It’s been almost two years since the second season of Westworld ended, so if you barely remember what the heck has happened in this show, then you’re not alone. It certainly doesn’t help that Westworld season three looks distinctly different than what we’ve come to expect from HBO’s sci-fi epic: Gone is the “theme park with robots” concept of the first season and most of the second, replaced by something that looks closer to A.I. or Blade Runner than the original source material by Michael Crichton. But many of the characters are the same. Sorta?
How did we get here? Let us guide the way.
The Real Purpose of Westworld
The second season of Westworld revealed the true purpose of the park: It’s not just a place for rich people to get their rocks off in fake saloons, but the home of a massive data collection site called The Forge, which gathers and stores personal information about every single guest. (Yes, the dopey cowboy hats were secretly scanning every guest’s brain.) Delos, the company that created Westworld, essentially wanted to use all that data as a means to unlock immortality — imagine a world where a human’s consciousness could be uploaded into a host — but the original hosts, led by Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood), revolted against their puppet masters. In the season finale, after a ton of carnage erupts in the park, Dolores escapes after seemingly uploading the Forge’s data to a location that only she can find.
Dolores Is in Charge
Once a victim of her creators and anyone else willing to pay the price to visit Westworld, Dolores is now the leader of the robo-revolution. Before leading her team to the Forge, it seemed like she wanted to destroy Westworld by wiping out all of the data stolen from the guests, but she had much grander plans in mind. After helping a handful of hosts escape to the Valley Beyond — a virtual nirvana stored in the Forge where hosts can live free from their human persecutors — she changed the coordinates of the upload, sending the Valley Beyond and all that data to a different location that couldn’t be found. She then transplanted her own consciousness into a host body built as an exact replica of Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson), and after gunning down the real Charlotte, she left the park with five hosts’ brain balls in her possession. (They’re called “pearls” or “control units” in the world of the show, but let’s be honest, they’re brain balls.) Which hosts did she take with her? Where is she taking them? And what does she plan to do with them in season three? We don’t know yet.
The Man in Black Is Back … Sorta
The arc of Old William (Ed Harris), a.k.a. The Man in Black, was arguably the most divisive of season two, and it didn’t even end until after the finale credits. We learned in season two that the William’s wife committed suicide, possibly because of what a monster William became at the park. His daughter Emily came after him and he killed her, thinking it was still just a part of Ford’s game for his best contestant. Then things got even weirder: William tried to kill Dolores and then was rescued by Delos before everything went haywire. However, the post-credits scene featured William alive in a flooded Forge … where he sees a host version of his daughter, and he’s ushered into a room much like the one that was used to train the host version of company founder James Delos. Emily assures him that this is the real world, but how do we know for sure? When does this scene even take place? William appears in the previews for season three out in the real world, so it’s possible that Delos got William out of Westworld after all. But is he the real thing or a host?
Maeve Was Killed, But She’s Not Gone
If you saw Maeve (Thandie Newton) in the season three trailer and thought, “Hey, didn’t she die in the finale?” — don’t worry, you’re not misremembering. A lot of characters died. Season two revealed that Maeve had a glitch that basically allowed her to control nearby hosts. She escaped captivity and torture, traveling with Hector’s gang and Westworld’s pompous narrative writer Lee Sizemore to the showdown in the season finale. But she was then gunned down after watching her daughter escape to the Valley Beyond. However, her body remained. And we saw Felix and Sylvester, the two dopey park technicians who joined Maeve’s revolution earlier in the season, being told to retrieve important bodies from the scene. They shared a look that makes it clear they’re going for Maeve, and Newton is prominent in the season three trailers, so you can connect the dots. But will she start the season under Delos’ control, or finally free?
Bernard Has Finally Switched Sides
Much of season two was about Bernard’s struggle, as he was torn between being a puppet master and a puppet. After all, he was modeled after one of the creators of Westworld and worked for years alongside Ford to control it, never knowing he was actually a host. In season two, despite a tense relationship with Dolores, he helped her spark a revolution and she chose to save him in the finale. The last image before the post-credits tag is of Bernard, no longer in the park and opening a door to the real world. (He also joins Dolores in a safe house left to them by Ford, where he creates a copy of her original host body — in case you were wondering how Evan Rachel Wood is still on this show.) We also learned in the finale that Bernard’s flashback conversations with Dolores were meant to test his “fidelity”. What role he will play in season three is really up in the air, but Wright’s presence is an essential one to Westworld, so we’re sure Dolores will find something for him to do.
Is Anybody Really Dead? Probably Not.
It’s remarkably easy for dead characters to return on Westworld, so don’t be surprised if some old faces of the deceased show up. The Ghost Nation leader Akecheta (Zahn McClarnon) traveled with Maeve’s daughter to the Valley Beyond at the end of season two, abandoning the physical world for life in the cloud, but his voice can be heard in the season three trailer. How will he come back? Teddy (James Marsden) shot himself in the head after learning Dolores’ true endgame, but could his data have been offloaded — or even smuggled out of Westworld in Dolores/Charlotte’s purse? Clementine became a tool of Delos in season two, forcing the hosts to kill each other, but even her body may have been recovered from the scene, so she might return too. Don’t forget: After Dolores escaped Westworld, she got a new version of her old host body, which means there’s an unused sleeve of Charlotte Hale that could be used by one of the hosts that Dolores smuggled out of the park. It’s anybody’s guess who it’ll be.
Don’t Forget Stubbs
Ashley Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth), the guy who ran Westworld security, didn’t have too major of a role in season two. But he got a key scene in the finale: He’s the one who allows Dolores to leave the park in Charlotte’s host body, although he’s tasked with specifically stopping any hosts who attempt to sneak out, and even implies that he has been a host all along too. Will he return as a Dolores ally in the war against the humans? There’s only one way to find out.