The following contains spoilers for Westworld season 3 episode 8.
A clear pattern is beginning to emerge at the end of Westworld seasons. Westworld season 1’s finale featured no post-credit scenes, Westworld season 2 had one, and now Westworld season 3 has two. At this rate, roughly half of the Westworld series finale is going to arrive after the credits roll.
These two post-credit scenes from the Westworld season 3 finale leave us with quite a bit to mull over. At first they might seem unrelated, but perhaps there is a narrative throughline between William’s final moments and Bernard’s reawakening in a seemingly distant future. Let’s explore what it could all mean.
The first of the two post-credit scenes is more detailed and action-packed. Now that some time has passed to process it, it’s pretty wild that Westworld reserved William’s death (arguably the show’s most important human character) for after the episode finished. The key here, however, is that while William may be gone, Ed Harris will thankfully still remain a part of the show.
Yes, William’s mission “to save the fucking world” by killing all the remaining hosts didn’t go so well. Depending on how Stubbs’ fate shakes out (and he was bleeding a long time throughout this episode), William may have killed only zero to one hosts before his death. So what purpose does his death serve to both Charlotte and the narrative at large?
Charlotte’s plan appears to be to create a new robot utopia for her kind and her kind alone to thrive in. This is similar to what Maeve had desired throughout the season but Maeve’s experiences with Dolores changed her mind to a vision more allowing for humanity’s inclusion in said utopia. Charlotte has only become hardened and jaded through her own experiences. Charlotte really loved her fake Hale family and now that they’re gone, the only thing she has left to fight for is herself. One thing that’s important to remember about Charlotte Hale is that, while she is diametrically opposed to Dolores now, the core of her software remains that of a Dolores pearl. Somewhere deep inside her resides the soul of Dolores. And what did Bernard tells us about Dolores this season? She has a poetic sensibility. What better poetry than to have a copy of the man intent on destroying robot-kind now serving as its protector?
This host William is adorned in all black like the version of William who wreaked havoc on Westworld for years. Before host William kills real William, he tauntingly tells him he represents the darkness that is inherent to William’s core. That’s hard to argue with given William’s behavior this season. Now the version of William will be presented to the world is the hateful, black-hatted one who probably existed all along. Having access to a host William will likely help Charlotte consolidate her control on Delos. They’ll have to find a way to explain away why the former majority shareholder of Delos killed a security guard in broad daylight though.
One significant question that arises from this first post-credit scene is how does it fit into season 2’s post-credit scene? Last year saw a host version of William (or a real William in a host’s body) undergoing tests for fidelity…akin to what the host version of James Delos went through. Westworld producers Jonathan Nola and Lisa Joy said after the episode aired that this scene took place “in the far future.” The season 3 post-credit scene, however, clearly takes place in the near future or maybe even the show’s present.
It seems likely that this host William is purely a host – an artificial intelligence designed to closely resemble William’s consciousness and body. Charlotte has not attempted to run William’s actual mind through a host’s form yet. That is an experiment for the far away future.
Speaking of the far away future, that’s where Westworld season 3’s finale second post-credit sequence comes in. This scene is extremely brief. In it Bernard finally “wakes up” from his trip into the Sublime. Based on the dust and dirt that has gathered around his body, Bernard has been in the Sublime for a long, long time. One could even say that he is now in the “far future.”
Yes, this scene is interesting because it allows us to wonder what (or who) Bernard encountered in the Sublime. More importantly than that, however, it establishes a new timeline for Westworld season 4. This is a show that obviously isn’t afraid to mess with chronology. And since one scene in the show has already taken place far in the future, it seems entirely possible that part of or all of season 4 will take place in this distant future as well.
The Westworld season 3 finale firmly establishes that humanity is doomed…and could be extinct in as early as 50 years. Westworld season 4 could answer one of Bernard’s most pressing questions: “what comes after the end of the world?”