WARNING: Spoilers for Westworld Season 3 ahead.
If Westworld's first two seasons tackled whether or not hosts have free will, its third season seems to challenge whether humans do too. In last night's episode, the series introduced a monolithic machine called Rehoboam, which appears to calculate people's futures in the real world. Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood)—a host known for fighting for free will—first lays eyes on the machine during a tour from her tech tycoon boyfriend, Liam Dempsey (John Gallagher Jr.). His artificial-intelligence company, Incite, owns and runs Rehoboam.
Here's what we know about the mysterious system.
It basically plans out people's lives.
Named after the biblical character who was the son of Solomon and the first king of Judah, Rehoboam is a system that strategizes how people's futures will play out. It "uses its vast store of personal data to determine the life-paths of every human being," critic Christopher Orr wrote for The New York Times.
Liam's father, cofounder of Incite, created the Rehoboam system. "My dad thought the biggest problem in the world was unrealized potential," he tells Dolores. "He thought that if you could chart a course for every single person, then you could make the world a better place."
"A path for everyone," Dolores replies. Liam nods.
The show's co-creator, Lisa Joy, hinted at this concept while speaking to Variety, saying that like the hosts in the theme parks, real people also have cyclical routines to their lives. "When they're in the real world, doing their jobs, going home to their apartments, paying bills, they're a lot like hosts," she said. "They live on these small loops, and they have narratives that they're following that maybe they aren't fully in charge of."
It also seems to track world events.
Westworld fans get a taste of Rehoboam's system in the Season 3 teasers, which show graphics that seem to depict a circular timeline of human history. The imagery maps out "divergences" or moments of crisis that include both real, recent events (like protests in Hong Kong and Donald Trump's impeachment) and fictional, future ones (like the assassination of the U.S. president-elect in 2024 or a second Russian Civil War in 2037).
"For the first time, history has an author, a system" Vincent Cassel's Serac narrates in one clip. "And up until very recently, the system was working. But there's someone we haven't accounted for: you." According to this preview, it appears the system he's talking about is called Solomon. The timeline indicates the system was "initiated" with a "Solomon build" in 2039.
So how does Rehoboam tie in? In the Bible, Rehoboam was the son of King Solomon, the famed, wise leader of Israel, which was unified and powerful under his reign. When Rehoboam took over, the kingdom became divided. Esquire's Gabrielle Bruney suggested that the biblical references could tie into the Westworld plot.
"Just as leadership of Incite has been passed from father to son in the Dempsey family, it makes sense that the system’s Solomon build might have been replaced by a Rehoboam build. But the name suggests that while the Solomon system might have ushered in an era of world peace, things are going to get a bit rockier in the Rehoboam generation."
Only Serac knows what Rehoboam really does.
Liam reveals to Dolores that he's just a figurehead at Incite; he doesn't actually know what Rehoboam really does. "Sometimes I wish I could just turn the whole fucking thing off. Kill it," he vents. But he doesn't have control over the machine—he never has.
"After my father died, his partner locked me out of the system. I have read access to the outer layers but nothing deeper," he adds. "No one knows what the system is doing, other than its original architect." At the end of the episode, we learn that architect is Engerraund Serac, but we don't know where he is ... yet.
Westworld airs Sundays at 9 p.m. eastern on HBO.
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