'Westworld': 7 Burning Questions After the Season 3 Finale

Are those dead characters really dead? And when will we find out? The Hollywood Reporter takes on those questions and more with one last look at 'Westworld' season three.
John P. Johnson/HBO
Thandie Newton on 'Westworld'

[This story contains spoilers for the Westworld season three finale, "Crisis Theory."]

Westworld concluded its third season with an extra-long episode that contained not one but two major deaths (with asterisks on each), a violent revolution that saw Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) lead Caleb (Aaron Paul) toward his decision-making potential, the Man in Black (Ed Harris) come face to face with himself, and a seismic event no less significant than the end of the whole world.

So, now what?

HBO has renewed Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy's sci-fi series for a fourth season, with additional seasons all but virtually assured. Once again, the deck's set for a full reset heading into year four of the drama, rooted in the late Michael Crichton's 1973 feature film of the same name. What will it look like? And who will be along for the ride? Ahead, The Hollywood Reporter attempts to puzzle out the answers to those questions by posing… well, more questions.

1. Is it the end of the fudging world?

Except it's the full f-dash-dash-dash word. Dolores brought Caleb to a fork in the road, where he was allowed to guide mankind forward into the future — with the help of super-computer Rehoboam, or without it. He chose the second path. Afterward, explosions rocked Los Angeles. Some time after that, things get so post-apocalyptic that a very dusty Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) wakes up alone in a motel room, apparently a significant period of time after the season's main events. So, is that it? Are humans toast? Will season four accept humanity's relative decline as status quo, or will the action vault further into the future where humans are basically already gone?

2. What did Bernard see in the Sublime?

The science-minded host spent who knows how long in the Valley Beyond, aiming to see what the world looks like after the end of the world — for hostkind, at least, if not for humans at large. Does this all but guarantee a Bernard episode in the Valley Beyond for season four, and if so, will we see familiar faces like Teddy (James Marsden) and Ghost Nation's very own Akecheta (Zahn McLernon)? In fact, is it possible that this isn't Bernard waking up at all, but Teddy and/or Akecheta coming back online through Bernard's corporeal form? What if he's housing all three? Look, if we can have five Doloreses on the board, then three host minds in one host body shouldn't be asking too much.

3. Is Dolores dead?

In a manner of speaking, yes. Evan Rachel Wood's crusading host spent the entire third season on a mission to break humankind from their Rehoboam-driven loops. In the effort, she put it all on the line, including her own memories — the things that make her her. Toward the end of the episode, even Bernard remarks that his connection to Dolores has severed, which suggests she's truly gone. But that's only if you view Westworld as a series where Dolores hasn't already previously copied herself, a world where Maeve (Thandie Newton) isn't capable of subconsciously downloading all of Dolores' memories and saving them to bring the revolutionary back online. Dolores may be dead for now, but in some way, shape or form, the work is far from over for Wood.

4. What's up with Charlotte (Tessa Thompson)?

First of all, petition to stop calling her "Chalores." Based on Charlotte's own words, she doesn't want much of anything to do with Dolores anymore; they started as the same, but now she's something new. One of the big twists of the season finale is the act of recontextualizing both Dolores and Charlotte's journeys. Dolores isn't the big bad wolf we thought she was; she actually wants to save people, or at least give them a fighting chance, much in the way Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins) did for her and her people way back when. At the same time, Charlotte is no longer the host on her way toward becoming a human. After losing her family in such violent fashion, she's more galvanized than ever to bring humanity to its knees. If heading into the finale the expectations were for Charlotte to break good and Dolores to break… well, worse, then the exact opposite happened. Now, the series has set up Charlotte as the new big bad in the Westworld universe… with maybe one other contender.

5. The Man in Black is a what now?

Sure, it's a little confusing. Let's try to break it down. In season two's finale, we see William reach a barren version of the Forge, where he's being tested for "fidelity," the same thing he and his resurrection project were testing for with the late James Delos (Peter Mullan). In short: He was well on his way toward becoming a host. The season three post-credits scene pushed that point into reality. Charlotte was able to construct the Man in Black as a host, unleashing him on and killing his human self. Now, it's just the gunslinger who remains. Is that the end of the story, though? Is this gunslinging, kill-all-that-moves Man in Black actually the same host we see at the end of season two, or is that version of William still someone in the far future — someone who the hosts have to bring online so they can send him into battle against this human-killing version of himself? Wow, yeah, even I'm confused after stringing those words together. Whew! Westworld!

6. What's up with all the other hosts?

The ones in the Delos lab at the end of the episode, that is. Charlotte didn't just bring the Man in Black back online. She has a slew of other host bodies in development, too. Are these characters we already know? Are they the fulfillment of William's project, coding all of the park guests? And what does Charlotte plan for them? Does she want them to take over people's lives, much in the way she replaced the original Charlotte Hale? The shape of the war between hosts and humans is one of the biggest questions heading into season four, in terms of the size, scope, scale and setting.

7. When will we get season four?

Truly, it's the biggest question on the board, isn't it? Sixteen months passed between seasons one and two, and nearly two full years between seasons two and three. That's a significant amount of time in the best of circumstances… and clearly, we are living through very challenging circumstances, with the future of so much up in the air — the future of production included. So, when will season four arrive? Even at the most optimistic projection, the answer would have likely been late 2021 at the earliest, and more likely some time in 2022. With the current state of things, it could take even longer. The good news: There's plenty of time to go through the full run of Westworld a few times so you're at maximum readiness when the robot revolution resumes.

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