. Clem hasn’t had a personality since Season 1. Barring some miraculous storytelling, a grand reveal involving Clementine would feel hollow.
Lawrence is the dark horse here. Outside of Peter, Teddy, Bernard, and Maeve, Lawrence has the closest relationship with Dolores after their train escapade with young William back in Season 1 (he even said she could call him Lawrence instead of El Lazo). Dolores is leading a revolution, and Lawrence was the leader of a group of revolutionaries. You don’t need ZipRecruiter for his résumé to jump out from this bunch. Aside from his extremely applicable background, there’s also a thematic symmetry to Lawrence going from being mistreated by William for much of Season 1 and Season 2 to being mistreated by Dolores in Season 3.
William gets an asterisk since it is still ambiguous whether he is a human or a host. He hasn’t appeared in Season 3 yet, leading to speculation that his mind is in Charlotte’s body, but that wouldn’t make sense for two main reasons. William was on the beach at the end of Season 2, so it would require some real explanation for how Dolores got hold of his mind so quickly after leaving the park. And it would be even harder to explain why Dolores would trust him.
That is essentially every character on Westworld, but none of them sound right. Even if any of the above are correct, would they be mind-blowing enough to warrant the screen time this mystery has been given? There is only one answer left that truly makes sense: Dolores is inside Charlotte.
As The Ringer’s David Shoemaker theorized on The Recappables: Westworld this week, Dolores is the most likely character to be in Charlotte’s body. In Season 1, we saw that Robert Ford took the sweet, naive version of Dolores and merged her with a character named Wyatt, the leader of a dark cult. The result was Dolores having two personalities that shaped who she was.
If those personalities can be merged, it makes sense that they could be pulled apart. When Dolores left the Westworld park in Charlotte Hale’s body, she likely took Wyatt out of her head and put his consciousness into Dolores’s body while leaving the sweet, rancher’s daughter version of Dolores in Charlotte’s body.
With this possibility in mind, everything Dolores and Charlotte say to each other makes more sense. In their first scene together in Sunday’s episode, Dolores stares at Charlotte and tells her to “bring yourself back online.” Charlotte begins to freak out, and Dolores grabs her hand and tells her to “remember who you are.” She remembers. What character would remember who they are by staring at Dolores other than … Dolores? We’ve already seen Dolores awakened with this exact scenario at the end of Season 1, when Dolores sat in a chair across from herself.
We also saw Dolores staring at herself in Episode 5 of Season 1, “Contrapasso.”
In that episode, Dolores begins pulling a thread from her arm and rips her skin open, just as Charlotte does in the hotel lobby during Sunday’s episode. Here is Dolores in Season 1:
And here is Charlotte in the latest episode:
In the first scene of Sunday’s episode, Dolores says that Charlotte is a creature of beauty and power and that she trusts her, words that would make a lot more sense in reference to herself than to any other person. And later in the episode, Dolores soothes Charlotte by saying, “You’re not alone. You have me. No one knows you like I do. No one knows me like you.” As Dolores says that, cinematographer Zoe White uses a mirroring effect to multiply the personalities in the room.
The symbolism continues. “If I ever lost you, I don’t know what I’d do,” Charlotte responds. The two then lie down and spoon together, a sort of intimacy that Dolores has never shown with anyone else. Two parts of the same mind coming together.
This theory is not as out there as it sounds. Westworld co-showrunner Jonathan Nolan has done this kind of thing before. [Spoiler alert for a movie that came out in 2006.] In The Prestige, written by Jonathan and directed by his brother Christopher, Christian Bale plays a magician who pulls off an elaborate trick in which he teleports from one side of the stage to the other. But at the end of the movie, we learn Bale’s stagehand had actually been his twin brother in disguise the whole time. The two brothers were so committed to the act that they took shifts living one life. Now, I’m not saying David Bowie as Nikola Tesla is going to show up in Season 3 of Westworld, but history might be repeating itself a bit.
Where does that leave us for the rest of this season? The broad outlines seem to have been laid out by Dolores in the first scene of this episode. Dolores, as Wyatt, is the power. She’s the gun-toting, motorcycle-driving, neck-slashing brute who sees the ugliness in the world. Charlotte is the sweet Dolores who sees the beauty in this world. But her softer touch is hardening, as shown when Charlotte chokes out that pedophile on the bench. “The harder I squeeze, the more I remember,” Charlotte says. “I remember what it’s like to be me.” If sweet Dolores is yearning to be whole again, we could get a role reversal where Charlotte gets more violent and Dolores gets less violent.
What’s the deal with Caleb?
Toward the end of “The Absence of Field,” Dolores and Caleb walk out onto a pier overlooking the ocean. Dolores tells Caleb that, based on AI simulations, this is the place where he’s projected to kill himself in roughly a decade. But what if Caleb is already dead? Caleb has already told us he was shot in the head, so it’s barely a stretch to wonder whether he died. And the entire plot of Season 2 revolved around humanity trying to live forever by putting their minds in host bodies, so the concept is in play. We’ve already seen parts of this sort of thing in practice: Caleb’s friend was killed, but his consciousness was recreated well enough and turned into a customer-service-slash-on-call-therapist robo-caller. What if Caleb also died in that encounter and his consciousness was recreated and put inside of a host?
After watching Episode 3 of Season 3 of #Westworld, you might have some theories of what Caleb's role actually is. Don't worry, so does @Danny_Heifetz. He breaks it all down here: pic.twitter.com/tVX5yUnYVv— The Ringer (@ringer) March 30, 2020
With this in mind, Caleb’s scenes take on a different light. The loop he is in during the first episode is like Dolores’s loop in Season 1, right down to the camera angle when he wakes up. The therapy session he has at the VA is a weirdly terse exchange—reminiscent of the engineer-host interviews we saw throughout Season 1. Caleb visits his mom in the hospital twice, and in both scenes she says that he is not her son. The second of those instances mirrors the scene when Charlotte’s son recognizes that Charlotte is an imposter. Perhaps robots can mimic everything except the bond between mother and child.
Adding to the intrigue is that Dolores is impressed by Caleb’s decision to help her in the ambulance. “Most people aren’t hard to predict,” Dolores tells Caleb. “But you, you surprised me. You made a choice. A choice no one else in your shoes would make.” Considering that one of Westworld’s foundational premises is that humans don’t have free will, Dolores identifying it in Caleb is a hint that he is genuinely different from the rest of humanity.
When Caleb is having a simulated heart attack while being held off of a ledge at gunpoint (those threats are redundant, bad guys), he has a flashback to his memory of getting abandoned by his mom at the diner and another one of his friend’s death. These near-death, spliced memories are starkly similar to ones experienced by Maeve, Bernard, and William. The most vivid of those memories is Caleb dropping a strawberry milkshake—and yes, the milkshake is the key to this theory.
Throughout Westworld, the mixing of red and white represents the mixing of humans and hosts. Red is blood, and white represents those vats of oat milk we see hosts dunked into like Oreos. In the pilot, there’s a lingering sequence of blood and milk mixing in the first host encounter that goes seriously wrong. In the Season 3 title sequence, we see a host being dipped into a vat of red liquid. But what we haven’t seen much of is red and white mixing to produce pink. That changes in this episode when the story takes a strange interest in Caleb’s strawberry milkshake. The camera lingers on it for an unusually long time:
On the day Caleb’s mom abandoned him (while he sat at a red-and-white booth), we hear almost as much about the milkshake he spilled as we hear about his mom. Perhaps someone on the Westworld staff just really likes strawberry milkshakes. Or perhaps the milkshake is an excuse to introduce a pink liquid that foreshadows how Caleb is a host-human hybrid, the mixing of red and white.
When Dolores asks Caleb if he wants to join her revolution, he replies, “I’m a dead man either way.” We can take him at his word.
Is Serac a real person?
We learned in this episode that Serac is a trillionaire who has scrubbed all record of himself and is therefore almost completely anonymous despite being the richest person in the world. At the end of the episode, we saw him disappear as a hologram. Did Serac ever exist? If so, is he still alive? If not, is he the physical manifestation of the AI known as Rehoboam? Is Rehoboam actually the richest and most powerful entity in the world? How many pairs of those fancy glasses does Serac have? Does everyone have to return them at the end like when you see a 3D movie?
We don’t have those answers yet, but the most helpful explanation came from Dolores telling Caleb in that diner conversation how Rehoboam works. “The founders of this machine fed it everyone’s raw data long before there were privacy laws,” Dolores says. “Every purchase, job search, doctor visit, romantic choice, call, text, every aspect of your lives recorded, logged in order to create a mirror world of this world.”
The “founders” of Rehoboam are likely Serac, who we saw in this episode, and Liam Dempsey Sr., the father of the dweeb Dolores was dating in the Season 3 premiere. Serac and Dempsey created Rehoboam, which constructed a mirror world. We learned in the premiere of this season that Serac likely had Liam’s dad assassinated, and we learned from Maeve in “The Winter Line” that simulations move faster than the real world, which would suggest that the mirror world is further ahead in time than the real world. That would allow observers to see the future, which could explain how Serac became so rich. He told Maeve in Episode 2 that his business was the future. That sounds vague, but he might have meant it quite literally (taking vague quotes literally might be the key to understanding this show). If Serac has decided to live full time in a world where time moves faster, it would explain why he’s hologramming around. And if he literally lives in a simulated version of the future, it’s no wonder he doesn’t think patience is a worthy virtue.
It’s easy to get lost in this simulation stuff. Last week, we explored whether Westworld was a simulation inside of a simulation, where each world is a nesting doll in a series that could go on forever. Now Dolores confirms there is a simulation, but her wording suggests it’s more of a reflection, like houses lined up on a street. The important question for the show over the next few episodes is not how many worlds there are, but whether the characters we are watching are all in the same one. Maeve didn’t need fancy glasses to see Serac. Is that because hosts can see him? Or is that because Maeve and Serac are in a different world than Dolores and Charlotte?
What is going to happen to Charlotte’s new dog?
Charlotte had some issues. We mostly saw Host Charlotte in this episode, but every time she messed up it was clearly part of a broader pattern that the real Charlotte left behind. After she forgot that her son exists, her ex-husband told her, “You were always this way.” Scheduling is clearly not Charlotte’s forte, but that reveals a stranger problem: Charlotte, CEO of a multibillion-dollar company, does not have an assistant. How is that possible? Couldn’t Charlotte have a host as an assistant who would never forget anything? Couldn’t she turn to the PG version of RICO for help? It’s stunning that she doesn’t have an army of hosts taking care of her personal life, but it’s unthinkable that she doesn’t have a single person organizing her professional life. No wonder Serac was able to secretly take over the company when nobody is even in charge of getting Charlotte coffee (or coffee-flavored ecstasy tabs, or whatever drugs they do in this show).
Until Host Charlotte gets an assistant, it’s unlikely she is going to learn to pick up her child from school on time. And if she can’t pick up her kid from school on time, that dog she just hijacked is doomed. Best-case scenario, it shits all over her apartment and she gives it to her ex-husband, Jake, who had strong “good dog owner” energy. Worst case, she completely forgets about it, her son Nathan can’t figure out how to buy dog food on Amazon, and it dies in their high-rise apartment. Hopefully that does not happen to my sunshine, my only sunshine.
Disclosure: HBO is an initial investor in The Ringer.