Warning: contains spoilers for the War of the Worlds Season 3 finale.
In the end, War of the Worlds was all about forgiveness and second chances. And particle accelerators and black holes. And killer robo-dogs and genocidal future humans and theoretical physics experiments saving the world. Basically: learn science and phone your mum is the take-home after seasons of this deep-thinking, dystopian drama.
Season three went all in on the science-speak. With neurosurgeon Bill and astrophysicist Catherine as our lead characters, joined by newcomer astronauts Richard and Juliet, there was a great deal of ‘reverse the polarity of the neutron flow’ talk. If any of the finer details got lost among the gravitational waves chat, let’s pick apart the major threads of the season finale below.
One caveat: Sadly, Den of Geek does not have Professor Brian Cox on staff (more’s the pity. Bet his Doctor Who reviews would be amazing). The science described below is taken solely from the sci-fi TV show War of the Worlds, so if it sounds iffy, please don’t shoot the messenger. Spoilers from hereon-in.
Who Died and Who Survived?
Among the Season 3 dead list are: Adina (shot by Zoe), Hiram (killed by Adina), Richard and Juliet (died drifting out into space after the black hole dissipated), plus Catherine in the new timeline (life support switched off in a coma caused by crossing between realities) and Bill in the OG alien-attack timeline (shot by killer robo-dog). Bill is not necessarily dead in the new timeline. In that reality, we last saw him in his own crossing-between-realities coma in hospital as his son came to mend bridges. So there’s a chance that, having died in the OG timeline, he could still wake up in this one. But he’ll probably die because after all, this is War of the Worlds.
Still alive by the end of season three are: Martha and Tom, who are expecting a human-future human hybrid baby; Zoe, and Kariem, who got UK residency by helping to save the world and who’s going on a date with Zoe; Ash, who’s made up with his girlfriend Hayley; Catherine’s scientist/lover Johannes; Sam, the young man Catherine promised to come back for and did; Bill’s son Dan, and Catherine, Sophia, Nathan and Celine in the OG alien-attack timeline, which has now been fixed so baby Celine doesn’t have to live her entire life deprived of vitamin D but surrounded by installation art in the Hayward Gallery.
An interesting titbit: In the new reality, Johannes kissed Catherine on the lips after her life support was turned off, while in the OG reality, Catherine touched her mouth and appeared to feel his touch. Even after the black hole was closed, there’s perhaps still a lingering connection between the two realities.
What Caused the Black Hole(s)?
Bill. Or more specifically, Bill travelling back in time to a pre-invasion reality using an alien ship that works by creating black holes and using the energy from them to bend the fabric of space and time. When Bill travelled back in time in the season two finale, the black hole appeared in the sky in the the OG timeline and on the edge of Earth’s atmosphere in the new timeline.
Because the black hole was closer to Earth in the OG timeline, its brain-frying gravitational waves affected people more seriously. Nathan and co. could only afford to spend 45 minutes outside before they would fall into a coma, as Tom and Sam’s parents had. Over in the new timeline, the black hole didn’t fry people’s brains, but did give some of them visions of their experience of the alien invasion in the other reality.
What Was the Aliens’ Plan?
When Adina and her lackeys hitched a ride to the alternate reality with Bill Ward at the end of season two, they ended up stuck there without a way of getting back to their ships. Not only that, but they were still dying of organ failure caused by inherited genetic weaknesses and the virus Bill injected into their ancestor Emily in season two. So Adina, fuelled by her hatred of Bill Ward – whom she blamed for her people’s illness – decided not to go quietly but to take humanity down with them.
In an East London warehouse, Adina had Martha’s brother Hiram make a particle accelerator. Using advanced alien mathematics and Catherine’s published scientific theory on the effects of gravitational waves, the accelerator created a monopole (a French supermarket? – Ed) and drew the black hole on the edge of Earth’s atmosphere closer towards the planet. That intensified the gravitational waves the black hole was emitting, and if it hadn’t been stopped, would have fried the brains of anybody who wasn’t underground, just like the aliens’ original weapon in season one. The flock of starlings were a test case.
Luckily, Catherine and Bill and Richard and Juliet stopped Adina’s plan from working before it killed billions.
How Did Bill, Catherine and the Astronauts Close the Black Hole?
By transmitting waves of the same intensity through the black hole from both sides, one from each alternate reality. Catherine and Bill programmed a transmitter to the right frequency in the original reality and sent a signal through the black hole, while Richard and Juliet in the space station received it and transmitted a signal of the same frequency. The idea, according to Catherine, was to unravel the relationship between quantum gravity and the fabric of space time to break the entanglement created by the aliens’ micro black hole, and dissipate the original black hole. It evaporated, the thermal spectrum dropped (whatever that means) and success! No more brain-frying in either reality.
Why Did the Space Station Explode?
Because the energy released when the black hole on the edge of Earth’s atmosphere was closed caused a massive explosion. Earth’s atmosphere protected the planet, which experienced a sonic boom and a momentary loss of gravity, but outside of Earth’s atmosphere, the effects were more drastic and the space station disintegrated, leaving Richard and Juliet stranded out in space.
Though one of them could have used the pod to escape the space station before the plan was carried out, Juliet chose to remain behind with Richard because that was what he’d seen in his black hole-influenced future-vision. Future-her stayed with him for a reason, and so that’s what she did.
What was Juliet’s Vision of the Baby About?
A premise of season three is that the gravitational waves emitted by the black hole affect people’s consciousness, giving them glimpses of alternate realities. That’s why certain people in the new timeline (Sophia, Zoe, Kariem, Ash, the Home Office minister…) were seeing visions of the alien attack from the original timeline. What Juliet experienced just before she drifted out to die in space was an alternate reality in which she hadn’t gone on the space mission but had instead continued her pregnancy and had a baby. Think of it as a little taster treat before she froze to death in space, now safe in the knowledge that in another reality, she’s happy and alive.
Why Did the Aliens Need Tom’s Blood?
Because they’re all descended from his sister Emily (whom Bill pushed off a roof to stop her from giving rise to a race of genocidal future-humans), so his blood is a genetic match for their own. (It’s sort of been forgotten that Tom is only Emily’s half-sister biologically, as they shared a biological mother – absent from this series – but not a father. Still, details, details). When the aliens invaded Earth, they stole babies and harvested organs and stem cells to transplant into themselves as a cure. Bill Ward though, created a virus and injected Emily with it so they would inherit a genetic weakness as well as muscular dystrophy from their father Sacha (also largely forgotten about this season).
In the OG timeline, Sophia came up with a plan to hasten the aliens’ demise by giving them Tom’s unconscious body (his brain had been fried by the black hole) and spiking his blood with warfarin. When they used the infected blood, it would cause the aliens to bleed internally and die even sooner.
Will All the Aliens Die Now?
Not all of them. In the new timeline, Martha is carrying Tom’s baby in a symbolic resolution of the human vs future-human hatred plot thread. Presumably that baby will survive as an emblem of how we just all have to get along. It’s a point worth making.
As for the others, yes. They were all dying anyway. The ones that used the deliberately-infected-with-warfarin blood from an unconscious Tom certainly will.
Will There Be a Season Four?
One hasn’t been announced and that felt pretty final didn’t it? Although both realities survived after the black hole was closed, there’s not much story potential left in either. Bill and Catherine are either dead or in a coma in each reality. In the original timeline, the aliens are dying out and, give or take a few killer robo-dogs, the human world is now safe to rebuild. In the alternate timeline, Adina’s dead and with her died the aliens’ murderous hatred of the humans. Martha and Tom’s baby symbolises a kind of peace between the two types of human.
Additionally, the production company that makes War of the Worlds has already announced its next Howard Overman-led project, which is to be a TV series adaptation of Robin Hardy’s 1973’s horror classic The Wicker Man, in association with Studiocanal and Andy Serkis’ company The Imaginarium. We’ll bring you more on that when it arrives.
All episodes of War of the Worlds Season 3 are available to stream on Disney+ UK.