Warning: Full spoilers follow for Westworld Season 3.

Westworld’s third season wrapped way back in May of 2020 with the episode “Crisis Theory” (read our Season 3 finale review), capping off the HBO series’ journey to the “real world” of the futuristic society where theme parks are populated by robot “hosts.” Or so we thought. But now, trailers for Westworld Season 4, which debuts on Sunday, June 26, continue to feature what at least appears to be a world outside the parks. Of course, with Westworld, one never can tell…

Westworld of course stars Evan Rachel Wood as the host Dolores Abernathy, who, having gained sentience over the course of the previous seasons, left the Delos park where she lived for decades as, essentially, a slave, now on a mission to take down humankind for the sake of her fellow ‘bots. Or so we thought…

A lot happened in the Season 3 finale of Westworld, so let’s delve into some of the key points and try to figure out how they might play in Season 4.

Westworld Recap: Is Dolores Dead?

Year three told the story of what happened to Dolores after she had escaped the Westworld theme park at the end of the previous season. Setting up shop in a near-future L.A., she created a bunch of copies of herself, or more specifically, copies of her mind, but in different bodies, all as part of her grand plan for the season…

But did Dolores Prime die in the Season 3 finale? She seemed to be gone by the end of “Crisis Theory,” even if she sacrificed herself in order to achieve her true mission. After being captured by Vincent Cassel’s tech genius Serac, Dolores had her mind probed by the uber-AI system known as Rehoboam. It was looking for the key to accessing the “Sublime” (the Valley Beyond artificial reality where many of the hosts escaped to last season). The thing is, Dolores didn’t actually have the key — she had hidden it with Jeffrey Wright’s character Bernard (more on that in a second) — and so as Rehoboam dug deeper, deleting her memories as it went along, it found nothing… except for a trap.

Dolores managed to hack Rehoboam while it was hacking her, and gave control of the AI to Caleb (Aaron Paul). In so doing, Caleb, with some clutch help from Maeve (Thandie Newton) and her samurai sword, commanded Rehoboam to erase itself, which it did and which would now allow for humankind to live out their lives by their own accord — for better or for worse — instead of under the guiding influence of Serac’s ultimate computer. The last thing we see before the credits roll is Caleb and Maeve watching as the city around them burns. Yes, Dolores’ true plan was to free humankind. “This is the new world,” says Maeve, while “Brain Damage” from Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon plays. “And in this world, you can be whoever the f**k you want.”

Yes, Dolores’ true plan was to free humankind.

So which Dolores will we be getting in Season 4? When the Season 3 finale dropped, showrunners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy insisted that the Prime version of her was done, telling Variety: “Dolores is gone. We’re not yet discussing publicly the direction the show is taking, but the fun thing about this show is, you know, from the beginning Lisa and I wanted to make a show that constantly reinvented itself, that could be a different show every season. I think it’s important with a show in which death can be impermanent — these are robots, after all — to mark the occasion with Dolores. That version of that character is gone. We love Evan Rachel Wood and we haven’t started talking publicly about exactly what the show looks like going forward. But it looks very different.”

Her mind had been wiped last we saw her, a lifeless husk laying on the platform beneath Rehoboam’s giant orb. Still, we also know that Dolores duplicated her mind in other hosts in Season 3, creating divergent Doloreses, if you will. Most of those were seemingly destroyed throughout the season, but at least two remain: The Dolores inside a Charlotte Hale host body (Tessa Thompson) who had turned against Dolores Prime by the finale, and seems set to be an antagonist in Season 4. And then there’s also Clifton Collins Jr.’s host. He had been a recurring character named Lawrence (a.k.a. El Lazo) in the previous seasons and popped up briefly in the Season 3 finale under the guise of a cop, although Bernard figured out that his body was housing another copy of Dolores. Surely transplanting the Lawrence host’s pearl (brain) into a fresh Evan Rachel Wood body wouldn’t be too much effort, even though she wouldn’t have the same memories from Season 3 that Dolores Prime did.

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In the trailers for the new season, we see that Evan Rachel Wood is back as a Dolores… or rather, according to the actress, a character called “Christine.” She told EW recently that her character is “much more human this season.” She seems to be mirroring her Season 1 version, where she was on the cusp of realizing she was living in an artificial reality, essentially. “This is the story about a girl,” she says in the trailer. “Every single day she wakes up, the more she sees it. But nobody else can. There’s something wrong with the world, and it’s her fault.”

William: The Man in Black or The Host in Black?

The Man in Black is dead. Long live the Man in Black! Ed Harris’ character, also known as William, Delos’ big bad boss, spent Season 3 struggling with his inner demons. He was institutionalized through the trickery of the Charlotte Dolores, where he participated in a therapy session with various versions of himself from the past (and perhaps the future?), including the young incarnation who was a regular character in Season 1 of Westworld and played by Jimmi Simpson. In “Crisis Theory,” William is committed to “saving the world” from the host uprising, and we last see him in the first of two post-credits scenes.

It is there that he entered a Delos International facility in Dubai where, after stating that the hosts are “breeding” and shooting a security guard in the head, he made his way down to the basement-level research lab and found exactly what he expected: host shenanigans. The Charlotte Dolores was there, telling William he’s right on time, and that yes, he is going to save the world — for the hosts. A duplicate of William, in full Man in Black get-up, then appeared and, after a brief struggle, slashed William’s throat. We then saw that he was right about the breeding thing — the facility is full of host-making machinery.

The idea that the Man in Black would go full host certainly calls back to many fans’ impression of him from before the show debuted.

The idea that the Man in Black would go full host certainly calls back to many fans’ impression of him from before the show debuted, as he was clearly designed to evoke the Gunslinger robot played by Yul Brynner in the original 1973 Westworld film on which the show is based. And while it sure seemed as though the real William was a goner after his post-credits run-in, the trailer for Season 4 would seem to indicate that Charlotte/Dolores has somehow kept him alive, if trapped.

Still, existence of a Man in Black host (or duplicate) does track with the post-credits scene from the end of Season 2 where a version of the character still existed in what was apparently some distant point in the show’s future. Speaking of which…

Bernard Gets Dusty

Jeffrey Wright’s Bernard is the last person we see in the Season 3 finale, in the second post-credits scene. As noted above, while Dolores had led Serac (and the viewer) to believe that she held the key to accessing the Sublime, she had actually placed it with Bernard, apparently because she couldn’t fully trust herself with it.

Earlier in the episode, Bernard paid a visit to Gina Torres’ character Lauren Weber, who is now an elderly woman but also the wife of the late Arnold Weber, the co-creator of the hosts and the human that Bernard was based on. Back in Season 1, Bernard thought he was actually a human, and part of the trickery engineered by Dr. Ford (Anthony Hopkins) to maintain that illusion was the false memories he had of his dead son Charlie, as well as video calls from Lauren — or at least the simulation of the same. But here Bernard had the chance to finally meet the older Lauren face to face, which was also a nice chance for Gina Torres to return to the role as the two characters mourned the loss of Charlie.

Returning to the motel where he was hiding out with the injured host Ashley Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth), Bernard dons a VR headset to finally access the Sublime. And then he seemingly shuts down and the scene cuts away. But later, in that final post-credits scene of the episode, we see that Bernard comes back online. The only thing is, clearly some time has passed. Like, maybe, a lot of time. He’s covered in dust, and it’s possibly not just regular old dust but fallout from a nuclear war or some other disaster. It seems clear that the Westworld timeline has jumped far ahead in this scene. After all, this is how Joy described the time period that the Man in Black was in at the end of Season 2: “In the far, far future, the world is dramatically different. Quite destroyed, as it were.”

Quite destroyed sounds very dusty, doesn’t it? So what do you think all this means for Westworld Season 4? Let’s discuss in the comments!

This story orginally ran in May of 2020. It was updated on June 23, 2022, with the latest information about Westworld.

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