If there were any doubts remaining that Westworld got a reboot with its third season, the HBO sci-fi series smothered them with its Sunday finale, potentially losing a main character and almost all of the checks on the human extermination that is seen as inevitable in countless fictions about artificial intelligence.
Spoiler alert: The following reveals plot details for the finale of season 3 of Westworld. Stop here if you haven’t watched the episode.
Maeve’s (Thandie Newton) exercise of free will in choosing chaos and her adoption of Caleb (Aaron Paul), who was orphaned by Dolores’ (Evan Rachel Wood) apparent deletion, stands as the last best hope for humanity. The Charlotte Hale–bot (Tessa Thompson) figures on the other side of the equation. Driven by a nihilistic streak, holding the reins of Host regeneration, and bent on revenge, Charlotte commanded — surely it wasn’t an original thought — the Man in Black Host (Ed Harris) to eliminate his human counterpart William in the post-credits scene, which also gave us a glimpse of the Host horde Charlotte is constructing. You too will be assimilated.
For all of its reinvention, Westworld’s season 3 is Certified Fresh at 79%, with its first six episodes averaging 82%. The season fell victim to the Game of Thrones curse, however, with its final two episodes earning Rotten scores, and the finale, “Crisis Theory,” garnering the lowest episode score of the entire series.
“Though the third season often succumbed to mission drift, the show did at least follow through on the likelihood that the cost of freedom would be oblivion. But the payoffs elsewhere were close to nonexistent,” Scott Tobias wrote for the New York Times.
But Entertainment Weekly’s James Hibbard sees a silver lining: “Westworld season 3 ended in a rather Westworld-ian way: By hitting its narrative control-alt-delete keys all at the same time for a potential re-re-reboot of the story for next season.”
The question now is what that re-re-reboot might entail. Here are five things we think fans need to see in the recently announced season 4.
A person could argue that the song of Dolores has ended with her data wipe, but there are so many ways in which the character could return. Evan Rachel Wood drove the past two seasons exquisitely as the Hostess with the most-est. Maybe this is just personal preference, but the idea that you can’t keep a good woman down holds a lot of appeal. She could be patched together from the pieces of her memory that she stashed in other Hosts. Or, given the data redundancies required in corporate life even now, it seems too simplistic to think that the Dolores on the slab under Rehoboam with her memories being systematically deleted represented the very last version of her consciousness. Surely, she was backed up to the Cloud.
What does robot bliss look like? In season 2, we saw it as a human ideal: a bucolic dreamscape of rolling green vistas. In the post-credits scene, Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) returned to the human reality covered in dust, and season 4 will tell us if that was a time-jump and those layers of dirt represented years having passed or a nearer future in which the destruction of the first human exterminations has begun. Before Bernard went under, Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth) — no doubt now moldy in the bathtub — asked him what he hoped to find in the Sublime. “An answer,” Bernard replied, “to what comes after the end of the world.” But does he mean in the physical world or in the Sublime?
Are Maeve and Caleb now BFFs? Or has she simply committed herself to his well-being? At the end of the finale, Maeve was shining her maternal light on him hard. “Are you ready, darling?” she purred. He was skeptical: “For what?” She: “This is the new world, and in this world, you can be whoever the f— you want.” Skyscrapers burned in the background. This story is just beginning. Maeve embraced Dolores’ plan in the end — or, at least, didn’t stand in the way of it — and protected Caleb by turning on Rehoboam-puppet Serac (Vincent Cassel). The question is: To what end? If Maeve drank Dolores’ Kool-Aid, will she promote Caleb as the leader of the future’s human resistance? Does she even know what Hale-bot has in the works? Season 4 no doubt will feature Maeve wrestling with the human cause and her own interests.
Crispy Charlotte told Dolores Prime that, no, she’s not mad; she’s just hell-bent on securing the Hosts’ place on Earth. Now that she’s replaced white-straightjacket human William with Man in Black Host William, she has a ruthless robot general to marshal her robot army. Or not. One thing is for certain: Charlotte (Dolores-lite) will be responsible for the mass casualty events promised by Rehoboam’s predictions: at 1–3 years, 6–10 years, and 12–16 years, with a population collapse at 23 years and the end of human civilization in 50–125 years. Do fans want to see what that 50–125 year period will look like? Will Delos Inc. be renamed “Skynet”?
During a finale fight with Maeve, Dolores revealed that she was the first of their kind who worked — that, like Adam and Eve, the others were made from her metaphorical rib bone. Perhaps that is why Dolores is so ahead of the curve, forging a path over the course of the series from puppet, unaware of the strings controlling her, to vigilante, seeking violent retribution for the crimes against her, to martyr, sacrificing herself for the (possible) good of the many. Westworld viewers need to see Charlotte and her thugs struggle toward the last part of that existential crisis as the war for self-determination between humans and robots rages.
What do you think Westworld has in store in season 4? Do you think Dolores is permanently erased? Tell us in the comments what you would like to see happen.