What’s next for Dolores, the Man in Black and the rest?
[Warning: This story contains spoilers for the first season of HBO’s Westworld.]
For Westworld fans, the long march toward 2018 is officially underway.
The HBO series from showrunners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy wrapped its ambitious first season this past week, and won’t return again until at least 2018, according to Nolan. That’s a long time to contemplate the next steps for Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) and the other hosts Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins) activated and galvanized in the climactic season finale. Luckily, endless contemplation is what Westworld watchers do best. With that in mind, here are a few of our predictions for what we expect to see when the series returns, picking up from where the high-stakes finale left off:
1. Dolores is Wyatt, at least for now. Evan Rachel Wood says that it’s not the traditional Dolores who ends the season by shooting Robert Ford to death. Instead, she views this as Wyatt, with the conscious Dolores choosing to surrender to her darker self in order to pave the way for all that comes next. But will she remain haunted by this lethal persona forever? Perhaps, but our bet is Dolores shakes her Wyatt programming before season two ends — and perhaps it’s uploaded to another character.
2. Robert Ford is dead, but that doesn’t mean we’ve seen the last of Ford. Not by a long shot. The existence of a Ford host body wouldn’t quite be a shark-jump, given the various premises in play throughout the series. But it certainly feels like it would cheapen his death, the opening shot of Ford’s final narrative. The likelier outcome is that he has, like Mozart, disappeared into his work, with the show’s upcoming actions all springing out from Ford’s own meticulous designs. Also, remember that Ford is still alive in the park, in a manner of speaking: the young Robert who Arnold built many moons ago. Perhaps that little robot boy will carry some of Ford’s wisdom moving forward.
3. Even without Ford, there’s a new man in charge. In their final scene together, Ford and Bernard shake hands, as Ford wishes his old friend well in the suffering ahead. The last time Ford had such physical contact with one of the hosts, it was Teddy, who then proceeded to have a bit more pep in his step, and freer access to his memories. We know Ford can manipulate and change his creations on the fly. Who’s to say Ford can’t equip someone like Bernard with all the information he needs to know about the hosts and the parks, just in case something ever happens to Ford, with nothing more than a handshake and a few pleasantries? It’s an entirely possible outcome, and one we’re expecting to see bear out in the coming season.
4. Armistice will step up to the plate next season. After shooting up the Westworld security team, and subsequently starring in the season’s post-credits scene, the one-armed assassin is poised for bigger things in the story ahead. Showrunners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy clearly love the character (“She’s rad,” is Joy’s accurate assessment), and if the show wants to explore the darker sides of consciousness, there are few better available examples than the killer with the massive snake tattoo.
5. The Man in Black knows a thing or two about the next world. There’s no way he hasn’t visited the so-called Samurai World and other surrounding parks if he’s owned a controlling share in Westworld for all these years. Even if Ed Harris has trouble imagining the Man in Black in Samurai mode, it’s a fair bet that he’s one of the players on the board most familiar with that world, and could potentially serve as our gateway into the realms beyond the Western frontier.
6. With that in mind, we have not seen the last of William and Logan. If the show continues to play with memory as it did in season one, then we should continue to expect flashbacks in the years ahead, leaving the door open for more adventures of the young Man in Black — especially if it serves as a doorway into exploring the show’s other parks.
7. Final prediction, and one that’s not much of a reach at all: Elsie and Stubbs are alive. There’s no way these two characters died off-screen, and while their absence in the season finale was a shock, they can always return for season two. As the humans become accustomed to victimization after years on the top of the food chain, Stubbs and Elsie stand out as two of the few existing human characters the audience already knows and appreciates. Their story of struggle in a world ruled by robots could very well be a big part of season two.
What are you expecting from the next season of Westworld? Sound off with your theories in the comments, and keep checking THR.com/Westworld for more on the finale.