Westworld Season 4 Theories and Predictions | Time Jumps, Simulations, and Dolores’s Fate

On April 22, to the relief of many, Westworld was renewed for a fourth season. Considering the open threads left at the end of Season Three, that is great news. 

Anyway, now that we’ve had a few weeks to think about the last season’s finale, let’s look ahead to what we can expect from next season.

The first question I have is what will the fourth season “feel like”? Season 3 served as a sort of “soft reboot” to the series. Will the next season, again, change the tone and focus of the show? Or, like season 2, will it feel more like a natural extension of what came before?

Westworld season 3 review: A small but slick upgrade - CNET

In a recent interview with Variety, Jonathan Nolan (who runs the show with Lisa Joy) said the following:

From the beginning Lisa and I wanted to make a show that constantly reinvented itself, that could be a different show every season. I think it’s important with a show in which death can be impermanent — these are robots, after all — to mark the occasion with Dolores. That version of that character is gone. We love Evan Rachel Wood and we haven’t [sighs] started talking publicly about exactly what the show looks like going forward. But it looks very different.

So, it seems like a safe bet that Nolan and Joy will again look for ways to reinvent the series. However, pressing for details, Variety asked if next season will stay in the real world or go back to the park, Nolan unsurprisingly refused to answer:

We love you, and we say this with the greatest respect, but there is no earthly way we’re going to answer that question!

Well, if they won’t tell us what next season is going to look like, let’s do our best to figure it out. We’ll start with a quick recap of how we left things at the end of season 3.

Ending of Season 3 Explained

Dolores sacrificed herself in order to give Caleb a choice… take control of Rehoboam and the fate of humanity, or shut the whole system down liberating the world from Incite’s clutches. Caleb, of course, chose to take down the system. Great news, right? Eh… maybe. The season ends with Caleb and Maeve watching the city devolve into chaos.

By the way, if you’re saying to yourself “Hey! Dolores isn’t really dead… she’s a host. Can’t they just turn her back on?”. The answer is “yes”, Dolores could and likely will return, considering what Evan Rachel Wood represents for the series. However, if or when Dolores returns, it will not be the original Dolores we have followed since season one. As Jonathan Nolan stated in the Variety interview, “that version of the character is gone.”

Meanwhile, Bernard, with the help of the key in his head and the special visor delivered to him by Dolores in Lawrence’s body (or “Dolawrence” as we like to call her), pays a visit to “The Sublime”. When Stubbs asks Bernard what he’s looking for, he replies, “An answer to what comes after the end of the world.”

In a post-credits scene, we see Bernard wake up in a dust-covered world, sitting in the same position where he first fell asleep. This presumably takes place far into the future, perhaps around the same time as the season 2 post-credits scene featuring a similarly dust-covered host (or simulated) William.

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Finally, in the other post-credits scene, we see human William killed by host William in the basement where Charlotte is cooking up an army of hosts.

Will Season 4 feature a time jump?

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Considering the two glimpses we’ve been given of humanity’s dusty, dirt-covered future, we have to wonder if season 4 will feature a considerable time jump. Throughout season 3, Serac promised that taking down Rehoboam would inevitably lead to humankind’s extinction. Will season 4 pick-up, as Bernard says, “after the end of the world?”.

Taking place in the midst of a Terminator-esque future war would certainly give Nolan and Joy the reinvention they’re looking for. However, if we go too far into the future, it would also close the door on seeing Caleb deal with the consequences of his choice. Which, for me at least, would be pretty disappointing. We’ve also watched for a season as Caleb struggled with accepting the leadership role Dolores thrust upon him. It would seem strange to set him up as a reluctant leader only to fast forward past the remainder of his character arc.

Personally, I think it’s unlikely that season 4 will take place entirely in Bernard and William’s dusty future. However, it’s not impossible that we’ll get another season with Westworld’s patented parallel timelines. We could see a season that takes place both shortly after the fall of Rehoboam and far into the future after humanity’s extinction. Though, I don’t think this is likely either.

I believe the dusty post-credits scenes we’ve been shown are hinting at Westworld’s endgame, as in series finale, not season finale. The announcement of season 4 made no mention of it being the final season, something you think they would tout if it were the case. If the next season is not the last, then I think our glimpses into the distant future will remain as just that… glimpses, saving the full reveal of this post-apocalyptic world for the final season.

Which brings us to my first official prediction for Westworld season 4… It will primarily take place shortly after the events of season 3. However, rather than parallel timelines, we will follow parallel worlds. Some scenes will take place in the real world while others will take place in a simulation, following Bernard on his mysterious quest in “the sublime.” This would hopefully please fans who were disappointed at the lack of a “hey, a lot what you thought was real was actually a simulation!”-twist at the end of season 3.

What exactly Bernard will find in “the sublime” is unclear. Perhaps robot heaven isn’t as “heavenly” as it was intended to be.

Charlotte and the Man in Black vs Caleb and Maeve

Meanwhile, what will the rest of the cast be up to in the real world? I think the post-credits scene with Charlotte cooking up a new army sets up next season’s conflict. Throughout season 3, many suspected that Dolores intended to destroy humanity. As Serac said, humans and hosts cannot coexist in our world. In the end, we learned that Dolores’ intentions were actually on the side of all conscious beings, hosts and humans included. Charlotte, on the other hand, I think is more aligned with Dolores’ original intentions. Meaning, she wants a robot-centric world that is not so friendly to humans.

I think it’s unlikely we’ll see all out war next season but watching Charlotte amass an army and weapons in a real-world chess match against humanity seems possible.

On the other side of this conflict, we have Caleb and Maeve along with help from some of the other hosts out there: Clementine, Hanaryo, maybe Stubbs, and Lawrence (who is actually Dolores). Where season 3 was a chess match between Serac and Dolores, season 4 may see Caleb and Maeve face off against Charlotte and the resurrected man in black.

Will Maeve want to be a part of next season’s conflict?

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We do have to ask, is this a conflict Maeve will even want to be part of? Her motivation the last couple of seasons has primarily been reuniting with her daughter currently located in “the sublime”.

So, one possibility is that she’ll exit stage left before the war escalates and seek some entry point into robot heaven. I have a hard time picturing this for two reasons:

  1. We’ve seen this story played out now for two seasons. How much longer will we want to watch Maeve in this particular struggle?
  2. If we believe everything we heard in season 3, the only way into “the sublime” is with the key located in Bernard’s head. The fact that he does not appear to have physically moved between the end of season 3 and the post-credits sequence would imply Maeve does not come into contact with him… meaning she could not have gone to “the sublime” in the aftermath of season 3.

Another, in my opinion more likely possibility, is that after season 3, Maeve has a newfound appreciation for reality. Meaning, she would not want to turn tail and run to a simulated heaven but would instead look for a way to live with her daughter in the real world. With the key in Barnard’s head, I don’t see any reason why one couldn’t download Maeve’s daughter into a new host body. Before doing so however, Maeve will want to “clean-up” the world and make sure it’s one worth living in.

I believe this will be her motivation to work with Caleb in season 4. She’ll want to end the conflict with Charlotte, end the war between humans and hosts, and once peace is achieved, work on bringing her daughter into a better world. In the meantime, she’ll let her daughter enjoy her time in “the sublime.”

Will Dolores return next season?

Westworld' season 3 finale writers confirm Dolores' fate - Insider

Regarding Dolores, there are a number of ways she can be brought back into the fold. Besides Charlotte, there is a version of her in Lawrence’s body and the fate of Connells’ pearl is unclear. Could Caleb and Maeve obtain a Dolores pearl and print her a new body? Is Charlotte in possession of the damaged Connells’ pearl? If so, it would be interesting to see her bring that version of Dolores back and attempt to recruit new Dolores to the “dark side”. 

Perhaps a simulated Dolores could somehow show up in “the sublime” and join Bernard on his journey. Either way, I suspect we’ll see Evan Rachel Wood return in some form and if it’s a new Dolores, I’m fascinated to see how she lives under the weight of Dolores-prime’s legacy.

Knowing you’re essentially cloned from the savior of all free willed-beings on the planet… would probably be a little daunting.

What I hope to see in Season 4 of Westworld

Anyway, those are my thoughts on where I think season 4 of Westworld could be heading. However, one of the best things about Westworld is that it’s never predictable so I’m excited to see what I’ve gotten wrong! In terms of what I hope to see, there are a handful of things:

  1. I was a big fan of the Caleb character, especially early on in the season. So, I’m hoping he’ll return and continue to develop.
  2. Jeffrey Wright is a great actor but too often in Westworld he’s relegated to playing a confused and bamboozled Bernard two steps behind everyone else. I thought the scene he shared with Arnold’s wife was a very powerful one, thanks in large part to Wright’s emotional performance. I hope to see more of this Bernard. One with agency and one that allows Jeffrey Wright to show more range.
  3. In season 2, we saw killer Dolores and in most of season 3, we saw an inscrutable, “we’re not sure what she’s up to” Dolores. However, in the final moments of the season, the veil was gone. We knew what here goals were and she became a sympathetic character firmly on the side of good. Whatever form Dolores takes in season 4, I hope it’s closer to the version we saw at the end of season 3. One with clear motivations from the start and one I can root for throughout the season.

Enough from me though. What would you like to see in the next season of Westworld? Do you have any predictions you’d like to share? What do you think I’m getting right? What do you think I’m getting wrong? Comment and let me know!