This article contains major spoilers for the first three episodes of Westworld Season 3.
It is alive. Or rather, she lives again. When the host who we’ll call “Charlotte Hale” opens her eyes at the top of tonight’s Westworld, it’s the second time this robotic replica of the high-powered Delos executive has come online with a new CPU consciousness or “pearl.” The earliest instance was at the end of season 2 when Dolores, whose information was copied onto a pearl that Bernard put into the robo-clone, became “Charlotte” and killed the actual flesh-and-blood Hale.
That felt like justice for viewers then, or at least revenge after Charlotte coldly murdered poor, innocent Elsie. Yet tonight’s Westworld is all about adding new context and more confusion as we tumble down the rabbit hole. For instance, the actual first scene of the night is a flashback to Charlotte on the night of Robert Ford’s death where we learn she sent a teary-eyed video goodbye to her five-year-old son. And on the host side of things tonight, we were forced to sit down and ask just who is inhabiting Charlotte Hale’s visage these days, and what would that be like for someone who isn’t actually Charlotte Hale?
We get a hint of that crisis after Charlotte opens her eyes, slowly gathering her own identity, and then having it shattered again by looking at a mirror. “She tried to kill all of us! Why can’t I be myself like you are?” ‘Charlotte’ meekly asks. Dolores retorts, “Because I trust you. We all have our role to play.” And like that, we know that whoever is inhabiting this body is a host who was close to Dolores, and one of only four pearls she stole from Delos’ Forge before it was blown to hell. So who could Charlotte be? Well, there are three options as far as we’re concerned, and we’re presenting them from the most obvious to the least.
Teddy Rides Again
The most obvious choice would be to reveal that Teddy rides again in the computer chips of Charlotte Hale. After all, there is almost no one who Dolores loved more than Teddy Flood, the host who always came back for her. This is further intimated in their second scene together where Dolores has to talk Charlotte down from the proverbial ledge where, under the pressure of becoming someone else, she has begun cutting her own skin.
Worried that Charlotte is forgetting who she really is under that skin, Dolores comforts, “You belong to me, you know that, right? Don’t hurt yourself ever again.” This comes after Dolores has helped put Charlotte to bed—leading to the question of what do androids dream of?—and Charlotte asks Dolores to stay with her. The way the scene is even framed, with Hale’s slip riding up the leg, could be easily construed as romantic. Similarly, there’s something undeniably possessive and domineering about the way Dolores says “you belong to me.” And Dolores was nothing if not possessive of Teddy in Westworld Season 2 when she rewrote his programming to make him more aggressive.
However, I tend to think this is a case of deliberate misdirection. Dolores messed with Teddy’s programming before in significant ways and then rued the results when he attempted to commit suicide. Admittedly, she had a copy of his consciousness but it ultimately wound up crossing over into the Valley Beyond, aka the Sublime, aka Robot Heaven. The implication in that season 2 finale was that when Teddy crossed over, this was the last version of him. He’s now free and safe to be who he is (and not who Dolores wanted him to be), but he and Dolores are forevermore separated. It would thus be a narrative cheat for Dolores to have another copy of his consciousness on a pearl that she was always planning to take out of the park.
Additionally, Teddy proved unable to evolve into a more ruthless version of himself. Why would Dolores trust him with as important a task as infiltrating the highest echelons of Delos and manipulating them in a con game where the entire fate of their species hangs in the balance?
Peter Abernathy Redux
I am most partial toward believing Peter Abernathy is who has become Charlotte Hale. If we wind back to tonight’s first scene, Dolores says she trusts who is inside Charlotte’s body and then later confirms it is someone she believes “belongs to me.” So why not the host who she loved like a father for decades?
If you do not recall, Dolores’ final scene with Peter came before the season 2 finale in the “Les Ecorches” episode. In that hour, Dolores learned the real human Charlotte Hale had tortured and abused Abernathy by placing security information in his CPU that was essentially driving him insane. Dolores attempted to murder Charlotte in revenge right there, but while Charlotte escaped, Dolores was forced to put her dad down in a mercy killing.
“Whatever became of that fearsome ne’er-do-well,” Dolores asks her father before pulling the trigger.
“Vanished,” he replies, “the day, I became your father. I am who I am because of you, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. You know I love you, baby girl.” Theirs was a symbiotic relationship of father and daughter, as well as children of Ford who learned together “these violent delights have violent ends.”
Now revisit the first scene Charlotte has with Dolores in tonight’s episode. Dolores says they have no father, they have no mother; for their species to endure they must infiltrate and takeover the resources of Delos. If Charlotte is really her father’s consciousness, this is her way of explaining they are not actually a father and daughter, but two androids attempting to save their kind from extinction. And now return to the scene of Dolores and Charlotte later in the episode. While the camera may misdirect you to think there is something sensual in nature between them, Dolores could just as easily be helping a host who was her father like an adult child might help dress their elderly senile parent.
The way that Tessa Thompson even plays passive disciple to Dolores is reminiscent of how Peter Abernathy was awed by his revolutionary daughter in season 2, even if he did not fully grasp the full context of his circumstances that Dolores naturally possessed. By extension, if Dolores is not really his daughter, then his consciousness finding its bearings as Charlotte by becoming protective of the real Hale’s son, Nathan, would be in line with Abernathy’s previous loop. Only upon seeing Charlotte’s son being groomed by a child predator does ‘Charlotte’ come to embrace her new identity as a mother—it’s also why she is haunted by the real Charlotte’s final message to her son.
Maybe It’s Angela?
Finally, there’s one other host who could be inside Charlotte’s replicated body: Angela, Talulah Riley’s character from the first two seasons of Westworld. You might remember her best as the cool chic blonde who welcomed young William to Westworld in the series’ second episode, but in season 2 she became Dolores’ most devout and zealous follower in the robot revolution.
Like Teddy, she was subservient to Dolores. Unlike Teddy she was competent and had no doubts about the extremes they needed to go to in order to punish humans and advance their causes. Which is why it seemed so odd in season 2 when she appeared to commit suicide during the same episode we said goodbye to Peter Abernathy. On Dolores’ order, Angela goes on a one-way mission to blow up the Forge and herself along with it. In the process, she and Dolores destroyed all the copies of themselves, meaning there was no way to come back after this.
… However, just as we later learned Dolores took several pearls with her out of the park, and was still able to use a seemingly final copy of Teddy to give him the paradise he so desperately deserved, it only makes sense that they saved copies of themselves prior to the Forge’s destruction. Logical even that Angela would happily roast herself while seducing the stupidest security personnel on the planet since she knew she would be coming back.
With that said, Angela is such a minor player in the grand scheme of things, and one who had so few scenes with Dolores, that it seems incredibly unlikely Dolores would have such an emotional attachment to her as witnessed during their second scene together tonight. For that reason, I posit that Dolores did bring Angela back, but that Angela is inhabiting the host-clone of Gerald, the former security executive at Incite who is now really a mole for Dolores inside the company. Or maybe it is someone else altogether who I’m missing? Who do you think is the soul living behind Charlotte’s eyes these days?