Warning: contains spoilers for the War of the Worlds Season 2 finale.
Had War of the Worlds not been renewed for season three, the season two finale would have served as a creditable end point to the story. In it, Professor Bill Ward uses extra-terrestrial science to travel back in time to before the aliens invaded, and makes a single change to stop that timeline from ever unfurling. Thanks to Bill, the aliens never arrive, billions of people are never slaughtered, and life on Earth continues as normal. It’s not quite the ‘I woke up and it was all a dream’ ending, but it’s in the same postcode. Everything resets, and everybody goes about their lives without knowledge of the dire future that’s been averted.
Mostly everybody. Bill remembers, of course. The last we see of him in season two is a newspaper headline about his arrest for the murder of Emily Gresham. The single change Bill needed to make to avert the timeline in which aliens invaded Earth was to kill Emily (one of the ancestors of the alien race), and so he did the decent thing and pushed her off the top of a tall building.
Bill in prison for murder?
That leaves Gabriel Byrne’s character in a fix for season three. If this new timeline holds, then Professor Bill Ward will have to explain in a court of law that he murdered a blind teenage girl in order to save humanity from alien attack. Whether or not they believe him is irrelevant – he’d be locked up either way. And as it’s unlikely that season three of this sci-fi chiller will turn into a courtroom drama, something major’s going to have to shift to get Byrne’s character back on the game board and making moves.
The other sticky part of Bill’s situation, and what adds grist to season three’s mill, is that he didn’t come back from the future alone. Whoever else was on board the alien ship when Bill travelled through time came too. That includes Isla, who we saw die in the new timeline, from a gunshot wound she received in the old timeline just before making the leap. It also includes the aliens’ most entrenched humanity-haters: Adina and Jokim. They turned up with half a dozen redshirt aliens in the new timeline, where they unsuccessfully tried to stop Bill from killing Emily.
Fish out of water
How will Adina and Jokim fit into season three? In this new timeline, they have neither a future nor a past, and their people never existed. Untethered from everything they’ve known, perhaps this is the chance for those two to observe humanity and, like how Isla and Reuben developed a love of human music and babies, find things to snuff out their hatred. Their people’s entire understanding of human beings came through the psychopathic filter of Sacha, and was distorted as it passed down the generations. On a fully populated Earth, surely those two will have to give up their ‘kill everyone’ plan and assimilate if they’re going to survive?
Bill resetting the timeline resurrected several characters who’d been killed in the original version of events. His wife and son, Helen and Daniel, are now alive and kicking. Emily and Tom’s mother Sarah was never shot by Sacha, and Prof. Catherine Durrand was never killed by a Mechanical but lived to patch things up with her sister Sophia and possibly embark on a romance with her sweet Observatory colleague who is now also not dead. Presumably somewhere out there is hospital porter Ash, with his pregnant fiancée beside him this time. Refugee Kariem successfully made it over the Channel to reunite with his sister (?) Amina – hopefully two characters who’ll return for expanded roles in season three. And remember Dylan and Lilly, the young couple whose story we were told via video diary? In this new timeline, they must be alive and still together and perhaps readying themselves for larger roles in season three.
All of which assumes that this new timeline will remain intact. The season two finale however, put that into question. A few key developments hinted that the walls between the timelines were porous and events from one were bleeding into the other. First there was Emily, who’d come to hospital to report the visions she kept seeing of dead bodies in the streets and of her interacting with people she’d never met. How could Emily be receiving those visions from the aliens’ quantum psychic web if, in this timeline, the aliens have never existed?
Next was Zoe (Pearl Chanda), who awoke from a dream about the future that Bill had averted. In the original timeline, she was the hard-nosed leader of a group of survivors in London, and somehow dreamt about a scene from that in this new alien-free version of events. Zoe’s dream-vision was of escaping the leisure centre with Bill following the alien bombing. She then recognised Bill’s face and the name “Emily” from the newspaper headline about the murder. How are Zoe and Emily getting flashes of a future that won’t happen? Are they somehow being sent from another timeline? Our final hint that Bill’s actions haven’t entirely averted the alien invasion future was the sound of the distinctive alien pulse playing over the end credits. Are they still out there?
Before Isla died in the new timeline, she played a potentially important part in season three by bringing Micah’s journal back in time with her. We saw it being bagged up as evidence and placed in storage. Little do these humans know that the secret to time travel is now sitting unassumingly in a cardboard box on a dusty shelf, just waiting to be discovered…
War of the Worlds is available to stream on Epix in the US and is airing weekly on Disney+ in the UK.