After a two-year hiatus, it's almost time for Westworld Season 3 to return to HBO. Westworld Season 2 ended on a major cliffhanger as several Hosts, including Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) and Charlotte (Tessa Thompson), escaped the park and made it into a futuristic version of the real world in the late 2050s or early 2060s. Even though we've been able to safely bet the show will continue to explore Dolores' mission to take back control over her own consciousness and liberate other Hosts and machines from the control of humans, its super tough to predict just how Westworld's story will twist and turn.
Just because we don't exactly know what direction the show created by powerhouse duo Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy will pan out, it doesn't mean we're completely in the dark on what we know about this upcoming season. One of the first big announcements was the casting of Breaking Bad alum Aaron Paul, who we've come to learn, courtesy of the bevy of trailers released in 2019 and early 2020, will be a major ally for Dolores. There's also a highly suspect new company in the mix and we'll be taken to a new Delos theme park, War World.
Westworld Season 3 promises lots of intrigue, a deeper dive into the world of humans and Hosts, more philosophical discussions about the nature of reality, and what it means to be human. We’re just a few weeks away from the Season 3 premiere. While we wait, here’s everything we know about Westworld Season 3, from the release date, to the latest trailers, to all the plot details we’ve gathered up so far.
Spoilers for Westworld Season 2 (and possibly Season 3) below
When is the Westworld Season 3 release date?
March 15! HBO announced the news on Sunday night with a new trailer which offers our first timeline of how the story of Westworld gets from our modern-day society to the one portrayed on the show. In short: It’s not pretty.
The trailer describes something called a “Divergence” beginning with the real-life Hong Kong protests and President Trump’s impeachment and leading up to a presidential assassination, ecological and thermonuclear disasters, and a second Russian civil war.
The teaser trailer, released on May 19, reconfirms the 2020 release date. However, with it arriving earlier than expected, it’s possible HBO is now aiming for a spring or early summer release date now that the first trailer is out in the world.
The world is stabilized in the year 2039 with the creation of a mysterious “system,” but that system is disrupted in the show’s present-day with the introduction of Hosts that escape Delos Parks.
How many episodes will Westworld Season 3 have?
Unlike Seasons 1 and 2, Westworld Season 3 will run for just eight episodes (down from the usual 10). We’re not sure what to make of this just yet, but it definitely means a more succinct season than we’re used to. Additionally, the episode titles for episodes 1 through 5 have been revealed on IMDb. They are:
- Episode 1: "Parce Domine"
- Episode 2: "The Winter Line"
- Episode 3: "The Absence of Field"
- Episode 4: "The Mother of Exiles"
- Episode 5: "Genre"
For what it's worth, the Season 3 premiere title, "Parce Domine", loosely translates to "because [it] dominates." Talk about ominous.
Who’s returning to the cast of Westworld Season 3?
The handful of trailers we've seen so far have confirmed many key Westworld characters are back for Season 3. Evan Rachel Wood will return as Dolores; Thandie Newton is back as Maeve; Tessa Thompson will return as Charlotte Hale; Jeffrey Wright is back as Bernard; Ed Harris will once again play William, a.k.a. the Man in Black; and Luke Hemsworth shows up as Stubbs, the former Westworld head of security.
Is there a trailer for Westworld Season 3 yet?
There are several! The first, which focused on Aaron Paul’s new character and revealed the real world of Westworld’s future, is embedded at the top of this page.
Aaron Paul, who appears to be playing a maintenance worker by day and a criminal by night in what looks like the real world outside of Delos’ many theme parks. His character laments the failed promises made to him and others with the technological advances of the future, with scenes of him eating a lonely lunch next to a robot while on the job, visiting his mother in a hospital, and pulling off what might be a robbery with the rest of his crew. We also catch glimpses of Dolores, now in modern clothing and with an updated haircut. It’s unclear what she’s up to, but Paul’s character crosses paths with her at the end of the teaser and we see that she appears to be injured and in need of some help.
A second trailer released during San Diego Comic-Con 2019 also offered a look at another Delos park, this one inspired by Nazi-occupied France during World War II.
In November 2019, another teaser was released. This time, fans were treated to a preview of a tech company called Incite, Inc. The company's mission statement is vague, essentially branding itself as a company with a hand in everything from tech to personal wellness, making it all the shadier. The teaser acts as an ad for the company and ultimately leaves you wondering exactly how it will fit into Season 3's overall storyline. Just as Delos was the company central to understanding how the events of Season 1 and Season 2 all fit together, it's possible Incite will play a similarly central role in understanding how Dolores will get her revenge on the human world and why people are trying to stop her.
Then, in February 2020, HBO released a ton of new and exciting trailers, beginning with the official Season 3 trailer. This official trailer teases some of the distinct storylines which will take focus in the coming episodes. Dolores is still seemingly hellbent on her revenge against the humans, having now assimilated into the world and at work on building a team to help take down those who had a hand in her creation and control over her reality. This is where Aaron Paul's blue-collar technician Caleb comes into play. Dolores apparently seeks him out since the two are bonded over being hurt in the past by the same enemy.
Additionally, we see Maeve has been hired by a shady figure (played by newcomer Vincent Cassel) to hunt and kill Maeve. Bernard (Wright) is back at the Westworld theme park for some reason. The last time we saw him, he was in the human world and was about to return to the home of the real Bernard, the Westworld park co-creator. He is somehow going to cross paths with Stubbs (Hemsworth), but it's unclear how these two will work together and to what end as the season goes on.
Shortly after the release of the official Season 3 trailer, it was discovered that additional trailers with new footage were hidden on the Incite website. Two of them include different footage from the footage shown in the official trailer. The "Free Will Is Not Free" trailer features all-new footage while the "Your World" trailer is a mix off official trailer footage and new footage focused mostly on Caleb. And, just for fun, the third secret trailer is styled to look like a rom-com about the relationship between Dolores and Caleb.
Are any new actors joining the Westworld cast for Season 3?
In April, Deadline reported that Vincent Cassel has been cast in Season 3. According to their report, Cassel may be playing one of the villains (or maybe the only villain) of the season and will possibly be a series regular. As is the case with other casting news, there are no details on whether Cassel will be a Host, an actual human, or something else entirely. Cassel’s casting also marks his first English-language television role in his 30-plus year career.
Previously, we learned Ready Player One and Master of None star Lena Waithe has been cast in Season 3, as has Breaking Bad alum Aaron Paul. The first teaser trailer seems to confirm Paul and Waithe’s characters will be playing small-time criminals who work together. The names and backstories for their characters haven’t been confirmed. Paul has been confirmed as a series regular and it’s possible Waithe could be a regular, too, given her prominence in the teaser trailer.
The teaser trailer also revealed that rapper/actor Kid Cudi and football player Marshawn Lynch have also been cast in Season 3. Kid Cudi plays an inmate who appears to know Paul’s character or, at the very least, is willing to provide him with some intel. Lynch appears to be one of Paul and Waithe’s characters’ collaborators on the robbery they commit early in the teaser.
What’s the plot for Westworld Season 3?
Details around the expected story arc for Westworld Season 3 are being kept under wraps. The May 19 teaser trailer shows us a new world that may or may not be the actual world outside of all the Delos theme parks through the eyes of a new character (played by Paul). Something is clearly brewing as Paul’s character grapples with the failed promises of the future and Dolores (or a character who looks a lot like Dolores) enjoys life in the city before later appearing to be shot or severely injured. The end of the trailer hints at Paul’s character and Dolores teaming up, although that’s still vague.
Previously, spoilers about Season 3 from series creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy gave us our first clues about what to expect from the season.
A June 2018 interview Joy did with The Hollywood Reporter contains hints about what’s next for Dolores and Charlotte, who both escaped Westworld. At the end of Season 2, Dolores uploaded her consciousness into a Host version of Charlotte. This allowed the Host version of Charlotte/Dolores to escape Westworld as the park was being evacuated, and we saw her set up shop in Westworld park creator Arnold’s old home with the intention that she would begin creating new hosts.
Per Joy’s comments to THR, there will be at least three main Hosts. She teased, “We technically have three [Hosts] because Hale is out there, too, or someone who certainly looks like Tessa Thompson!”
Similarly, we know that Season 3 will have to plant lots of narrative seed to bridge the gap between its current day, which involved Charlotte escaping Westworld, and its future setting, which was glimpsed in a Season 2 post-credits scene showing the Man in Black eventually being turned into a Host. As the series creator later revealed, that scene takes place in a post-apocalypse scenario. Should we be preparing for a Skynet-level Host takeover?
Joy touched on that in her chat with THR, too:
The world is dramatically different. Quite destroyed, as it were. A figure in the image of his daughter — his daughter is of course now long dead — has come back to talk to him. He realizes that he’s been living this loop again and again and again. The primal loop that we’ve seen this season, they’ve been repeating, testing every time for what they call “fidelity,” or perhaps a deviation. You get the sense that the testing will continue. It’s teasing for us another temporal realm that one day we’re working toward, and one day will see a little bit more of, and how they get to that place, and what they’re testing for.
We also know we’ll see at least one more park thanks to the Comic-Con trailer revealing a World War II-themed attraction. This could play a major role in Westworld Season 3 for any characters still stuck in the park. Beyond that, who knows what other mysteries and revelations were hidden by Arnold in this part of the park.
What's the deal with Incite, Inc.?
What's the deal with the new corporate overlords we viewers will have to grapple with in Season 3? As previously mentioned, not too much in known about what Incite's specific goals are. What we do know is that they've apparently been involved in the events — to varying, implied degrees — which unfolded in Westworld Seasons 1 and 2. In an e-mail sent out in late February from Delos Destinations, the fictional company in Westworld in charge of all the goings-on at the Westworld theme parks, we learn about how the Privacy Act of 2039 would affect a park-goer's data and right to privacy. For the trouble of having their data mined while visiting one of those theme parks, Delos offers guests a free night's stay at the newly-opened resort, The Raj.
If Incite is the company behind data management for Delos, then it's possible this was the company mining information from park guests over the years to not only make their respective experiences memorable, but also use their data to make the hosts created for the parks more human (a detail casually dropped in Season 2). Regardless, Incite's overall goal to utilize data to make a person's life exponentially better in every way is shady, shady, shady, so watch out for this wildcard entity.
Where can I watch Westworld when it premieres?
Since Westworld will remain at HBO for Season 3, you will be able to tune in every week as a cable subscriber. If you’ve already cut the cord and ditched TV once and for all, you’ll still be able to watch in real time with HBO Now or catch up on each new episode the day after it airs with HBO Go.