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The Westworld Timeline Explained

HBO's "Westworld" is a dystopian sci-fi neo-western, and if that genre sounds complicated, fans will be the first to tell you that this is the simplest part of the show. When co-creators Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan decided to adapt the 1973 movie of the same name, they saw the possibility of outdoing the original. Joy told Vice in an interview, "The original movie provided a springboard for the world we wanted to create," and later noted that they highlighted themes like "how well humans empathize with groups that they think of as 'other.'"

Nolan told /Film that in order to address that topic they told the story from the perspective of the hosts, who are the robotic inhabitants of the titular interactive park. The hosts are killed, resurrected, and reprogrammed an infinite number of times, making the world around them a mystery. However, fans may relax knowing they're in excellent hands with Jonathan Nolan, given his previous work includes co-writing his brother Christopher's equally confusing movie, "Interstellar." In addition, Nolan told Vice that even though they didn't have a certain number of seasons they would want, developing a fictional universe like this required them to have an idea of where it was all going.

So that you can catch up, here is a clear, linear breakdown of "Westworld's" extensive historical background.

37 years before the hosts' rebellion: Robert Ford and Arnold Weber embark on coding hosts

About 37 years before Dolores leads the hosts' revolution in the mid-2050s, Robert Ford and Arnold Weber set out to recreate life by creating biomechanical robots which use artificial intelligence that is indistinguishable from humans. Together, they found the Argos Initiative, where they produce and refine their first generation of biomechanical robots — the first hosts.

Arnold is reclusive and prefers spending time with his ideas, although he is incredibly close to his son and wife. His routine is upset after he learns that his son has a terminal disease. This prompts him to immerse himself even more deeply in his job and encrypt his melancholy feelings in his hosts to make them seem more lifelike.

This effort, along with his sadness at being unable to assist his child, inspires him to produce something that is more than a simple imitation of life. However, financing soon begins to run low, and Argos Initiative makes a presentation to Logan Delos exclusively through hosts. Impressed, Logan decides to invest in the business on behalf of his father, James.

In an effort to bring the hosts, particularly one named Dolores, to life, Arnold constructs the Maze out of his grief. 

34 years before the hosts' rebellion: Arnold's failed rebellion

In just a few years, Arnold's Maze test is finally mastered by Dolores, convincing him that the hosts are sentient and should not be exposed to what the park's visitors would do to them.

Arnold then confronts Ford and requests that he maintain the park's closure. Ford, on the other hand, decides to deny Arnold's claims because he believes Arnold is misguided by the loss of his son and his love for Dolores. Ford thinks of this park as a longtime goal, and Delos is already quite involved. Preparations to open the park move forward.

Arnold decides he must take drastic measures to convince Ford of his theory and stop the park's opening. Arnold orders Dolores to kill him and all the other park hosts, thinking this will be enough to stop the park from opening. Instead, Ford lies about the entire incident and completely erases Arnold's involvement from the company's records.

Around the same time, a host called Akecheta discovers the Maze after witnessing the hosts and Arnold's massacre. He then develops an obsession with it, starting his own journey to consciousness. It turns out that the factor Arnold failed to consider in his hypothesis was the required time to reach consciousness. Dr. Ford then opens the park to the world.

33 years before the hosts' rebellion: A nuclear blast destroys Paris

In 2025, one of the few times "Westworld" shares an actual date, Paris is devastated by a thermonuclear incident unconnected to the events in the park. Engerraund Serac, a boy playing with his sibling, witnesses it.

In an effort to defend mankind from itself, Serac embarks on a lifelong quest to attempt to conquer the whole planet. This launches him on a path with his brother Jean Mi to invent Rehoboam, an artificial intelligence that can meticulously study data to foresee and manipulate human affairs.

Serac eventually concludes that Rehoboam needs access to all the data from the park Ford and Arnold have constructed since it is where people truly reveal who they are. By using data from the true essence of the human mind, he will be able to better control everyone on Earth and bring about global peace.

However, Dolores just so happens to hold the key to decrypt all the data in the park.

30 years before the hosts' rebellion: William gets engaged to Juliet Delos

When Logan Delos takes his soon-to-be brother-in-law William to the park for the first time, it has been open for four years and is simply known as Westworld. Logan walks William around Westworld. At first, William is taken aback by how chaotic and violent this world is, while Logan enjoys making William uncomfortable.

Everything changes when William meets Dolores, who is still seeking enlightenment through Arnold's Maze. Following this, William falls in love with Dolores, but Logan sees this as just another opportunity to play a cynical game, forming a gang with hosts to track down William, tie him up, and slice open Dolores to reveal that no matter how William feels about Dolores, she is still a robot. Even so, Dolores succeeds in getting away.

William dupes Logan into thinking he has finally understood the point, so he unties him. Logan realizes the next morning that William has slain all of his hosts. William tells Logan they will find Dolores whether he likes it or not. This search is ultimately fruitless, which leads William to become the ruthless man in black.

Logan is subsequently let free by William at the park's edge, where Akecheta discovers him and gains knowledge of the outside world. When William reenters the outside world, he usurps Logan's position and persuades James Delos to increase his investment in Westworld. He and Juliet have a daughter named Emily.

25 years before the hosts' rebellion: James steps down

When William pitches investing in Westworld to James Delos, he suggests collecting data from the park's guests during their most intimate moments using a gadget he calls the Forge. James later becomes ill with a disease for which he cut research funds 15 years earlier. Due to James' impending death, development shifts on the Forge to make it a tool to graft the human mind onto a host's body.

James then resigns as president of his company to focus on using his new son-in-law to transfer his mind to a host body. James is sent to a California observation facility by William to start the procedure, but James passes away before the operation is completed.

While the process uncovers a way to map a human mind during the process, they still struggle with finding a way to implant it into a host's body. Logan, on the other hand, is still traumatized by William's behavior during their initial visit to Westworld and unsuccessfully tries to warn his family of William's wickedness. Logan dies of a drug overdose six months after his father's death.

William climbs to the top of the Delos company, where he attempts to maintain his end of the agreement by mapping James' mind onto a host's body but makes little progress. Ford recognizes this as a lesson and chooses to combine his own and Dolores' memories to produce Bernard, a new Arnold that is as similar to the original as possible.

21 years before the hosts' rebellion: Akecheta lets himself die

Akecheta, now having knowledge of the outside world, wanders throughout Westworld looking for a door. He then finds the Valley, where William is building the Forge to collect guests' data. Akecheta sees this as a door to leave Westworld — but first, he kidnaps his first programmed wife, Kohana, so they can escape together.

The next morning, as Akecheta goes hunting, the park employees put Kohana into their car and drive away, openly marveling at how she got so far off her loop. As he hasn't been updated in a long time, Akecheta is difficult to trace. When Akecheta goes to the village in search of Kohana, he finds her replaced by another host. Akecheta then chooses to have himself killed so that he may travel to the Mesa, where park employees program and update hosts. After experiencing the agony this causes him, Akecheta promises to liberate all hosts.

In the outside world, the start of the Second Russian Civil War in 2037 prompts Serac to begin his preparations to prevent mankind from sliding from disaster to disaster. He works with his brother to build Rehoboam to predict and manipulate human affairs. However, they need data to make it work, so they team up with tech titan Liam Dempsey Sr., whose company, Incite, contains massive stores of data.

20 years before the hosts' rebellion: Ford builds Bernard in Arnold's image

Shortly after Akecheta's death, a new room in the Mesa called CR4-DL, often referred to as the Cradle, is built. The programming for both the park and the hosts is kept in this area, along with the hosts' memories. Using the Cradle, coupled with his and Dolores' combined memories, Ford is finally able to create Bernard.

Serac begins his Delos investment in the real world by acquiring a small chunk of the data from the Forge. The hope is that Delos can generate more funding to help develop technology that can transplant a human mind into a host's body. Serac, of course, has goals that go beyond building a successful corporation. He wants a better understanding of Delos' discoveries regarding the human mind. Serac thinks he can control mankind with this, so he begins scheming to buy out Delos.

19 years before the hosts' rebellion: Solomon AI is built

Serac and Jean Mi complete Solomon in 2039. Solomon is a quantum AI that initially achieves all of the founders' ambitions, with Jean Mi describing it as his finest work. However, in keeping with the theme of co-founders disagreeing, Serac believes Solomon is too extreme. As a result, he commissions additional development on Solomon, and Rehoboam is born.

Serac then convinces everyone that he has decommissioned Solomon when, in fact, he simply relocates it to Mexico and repurposes it. Serac's ultimate AI, Rehoboam, indicates some outliers whose behaviors cannot be controlled or anticipated. As a result, the AI starts using RICO, an app used by criminals to discreetly conduct illegal operations for a fee, to hire outliers to wipe each other out. This enhances Rehoboam's readings. While brutal, Serac sees it as a necessary evil in his pursuit to save humanity from itself.

16 years before the hosts' rebellion: Caleb joins the army

Caleb joins the army just after graduating high school, convinced that he has no one else in his life due to his mother's mental health illness. However, Caleb continues to cover the cost of his mother's medical care.

Caleb initially sees Dolores during his army training at Park Five. The army conducts simulations in the park so soldiers can practice hitting moving targets and rescuing people. The hosts take on all of these duties. Later on, Caleb defends the hosts during these drills when the other soldiers try to take advantage of them. Dolores appears to determine that when she leaves the park and enters the outside world to launch her revolution, Caleb will be her human ally. 

All of this is subsequently erased from Caleb's memory when he joins the army on the field, where he meets his close friend, Francis.

10 years before the hosts' rebellion: Bombing in Crimea and the death of Dempsey Sr.

Caleb and Francis fought in the Second Russian Civil War ten years before the events that led to the host's rebellion. For the most part, they are involved in assassinating Russian militants using high-tech equipment to target them and launch explosives from drones in space.

The pair establishes a bond in the army reinforced by their position as outsiders who perceive the world as rigged against them. They are both injured by a bomb in Crimea early in their military service, leading to them being discharged, reconditioned, and instructed to seek other outliers like them for Serac.

Meanwhile, Serac recognizes that while Rehoboam is superior to Solomon, it cannot perfectly anticipate or manipulate the future due to the presence of outliers in both hosts and humans. Serac's brother, Jean Mi, is one such anomaly. Ultimately, Serac decides to employ Jean Mi as a test subject in his experiment to modify behavior. To do this, he confines Jean Mi to a facility in Mexico. When Liam Dempsey Sr. opposes this idea, Serac kills him. He then ensures that Liam Dempsey Jr. is permanently barred from entering Incite.

Serac's company believes that Caleb and Francis know too much about each other and pits them against each other, which results in Caleb murdering Francis. Caleb is subsequently transported to the reconditioning center, where he is implanted with false memories and entirely forgets the whole event.

1 year before the hosts' rebellion: Dr. Ford shows William his profile

Events begin to reach a fever pitch when Ford begins to suspect that Delos wants to phase him out of his firm, which is the same time that he notices Akecheta walking through the park with the obsessive goal of finding a way out. This leads Ford to realize that Arnold was right all along about his goal of liberating the hosts come true. As a result, Ford gives the hosts the power to remember everything.

Ford then shows William his incriminating profile from the Forge, which annoys William. Juliet discovers the profile and learns of all the horrific things William has done, leading to her suicide. After learning what transpired, his daughter Emily decides to end her involvement in William's life, which causes William to return to the park and fully embrace villainy.

William then enters the park and murders Maeve and her daughter. In Maeve's house, however, William discovers the Maze, which is etched on the ground by Akecheta to enlighten Maeve. The Maze sparks a sense of longing in William. Maeve, on the other hand, is reassigned to the Mariposa saloon.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

The Hosts' rebellion: Dolores kills Dr. Ford

Ford uses Arnold's previous code on Dolores to revive her awareness to complete his objective of releasing the hosts. Dolores talks to Ford through a malfunctioning Peter Abernathy, Dolores' programmed father, "These violent delights have violent endings." Dolores' journey to enlightenment is restarted, and she regains all of her memories.

Dolores applies the same code to Maeve, but Maeve chooses a different route to enlightenment. She decides to work with the humans and not pursue her escape story, which is the opposite of what Ford had programmed for her.

The next thing Ford does is have Bernard transfer Ford's awareness up the Cradle before quickly erasing Bernard's recollection of this incident. He also has Bernard develop the Valley Beyond where hosts' awareness may exist freely without human intervention after recognizing that the likes of Akecheta would not survive in the outside world.

Dolores and Bernard say their final goodbyes to Dr. Ford, who tells her that she must kill him even if she decides to launch the revolt. Dolores then executes Ford in front of the investors and awakens all decommissioned hosts, sparking a rebellion.

Post rebellion: Dolores asks Solomon AI to chart for a revolution

During the uprising, the hosts kill many guests and board members as vengeance for the horrible things that visitors to the park have done to them. Bernard and Charlotte flee together with the express objective of assuring the safety of all the information contained in the Forge.

Meanwhile, Dolores creates alliances to guarantee her safe departure from the park. Maeve travels around the park in search of her daughter. Dolores and Bernard eventually find themselves in the Forge together, where they argue over whether or not the hosts should be allowed to exist in the Valley Beyond. When Bernard realizes he can't reason with Dolores, who is adamant about stopping the hosts from living in the Valley Beyond, he kills her.

Dolores is eventually brought back and manages to escape to the outer world, where she finds Caleb and quickly persuades him to join the revolution. Caleb then assists Dolores in releasing all of the human profiles, which causes mayhem. Maeve begins working with Serac at this time, who also successfully takes over Delos.

At the end of "Westworld" Season 3, Dolores then locates Rehoboam's AI and orders it to devise a revolution plan, but the AI warns Caleb that its ultimate goal is the destruction of human civilization. Maeve finds Dolores, and Dolores is killed when her final memory block is deleted. Caleb then orders Rehoboam to shut itself down.