The penultimate episode of Westworld's third season aired tonight and focused heavily on Caleb Nichols (Aaron Paul). "Pressed Pawn" saw Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) taking Caleb to the facility created by Serac (Vincent Cassel) that was meant to reprogram human "outliers," otherwise known as people who threaten the Rehoboam system with their unpredictable behavior, much like Serac's schizophrenic brother. Similar to "Genre," the latest episode was mostly seen from Caleb's perspective, which begs the question: Is Westworld putting too much focus on Aaron Paul? Now, before getting into this debate, it should be noted that Aaron Paul is an absolute treasure and is a welcome addition to the series. In fact, when sharing our opinions about season three, the go-to response is always, "Aaron Paul is amazing!" While tonight's episode has in no way altered that opinion, we can't help but worry that the show is shifting too much of the focus from hosts to humans. Warning: Westworld spoilers ahead!
Throughout "Pressed Pawn," Caleb slowly starts to realize the truth about his past, discovering that he's been reprogrammed with altered memories to make him a more productive member of society. It turns out, his friend Francis didn't die in the war, but actually came back and worked alongside Caleb. Together, they killed other outliers via the app Caleb was using at the beginning of the season to get illegal work. During a job, Francis is offered a large sum of money to get rid of Caleb, but Caleb beats him to the punch. While all of this was certainly interesting, the reveal that Caleb killed Francis wasn't exactly a surprise and makes us wonder if the entire episode needed to be devoted to revisiting the same memory.
During the episode, Dolores emphasizes that Caleb needs to become a leader, and believes that teaching him the truth about his past will be the motivation he needs to begin a revolution. Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) realizes Dolores' plan and reveals to Ashley (Luke Hemsworth) that due to Dolores' poetic nature, it's clear her plan hasn't been to destroy the world herself, but to have Caleb do it. While this isn't necessarily a bad direction for the series to take, it does feel like somewhat of a slight against all of the hosts' journeys so far.
Ultimately, despite loving Aaron Paul and his place in the season, "Pressed Pawn" felt too much of a divergence from the series we've grown to love. It served as a reminder that the best thing about this show is the hosts. When we look back on this episode, the most memorable moments won't be Caleb's discovery but rather the return of Clementine (Angela Sarafyan) and Hanaryo (Tao Okamoto) as well as the epic showdown between Dolores and Maeve (Thandie Newton). While we're grateful to have Aaron Paul on the show, we hope it continues to put more emphasis on the hosts we've grown to love over the course of three seasons.
How did you feel about tonight's Westworld? Tell us in the comments!
Westworld airs on HBO on Sundays at 9 PM EST.