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Westworld Season 3 - What We Know So Far

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It feels like it's been ages since the second season of Westworld ended in a dazzling spectacle of sacrifice, splendor, and — of course — gunshots. In a way, the long wait for season 3 feels appropriate for a show that has played fast and loose with its viewers' perception of the passage of time; fans of HBO's mind-bending sci-fi western are now eagerly anticipating new episodes, hoping to find answers to many of the questions raised in the shocking season two finale, "The Passenger." 

While the third season of Westworld may still be a ways off, between the stunning developments of season two and the few juicy tidbits of information we've been able to glean about season three, fans of the series have plenty to chew on until the show's eventual return. But when will that be, and what can we expect when we return to the show's mesmerizing, robot-filled universe? Although HBO has been nearly as tight-lipped as a Host whose language circuits have been wiped clean, we've rounded up what little information we do have about what lies in store for us in season three of Westworld

Westworld season 3's first trailer teases big changes

While the first two seasons of Westworld have been told mostly from the points of view of Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) and the Man in Black (Ed Harris), if the first teaser is any indication, season three seems to be taking a sharp left turn. The intriguing glimpse at Westworld's new season follows a brand new character, played by Breaking Bad's Aaron Paul, through a series of events in what appears to be the "real" world outside of Delos' park. 

From Paul's voiceover narration, it sounds as though the world he inhabits isn't much of an improvement on the park, as he talks about his sense that, although things may look nice on the surface, the beauty may be little more than a coat of fresh paint slapped on over a rotten core. He laments that "they" (Delos?) have made an attempt to smooth over the world's rough edges, making it all a "lie," and ends his monologue with his hope of finding something "real" — at which point the trailer finally shows us a familiar face, with Paul coming upon an injured Dolores and asking if he can help. 

And as we know from previous seasons, the men who offer to help Dolores are rarely all that they seem, nor do they tend to get what they expect. 

When does Westworld season 3 premiere on HBO?

After a seemingly interminable 21-month hiatus, Westworld's third season will finally premiere on HBO on March 15, 2020. The first season of Westworld ended in early December of 2016, while season two premiered in late April of 2018 and ended in late June, making the break between the second and third seasons the longest one to date. The series announced its return date via a perplexing tweet in January of 2020, which was accompanied by a video outlining the timeline of the "Divergence," which started in 2019. It began in Hong Kong in June of 2019, with "political unrest" and "wide scale protests," then continued through the impeachment of the 45th American president in December of the same year, in Washington, D.C. If those events are sounding a little familiar, it's because they really happened, which means that Westworld's third season may wind up hitting uncomfortably close to home.

The Twitter video then goes on to catalog points in the "Divergence" that haven't happened yet, including ecological collapse in Indonesia, the assassination of the president-elect of the United States, a thermonuclear incident in Paris, a Russian civil war, and the initial build of the "System" in 2039. It ends with the most recent "Divergence," in 2058, as the voiceover worries that there may be someone they haven't accounted for. While it's easy to assume that the 2058 incident refers to the Host uprising at the end of season 2, that event actually takes place in 2052, according to the security footage shown within the show itself, raising the question of just what occurs six years later, and to whom exactly the video is referring.

Why such a long wait for Westworld season 3?

As one of HBO's most prestigious drama series, a lot is involved in bringing Westworld to our TV screens. While the show was impressively vast in its scope from its very first episode, it has only grown since then, with subsequent seasons venturing into new territories and spinning out increasingly ambitious and sprawling storylines. The first season of the series reportedly took three years to bring to life, and then there was a 17-month hiatus between seasons 1 and 2. Put in perspective, the 21-month wait for season 3 isn't all that out of character for the groundbreaking sci-fi series.

Westworld season 3 also introduced a new shooting location, which further nods to its ever-increasing reach. The show's first two seasons were filmed largely in California and Utah, but season 3 expanded production to Singapore, where the series spent ten days filming. And although season 3 will consist of only eight episodes (the first two seasons had ten each), we don't yet know exactly how long those installments will be, leaving it unclear how the runtime of the season as a whole will measure up to those prior.

Another factor that may play a factor in season 3's long production timeline is the effort that goes into making sure the show's complex storylines unfold in just the right way. Even ahead of season 1, actor James Marsden mentioned to EW that Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy were already planning five or six years down the line. Marsden said the showrunners wanted to make sure everything was set up early on in such a way that they could satisfyingly pay it off once they eventually reached the end of the series — which, if Marsden's initial prediction of "five or seven years down the line" is any indication, may still be a ways off. Still, if Nolan and Joy's meticulous planning was enough to cause delays all the way back in season 1, we can only imagine how much more difficult their job has become by season 3. No wonder it's taken so long.

Some Westworld faces will remain the same in season 3

The end of Westworld's second season saw a lot of major changes come to the park, with a number of characters dying, escaping, or transitioning into another reality. Such seismic developments are bound to ripple out through season three, and if the trailer is any indication, the new episodes will look and feel very different from what's come before. However, not everything will be unfamiliar when Westworld returns for its third season, as several main cast members have already been confirmed as coming back.  

These include the damsel-turned-revolutionary Dolores Abbernathy, host creator and unwitting Arnold replica Bernard Lowe (Jeffrey Wright), the mysterious Man in Black/William, head of security Ashley Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth), the host that looks like Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson), and — somewhat surprisingly — former madam Maeve Millay (Thandie Newton), who sacrificed herself at the end of season two in order to allow her daughter a chance to escape the park into the digital utopia of the Sublime. Although Maeve fell lifelessly to the ground after being riddled with bullets in the season two finale, we all know that death is merely temporary for the hosts of Westworld, and Newton confirmed that she'll be back for season three when she spoke to Vanity Fair about receiving equal pay with her male co-stars for the upcoming season. 

Not everyone will be back for Westworld season 3

While a number of familiar faces are returning for season three, the end of season two marked a definitive farewell for several others. Anthony Hopkins' park creator Robert Ford has been dead since the end of season one, and although he continued to appear regularly in flashbacks and visions, according to series creator Lisa Joy, he's now gone for good

Meanwhile, Jimmi Simpson's character, William, will still be very much alive in season three, but will be portrayed exclusively by Ed Harris, as Simpson revealed at TCA that he hasn't been asked to return. In previous seasons, Harris played the older William, while Simpson portrayed his younger counterpart. As for Shannon Woodward's determined truth-seeker Elsie, she was tragically murdered at the end of season two, and Jonathan Nolan has confirmed that — while "there's never any real saying goodbye" in Westworld — for now, at least, Elsie is truly gone. 

Less clear is the fate of James Marsden's stalwart cowboy, Teddy. Introduced in the pilot episode, Teddy spent the majority of his time on the show as Dolores' most devoted protector and ally, until he realized that she had altered his programming. Teddy committed suicide near the end of season two, determined to die rather than become a monster — but Dolores left his brain pearl in the Forge, leaving his consciousness free to cross over into the Sublime. Nothing has yet been said one way or another about Marsden's return, but since this is Westworld, we know better than to rule anything out. 

Prepare to meet a number of new Westworld characters in season 3

The first major new casting announcement for Westworld season three came in September of 2018, when it was revealed that The Path and Breaking Bad star Aaron Paul would be coming aboard as a series regular. While HBO has been reluctant to offer up any details about Paul's character, his voiceover in the teaser paints a picture of a man who has become disillusioned with the artificiality of the world he inhabits and yearns for something "real," making him a perfect fit for the reality-bending themes of Westworld. Paul also cryptically told The Wrap that his character will bring "excitement, danger, suspense [and] honesty" to the series.

Other new additions to the season three cast include Lena Waithe (Master of None), Vincent Cassel (Mesrine Part 1: Killer Instinct and Mesrine Part 2: Public Enemy #1), former NFL running back Marshawn Lynch, and rapper Kid Cudi, credited on the show as Scott Mescudi. No details have been revealed about any of their characters, but judging by the trailer, it appears as though Waithe and Lynch will be playing Paul's accomplices in some sort of bank heist, while Cudi's character, who also seems to have some sort of tie to Paul's character, will be spending at least some of his time in prison.

Westworld's Sublime escapees are gone for good in season 3

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter following the conclusion of season two, Westworld co-creator and showrunner Lisa Joy confirmed that the storybook is closed for the hosts whose consciousnesses crossed into the grassy plains of the Sublime while their mechanical bodies plummeted off a cliff. "They're gone," Joy said of the Sublimed hosts, which included Ghost Nation leader Akecheta (Zahn McClarnon), his lost love Kohana (Julia Jones), and Maeve's daughter (Jasmyn Rae). 

"The stakes and the finality of it are important," Joy continued. "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." So although we are used to seeing Westworld hosts get killed and resurrected, it sounds as though this time will be different, with the hosts in the Sublime no more revivable than the human beings who perished in the finale. 

Some interesting characters have been smuggled out of the park in Westworld season 3

While most of the hosts either traveled into the Sublime or were destroyed and subsequently reclaimed by Delos at the end of season two, there are a mysterious few whose fates are still undecided. In "The Passenger," Dolores — in the guise of Charlotte Hale — took five pearl-shaped control units with her out of the park, each housing the consciousness of one host. Just which hosts are represented by each of those control units remains to be seen, and according to Jonathan Nolan, not even the writers had fully decided who was in Dolores' purse at the end of season two. 

"We've had some interesting conversations," Nolan said, speaking to EW, "but as always with this show, who remains and who doesn't is something we're having a lot of fun with." He went on to say that, when the inhabitants of those pearls are eventually revealed, the goal of the writers is for their choices to "surprise and hopefully delight" their audience. While we can rule out any of the characters that we saw cross into the Sublime, that still leaves a large number of hosts to pick from, so place your bets wisely.

Will Westworld season 3 tell us who is occupying Charlotte Hale?

By the end of season two, the real Charlotte Hale is dead and gone, murdered by her host doppelgänger, which was imbued with the consciousness of Dolores. However, this new, host version of Charlotte successfully makes it out of the park, and is ultimately able to construct a new Dolores host body to inhabit. 

But just because Dolores wore Hale's body out of the park doesn't mean that there are now two versions of Dolores. "Eh, not really," Nolan said when asked by EW if season three will follow double Doloreses. "The question of who's who and what we're looking at is something we're excited to play with. We're excited to withhold a little from the audience but ... it's complicated."

It's an intriguing answer, and one Tessa Thompson is eager to explore in season three. "It's a total game changer," Thompson said in an interview with THR. "I want to put on a lot of different characters. That to me is the real exciting potential in all of this." Whether Thompson will be permitted to "get [her] Tatiana Maslany on" (referring to Maslany's work on Orphan Black as multiple clones) is anyone's guess, but we can only hope she gets her wish. 

Stubbs may know a lot more than he's letting on in Westworld season 3

Since the early days of Westworld, fans have suspected that Ashley Stubbs, the park's chief of security, may be a host, a theory that only continued to gain traction once other characters previously presumed to be human were revealed to be hosts. This theory was seemingly confirmed in "The Passenger," during an intriguing exchange between Stubbs and "Halores," the host that looks like Charlotte Hale, but is being driven by Dolores.

During their brief conversation, Stubbs seems to realize that Hale isn't all that she seems, but instead of drawing attention to her, he opens up, revealing that he was hired "so long ago [he] can barely remember it," and that Ford gave him a "core drive" that dictated his loyalties. After musing for a bit over how the lines have since blurred, making it hard for him to know who to be loyal to, Stubbs concludes that he will "stick to the role Ford gave [him]," which is to be responsible for every host... inside the park. He then clears "Halores" to leave, and watches her go with a knowing expression. 

Talking to The Wrap, Lisa Joy not only confirmed that this scene was meant to settle whether Stubbs is a host, but that Stubbs may have in fact been Ford's "fail-safe," intended to help the creator achieve his "master plan about helping robots." We expect to see more of how Stubbs fits into Ford's plan — and where exactly his core loyalties lie — when he returns in Westworld season three.

A good portion of Westworld season 3 will take place outside of the park

While the earliest episodes of Westworld took place almost exclusively within the park, as the series has progressed, so has the scope of its setting, with much of season two venturing into the world outside. Now, with Dolores, Bernard, and the Charlotte host all on the outside, the showrunners are eager to see what sorts of storytelling opportunities this vast new setting opens up. 

"It was always the plan to explore the real world," Joy told The Wrap. "There are three Hosts out in the world and next season will really be an exploration of what they find and who they become." 

Given that Dolores and Bernard were two of the most central characters in season two, it's probably safe to assume that with both of them on the outside, season three may wind up spending more time outside the walls of the park. Add to that the first teaser, which seems to take place exclusively in the real world, and it would be reasonable to wonder whether the Westworld-centric days of Westworld might be over. 

We still haven't seen all the Westworld parks

Although a few main characters have managed to escape, there are still others left on the inside, with several areas of Ford's bizarre theme parks as yet unexplored. In addition to Westworld, season two introduced viewers to Shogunworld and The Raj, but the show's official Delos Destinations website teases three additional parks. The site lists no details about them — their names are listed only as "Park 3," "Park 4," and "Park 5," with The Raj in the sixth slot — but Nolan and Joy have previously hinted that the show may eventually visit the Roman and Medieval Worlds from Michael Crichton's original 1973 movie. As for the sixth world, it could be Futureworld, which appeared in the 1976 sequel, although Nolan and Joy could just as easily create something brand new.  

We may very well travel to one or more of these remaining parks in season three. When asked by EW why the show didn't reveal all of the parks before allowing the characters to escape, Nolan was quick to point out, "Well, not all of our favorite characters have managed to escape yet, so..." 

Westworld may have given us a glimpse into the 'far-flung future'

Once the screen faded to black at the end of "The Passenger," there was still one final curious tease awaiting viewers after the credits. In a short scene, we follow Ed Harris' Man in Black as he stumbles out of an elevator, badly injured, and meets his (dead) daughter Emily (Katja Herbers) in the rubble of what he assumes must be part of the park. At first, he assumes his consciousness has been uploaded to the Forge, muttering in defeat, "I'm already in the thing, aren't I?" 

But host-Emily is quick to assure him that "the system's long gone," and that, "this isn't a simulation." The conversation that follows echoes the ones that we saw earlier in the season between the younger William and James Delos, in which William repeatedly tested the host body that housed Delos' consciousness, waiting for it to break down. William discerns that he's now a host, and when he asks how many times he's been tested, Emily responds that it's been "a long time."  

Lisa Joy confirmed to The Wrap that Emily is telling the truth, and William — or at least, this version of William — is now in "a very different timeline," one in which William "has been somehow reconjured and brought into this world and [is] being tested." And while so far, that post-credits scene has set up far more questions than answers, Joy promises "that is a storyline that one day we'll see more of."

Westworld fans shouldn't get too comfortable

Viewers have known since the end of season 1, which revealed the younger William and the older Man in Black to be the same person, not to take anything about the show's timeline at face value. Westworld thrills in teasing its audience with the knowledge that the order in which events are presented are often not the order in which they occurred. Season two took its non-linear storytelling a step further, establishing early on that the characters' — and by extension, the viewers' — perception of time is unreliable, and daring us to try to piece together its complex and disorienting narrative.

However, although Westworld fans now know better than to expect straightforward storytelling from the convoluted series, Nolan promises that even the most temporally savvy viewers may not be prepared for what subsequent seasons may hold. In his interview with EW, the showrunner teased a "different" narrative structure from the first two seasons. "I've always had a great faith in the capacity of an audience to not only be able to track complicated non-linear storytelling, but often to embrace it and enjoy it," Nolan said, speaking of the show's tendency to embrace what many consider to be confusing storylines. "Those are the people we're making this show for."

Westworld's full-length Comic Con trailer for Westworld season 3 may reveal another park

After having our Westworld appetites whetted by the Aaron Paul-centric teaser HBO released in May of 2019, the network finally dropped a full trailer at San Diego Comic Con in July, which focused a lot more on familiar characters, including Dolores, Bernard, Maeve, the Charlotte Hale host, and Stubbs. While the Comic Con trailer teases all sorts of exciting new developments and settings — including the Dolores vs. Maeve showdown the show has been seeming to build toward since the beginning — one piece seems particularly intriguing. 

Although Maeve was last seen shot to death outside the entrance to the Sublime, the Comic Con trailer finds her looking as good as new, in a place that looks a lot like Nazi-occupied Europe during World War II. This may very well be a glimpse at one of the remaining three parks we haven't yet seen. While at first glance, World War II doesn't exactly seem like a prime vacation spot, if there's one thing we've learned about the elite clientele of Delos' theme parks, it's that they're drawn to violent settings where enemies lurk around every corner. But since a World War II park is possibly an even worse place for a woman of color to exist than a Wild West park, we can only hope that Maeve isn't stuck there for long. 

Aaron Paul will be playing a new type of character in Westworld season 3

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy revealed a few details about Aaron Paul's previously mysterious character, hinting that he may be a little different than the executives, scientists, and socialites we've come to expect from Westworld's human characters. Paul will be playing a Los Angeles construction worker named Caleb, who will be "the type of person who doesn't get to go to Westworld," according to Nolan. 

As we know from Westworld's first season, only the extremely wealthy are able to afford the hefty $40,000 per day price tag that allows them to partake in the violent delights of Delos' themed parks. Because of this, the only humans that the hosts of the parks have encountered, up until this point, have either been employed by Delos, or have all belonged to the same super-elite social class. However, now that Dolores is outside of the park, it sounds like her horizons will become significantly broadened. According to Nolan, Caleb will "challenge Dolores' notions about the nature of humanity." Last we saw Dolores, she didn't hold a particularly charitable view of humanity, but whether her interactions with Caleb will soften her feelings toward humans or just further convince her that her ruthless attitude is justified is yet to be determined.  

Get ready for a different type of robot

While viewers of Westworld are no strangers to artificial lifeforms, season 3 will introduce us to a different type of robot than the human-presenting hosts we're used to. Shown hanging out with Aaron Paul's construction worker Caleb in HBO's initial teaser for season three, George is a standard construction robot, Delos model G-267. Built to serve as a helpful co-worker for Caleb, George doesn't speak, and likely won't have much in common with his mechanical counterparts from inside the park. 

"Part of what our hosts find," Nolan said in an interview with EW, speaking about Dolores and the other hosts who escaped the park into the real world at the end of the second season, "[is that] they're caught in between — they're fashioned to look like human beings and act like them, but they have more in common with the mechanical pieces in our world." Robots like George and the other real-world worker-bots glimpsed in the full season 3 trailer will play an important role in the upcoming season, contrasting the human-like traits of the hosts with their mechanical origins. These more utilitarian robots like George have "been designed for a specific purpose," Nolan said, "and the hosts have been designed to be emotional mirrors for us."  

Dolores and Maeve clash in Westworld's final season 3 trailer

Framed as a conversation between Evan Rachel Woods' Dolores and Aaron Paul's Caleb (although it remains to be seen whether the voiceover in the trailer is an accurate representation of how those lines are delivered in the show itself), the final trailer for Westworld season 3 looks very different than anything we've seen from the show before. While we do seem to get a couple glimpses of parks, most of it appears to be set in the "real" world, with Dolores and Caleb teaming up to take down "the person who took [Caleb's] future" — a new, apparently extravagantly wealthy villain played by Vincent Cassel.

From the way the trailer is cut, it looks as though the Host modeled after Charlotte Hale will be on Dolores' side, although she worries that there are only "five of us against an entire world of them." Who are those five? It's hard to say, although the trailer teases a surprising team-up between Dolores and William, a.k.a. The Man in Black, who announces that he's "gonna save the f***ing world." Other possibilities include Bernard, Stubbs, a resurrected Teddy, or Caleb's two associates, who have been glimpsed in trailers but haven't yet spoken.

Opposing them is none other than Maeve, who is very much alive, despite meeting a bloody end at the end of season 2. Assuming the trailer isn't trying to trick us (which, to be fair, it almost certainly is), Maeve is resurrected by Vincent Cassel's character, and subsequently tasked with tracking down and killing Dolores. The action-packed trailer (set to an instrumental cover of Guns N' Roses' "Sweet Child O' Mine" — make of that what you will) builds to a climactic shot of Maeve and Dolores, both clad all in black, confronting each other on a city overpass, Dolores with a gun and Maeve with a sword. We may not know a lot about what to expect from season 3, but we have no doubt that the showdown between Dolores and Maeve is going to be one for the ages.

Where can you watch Westworld season 3?

Obviously, Westworld is an HBO original, so the easiest way to tune into its newest episodes as they drop is to subscribe to the premium cable channel. However, there are still a number of ways to tune in if you've cut the cord on cable, although some of them will require more patience than others (and after waiting so long for Westworld season 3, patience may be in short supply).

If you want to watch new episodes of Westworld as they air, or very shortly thereafter, all roads wind up leading back to HBO. Even if you don't have cable, you can subscribe directly to HBO through HBO NOW, the channel's à la carte streaming service. The benefit of watching via HBO NOW is that new episodes are available for streaming as soon as they premiere on TV, so you can watch at the same time as your cable-subscribing friends. Or, if you're already a Hulu or Amazon Prime subscriber, you can simply add HBO onto your existing plan, enabling you to watch all of HBO's programming through your preferred streaming app. Both Hulu and Amazon Prime offer a 7-day free trial for their HBO add-ons — after that it is $14.99 per month, the same price you'd pay for subscribing directly to HBO NOW. With any of these services, you should get access to the new episodes as they air.

For those willing to wait a little longer, full seasons of Westworld become available for purchase through iTunes, Google Play, and Vudu once the season finishes airing on HBO. If you decide to go this route, be prepared to shell out either $2.99 per episode, if you purchase them piecemeal, or around $30 for the full season (season 2 of Westworld will run you $28.99 on Vudu and Google Play, and $29.99 on iTunes). Of course, if you're a physical media collector, the previous seasons of Westworld are available on Blu-ray and 4K UHD, so you can expect season 3 to hit those formats in a few months.