Westworld Season 3: What We Know For (Almost) Sure

As season 3 arrives, here’s what Westworld’s creators and cast have publicly confirmed about the mysteries of season 2…

Evan Rachel Wood in Westworld season 2
Photo: HBO

Warning: contains major spoilers for Westworld season two.

Westworld’s season two finale left an eddy of questions in its wake. Some will only be answered in season three (starting this Sunday and Monday respectively on HBO and Sky Atlantic), but two years’ worth of publicity circuit interviews with the showrunners and cast over have already provided answers to the others.

We may not yet know, for instance, which five consciousness pearls Dolores smuggled out of the park, or who’s ‘driving’ the Charlotte Hale host, but we have had a steer on whether Stubbs is a host, when the Man in Black’s post-credits sting takes place, if Emily was human when she was killed and more, all straight from the horse’s mouth (or at least from a horse-adjacent mouth).  

Below then, are the facts as we’ve been told they stand…

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Stubbs is a host

Luke Hemsworth as Stubbs in Westworld season 2
Luke Hemsworth in Westworld season two

According to: season two finale director Frederick E.O Toye, backed up by showrunner Lisa Joy

As reported by: Vanity Fair; The Wrap

When Dolores-disguised-as-Hale tries to board the boats out of the Park, she’s stopped by Luke Hemsworth’s head of security Ashley Stubbs who drops some heavy hints that he’s secretly a host. He tells Halores he was hired by Ford “so many years ago I can barely remember it,” and that Ford gave him a very clear role to protect the hosts (“Guess you could call it my core drive”), before waving her through.

In a spoiler-filled post-finale interview with Vanity Fair’s Still Watching Podcast, director Frederick Toye confirmed that the scene was rewritten close to the wire, but that making Stubbs a secret host had been a long term plan, and that to him, Stubbs, is definitely another of Robert Ford’s plants. Showrunner Lisa Joy backed Toye up in conversation with The Wrap by saying:

“Doesn’t it make sense if you are Ford and designing a park and you have a whole master plan about helping robots that you would keep one Host hiding in plain sight as a fail-safe? Maybe the Host who’s in charge of quality assurance?”

William and Emily were human when she died

Ed Harris and Katja Herbers in Westworld
Ed Harris and Katja Herbers in Westworld season two

According to: Katja Herbers, who plays Emily

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As reported by: Insider

William descends into madness in season two. Obsessed with both proving the existence of human free will and destroying his covert Forge project because he judges humanity unfit to become immortal, William questions his reality to the extent that he fatally shoots his grown-up daughter Emily, believing her to be a host imitation planted by Ford. Fans have raised the theory that in fact, William and Emily were both hosts at that point. Not so, says actor Katja Herbers.

Speaking to Insider, Herbers explains,

“I think dramatically it would make that moment [William kills her] meaningless and I don’t think it is. Or, not meaningless but it would take away the biggest heartbreak you can imagine.

And I think it’s such a big story moment for the Man in Black —a defining moment for his whole character. I think it would be really silly if we were hosts. Look, I don’t know, but I clearly don’t think that’s the case.”

Killing Emily is William’s cornerstone

Katja Herbers in Westworld
Katja Herbers in Westworld season two

According to: Jonathan Nolan and Katja Herbers

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As reported by: Entertainment Weekly and Insider

In Dolores and Bernard’s tour of The Forge (the storage facility for the covert data taken from the park’s millions of human guests), they were introduced to the idea of cornerstone decisions in every human’s life to which they are destined to always return, no matter how many versions of their consciousnesses are put through simulations. James Delos’ was refusing his addict son Logan’s request for help, before Logan died of a drug overdose. William’s is killing his daughter Emily, under the mistaken belief that she’s a host imitator and not the real thing.

Speaking to EW, Jonathan Nolan explains, “we’ve explored Delos’ greatest mistake, the one unalterable moment, the cornerstone decision he makes in his life, and we’re seeing that play out with the Man in Black. We’ve seen how it is that, using The Forge, that you’d be drawn back to these key moments and you’d run them again and again.”

In conversation with THR, Lisa Joy adds,

“[William] realizes that he’s been living this loop again and again and again. The primal loop that we’ve seen this season, they’ve been repeating, testing every time for what they call “fidelity,” or perhaps a deviation. You get the sense that the testing will continue.”

Post-credits William and Host Emily are in the “far, far future”

Ed Harris in Westworld

According to: Lisa Joy and Christopher Nolan

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As reported by: The Hollywood Reporter, Entertainment Weekly

That much was obvious by the destroyed look of The Forge, but as timelines are the plaything of this show, here’s confirmation from Lisa Joy, as told to THR:

“For the majority of the season, we’re seeing [William] in the same timeline as everybody else. He’s in the park as hell has unleashed.

What we see in the end recontextualizes a little bit of that. All of that did happen in that timeline, but something else has occurred, too. In the far, far future, the world is dramatically different. Quite destroyed, as it were. A figure in the image of his daughter — his daughter is of course now long dead — has come back to talk to him.”

Nolan suggests that the post-credits timeline is ‘the end’ point of the new AI race, speaking to EW, “We’d always said with this story we wanted to consider the beginning, middle and the end the of the emergence of a new form of life on Earth and we managed to cover a lot of those bases in this season.”

Post-credits William may be something other than a host

Ed Harris in Westworld
Ed Harris in Westworld season two

According to: Lisa Joy and Katja Herbers

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As reported by: The Hollywood Reporter and Insider

While Lisa Joy has confirmed that Katja Herbers is definitely playing a host in the post-credits flashforward scene in which William arrives at a destroyed version of The Forge and finds out that he’s stuck in a fidelity testing loop, that’s not necessarily the case for William.

“Just to clarify,” Joy told THR, “we don’t necessarily say he’s a host. A host refers to a creature like Dolores, someone who is pure cognition, someone who is made up of nothing and has a fabricated body as well.”

This version of William, while clearly not human as both William and Emily’s human selves would be long dead by this point, may be the next stage in host evolution. Katja Herbers told Insider, “we are sometime in the far, far future where I am a host and I’m not entirely sure what the Man in Black is. He might be some other thing entirely.”

Season three will be returning to the park(s)

Jeffrey Wright in Westworld season 2

According to: Lisa Joy

As reported by: The Hollywood Reporter

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Now that Dolores and Bernard are in the real world, that doesn’t mean the end of the parks as locations, says Joy. There are still three of six we’ve not yet seen on the show. When asked by THR if we will ever see or learn about those parks, Joy’s answer was “Absolutely.”

“I don’t necessarily think that we’ve seen the last of these artificial worlds that are central to the concept of our series as a whole. But the major lens that we will have is going to be the real world. If the park does emerge and come back, we would plan on explaining how that could be, and why.”

And remember, only the hosts who went through ‘The Door’ (roughly a third of those discovered in the flooded valley) to virtual paradise or the Sublime, as the showrunners call it, had their control units erased. “There is Host data in the actual hosts who did not ‘sublime’,” Joy tells The Wrap. “So their CPUs are still intact,” meaning they could come back.

Dolores was definitely Dolores at the end

Evan Rachel Wood in Westworld season 2
Evan Rachel Wood in Westworld season two

According to: Lisa Joy

As reported by: Deadline and The Wrap

After escaping the park in disguise as Charlotte Hale, Dolores builds a new version of her old host body before also building a new version of Bernard in the real world. Is that definitely Dolores’ consciousness in her host body though? Yes, says Lisa Joy speaking to Deadline.

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“What Dolores has done is that she’s smuggled herself out of the park while impersonating Hale. She has put herself back into her body, and yet Hale is still there. The question is where is Hale now? And that’s a question we’ll be visiting next season.”

Joy added, speaking to The Wrap, “It was always the plan to explore the real world and we have Dolores there, Bernard’s there and a creature that is certainly inhabiting Hale’s body is there [laughs]. So we’ll come to know more of who “Hale” is. There are three Hosts out in the world and next season will really be an exploration of what they find and who they become.”

Robert Ford is finished

Anthony Hopkins, Westworld; HBO
Sir Anthony Hopkins in Westworld

According to: Lisa Joy

As reported by: The Wrap

“Ford is gone,” Joy confirmed to The Wrap. When Bernard deleted his consciousness code from his own control unit (on which Ford had hitched a ride back into the real world), that was the end of him. When Bernard ‘spoke to’ Ford after that point, it was Bernard’s own consciousness taking the form of Ford, much as Dolores’ own consciousness took the form of Arnold in her season one discussions before she fully became sentient.

We’ll believe it when we see it though.

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There will be answers

Westworld logo

According to: Lisa Joy and Christopher Nolan

As reported by: Den Of Geek

Have no fear, this won’t be another Lost, says Lisa Joy. For every question, there is an answer, the showrunners promise. Speaking at the BFI London season finale screening in June 2018, Joy explained, “Each season, what we try to do is, the questions that we tee up, we do try to address. We have an answer for all of them. We do intend to answer the questions that we set up.”

Phew.

Westworld season 3 arrives on HBO on Sunday the 15th of March and on Sky Atlantic in the UK on Monday the 16th of March.