A show that was once about artificially intelligent cowboys escaping their programming and now centers on corporate espionage in a futuristic Los Angeles, Westworld is a show famous for its twists and turns, and the third season was no exception. Concluding in May of 2020, the season’s uncharacteristically optimistic ending came at a time where it was welcome, if a little hard to swallow in the early months of the pandemic. The world has changed profoundly since then but in just a few days we are being invited back into Westworld’s… world, one as fundamentally rattled as our own.
Identity and continuity are less fixed concepts on Westworld than in reality, but the arc of the third season took some confident and unexpected swings and sent its cast in so many different directions that it’s probably worth brushing up on where they landed before the show’s return. The season revolves around an all-knowing AI developed by Vincent Cassel’s Engerrand Serac, but that means many different things for our cast of characters.
Maeve Millay (Thandiwe Newton)
Maeve was a host in the original Westworld park whose buried memories of her daughter lead to her breaking from her loop. After discovering that what she thought was freedom was actually another predetermined narrative, she firmly stepped onto her own path in Season 2, eventually sacrificing herself to allow her daughter to escape to safety. Season 3 finds her revived by mysterious CEO Engerraund Serac and set on a collision course with Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) with the promise of being reunited with her daughter.
In between a couple stretches in the digital Warworld with park narrative designer Lee Sizemore (Simon Quarterman), Maeve’s journey in Season 3 saw her butting up against the forces of Dolores’ host rebellion. This was until Dolores used her final moments to bring Maeve around to her side, at which point she turned on Serac, killing him and emerging into an unfamiliar world, confident that she will see her daughter again.
Bernard Lowe (Jeffrey Wright)
Revived by Dolores in hopes of providing a counterbalance to her grand plans, Bernard is framed for the massacre at Westworld and is forced to live on the run. Eventually returning to the park, he reunited with security head Ashley Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth), who he discovers has also been a host. Reprogramming Stubbs to keep him safe, Bernard returns to the real world.
The two spend much of the season following Dolores’ trail, eventually meeting with William, freeing him from the mental institution where she had placed him. Following a fight with William, Bernard was directed to meet a woman who turned out to be the widow of Arnold Weber, the man on whom his identity was based. Here, he realized that Dolores had left him with the key to The Valley Beyond, a heaven-like digital world created for the host minds by Robert Ford. His final scene this season finds him waking up from this virtual reality covered in dust, an undisclosed amount of time in the future.
Charlotte Hale/Dolores (Tessa Thompson)
One of the biggest reveals of the Season 2 finale was that the version of Delos director Charlotte Hale we’d been following in the show’s future timeline was actually a host duplicate, controlled by Dolores. When Season 3 teed off and Dolores was back in a body resembling her own, the question of who was inside Hale was raised as the pair worked together to infiltrate Delos in line with Dolores’ master plan.
Though consensus had concluded it was Dolores’ partner Teddy, the show eventually revealed that it was in fact a duplicate of Dolores’ own mind. As the season continued, Dolores inside Hale, dubbed “Halores” by fans, began to experience a kind of identity crisis between her mind and body brought on by living Charlotte Hale’s life. Eventually, Halores declared her independence from Dolores. After making an attempt to take down Serac, Serac’s men blew up a car containing not just Halores but Charlotte Hale’s husband and son, leaving a heavily burned Halores as the only survivor. She was last seen running Delos’ Dubai operations.
Caleb Nichols (Aaron Paul)
In the first episode of Westworld’s third season, an operation gone wrong finds a heavily injured Dolores stumbling into the dark where she meets veteran, construction worker, and freelance criminal Caleb. After helping Dolores, Caleb is recruited to join her mission to access the world-controlling AI known as Rehoboam. Through this Caleb discovers that the AI has been intentionally holding back his life based on the prediction that he will have killed himself in the next decade.
Hints of a mysterious past came to a head when we discovered that Caleb had crossed paths with Rehoboam before, having been tasked with killing “outliers” — people who didn’t fit into the AI’s plan. Not only that, but we also learn that Caleb was one such outlier and is considered the first successful patient of an experimental reconditioning therapy. Incensed by this, he and Dolores execute their plan to take down Serac and Rehoboam. After Dolores’ apparent death, he and Maeve depart together as the season comes to a close.
William/The Man in Black (Ed Harris)
In Season 3, after accidentally killing his daughter, William left the park, returning to his home. Here he was haunted by the memory of Dolores until the Hale duplicate visited him to gain favor for a vote within Delos. When he begins to suspect that she is not Charlotte Hale, she confirms this — while at the same time having him placed in a mental institution.
After a particularly violent therapy session, William is freed by Bernard. Vowing to rid the world of hosts, he shoots Stubbs and wrestles with Bernard but escapes without killing either. He was last seen in the third season’s post credits scene meeting with Charlotte Hale — before his throat gets slit by a duplicate of his Man in Black persona, seemingly leaving him for dead.
Ashley Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth)
Head of Westworld’s security force, Ashley Stubbs has been a constant presence throughout the show. Loyal to Ford above all, he attempted suicide after the collapse of Delos’ parks, but Bernard found him still alive, discovering that he had been a host and reprogramming him to protect him.
The two remained together for the rest of the season, with Stubbs last seen seemingly recovering from being shot by William, as Bernard entered the Valley Beyond.
Dolores Abernathy (Evan Rachel Wood)
Season 3 found Dolores on the same path she had been following since leaving the park, though now with a more focused goal of gaining access to the Rehoboam AI to return free will to all people. Backed by a group of duplicates containing her mind, as well as her new friend Caleb, she worked to prevent Engerraund Serac’s purchases of Delos and take down his control of the world through the Rehoboam AI.
This mission leads to Dolores’ death, as Serac begins deleting her memories while scanning her brain for the key to the host data that she had left with Bernard. In her final moments, she transfers control of the Rehoboam AI to Caleb. Evan Rachel Wood is set to return for the show’s fourth season, so while this version of Dolores seems to be dead, her story is perhaps not over.
Engerraund Serac (Vincent Cassel)
The third season introduced us to Engerraund Serac, a powerful tech CEO with access to a prescient AI network. Driven by having seen his home city of Paris destroyed by a nuclear strike, he aims to save humanity by taking away their freedom to make mistakes.
After spending Season 3 trying to access the collected data on the Westworld park guests to further advance the Rehoboam AI, Serac is killed by Maeve and the Rehoboam AI is ordered to delete itself. Vincent Cassel is not reported to be involved in the show’s fourth season but his impact will be felt — and remember, the show is not unfamiliar to people returning from the dead.
Theodore “Teddy” Flood (James Marsden)
Dearly departed Teddy was in many ways the moral center of the show, in a way that doomed him from the start. Dolores’ lover from her Westworld narrative who eventually followed her on the path she chose in freedom, Teddy’s actions became increasingly violent — and as a result of learning that Dolores had modified his programming to make him more ruthless, he took his own life in front of her.
Teddy did not appear in Westworld’s third season, but James Marsden has joined the fourth in an undisclosed role.
Westworld Season 4 premieres Sunday, June 26th, on HBO.