lingering questions

8 Big Questions About This Week’s Westworld

Photo: HBO

Upping the WTF nature of this season as it segues into the second half of its eight-episode run, “Genre” lived up to its title, playing with different types of storytelling as Aaron Paul’s Caleb Nichols went on a crazy trip on a drug called Genre. Within that, it alternated backstory for the mysterious Engerraund Serac (Vincent Cassel), amplified questions about Caleb’s identity, and upped the stakes on Dolores Abernathy’s attempt to essentially give the human race back the free will that it has been denied. It was action-packed, and raised several major questions, beginning with …

So who is Caleb Nichols?

Remember all those previous questions about Caleb’s vague past and the fact that his mother doesn’t seem to recognize him? Yeah, they were completely valid. The overriding question of this week starts in earnest when Liam Dempsey uses those magic glasses on Caleb to see his past and future, and basically retreats in fear. He’s way more scared of him than he even is of Dolores. What did he find out about Caleb when he scanned him? Is it as simple as the theory that he’s a host? Did he see Teddy’s arc, or even Hector? Probably not, because we later see glimpses of Caleb’s memories coming back to him in disturbing ways, including Caleb ushering a hooded man with tape over his mouth into what looks like an execution (and the man is played by Enrico Colantoni!). Caleb seems to be remembering who he is bit by bit, but it’s still just out of reach for him and us, although the final look of common purpose between him and Dolores adds even more mystery to his identity. Whatever the case, it doesn’t seem accidental that he’s key to this narrative, and seems possible, given she can predict exactly what Liam would say, that Dolores knew Caleb’s role in her plan all along.

Is Caleb one of Serac’s “outliers”?

In one of the flashbacks to how we got to this crazy future, Liam Dempsey Sr. finds a facility housing what Serac calls outliers, the people who could destroy everything this evil mastermind is working toward, including his brother. In one of Caleb’s flashbacks, there’s a shot of him in pain, wearing white in a white room that looks not dissimilar to the space occupied by Serac’s brother. Could he be one of the experiments of the Serac boys, a human being who doesn’t fit the mold? Could it be that Caleb is to the human race what Dolores was to the host race — a rare being that disrupts the system and leads to the true freedom of his people?

Where’s Serac’s brother, and that whole facility for that matter?

We see Serac’s brother basically in a near-catatonic state in a flashback. (Serac must have been monologuing to Dolores a long time, by the way.) Is he still there? While the theories that Serac’s brother was a character we know seem less likely a week later, could he still have a narrative role to play in the present day of this season? And what about all his buddies? In the first two seasons, Dolores freed the hosts from their captivity. She’s claiming to do so for the human race, and it seems possible that the connection to Serac through his brother could be part of that plan.

What happened in Paris?

Will they ever explain the extinction-level event that happened in Paris when Serac was a child that basically started him on this path to being a supervillain? The opening scene this week details the instability of the planet that led Serac to developing a company ostensibly designed to predict the future. But don’t you wonder how the city of lights ended up destroyed in the first place?

Would you take Genre, the drug injected into Caleb that sends him through a spiral of different film types?

Maybe not while you’re running for your life, but admit that you’d be tempted on a boring Friday night.

Is Caleb falling for Dolores?

It’s a product of the drug, but when Caleb looks at Dolores all lovey-dovey, one has to wonder how much the writers are tempted to lean into a love story. Could they turn Caleb into the new Teddy? And what if the old Teddy is still around?!? Yes, he’s probably not, but you never know on this show.

Why is Bernard “the only one we can’t replace”?

We’ve questioned a few times why Dolores saved Bernard, and “Conellores” deepens that question with this line this week. Dolores seems to need no one but multiple versions of herself … and Bernard. It’s possible that the Conells version of Dolores is just referring to the fact that there’s only one pearl other than her in this game, but it sounds like there’s a much deeper role and purpose for Bernard than he or the viewers know at this point. This question seems likely to help define the final three episodes: why does Dolores need Bernard and (seemingly) Caleb?

Didn’t you kind of want the last genre to be animated?

Marshawn Lynch’s Giggles — three words that no one ever thought would be typed together — tells Caleb that the last genre on his trip is the roughest. How awesome would it have been to watch Westworld bust into some Heavy Metal chaos? Maybe next week!

8 Big Questions About This Week’s Westworld