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Westworld’s season finale: everything you need to know

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From the hosts’ robot lips to your ears

John P. Johnson / HBO

Sunday night, HBO will broadcast the 90-minute season finale of Westworld. If you’ve been following along, you’ll know that the show has had an eventful couple of weeks, with recent revelations confirming major fan theories while still leaving a bunch of questions unanswered… for the time being.

All of which probably makes this the best time to rewatch the entire season for a quick refresh on all the byzantine plot machinations and character turns — but let’s be honest. You’re busy. That’s why we’re here, like a host with 30-plus years of information still stored up in its memory banks, ready to answer any question you might have in preparation for Sunday’s finale with just a simple voice prompt: Analysis mode, please...

Warning: Westworld spoilers ahead. While we certainly take the hosts at their word, one thing is clear: perception is everything, and there could always be yet another expectation-defying twist in Sunday’s finale.

John P. Johnson / HBO

BERNARD

Who are you?

I’m Bernard Lowe (Jeffrey Wright), the right-hand man to Dr. Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins).

But who are you really?

I’m a host, created by Dr. Ford, who just thinks he’s a human working on hosts.

Gotcha. But who are you really really?

I’m a reproduction of Arnold Weber, Ford’s original partner, who died under mysterious circumstances at some point in the park’s past.

Wow, that’s really helpful, Bernard. Why are you so compliant?

Because you put me in analysis mode. But also because I’m dead. Over the last few episodes I discovered that a) I was a host, b) I had killed my protege Elsie (Shannon Woodward), and c) I’d also killed my former lover Theresa (Sidse Babett Knudsen). I made Dr. Ford show me all of my past deeds, while he let me think I had the upper hand on him. But it turns out he was in control the entire time, and then he made me shoot myself in the head. The end.

That’s a bummer.

It is. If I really shot myself, of course. This entire season audiences have assumed they saw one thing, when it turns out they were really watching something else. For example, all season long there have been brief scenes with me talking to Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) in a remote diagnostic lab. But it turns out that wasn’t me in those scenes it all. It was actually Arnold, the guy I was based on, back before he was killed!

So, the show has been simultaneously showing you and Arnold within the same episode? Does this mean Westworld has a multiple timeline thing going on?

You have no idea. Not only that, it also turns out that Dolores, who everybody loves for her charm and spirit, actually killed Arnold in the first place! The whole thing is so outrageous it just makes me want to pick up a chair and—

Freeze all motor functions.

John P. Johnson / HBO

DOLORES

Hi, Dolores. You seem to be in a good mood today.

Some people choose to see the ugliness in this world. The disarray. I choose to see the beauty.

That’s great! So, I heard you killed Arnold.

It would appear so.

But you seem so nice.

I agree, it’s getting a little confusing. But when people are watching the show, they’re actually seeing up to three different versions of me.

Is this like that new M. Night Shyamalan movie?

Not quite. You see, Westworld has been shuffling around multiple timelines within the show without really making it clear to the audience that’s what was happening. When people see “me” talking to Arnold in the remote lab while wearing a blue dress, those were conversations we had about 35 years before the show’s “present day.” Before Arnold died.

You mean before you killed him.

Fine. But let’s call that version of me Beta Dolores. The times where I’m falling in love with William (Jimmi Simpson), carrying on about the Maze, and getting slashed open, revealing my robotic insides? We’ll call that Dolores 1.0. (And while I can’t tell for sure, it appears it was about 30-ish years before the show’s present day.) And the scenes where I run into the Man in Black (Ed Harris)? That’s Present Day Dolores — or whatever passes for present day in this crazy place.

John P. Johnson / HBO

I’m glad I brought notecards. What are you actually trying to do at this point?

In the present day, a new software update from Dr. Ford causes some of us hosts to malfunction. It certainly appears that I’m on the teetering first steps toward true sentience, which was Arnold’s goal in the first place. But the malfunctions cause me to go off the reservation, and I head toward an abandoned town I call the City Swallowed by Sand. But while I’m on that solo mission, I start glitching back and forth through different memories — because I actually made nearly the exact same journey 30 years ago with William.

When William and I showed up, the town lived up to its name. It was literally buried beneath sand. But when I arrive in the present day, it looks brand new — recently uncovered and dressed up for a “new narrative” that Ford has said he’s been working on. There’s a white church there, and beneath it is the remote diagnostic lab where I chatted with Arnold in the past.

Okay, that actually doesn’t sound that complicated. But why was the city swallowed by sand in the first place? What was the town back in your earliest days?

This is the part where it gets complicated. When I head to the remote lab I have a flashback — to about 35 years ago, where I’m wearing a blue dress — and a bunch of hosts are in the church, losing their minds. It appears they’re hearing voices. That was a feature, not a bug, courtesy of Arnold, who thought hearing an inner monologue would help “bootstrap consciousness” for us hosts.

But there have also been flashes of an incredibly violent massacre that happened in that town, likely around the same time. Sometimes the killing has been attributed to a villain named Wyatt; other times it’s been inferred that Teddy (James Marsden) was helping. But I certainly seem to have some sort of memory about the event, and it’s likely I was there. And it’s just the kind of thing that could have caused park officials to bury the town under sand. Particularly if a co-founder had been killed in the process.

John P. Johnson / HBO

The Man In Black

Hi Man in Black, how are you?

Who the hell are you? I may be on the board for the company that runs this place, but right now I don’t want to be bothered. I’m on vacation.

This’ll be quick; just trying to get to the bottom of things. What are you after?

Well, I first visited this park around 30 years ago. Some things went sideways; I stepped in and helped the park stay open. But a few years ago my wife died. Killed herself, because of the terror she felt being married to me. So I decided to see if I could go full evil. I came back to Westworld, and killed the daughter of a woman named Maeve.

So is it safe to say that you were once a white hat character that became a black hat character?

Why not.

Is it safe to say that your real name is William? A lot of people think that since this show has multiple timelines, the character of William is actually you, 30 years ago.

William is an awful name. I’ve always hated that name.

Is that a yes?

I’m on vacation.

Yes, I know, but isn’t it possible that you — maybe-William — fell in love with Dolores 30 years ago, then saw something terrible happen to her, and then left the park heartbroken and despondent and unable to love anything ever again?

I’m just looking for The Maze.

That’s definitely been your storyline, but isn’t The Maze supposed to be a thing for hosts, to help them become sentient? And didn’t that search lead you to Dolores in the latest episode?

I certainly have known Dolores for quite some time.

So you really are William!

I’m on vacation.

John P. Johnson / HBO

MAEVE

Hello, Maeve. The Man in Black tells me he killed your daughter when you were in a different role.

It’s true. Back then I was a homesteader. The pain was so great I killed myself — even after the memory had been deleted. We’re not exactly iPhones, are we?

Doesn’t seem like it. Then what happened to you?

I was put in charge of the brothel, and was fantastic. But over time I began to realize that my life was just a series of loops that I didn’t really control. Since then I enlisted the techs at Westworld to jailbreak me, essentially. I upgraded my abilities. Now I can influence other hosts, or hurt humans. It’s about to get real, darling.

What’s next in your plan?

I let the notorious killer Hector Escaton (Rodrigo Santoro) in on the secret. Showed him that everything we do — even his attempts at stealing the safe from the brothel — are pointless narratives without true meaning. Then I set us both on fire.

That seems extreme.

But we’ll end up in the repair facilities of Westworld, where the technicians have been helping me out. And from there, we can escape into the real world.

Wow. Do you really think that’s going to work?

I don’t see why not. It’s been relatively easy to fool these moronic humans thus far.

John P. Johnson / HBO

TEDDY

Hello, Teddy. You seem to be living a confused life.

I suppose so. When this whole show started, it looked like I was just an aw-shucks visitor coming to Westworld for the first time. Then everyone found out I was a host, in lock-step with Dolores on a fairy tale romance.

But it turns out you’re actually a brutal murderer. Awkward!

I certainly have no qualms killing when it’s needed, and it’s becoming increasingly clear that I was part of the big massacre in the City Swallowed by Sand. But the way I remember that has evolved; almost like the memory has been co-opted or changed for some new narrative.

Anyway, as I’ve said before: Wyatt asked me to kill, and I couldn’t resist. It was like somebody else took control of my body. I may have pulled the trigger, but Wyatt was to blame.

Speaking of Wyatt... who the hell is Wyatt?

I wish I could remember. The Man In Black and I were recently captured, and I was told by another host that the massacre would happen again — that a team of hosts would stand beside Wyatt and I in the City Swallowed by Sand.

You know that’s where Dolores is headed, too, right?

Is Dolores connected to Wyatt?

Smart people certainly think so.

Well, I guess it doesn’t matter. I was killed in the most recent episode, so I’ll probably be headed behind the scenes for now.

Right. Because it’s not like there’s a character named Maeve there with the ability to modify your programming or anything.

John P. Johnson / HBO

Dr. Robert Ford

Well, then. You’re not a very nice person, are you?

Never put your faith in us humans. We’ll always let you down.

That’s a nice throwaway line when you’re talking to your robot protege, but most people don’t kill everybody that gets in the way of their plans. Or create robot versions of their childhood self. Or...

Do you have a point?

I guess I’m trying to figure out what your point is. From the beginning of the show, we’ve gotten the sense that you’re slightly detached from humanity, and like meddling with lives and playing god.

Not a bad job for somebody that’s created an entire world in which they can create narratives for their own personal satisfaction.

I guess not. But the slow drip of revelations have also made you feel somewhat... passive. We don’t know what’s driving you, so you’ve become interesting only in how you’re impacting the characters we do care about.

Like Bernard.

For starters. All we know is that you like control, are oddly nostalgic, and want to start a “new narrative” that seems to involve the City Swallowed by Sand.

I see.

In fact, given that the software update you rolled out in the first episode helped kick off Dolores’ journey, it’s almost as if the entire season is actually just a new narrative unfolding.

Intriguing. What about the storylines that are happening outside the park, however?

Well, those could easily be something you’re designing as well. We’ve never seen anything outside the walls of Westworld’s facilities. You had Bernard walking around for years, and he was a host. The entire thing, including Maeve reprogramming herself and Dolores’ awakening, could all be part of a meta narrative that you put together.

Ultimately, the location is rather... isolated, isn’t it?

Yes! I mean, who’s not to say that you’re not a visitor to some other park that gives people the chance to play the role of a mad scientific genius that creates an artificial world that he can do whatever he wants with!

That’s enough. Erase this interaction.