It was the shot heard ’round the world — at least, one that reverberated throughout Westworld and its surrounding parks: Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins), assassinated at the hands of a Wyatt-infused Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood), signaling the end of an era and the dawn of a new species.
Ten full episodes later, Westworld stands ready to change the game once again. Only one episode remains in the HBO drama’s second season: the upcoming extra-sized finale, “The Passenger,” written by series creators and showrunners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, from returning director Frederick E.O. Toye. As the series prepares to ride off toward its final hour of 2018 (and with a return date for season three still unannounced), theory-minded fans are about to embark on the long journey into night known as the offseason — a night that’s dark and full of terrors indeed, to borrow a phrase from a different HBO show.
Before taking too much time to mourn the end of the season, there’s still the matter of a 90-minute finale to consider. What’s ahead in “The Passenger,” the final installment of the genre-bending drama’s second year? That remains unrevealed, though the last known whereabouts for several main castmembers provide some insight …
• We begin with Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood), the leader of the host revolution, currently all on her own. Her horde of loyal soldiers were all killed in the raid on the Mesa, in battle against Ghost Nation, until only Dolores and Teddy (James Marsden) remained. As of “Vanishing Point,” Teddy is gone as well, seemingly forever — though there’s still the matter of his body lingering in the Mesa, recovered by Delos operatives at the furthest point in the timeline. There may still be life to Teddy yet, even if it’s not exactly the same as it was.
• As for Dolores, she won’t be alone for long. In the preview for the season finale, Dolores is seen once again riding alongside the Man in Black (Ed Harris), desperate in his search for “The Door.” In the most recent episode, the gunslinger occasionally known as William (but don’t call him Billy) killed his own daughter Emily (Katja Herbers), thinking she was a host. Moments later, he briefly considered suicide, but instead dropped to his knees and started digging a knife into his own forearm, apparently convinced he might be a host. Is he right, or has he simply been driven mad, much like viewers of the series who spend too much time theorizing about the show? (Guilty as charged!) The final episode of the season will likely answer the question of the Man in Black’s mortality once and for all.
• The season-finale preview also shows Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) reaching “The Forge,” also known as “The Valley Beyond,” and linking up with Dolores. (The two of them are seen walking alongside some version of Ben Barnes’ Logan, too, which is another confounding matter entirely.) As Bernard tries to piece together what’s happening in the present, there’s also the matter of Bernard’s future, as the host is still embroiled in the thick of the mysteries happening at the furthest point in the timeline. Why has he seemed amnesiac in his interactions with Charlotte (Tessa Thompson) and Karl Strand (Gustaf Skarsgard), the three of them on their way to the Forge? An answer to the season’s most mystifying arc feels like the surest guarantee heading into the finale.
• Through the back half of the season, Bernard has been haunted by a ghost of sorts: Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins), digitally reborn thanks to his mastery over Delos’ digital immortality project. Ford spent the past several episodes kicking around inside of Bernard’s brain, only to be deleted near the end of “Vanishing Point.” One assumes Ford isn’t really gone; for one thing, Bernard and Ford have a scene together in the finale, as seen in the preview, and for another, Ford recently made contact with another key host …
• … Maeve (Thandie Newton), whose mastery over the mesh network was recently discovered by Charlotte Hale, which is very bad news for all of the hosts on the wrong side of the Delos board. Right now, the situation looks grim for the former madame of the Mariposa Saloon, with an asterisk: Ford’s ghost recently visited the gravely injured Maeve, declaring his fatherly love and giving her apparent access to her full core permissions. Based on the preview, it looks like Maeve is back on her feet, as powerful as we’ve seen her yet, likely in control of a swarm of mechanical bulls charging into the Delos operatives. The scene from the preview includes all the friendly faces from Maeve’s party we’ve come to know and love, including Hector (Rodrigo Santoro) and Sizemore (Simon Quarterman), hell bent on reuniting with the Witch of Shogun World. Thankfully, doesn’t seem like Maeve herself is going to need much help in that regard.
That’s the main cast, but there are other players still in the mix heading into the finale: Elsie (Shannon Woodward), the show’s by far most capable human, last seen stranded in the woods without a clear next step; Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth), accompanying Strand, Charlotte and Bernard on the journey to the Valley Beyond; and Akecheta (Zahn McClarnon), freshly identified as one of the show’s most compelling characters, still intent on leading Ghost Nation to “The Door,” and equally determined to stop Dolores “The Deathbringer” Abernathy from destroying it.
What are your theories heading into the season finale? Sound off in the comments below and keep checking THR.com/Westworld for more coverage.