Westworld World

What That Wild 'Westworld' Finale Means for the Show's Future

We have, like, a million questions.

westworld
Bernard goes forth | HBO
Bernard goes forth | HBO

It's very hard to kill a host in Westworld. Nine lives? Please, these robots have thousands. So it's easy to be skeptical that Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy's HBO series, which just wrapped up its third season, offed its most important character in the finale, despite all signs pointing to a true death for the brain ball that has resided inside the head of the original Dolores Abernathy played by Evan Rachel Wood.

The third go-around with Westworld left the world of the Delos parks behind, other than a fleeting trips back to the island, and brought our host friends into the human world of 2058, where life is heavily regulated by Incite, a tech company under the thumb of Engerraund Serrac, played with villainous flair by Vincent Cassel. As we learned over the course of the season, Serrac, along with his troubled brother, built a predictive AI called Rehoboam, which has been used for years to suppress people deemed "outliers," like Aaron Paul's Caleb. People who are branded as an "outlier" either get removed from society completely or turned into assassins targeting their own kind with help of some mind-altering drugs and an app called "Rico" that makes crime fun. (Remember? "Make money, motherfuckers.")

Dolores' grand plan to throw humanity into disarray was seemingly designed to show Caleb the truth about his existence and turn him to the leader of a rebellion aimed at dismantling the world order. But that's only one of many, many season-long subplots that got seriously twisted up in the finale, and the finale gave us not one but baffling end-credits sequences that seemingly set things up for Westworld Season 4, whenever it returns. Here are some questions we're still asking ourselves after seeing the Season 3 finale.

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Dolores and Maeve | HBO

So, is Dolores dead? 

What is "dead," anyway? Evan Rachel Wood's Dolores -- back in the older form Delos robots used to take, with metal bodies and pull-on arm skin, instead of the new-fangled printed-out form -- is captured by Serac, hooked up to Rehoboam, and essentially bled of her data and memories file by file. He's looking for the key to the "Delos Immortality Project," which includes access to the "Sublime," a.k.a. the host afterlife that was a major factor in season two -- the virtual world where the uploaded consciousnesses of Maeve's daughter, James Marsden's Teddy, and many other familiar and unfamiliar hosts now "live." But Dolores doesn't actually have the key. She hid it inside Bernard's programming. Thus, the original Dolores, the one we've followed since Season 1, Episode 1, is effectively wiped. Except Dolores now seemingly exists in a few different forms. Sort of.

As we learned this season, the brain balls that she carted away from Westworld in the Season 2 finale, when her consciousness was inside a printed body that looked like Tessa Thompson's Charlotte Hale, had in fact been exact copies of Dolores at the moment she made those copies, and she'd inserted those brain balls into hosts resembling Hale and a few others. The wrinkle is that the hosts with those Dolores brain ball copies had become their own individuals with distinct personalities — essentially, they are Dolores plus everything they'd experienced and learned in the weeks and months since being brought on-line. (More on that later.)

Regardless, if this is the end, the Season 3 finale gives her a grand send off. She "meets" with Maeve in a sort of Westworld-y purgatory to convince her sword-wielding fellow host to join her side of the fight and to meditate on how she was motivated largely by the glimmers of humanity's kindness rather than its evil. These fond musings seem to come out of nowhere, but feel like the kind of character rehabilitation writers would throw at someone who is getting a goodbye. But yeah, we'll see what's in store for the original Dolores and a true death of a robot's brain ball doesn't mean that the corresponding actor will be written off the show, so expect to see Evan Rachel Wood in Season 4 in some capacity.

Engerraund Serac, Vincent Cassel
Serac and Dolores | HBO

What happened to Serac?

The last time we see Serac, he's bellowing at Caleb and Maeve not to delete Rehoboam, which he's allowed to control his every decision and line of dialogue the entire season, as revealed when Maeve senses it. Serac is seemingly mortally wounded, but it's hard to believe that we've seen the last of him, given all the build-up they did of Cassel's character this season. The important point, though, is that we never see him actually die.

Are Caleb and Maeve a team now?

As Westworld careened throughout Season 3 to explain Dolores' complicated machinations, Caleb and Maeve floated by her side, the former as an ally and the latter as a foe. Through a series of labored flashbacks, we learn that Caleb is a violent "outlier" with a heart of gold; he won over Dolores years ago when he persuaded some soldiers not to take advantage of being around hosts like the rich people who go to Westworld do. Meanwhile, Maeve acted as Serac's mercenary because he promised her she would be reunited with her daughter. (Side note: Maeve's daughter being her only motivation is growing extremely tiresome.) But Dolores, in her final moments, convinces Maeve to fight on behalf of the hosts, triggering a cool but unnecessarily darkly lit scene in which she takes down all of Serac's men. So she and Caleb are left striding around the now apocalyptic landscape as buildings explode in the background and Pink Floyd's "Brain Damage" plays. Hopefully Season 4 will have them hanging out with Lena Waithe's Ash James and Marshawn Lynch's gravely injured Giggles. Let this article also serve as a preemptive "Justice for Giggles!" post if they write off Lynch's character like that.

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William, it was really nothing. | HBO

What is Charlotte Hale, aka "Halores," up to re: the Man in Black?

One thing that Westworld hasn't really delved into is how the hosts that Dolores put duplicates of herself into are able to develop personalities independently of her own. Charlotte is the key example here. Somehow the Dolores-ified Charlotte Hale, aka Halores, managed to evolve into someone sufficiently distinct from Dolores to be able to thwart Dolores herself. That version of Dolores is now running Delos and is building a whole army of new hosts, as revealed in the first of two post-credits scenes, when Ed Harris' William comes storming into his old stomping grounds hoping to enact vengeance and "save the world." While confronting Halores, he encounters his alter ego, the Man in Black, revived by Charlotte and able to precisely mimic and parry William's every move. The host Man in Black kills the human William by slicing his throat open. So, what's Charlotte's big plan? Flood the Earth with hosts? Will they all look like the Man in Black? Is she reviving the parks? Are we going back to the worlds of Westworld island after a season away? And what year are we in now? So many unanswered questions to ponder for the next year or two!

How long did Bernard spend in the Sublime? 

Bernard was given short shrift this season, forced to pal around with Stubbs in a plot that was mostly ancillary to the main action. But, in classic Westworld fashion, that thing you didn't really think mattered at all actually matters most of all! Bernard had the "key" all along, and he figures that out at the 11th hour. He leaves the injured Stubbs in a tub filled with ice and plugs into a fancy new headset, given to him by a completely unexplained appearance by Lawrence (Clifton Collins Jr.), as a San Francisco Police Department officer. Apparently, it can be used to access the Sublime. In the second post-credits scene, he wakes up from his sojourn covered in dust — which one of the episode's writers implies in a post-show breakdown must have been a seriously long time. Is this a parallel to the Season 2 finale post-credits scene with William? Does this mean that whenever Westworld comes back online there could be a time jump? What it doesn't reveal is whether Stubbs has just been chilling in the bathtub for presumably years.

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Esther Zuckerman is a senior entertainment writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @ezwrites.
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