The Westworld season 3 finale, evocatively titled Crisis Theory, was a 77-minute joyride, littered with its fair share of stunning reveals, emotional amends, action-packed fighting sequences, and ever-symbolic callbacks to its predecessors. From the unknown potential in its initial trailers to the last few seconds of its 28th episode, Westworld carved a new name for itself with its third season, despite its negligence of a surprise revisit from Ford (Anthony Hopkins). As in previous seasons, the most revealing glimpse of the series’s future took place after the credits rolled — a post-credits scene teased the show’s potential direction for the next season within an air-tight vacuum of ambiguity.
While the season 2 finale left fans in speechless anticipation for what Dolores had planned for the real world while simultaneously wondering what Bernard could possibly do to stop her, this season is even more forthcoming. With the season 4 renewal already in the bag, Westworld’s imminent fourth outing gets a much-needed flashlight to the face with some questions provided via the season 3 finale. Strap in and take an eVTOL ride through the many potential Westworld season 4 plotlines, yet don’t dive too far into this spoiler-riddled rabbit hole without experiencing the season 3 finale and its additional post-credit scenes.
Is William (The Man in Black) still alive?
Arguably one of the most jaw-dropping moments in the final few minutes is when a host replica of the Man in Black (Ed Harris) takes a knife to the human William’s throat and sliced clean through. The real William, previous Delos owner and Westworld massacre survivor, spent an entire season 3 plotline dedicated to a redemption arc, shedding his monstrous form for a more humane one. Season 3 is Westworld at its most ambiguous when it comes to its main antagonist, and while it still drew one of the show’s most blatant villains from previous seasons into the role of a hero without muddling the narrative, his untimely end feels dissatisfactory, to say the least.
All of his well-built character development turned null and void upon the close shave received at the hands of his more ruthless clone just doesn’t sit right. As such, William is still alive until proven otherwise. He did, after all, finish out the second season in a similar situation, resting precariously on a thin line of survival and death. No featured corpse likewise leaves his destiny open to speculation and a surprise season 4 return reveal. Then, there’s the still mind-racking post-credits from the season 2 finale, depicting what may very well be a host version of William undergoing a fidelity test in a dilapidated and far-future Westworld. Keep those fingers crossed. As the uncertainty of William’s livelihood weighs on fans, yet another character’s departure brings us to our next Westworld season 4 unknown.
Is Dolores gone for good?
Prior to the post-credits, at the climax of the Westworld season 3 finale, viewers are privy to the Maeve (Thandie Newton) and Caleb (Aaron Paul) duo as they exit the Incite building, leaving Dolores’s lifeless shell behind still strapped to the now-deleted Rehoboam. Despite the erasure of her entire memory log, Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) could still very well be back in action for Season 4. The crushing of Hector’s data ball by the Dolores in Charlotte’s body (Tessa Thompson) in episode 6 is proof that hosts can survive until their minds are completely compromised, allowing only a small glimmer of hope for her continued survival. With no indication of her being alive or dead at the end of season 3, Dolores emulates the similarly situated William, existing in a Schrödinger’s cat predicament of uncertainty. Like opening the box in that thought experiment, only season 4 can alleviate the data-clogged confusion.
A Variety interview with Westworld co-writer and creator Jonathan Nolan casts only more unknowns upon the character’s future role in the series. Upon being asked if Evan Rachel Wood would be leaving the show, Nolan states, following a six-second delay:
“I f—– hope not. Let me clarify. Dolores is gone … I think it’s important with a show in which death is impermanent — these are robots, after all — to mark the occasion with Dolores. That version of that character is gone.”
What happened to Stubbs and why is Bernard covered in dust?
Obviously, an exorbitant amount of time has passed since Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) left Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth) to bleed out in a bathtub armed with only a select few miniatures of cheap liquor before taking a quick trip to the beyond. The very last scene of the season 3 finale, however, shows Bernard reawakening from his virtual excursion with a film of dust blanketing him and his entire surroundings. Questions of varying importance abound: How long was he inside the virtual escape? What and who did he discover there? Is he capable of bringing occupants back from that world to the real one and vice versa? More importantly, is the beer-chugging Stubbs still alive and well?
The culminating few moments of Westworld’s third outing leaves little to speculate upon. Still, given the age-old blanket of grime covering the entire hotel room, including Bernard, it’s safe to assume his lengthy time there was spent learning Dolores’ ultimate plan for human recalibration. Bernard’s experiences inside the host’s virtual Eden could even play a major part in the following season, what with Teddy Flood actor James Marsden hinting at an eventual return to the series following his season 3 hiatus. No matter how it’s presented, Bernard’s survival is an absolute necessity given his access to the host’s cloud world. Already, avid-eyed fans on Reddit have pointed out some striking details from that final scene, specifically some footprints left in front of Bernard and the absence of his pistol, alluding to Stubbs’ survival or the arrival of an unwelcome guest.
Will Halores continue copying the plot of Futureworld?
The sequel to the original Westworld, 1976’s Futureworld was critically panned and derided for unsuccessfully taking the franchise in a new direction without the aid of theme-park-gone-wrong mastermind, Michael Crichton. Its flimsy narrative about a Delos-led cloning scheme involving the replacement of international politicians and generals with hosts quickly drove the sequel into realms forgotten. That is, up until the post-credits of Westworld’s season 3 finale, when a real-world William goes toe to toe with a “can opener” Man in Black, who in the end comes out seemingly victorious.
Following the bout, the Charlotte-Dolores offshoot now gone mad is displayed at the helm of an almost-infinite room filled with host-printing machines. Chilling in its reminiscence of Terminator and the world-dominating Skynet as well as demonstrative of Halores’ ever-burgeoning reach, the scene also conveys one of the finale’s most hard-pressed questions: What is her end goal? Like a convex mirror of her own existence, a host in the likeness of a powerful businesswoman (and Delos associate at that), Halores could very well redeem the narrative of Futureworld with her own complicated and twisted spin on its plot.
As previously mentioned, Season 3 of Westworld kept viewers guessing at its true villain up until the very close, revealing Halores among the post-credit scenes in the early stages of a mass host-manufacturing initiative. Endlessly birthing killer hosts in the guise of important and powerful individuals would grant Halores an unruly edge in the rebuilding of society following its post-apocalyptic present. Akin to the Emperor in Star Wars, Darth Sidious himself, the Dolores-Charlotte offshoot could amass global dominion well before the world could even know to stop her.
What of Maeve and Caleb?
The unlikely pair share the screen at the end of Westworld season 3 with little to go on other than a world now cracked open to their choosing. As Maeve relates to Caleb under the backdrop of a city split asunder, echoing her past lines from Season 1 as the park’s brothel madam:
“This is the new world and, in this world, you can be whoever the f— you want.”
It’s anyone’s best guess what Maeve and Caleb might be up to in season 4, though it’s entirely dependent upon if they remain attached at the hip. With a host-wrought future presented by the menacing Halores, Caleb and Maeve might be better off together in staving off yet another far more gruesome apocalypse. Though, even when joining forces, can they expect to beat the Dolores-Charlotte offshoot and her forthcoming host army? Thus, a speculatory door opens upon the potential return of Lawrence (Clifton Collins Jr.), whose brief appearance in the season 3 finale most certainly leads into a more pivotal season 4 role.
Venturing with uncontrolled abandon into speculation town, various Reddit users elicit an even more critical question on when the follow-up might take place: Shortly after the events of season 3 or exponentially further into the timeline? Harkening back on the Westworld season 2 post-credit scene and even the plot of that season taking place in the near-future span of two weeks, a hefty time-jump isn’t beyond the bounds of the HBO series. Fan conjectures still swirl in the background and will continue to grow as the wait for Westworld season 4 only just now starts ticking.
With a slated two seasons following its fourth outing, Westworld is in for one wild if not harrowing future, blending its ever-present sci-fi tropes with post-apocalyptic horror and cyberpunk noir to deliver a promising new batch of content hopefully by 2021.