WESTWORLD: What Was Real and What Wasn’t

As a kid, Misery‘s Annie Wilkes loved going to the movies to see the “chapter plays.” Her favorite serial cliffhanger was Rocket Man. One time the hero, trapped in his car, went over a cliff and died. However, the next installment showed he actually jumped out of his vehicle at the last second. All the children in the audience cheered. But not Annie. She stood right up and started shouting. “This isn’t what happened last week! Have you all got amnesia? They just cheated us! This isn’t fair! He didn’t get out of the cockadoodie car!” For the first 30 minutes of episode two of Westworld‘s third season I knew exactly how Annie Wilkes felt. And I might have been thinking about kidnapping some writers myself.

Spoilers for Westworld Season 3 follow!

Fortunately Maeve’s experiences in Warworld, and the “people” she met there, weren’t real. So no one has to worry about me buying a sledgehammer. Westworld‘s “The Winter Line” is a story split between two worlds, one virtual and one real. Here’s which side all the events of the episode fell on.

Not Real

Vincent Cassel’s Serac put Maeve’s control unit (which Stubbs and Bernard discovered missing from her body in Westworld’s cold storage) into a virtual version of Warworld, a WWII theme park. The show has never been there before in the real world. But based on Maeve’s initial reaction to waking up in it, Warworld appears to be Delos Destinations’s third amusement park.

A distressed MaeveHBO

Every single person Maeve met inside Warworld was a virtual projection. That included a different version of Hector, who was rewritten to be a Resistance fighter. He had no memory of Maeve and their past with the robot uprising or in the Old West.

Real Hector from Westworld on the left, fake Hector from virtual Warworld on the rightReal Hector from Westworld on the left, fake “Hector” from virtual Warworld on the right, HBO

The cane-using Lee Sizemore was also a “copy” of the real man who died in season two’s finale helping Maeve escape. (His return is what had me sympathizing with Annie Wilkes. Lee definitely died.)

Lee Sizemore gives an annoyed lookHBO

Felix and Sylvester, the two lab technicians who helped Maeve/were blackmailed by her, were not real either. That’s why they didn’t recognize her. That was a big reason Maeve realized she was in a virtual “cage.” Between that and Lee’s sudden romantic interest in her, Maeve knew those weren’t the actual men she had met. They were flawed imitations.

Felix looks serious HBO

(That’s also great news for the real Felix and Sylvester. Serac, and seemingly everyone else connected to the actual park, has no idea they helped the robots during the uprising.)

Sylvester looking serious in WestworldHBO

Because Maeve was in a virtual recreation of Warworld she was able to manipulate the computer program running it. She gave the park’s employees—who, like Lee, did not know they were imaginary—a paradox (the square root of negative one) to mess them up. Once the program started collapsing on itself objects like statues and bullets floated in the air. From inside the virtual world, she was able to hack the program that was running it in the real one.

Also, the real Forge was destroyed when Dolores flooded it. Maeve saw a recreation of what it used to look like.


Maeve no longer had her “powers” in virtual Warworld.  She was unable to control other hosts with her mind like she could in season two. Maeve might have actually lost those powers. But she might not have had them because she was in a world created by Serac and was bound by his rules. She may still have them in the real world. We don’t know for sure yet.


Everything that happened with Bernard and Stubbs took place in the real world, back in the real park. Bernard went back to Westworld to look for Maeve. (That was the divergence reported by Rehoboam). There he found fellow host Ashley Stubbs, who had failed to destroy himself after seemingly completing his core directive. Bernard gave Stubbs a new core directive later, so Stubbs is sticking around. (Yay!)

Ashley Stubbs survives in WestworldHBO

Their trip to the tech center of Medievalworld was also real. And the two actors playing the technicians slicing up the robot dragon were Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. Yes, that was Drogon, and yes that old fan theory is now totally true.

Game of Thrones meets WestworldHBO

Bernard ran a self-diagnostic test on himself to see if Dolores had hidden anything in his code. During that analysis, he saw flashbacks to previous events. We don’t yet know if he uncovered any secret plan from Dolores, but Bernard seemed pleased with the results before he had to stop the test.

Bernard and Stubbs make a planHBO

The two found Maeve’s body in cold storage, but without her control unit. All of this happened while she was simultaneously in Serac’s virtual world. Westworld‘s timeline has been linear and straightforward in season three so far.

Everything at Serac’s home was also real. Maeve woke up in an all-new body in the real world. It’s her first time there. The man who controls The System told her how he now knows Dolores is the threat to mankind. He needs Maeve to kill Dolores. Maeve doesn’t care about humanity’s little “squabbles” though, so she was going to kill him. Serac isn’t stupid however. He took “every precaution” to make sure he was safe.

Maeve tries to kill SeracHBO

He had a device to control her body, freezing Maeve mid-stab. She’s in the real world, but she’s not free.

Maeve’s probably as furious about that as Annie Wilkes was when they retconned Rocket Man’s death. But that’s still only half as irate as I was when I thought Westworld brought back Lee Sizemore. Thank goodness that wasn’t real.

Featured Image: HBO

Mikey Walsh is a staff writer at Nerdist. You can follow him on Twitter at  @burgermike, and also anywhere someone is ranking the Targaryen kings.

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