Is Aaron Paul's Caleb Human in 'Westworld' Season 3?
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 3, Episode 5 of Westworld, "Genre."]
Westworld threw a lot of people off their loops in the latest installment, "Genre," similar to when hosts were thrown off during the show's first two seasons. But before that day of anarchy, one person had already been thrown off this season: Aaron Paul's character Caleb Nichols.
From the beginning of Season 3, we've been given small glimpses at Caleb's past, ranging from his grief over losing a friend — Scott Mescudi's Francis — and his tortured childhood to a traumatizing military experience. But there have also been signs that Caleb isn't entirely real himself, despite being presented as human.
If fans of the HBO series have learned one thing from watching over the years, it's that hosts are more often than not the more sympathetic characters in comparison to their human counterparts. And so far this season, it's hard not to feel sympathy for Caleb, who's definitely going through some major personal turmoil.
The signs have been in front of us since the premiere, but they could have been easy to miss if you weren't looking closely. Caleb was first introduced as a down-on-his-luck veteran plagued by the trauma of his friend Francis' death. We see him visit his mother in an assisted living facility on multiple occasions where she mentions more than once that he's not her son and that she misses Cal. While this could be chalked up to her mental ailments which include schizophrenia, we see a reflection of this interaction between the Dolores' version of Hale (Tessa Thompson) and Hale's real son Nathan, which could prove that like Dolores' Hale, Caleb's not human.
When Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) and Caleb discuss his past in a local diner, she presents him with a transcript from his past memory that occurred in the diner — the worst day of his life, he tells her. Perhaps this is merely meant to signify the invasive tactics Incite use to record people's lives and predetermine their fates, or it's a hint that Caleb's story is not dissimilar to the stories assigned to hosts in Delos' parks.
Could he be programmed like Dolores once was? Serac (Vincent Cassel) who runs Rehoboam, told Maeve (Thandie Newton) that he'd been waiting for her, Dolores and the other hosts, hinting that it was predicted they'd one day break their theme-park confines. Who's to say that Caleb wasn't always meant to cross paths with Dolores? A design foreseen by Serac's system.
Caleb's mouth gear is also a perplexing detail as it is mentioned that the oral device can administer a drip and we also see Liam Dempsey's (John Gallagher Jr.) cronies control pain levels through the device with a connected computer. While it's implied that the implant-like device is likely there because of his time in the army, it strips Caleb of his humanity.
The parallels between Caleb and Dolores have been strong — they've broken their loops and perhaps one of the reasons Caleb finds Dolores to be the "one real thing" he's experienced in a long time is because they're more similar than we realize?
At the end of the latest episode, Caleb questions the choice to release everyone's Incite profiles, giving them a look into their predetermined paths. "Maybe Liam was right, maybe people shouldn't know their own fate," he tells Dolores.
"People have the right to know," she argues, pointing out, "You wanted to know, right?"
"Well, maybe I'm not like other people," Caleb retorts to which Dolores replies, "Neither am I."
Perhaps it's conjecture, but a loaded remark like that leads us to further questions Caleb's humanity. Only time will tell for sure though, so don't miss out on the possible answers as Westworld's third season continues on HBO .
Westworld, Sundays, 9/8c, HBO