lingering questions

10 Big Questions About the Westworld Season Premiere

No robots here! Nope, none at all … Photo: HBO

Westworld creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy have promised that the third season of Westworld will be more straightforward than the last one. To that we say, “Fool me once.” The season premiere of the third season feels more linear and direct, but there are still questions that arise after watching it. There’s a lot to unpack in terms of where we are, our new characters, etc. and you should read our recap for a deeper dive into those, but this weekly feature is about the things that we don’t know, trying to figure the next turn in the maze. Here’s what we’re left wondering about after watching “Parce Domine.”

Why is Dolores Abernathy getting close to Liam Dempsey?

Much of the narrative of the season premiere involves Dolores tricking Liam Dempsey, a power player at a company called Incite, into a relationship so she can find his father. The creators of Westworld have created a fake site for the company, but it doesn’t really make it any clearer exactly how Dolores might use Liam (Sr. or Jr.) and Incite for her revolution. Liam himself claims to not know much about the company, and that he’s just the son of the man who does, which plays well into the theme of fractured family relations that has filtered through the entire show to date. Will Liam join with Dolores once he knows her cause, given that he feels like an outsider already?

Will those glasses be used again?

In the prologue, Dolores places glasses on her victim, a man who abused her in Westworld and holds the key to how she gets to Incite, which allow him to see moments from his past as if they’re happening in front of him. Sure, it could never come up again, but consider us suspicious of any device that can alter perspective that greatly. Watch for anyone wearing glasses, because they could be used to force our perspective into something unreal, too.

Who (or what) exactly is Caleb?

Call us conspiracy theorists — hey, it’s not like this show doesn’t invite wild speculation! — but is anyone else already wondering if Caleb is actually human or a host who doesn’t know he’s a host? Yes, we’re meant to assume this is the real world. There shouldn’t be hosts wandering around, especially ones who seem to have no distinct purpose. However, it can’t be accidental that Caleb’s mother says to him, “you’re not my son.” It’s blown by as the words of a dying woman, but could it mean more? It feels like he’s set up as the human ally to Dolores this season, but we’ve been burned by that idea before.

What happened to Caleb and Francis?

Much of the season premiere involves flashbacks of Caleb in combat with a buddy named Francis, who we learn died wherever they were. Expect more details about that event to come out in future episodes and guide the progress of Caleb’s arc. And don’t expect that we’ve seen the last of Kid Cudi just because Caleb canceled the service that apparently allows your dead friends to call you.

Who’s inside Charlotte Hale?

Tessa Thompson’s manipulative character was shot by a host version of herself at the end of last season, one occupied by Dolores. Well, D doesn’t appear to be in there anymore, but Charlotte Hale is still in meetings at Delos, suggesting that they resume host production, and revealing that the story sold to the public that Bernard Lowe orchestrated the massacre has been believed. So who is that? It could be anybody, really, from Teddy to Maeve, but the people in that boardroom have no idea they’re being manipulated by a host.

Are we actually in the real world?

This is gonna be the big question all season, isn’t it? And the writers lean into it by having a drunk guy at a fancy party suggest to Liam that they’re all in a simulation. What if he’s right, and we’re really actually witnessing another layer to Ford’s game? This seems unlikely, and people upset by last season would probably revolt, but that conversation about how it feels like we’re all stuck in the Matrix is likely to continue all season.

How did Bernard become a killing machine?

When the guys at the factory try to bring in Bernard for the reward on him, he basically accesses his A.I. T-1000 and goes total killing machine on them. Did he always have those abilities in his programming? If not, how did he learn them? Which raises another very Westworld question that gives us déjà vu from last season …

When is Bernard’s arc taking place?

We know for a fact that the writers of Westworld like to play with time jumps and fake us out with chronology. They did it a little in season one and a lot in season two. Could they already be doing it again? Is it possible that Bernard’s arc is taking place after whatever Dolores does with Incite? Really, any time two characters never share a scene in this series, we have to wonder if we’ve made a time jump.

Why is Bernard going back to Westworld?

In the end, Bernard boards a skiff looking for where this all began. Why? Did he forget his wallet? Is he going back for William, who we last saw hanging with his robot daughter in a flooded-out Forge? Speaking of that …

Where are William and Maeve?

The writers stick to Dolores, Bernard, and Caleb almost entirely this episode, leaving fans waiting for the Man in Black and the coolest character on Westworld. We’ll see if they return next week and what they’ve been up to … and what new questions they bring with them.

10 Big Questions About the Westworld Season Premiere