Evan Rachel Wood as Dolores (maybe?) in the third season of Westworld. Photo: HBO.
Evan Rachel Wood as Dolores (maybe?) in the third season of Westworld. Photo: HBO.

Pop CultureMarch 16, 2020

What you need to know before watching the return of Westworld

Evan Rachel Wood as Dolores (maybe?) in the third season of Westworld. Photo: HBO.
Evan Rachel Wood as Dolores (maybe?) in the third season of Westworld. Photo: HBO.

HBO’s biggest drama since Game of Thrones returns for a third season to NEON. Here’s everything you need to know about Westworld season three. 

Obviously, major spoilers for Westworld seasons 1 and 2.

It’s been a year and a half – remind me where we left off.

Okay, strap in! At the end of season two, Westworld blew things up in a way that only Westworld can do.

The second season followed Dolores continuing her Host (that’s the name for the robots) uprising and quest to escape the park. By the end of it, Westworld was a complete shambles and a lot of the Hosts (including fan favourite Maeve, played brilliantly by Thandie Newton) had been destroyed. But, all is not lost: Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) uploaded the consciousness of all the Hosts to a safe place. 

Oh, also, Dolores took over a Host body of Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson) and entered into the real world – taking five Hosts and their consciousnesses with her. That includes poor Bernard, who had been dealing with a scrambled memory all season before being killed by Dolores-as-Charlotte, and then brought back to life by Dolores-as-Dolores. It definitely makes sense, I promise.

Finally, because Westworld loves to mess around with timelines, at the very end of the season, we were thrown into the future to find William aka The Man in Black (Ed Harris) being interviewed by someone who looks a whole like his daughter (Katja), who he previously murdered.

Things are, as always, not quite what they seem.

Thandie Newton as Maeve in Westworld. Photo: HBO.

What about ‘The Door’ from the end of the season?

Good memory, you Westie! (That’s what we call West Aucklanders and fans of Westworld.)

So, at the end of the season, about one third of the Hosts in Westworld, including Native American Hosts Aketcha and Komana, went through the mystical/technological (things in this show are often both) room known as ‘The Door’ into a place known as ‘The Sublime’. It’s a digital world that allows the Hosts to escape their park and also the human world, leaving peacefully in a digital heaven. It wipes their memory cores and makes it impossible for them to be brought back online. It’s the closest thing we’ve had to a happy ending on Westworld.

At the end of the season, Maeve sacrificed herself to allow those Hosts to pass through, because Maeve is the absolute best. 

What else do I need to know?

It seems that the majority of this season will actually take place outside the park – which is good for the Hosts, and very bad for humanity. The robot uprising does not stop at Westworld. It also seems that we’ll be visiting other parks – so far we’ve only seen three (the titular park, Shogun World and Raj World) – but this season we’ll be seeing a park based in World War II, which sounds like no fun for anybody!

Who is new this season?

Aaron Paul, of Breaking Bad fame, playing a construction worker in the real world who will be interacting with Dolores quite a bit. He also has a primitive robot sidekick named George, who I strongly believe will be a breakout star. Other new cast members include Lena Waithe (Master of None), John Gallagher Jnr (The Newsroom) and NFL player Marshawn Lynch. 

Aaron Paul and his lil’ robot friend in season three of Westworld. Photo: HBO.

The most important part: What cool pop songs are going to get the moody piano treatment this season?

A question after my own heart!

One of the best and most memorable parts of the first two seasons of Westworld were the moody covers of pop songs, ranging from Kanye West’s ‘Runaway’ to my personal favourite, Nirvana’s ‘Heart Shaped Box’. Composer Ramin Djawidi, who has won two Emmys, explained his decision to do this in a 2018 interview with Vulture:

“[With] the fact that this is a theme park we realized, ‘Wait, we can almost treat this as a jukebox. Like, the people controlling the park are playing their favourite tracks.’ It was always a subconscious reminder of the fact that this world is not real. It gives it that contemporary spin.”

This season, the only confirmed song thus far is the one used in the trailer, ‘Sweet Child of Mine’.

Personally, I’m hoping for ‘Anaconda’.

So where can I watch it and when?

The first episode drops tonight, and then weekly on NEON after that.

I haven’t watched the first two seasons, can I just jump in?

Honestly? You can, but that’s like going down a wild river in a lifesaver, blindfolded, with your hands tied behind your back. You might have fun, but you won’t have any idea what’s going on.

You can watch the first two seasons on NEON – that’s 20 episodes all up, with feature-length finales. As a bonus, Westworld is one of the ever-increasingly rare shows that are released week by week, so you’ve definitely got time to catch up while the third season is airing.

But what does it all mean?

No idea! Half of the fun of Westworld is figuring it out with everybody else which is why, yes, you have to watch to find out. 

Westworld S3 drops weekly on Mondays, only on Neon. The season is eight episodes long, including a feature-length finale.

Keep going!