'Westworld' Season 3 Finale: What's Next After That Shocking Post-Credits Sequence?

For the third season in a row, Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy's HBO drama saves one final punch for the last second. Here's how the twist plays out and what it means for the series moving forward.
John P. Johnson/HBO

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

Westworld ended its first season with Evan Rachel Wood's Dolores shooting Anthony Hopkins' Robert Ford in the back of the head, inciting a park-wide robot revolution. Season two ended with Dolores escaping the park, rebuilding Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) in the world outside, while several other players escaped to the so-called Valley Beyond.

Of course, that's not how either season actually ended.

Creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy's HBO drama ended both of its previous seasons with post-credit stingers of two very different shapes and sizes: first in season one with the gun-toting Armistice (Ingrid Bolso Berdal) severing her own arm and unleashing holy hell upon human soldiers closing in on her location, then again in season two with a brain-melting twist all about the Man in Black (Ed Harris) — a twist that called the man's very nature into question.

With season three now in the rearview mirror, it should come as no surprise that Nolan and Joy have once again delivered a post-credits scene — two scenes, in fact. The finale, "Crisis Theory," ends with a sprawling post-credits sequence that honors the series' two previous stingers by being both action-packed and totally game-changing.

The majority of the sequence focuses on Ed Harris as William, traveling far away from the chaos that's fallen upon Los Angeles, looking to stop the robot revolution and avert the apocalypse. Clad in a slick black suit, William shoots his way down into a Delos research station, where he comes face to face with Tessa Thompson's Charlotte Hale — a woman who once began as Dolores, but has now become someone new.

On the cusp of shooting Charlotte dead, William's rampage comes to a halt when he finds himself face to face with someone entirely unexpected: himself. A full-on Man in Black emerges, also played by Harris, the iconic actor facing off against his own visage for the second time this season. It's the fulfillment of the season two post-credits scene's promise: an artificial version of the Man in Black now exists, William's worst nightmare come to life. A battle-hardened warrior through and through, not even William can stand up against his own cybernetic doppelgänger, his throat slit by the new Man in Black. 

After decades in and out of the park, on a mission to find his true self, William finally dies with his wish fulfilled — just not in the way he ever expected. As an actor, however, the twist is sure to delight Harris, given his vocal desire to embody the Man in Black side of his character, rather than the Delos company man.

"I wasn't the happiest camper to tell you the truth," Harris told The Hollywood Reporter earlier in the season, "because I really enjoyed the part I was playing, and I was hoping that he, the Man in Black, would continue to somehow be prevalent in the story. And when I realized that was no longer the case, I had to just readjust my whole head and get into what was going on with William in this place that he has found himself, trapped in this facility, being tested, and whatever is going on with him."

Looks like Harris doesn't need to concern himself with that version of William anymore.

What's more, with a host version of the Man in Black on the board, Westworld now links back to its feature film roots, in which actor Yul Brynner played the terrorizing robot known as the Gunslinger; the Man in Black was first envisioned as an inverse homage to that character, highlighting the deadliness of man. Now, at least in the battle of Man in Black versus Robot in Black, we know which species is deadlier.

Even after the Man in Black twist ends, the Westworld finale party continues on. The final scene of the season features Bernard in a motel room, covered in dust, coming back online after a trip to "the Sublime," also known as "the Valley Beyond." It's unknown how long Bernard was gone for, or what shape the world is in now that he's back, or what he found out while wandering around in the hosts' veritable virtual afterlife — but the answers to all of those questions are the bedrock for what's coming next in season four.

Follow THR.com/Westworld for full season three coverage.