Westworld Season 3 is about to drop a big ol’ bag of WHAT on you, and you’re probably woefully unprepared. It’s been almost two years since Season 2 ended, and our simple human faculties may have clouded over since then — even for those of us who were able to make sense of the complicated storytelling the first time around. There’s probably also a whole lot of you out there who abandoned Season 2 because the writers tried to prove they were smarter than you rather than put together a cohesive story.
The good news is that Season 3 bounces back without trying to stay one step ahead of viewers, so it’s the perfect time to get back into the show. The question now is, should you re-watch and/or catch up on Season 2? If you are one of those people with millions of hours on their hands, then sure. But for everyone else, you don’t have to watch Season 2 in order to jump back into Season 3. Yes, things happened, but there’s a huge reset in Season 3 that means the effort of going back into Season 2 — which was very problematic at times — probably isn’t worth it.
Instead, just read these bullet points below and consider yourself all caught up on Westworld and ready for Season 3. Let’s go!
1. Dolores escaped the park and made it to the outside world, and she really, really doesn’t like humans
In the Season 1 finale, Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) fulfilled Ford’s (Anthony Hopkins) wishes and started the robot uprising after years of working as a slave to the depravity of humans while playing a host in the Westworld park. Having attained consciousness, she rallies some other robots and begins massacring the board members of Delos — the company that runs Westworld and its neighboring parks — who were at the park to celebrate the launch of a new narrative, but were really there because Ford (Anthony Hopkins), the puppet master behind everything, wanted Dolores to kill them all, and him.
In Season 2, Dolores was a gosh darned nightmare to humans, hanging them for being nothing more than alive. After a lot of convoluted plotting, Dolores was eventually killed by Bernard (Jeffrey Wright). Except she wasn’t! Before he wiped his mind to prevent others from figuring out what he did, Bernard put her consciousness inside a host version of Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson) — who was also killed, more on that below — and Dolores escaped the island in Charlotte’s body. At the end of Season 2, we see Dolores back in her old body after remaking it at Bernard’s house in the outside world. What’s weirder is we also see Charlotte there, presumably being used by another host.
2. Dolores took five pearls (host control units) out of Westworld into the real world, but we don’t know who they are
As we saw Charlotte/Dolores leave Westworld in a boat in the late minutes of Season 2, she peered into her bag and saw five pearls, also known as the host control units that store a host’s consciousness. The obvious idea here is that she will resurrect these mysterious folks outside in the real world, and in the final scene of Season 2, Dolores was back in her body, but the Charlotte body Dolores used was also up and walking around, meaning Dolores likely put one of the pearls in her. Also, Bernard was brought back by Dolores, likely because Dolores knew that she feels Bernard — who was seemingly there to stop Dolores — needed to be part of her plan just like Ford needed Arnold, even though they had disagreements.
So at the end of Season 2, it’s reasonable to believe that Dolores’ pearl moved from Charlotte’s body to the new Dolores body, one of the pearls was used to bring back Bernard, and one of the pearls — the contents of which we don’t know — was put in Charlotte’s body. That leaves three pearls unaccounted for (remember, Dolores’ pearl was already in the Charlotte body, so technically six pearls — one of which was in use by Charlotte/Dolores — left the island). Who do they belong to? That’s something we’ll find out.
3. A bunch of robots went to robot heaven
In the Season 2 finale, several hosts made it their mission to get to the Sublime (also known as The Valley Beyond), a digital safezone for robots to upload their consciousnesses to where humans would not be able to find them. Just think of it as a segment of the cloud that is password-protected from humans, I guess.
As for who went in, Teddy (James Marsden) was the biggest name, followed by Akecheta (Zahn McClarnon) and Maeve’s daughter, as well as a ton of other hosts. We can pretty much rule all of these characters out of a return, unless the Sublime is somehow found. It might be easier to tell you who didn’t go the Great Big Cloud in the Sky: Maeve (Thandie Newton), Bernard, Dolores, Hector (Rodrigo Santoro), Clementine (Angela Sarafyan), and Armistice (Ingrid Bolsø Berdal). If they’re not in the Sublime, there’s a shot they could return in Season 3, possibly in Dolores’ pearls. Also of note, security head Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth), who was pretty much confirmed to be a host in the finale when he let Charlotte/Dolores escape, also never made it into the Sublime.
4. A bunch of humans died
The bloodbath of the Season 2 finale was not limited to those made of nuts and bolts. Charlotte was killed by Charlotte/Dolores in order for the latter to escape Westworld. Elsie Hughes (Shannon Woodward) was killed by human Charlotte. Lee Sizemore (Simon Quarterman) was shot A LOT in a hero’s death as he held off Delos forces to allow Maeve to escape. William (Ed Harris) may or may not be dead, it’s really hard to tell — at least in the far future, he appears to be a host with his digitized consciousness.
5. The real purpose of Westworld wasn’t so humans could get their rocks off with robots
When Westworld kicked off, human guests stormed through the park in an orgy of murder, crime, and, well, orgies. The adult theme park was seen as a way for the wealthy to get things out of their system without any real-world consequences; rape a robot, and get away with it. But in actuality, the company behind Westworld was using the park to track guest data. Kind of like Facebook, but instead of seeing what Top 10 lists you click on, Westworld could track how you would respond to a flirty robotic prostitute.
In fact, some hosts were collecting human DNA. Yeah, gross. And through the cowboy hats, guests’ cognitive processes were being recorded, giving the Delos Corporation a full picture of human behavior. All the information on the parks’ guests was being held in The Forge, with the ultimate goal being to replicate a human in a host’s body, allowing for what could pass for immortality (think of it as beta tech for Altered Carbon‘s stacks). Or maybe just collecting as much information on everyone as possible. Like all good technology these days, it was an incredible violation of privacy, a theme that will certainly continue in Season 3.
6. There’s a new corporation involved in Westworld, and don’t let it’s friendly exterior fool you
One of the early teasers for Season 3 of Westworld was actually a corporate ad for the fictional company Incite Inc., which appears to play a big role in the upcoming season. The teaser showed the head of a company giving his spiel about Incite and how its massive computing power and access to data has given it the answers to most of life’s problems, including fixing climate change. But there’s lots of chatter about how much the company knows about you; it claims to be able to help you find a job and your path in life.
Sci-fi does not play corporations as benefactors, and if anything, Westworld has outright vilified them. That will continue in Season 3 if history is any lesson, so don’t get too comfy with Incite. Delos was bad enough, but Incite may be even worse.
Westworld Season 3 premieres Sunday, Mar. 15 at 9/8c on HBO.