Even the most dedicated viewer of Westworld‘s first two seasons is probably still confused about what exactly happened in them. With all the timeline-hopping, host-to-human swapping, and locating-changing action that has commenced on the show so far, Westworld has truly become a maze, folding in on itself so many times that our scalps have gotten permanent scars from all the head-scratching it caused.
However, it looks like Season 3 will be streamlining the narrative a little bit more. From everything we’ve seen about the HBO sci-fi show’s next run so far, it looks like things will be moving away from those twisted theme park origins (although not totally), and we might just be able to make sense of this season by the time it’s all said and done. Might.
Here’s a look at what we know about Westworld Season 3 so far.
It will arrive this spring. HBO has announced that Westworld‘s eight-episode third season will premiere on Sunday, March 15 at 9/8c.
Most of the major players are returning. HBO has confirmed that series stars Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton, Ed Harris, Jeffrey Wright, Tessa Thompson, Luke Hemsworth, Simon Quarterman, and Rodrigo Santoro would return to their roles.
Brace for new faces. The first trailer for Westworld Season 3 dropped ahead of the series finale for Game of Thrones, and it wasn’t until the last few seconds of the footage that we even realized what it was. At first, it looked like some futuristic heist drama, centering on Breaking Bad‘s Aaron Paul as he hung out with a construction robot and committed some nighttime crimes in a visually dynamic city … but then, he ran into Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood), and we figured it out. The host is here, now, and she’s about to make some new friends/enemies.
We’ve since learned that Paul’s character is named Caleb, and as co-showrunner Jonathan Nolan told Entertainment Weekly, he “will challenge Dolores’ notions about the nature of humanity” because “he’s the type of person who doesn’t get to go to Westworld.” So, basically, she won’t be able to hold it against him that all of those sick sick sickos came and brutalized her in the park all those years. We also now know that the robot Caleb was shown on the construction site with is a Delos model G-267 named George, which doesn’t talk but helps the escaped hosts realize they have more in common with us fleshy two-legged types than they might like to believe. “[Robots like George have] been designed for a specific purpose, and the hosts have been designed to be emotional mirrors for us,” co-showrunner Lisa Joy told EW.
In addition to Paul and his new metallic sidekick, fans should also expect to see producer and writer Lena Waithe take on a mystery role in the new season, former NFL running back and Skittles addict Marshawn Lynch as one of Caleb’s pals, as well as Kid Cudi, Vincent Cassel, Scott Mescudi, John Gallagher Jr., Michael Ealy, and Tommy Flanagan in another roles.
A new company is coming along as well. Move over, Delos. It looks like Incite will be the new corporation terrorizing the world in Westworld Season 3. In November, HBO released a commercial-style teaser from a company called Incite — which also has a website to make it extra interactive — and while Incite’s brass claims they’re here to solve all of the world’s most impossible problems, like climate change, there’s good reason to distrust them, including the fact that their spokesperson is clearly a host.
It won’t be quite as confusing. If you’re still in a daze trying to figure out the first two seasons, worry not. “This season is a little less of a guessing game and more of an experience with the hosts finally getting to meet their makers,” Nolan told Entertainment Weekly. One reason the show is more streamlined is that we won’t be dealing with another severe time jump — at least not at first — as the new season picks up right after the events of the Season 2 finale. “We’re looking at the aftermath of the massacre in the park. After all they went through to get out of the park, Dolores finally got what she wanted, so we wanted to see how she interacts with the world and what her plan is. That’s a part of the story we were excited to tell,” Joy told the site.
Even so, prepare for some new settings. As the trailer teased, Season 3 is expected to spend more time in the “real world,” as Dolores continues her mission to take what humans have and make it her own. In the Season 2 finale, we saw Dolores make her escape from the park using a cloned body of Charlotte Hale. She eventually made it back into her own body in the outside world, along with Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) and whoever the new Charlotte is.
There may also be some new in-park action ahead as well, though. Season 2 showed off two other parks, the East Indian-influenced the Raj and feudal Japanese Shogun World. But there are still (at least) three other parks unaccounted for, as internet sleuths looked over the Westworld ARG and determined that at least six parks existed. When asked if we’ll learn about those parks, Joy told The Hollywood Reporter, “Absolutely.”
There’s a new rivalry brewing. Dolores and Bernard haven’t seen eye-to-eye since they became aware of their bot-ness, since Dolores is vengeful while Bernard is more of a non-violent, curious soul. And that difference of opinion is going to cause some new tension between them in the season ahead. After the Season 2 finale, Joy told THR, “They will likely come into conflict. They may even kill each other. But she’s come to understand that true freedom isn’t something that arises from a lack of dissent, from a dictatorial or totalitarian rule of one set of ideologies. It’s something that has to happen with a plurality of ideas, sometimes coming into conflict. Because she’s learned her lesson, she’s bringing Bernard back into this world to be a check on her own power, in some ways.” It sounds like it’s another extension of Ford and Arnold’s difference in ideologies. Do you crush your old masters or live alongside them? Are you subservient to them, equal to them, or superior to them? Is their world yours by right?
Yes, the Man in Black is a host. At least in the future. The Season 2 post-credits scene that melted your face featured the Man in Black (Ed Harris) taking a fidelity test administered by his daughter Emily (Katja Herbers). That more than strongly suggests that he was a host … at least this version of him. But the scene was set in the future in yet another timeline that the show has thrown at us — we just don’t know how far in the future. And host may be the wrong word since he’d actually be a replica of an actual human, much like James Delos was in the fourth episode of Season 2.
“In the far, far future, the world is dramatically different,” Joy told The Hollywood Reporter. “Quite destroyed, as it were. A figure in the image of [the Man in Black’s] daughter — his daughter is of course now long dead — has come back to talk to him. He 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. It’s teasing for us another temporal realm that one day we’re working toward, and one day will see a little bit more of, and how they get to that place, and what they’re testing for.”
The other implication here is that in this timeline, the Man in Black is dead as a doornail and likely re-experiencing some of the moments in the Season 2 finale on a loop. And of course if you’d like to hypothesize that what we saw of the Man in Black in Season 2 was actually part of this future loop, then go right ahead. We’ll just slowly and cautiously back out of the room while you go crazy-eyed.
Stubbs? Also probably a host. This one’s apparently still up for debate, but our read is that Stubbs is a host after all. The way he let Dolores-posing-as-Charlotte through and spouted off talk about Ford giving him core drives was enough. But if you need more proof, the finale’s director Fred Toye told Vanity Fair that he thought Stubbs was a host, too.
Lots of characters probably won’t return. At least in their previous forms. Name a character and they probably died at least temporarily in the Season 2 finale, with many of the hosts hopping into a rift in digital space-time free from human interference. Emily, Elsie, Sizemore and many others on the human side are dead, probably for good, as any potential backups they had to be digitally recreated were blown up in the Forge. As for the hosts, Joy told THR of their new home, “It’s a sort of digital afterlife for them. The stakes and the finality of it are important. It’s not something where I think the humans can type it up and get back in and start messing with them anymore. It’s what so many hosts sacrificed so much for, to see their kind to this safe space.”
Nolan’s take on the same question, when asked if the hosts that went into the portal won’t continue on in the show: “I think that’s on the safer end of things to presume. But there’s a big story we’re telling here so … yeah.” Nolan also confirmed that even though this is the type of show where a character can easily be resurrected through digital backups, we won’t be seeing many characters again. “It’s a large ensemble cast and sadly we’re saying goodbye to some people at the end of this season,” Nolan told EW. “But as always with this show, who remains and who doesn’t is something we’re having a lot of fun with.” Of course they also said Anthony Hopkins was done with the show after Season 1, so who knows?
Westworld returns for Season 3 on Sunday, March 15 at 9/8c.