'Westworld': 9 Burning Questions for Season 3

[This story contains spoilers for the season two finale of HBO's Westworld, "The Passenger," as well as speculation on what's ahead in season three.]

It's time once more to journey into the long night known as the offseason, as Westworld has wrapped its second season, without a return date in sight.

Indeed, it's the biggest and most important question on the board: when will Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy's HBO drama return, so it can answer all of the loose ends left unclipped at the end of season two? Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, Joy offered an answer that's unlikely to satisfy the most impatient among us: "It's early days to know the exact timeline of when it will come back. We haven't nailed anything down yet. We don't know our release date. But we've definitely started breaking the story."

As Nolan, Joy and their team work to break the story, we're left to consider the pieces that are already broken. Heading out of the season two finale and looking ahead toward season three, here are the top nine questions on the mind:

1. Is the Man in Black a host?

It's worth asking, given the post-credits scene in which Ed Harris' gunslinger is apparently revealed as more machine than man. But it requires a closer look to get to the truth. The scene takes place in the far future, long after the main events of the finale. The Man in Black that we have come to know across the show is (or at least was) very much a human being. The Man in Black we're seeing in this future timeline is something else entirely — more akin to the human-host hybrid seen in the James Delos experiment, than a pure host on its own. According to Joy, don't expect the next season to focus too heavily on the new Man in Black reveal, just as you shouldn't lose too much sleep wondering if he was actually a robot this entire time; he wasn't.

2. Who did Dolores smuggle out of the park?

In her great escape, Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) managed to smuggle a pocketbook filled with control units out of the park. Are these blank items, or do they belong to people we already know and love — and if so, who? We saw Dolores submit Teddy (James Marsden) into the Sublime, so his continued presence doesn't seem especially likely. How about Peter Abernathy (Louis Herthum), her father? Maybe Angela (Talulah Riley), her top lieutenant? In fact…

3. Who is Charlotte Hale?

The big twist of the finale involved Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) and Dolores teaming together to install Dolores' consciousness in the duplicated body of Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson). The old Charlotte is dead, as the Dolores-infused Hale (aka "Halores," according to Thompson) managed to sneak out of the park. In her final scene of the episode, Dolores has her old body back, but the Hale host is still on her side as well. So, who is she now? Given the character's poise in that moment, one can imagine Tessa Thompson doing her best Talulah Riley impression; "Angelale" has a certain ring to it. No matter who is inside the Hale shell, one thing's clear: Dolores having her very own personal version of the top Delos board member is a very bad thing for humanity at large.

4. Who will Bernard bring online?

Dolores and Hale aren't the only two hosts kicking around in the real world. The finale sees Dolores bringing Bernard back online, for the second time in his existence. When she leaves him behind, he's in a home where he has access to a host-generating machine. Bernard only exists thanks to Dolores being able to recreate him from her own memories, which should tell us that Bernard can do the very same thing: create a new entity based on nothing more than his own recollection. With that said, will we see Bernard bring someone back in season three? How about a host based on Elsie (Shannon Woodward), now that she's gone? Or another Ford (Anthony Hopkins), perhaps? Bernard could also create an entirely new person, leaving the possibilities wide open.

5. Is Stubbs a host?

Turning back to the curious case of Halores, and how she managed to sneak out of the park, what are we supposed to divine from her final scene with Ashley Stubbs, played by Luke Hemsworth? In their showdown, Stubbs talks about his "core drives," and how he was recruited by Ford so long ago he can barely even remember. Back in the first season, Elsie even made fun of Stubbs, accusing him of being a host. The finale seemingly confirmed this theory, even if it's not outright authenticated on the show itself — but don't be surprised to see a whole mess of Luke Hemsworths show up in the next season.

6. Will we ever see the Sublime again?

"The Sublime," by the way, is the internal name used by the writers to refer to the new digital world where Teddy, Akecheta (Zahn McClarnon) and the others have escaped. Speaking with THR, Lisa Joy cautioned that this realm is now out of reach, indicating that it's not a likely story point for the third season of the show. But given how humans were able to begin the process of digitizing their own consciousness, it's not as if the Sublime is completely out of humanity's reach. It's possible we won't see the Sublime in season three, or at least not much of it… but it feels improbable that we'll never see a trace of it again before all is said and done.

7. What's next for Maeve?

The most powerful host in the park (at least for a time) was gunned down in cold blood in the season finale, sacrificing her life to keep her daughter safe. So, is that the last time we'll ever see the likes of Thandie Newton on Westworld, or is there more to her story? Don't bet against Maeve, especially with Sylvester (Ptolemy Slocum) and Felix (Leonardo Nam) on hand to bring her back online. In fact, the odds of a comeback for similarly "deceased" hosts like Hector (Rodrigo Santoro) and Armistice (Ingrid Bolso Berdal) feel pretty high as well.

8. What's next for the park?

As Westworld turns its eye on the real world for its main season three setting, should we expect the show to turn its back on the park at the heart of the title? Not so much, according to Lisa Joy: "I don't necessarily think that we've seen the last of these artificial worlds that are central to the conceit of our series as a whole. But the major lens that we will have is going to be the real world. If the park does emerge and come back, we would plan on explaining how that could be, and why." As for whether or not we'll ever learn about the three parks beyond Westworld, Shogun World, and the Raj? "Absolutely," according to Joy.

9. Are you still here?

It's a question worth asking, given the complicated nature of the second season. In his evaluation of the finale, THR critic Tim Goodman wrote, "I'd be lying if several times this season and several times in the season two finale alone, I didn't contemplate just giving up and moving on." Those words are coming from someone who plans to keep riding along with Westworld, too; for many others, the relationship between reveals and reversals is simply too much to handle. So, perhaps that's the biggest question of them all, even bigger than the question of the show's premiere date: who will still be watching when the HBO drama returns for its third season, whenever that may be?

What are your theories and burning questions for season three? Sound off in the comments below and keep checking THR.com/Westworld for more coverage.