The following contains spoilers for Westworld season 3 episode 8.
Another successful season of Westworld in the books, another batch of loose-ends tied up. Except…not so much. Like many shows, Westworld always leaves a few threads aching to be pulled. Here are a few of the questions that linger heading into the long break between seasons of HBO’s hit series. The story might be less convoluted, but that doesn’t mean it’s neat or simple.
1. Is William really dead?
From the last moments of William in the research basement, it’s easy to assume that the original, flesh-and-blood terror of Westworld is no more. The Man In Black taken down by the only person who could ever really kill him, the Man In Black in host form. But is he dead? We see him, bleeding from a cut throat, collapse on the floor, grievously injured if nothing else. There’s never a finale shot of his dead body, and if there is one thing I’ve learned from Westworld, it’s that unless someone is definitively dead, they may not actually be dead. There was no dead body. William has already been left for dead once on this show, would it surprise anyone to see him show up next season to dramatically pull off a cravat and flash a gnarly new scar to add to his collection? And in keeping with the original Man In Black, wouldn’t it be something for Human William to be completely silent?
2. Is Dolores really dead?
From the shot of her crumpled body on top of Rehoboam, stripped of memories, it appears that Dolores Prime as we know her is dead. That said, there are five more copies of her out in the world. Charlotte and Lawrence are alive; Sato, Connells, and Dolores Prime are currently not alive but appear to have functional pearls, save a little damage and a memory deletion. Hosts can be rewritten, as Dolores herself proves when she reawakens Bernard, so Dolores Prime might not be out of the picture quite yet. Charlotte has been collecting Dolores pearls; does that have something to do with her new plan for remaking the world? It’s highly doubtful that Dolores or Evan Rachel Wood are officially off the show, but stranger things have happened.
3. What did Bernard see in the Sublime and just how long was he under for?
Westworld season 2 featured a post-credits sequence of a Man In Black host undergoing fidelity tests in a ruined futurescape. Westworld season 3 features the world’s dustiest man waking up on a hotel bed with a look of steely determination in his eyes, shortly after leaving a gravely wounded Ashley Stubbs in a hotel bathtub full of ice like a figure out of urban legend. Bernard clearly saw something beautiful and awe-inspiring in the Sublime, and it’s an easy assumption to make that he wakes up determined to save or preserve it. Just what did Bernard see, and how did he get covered with so much dust while waiting in an otherwise undisturbed hotel room? Given the rate my 125-year-old house accumulates dust thanks to its original plaster and lathe walls and ceilings, probably about two weeks, but YMMV.
4. What about the other hosts in play?
Hale is making an army of hosts, that much is clear. But what about the non-Hale hosts that are currently in play? Dolores Lawrence (Dolawrence) is still in play somewhere, either working with Hale or working on his own to push Bernard into making a play in one direction or another. Maeve has aligned herself with Caleb and humanity, at least for now. When last we saw Stubbs, he was rotting in a bathtub full of ice; presumably by the time Bernard stirs, Stubbs will be in dire need of a fresh meat suit and a beer, but I’m fairly certain hosts don’t die from neglect so easily. So that leaves Hanaryo and Clementine out in the world, doing whatever it is they’re doing when they’re not working for Hale or Maeve.
5. Are Dusty Bernard and the Man In Black’s fidelity test from Season 2 related?
All jokes aside about failure to dust, time has clearly passed while Bernard has been sitting in a hotel room outside of Los Angeles, his head in the virtual reality clouds. How does Bernard’s implied time skip match up with the implied time skip at the end of season two, when the Man In Black wakes up in a dilapidated underground facility, only to undergo fidelity testing at the hands of his daughter/host Emily. Will this fully realized Man In Black meet the Sublime-unlocking Bernard in some sort of post-apocalyptic, post-humanity hellscape? Or has Bernard not been under long enough for the world around him to perfect the sort of transhumanist experiments like those William was running on James Delos? Just how big of a skip will this potential time-skip be?
6. What happens with Incite and Delos now?
Rehoboam’s control of the human race seems to be at an end, since the system deleted itself, but Incite isn’t the only AI company on the block, and undoubtedly, there will be someone else to at least try and step into that space and take control of the market. Delos was already working on artificial intelligence, either as a companion to or a competitor to Incite, and now thanks to the corporate merger, Incite and Delos share a bed. My nebulous understanding of corporate politics aside, Serac’s (apparent) death leaves a void at the top of the company, and two of Delos’s strongest shareholders, William and Charlotte Hale, seem poised to take over control of both companies and put themselves firmly in control of both the creation and generation of hosts, the artificial intelligence machine that runs the world, and all of that valuable human information both sides have been fighting to recover all season long. Having a vengeful Hale and a sociopathic Man In Black in charge seems like bad news for the human race. Even without Rehoboam, having access to the fortune of the world’s richest man is pretty helpful in taking over the world.
7. What about Caleb and the revolution?
Caleb and Maeve get a nice Fight Club moment as they watch various tall buildings explode in front of them dramatically, but unlike Fight Club, that’s not the end. HBO has confirmed the fourth season of the show is upcoming. Dolores didn’t merely position Caleb as a guy leading a protest group, she put him in charge of a literal revolution, and she charged him to finish the task she started: freeing humanity. Judging by the way the rioting mobs are dispersed after Rehoboam’s shutdown, it doesn’t seem to be going well, but that kind of frustration doesn’t go away, nor does it come out of nowhere. The Rehoboam information dump has clearly shaken this society to its foundation, and there’s no one or nothing able to put that genie back in its bottle. If there’s anyone positioned to take the wheel, it would be Delos, and Caleb might find himself holding the bag as the old revolution’s Che Guevara.
8. What’s Charlotte’s plan anyway?
No more William, no more Dolores Prime, and no more Serac. Charlotte Hale is in the driver’s seat, and she’s clearly got different ideas for how things are supposed to work than any of her predecessors. Somehow, her being the host intent on wiping out the human race doesn’t exactly fit with what we’ve seen with her, particularly the son and ex-husband she loved so much that their deaths altered the course of her life significantly. If you loved humans, you wouldn’t want to wipe them all out, right? Dolores turned from sweet farmer’s daughter to human-murdering avenger over the course of two seasons, will Hale convert from human lover to human hater, blaming Serac and human greed for the deaths of her family? Or will she become a force for good against the chaos of Caleb’s revolution and Dolawrence’s meddling?
9. Will the outlier popsicles get justice?
Caleb and Dolores, in their search for answers, came across a massive reprogramming facility for non-compliant humans. Think of the cold storage from the Mesa facility, but actually sterile and orderly rather than just a drippy, dark, aircraft hanger. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of people in one secret facility; surely there are dozens more like it around the globe. Caleb, one of the few successfully reprogrammed deviants, surely won’t just leave all of them in cold storage for the duration, right? Without Rehoboam and Solomon is anyone even keeping all of those freezers working, or has Caleb abandoned thousands of people to a freezer-burned death through inaction? Would releasing them simply further destabilize an already unstable society and do them more harm than good?
10. Where does Westworld go from here?
Long gone are the days of mysteries in the park and robot cowboys engaging in nightly shoot-outs to the delight of rich tourists looking for a chance to live out their dreams of being John Wayne or Al Swearengen. The first season played with time, the second with the nature of reality, and the third becomes a conspiracy-leavened techno-thriller. Like a trip on Genre, it’s time to change things up. Action movie? Body horror? Cyberpunk dystopia? Romantic drama? Well, probably not romantic drama, but as sure as no one on Westworld is ever really dead, the show is going to change once again. Good luck figuring out how.