It's been nearly two years since season 2 of Westworld came to a confusing end. That's two years to forget some of the finer details of a story that jumps backward and forward in time and explores big themes like free will. Instead of retracing the complex narratives via your detective's "crazy wall," catch up with our guide to seasons 1 and 2.
We'll go through the main characters' overall storylines, focusing on where they end up at the end of season 2. Once you're done here, you should be ready to watch season 3, which premiered March 15 on HBO, without getting lost in the maze.
Warning: Spoilers ahead.
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Season 1: The Maze
Dolores massacres everyone
Our Alice in Wonderland-looking robot host Dolores Abernathy (Evan Rachel Wood) spends this season wrestling with traumatic flashbacks she doesn't yet understand. She begins searching for Escalante, a town with a church that keeps surfacing in her memories. Finding it in the final episode, she remembers what took place there years ago: A massacre. And she carried it out.
Early in Westworld's creation, theme park co-founder Arnold Weber (Jeffrey Wright) realized his robot hosts were gaining sentience. Afraid of what the park guests might do to them, he installed the violent Wyatt personality into Dolores' drive with instructions to destroy the other hosts, then himself, then herself.
Yet despite this massacre, Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins having way too much fun playing the other founder of the park) revives Dolores and opens the park anyway. In Escalante for the second time, and having reached full consciousness and gained autonomy, Dolores shoots Ford. But little does she know this was Ford's plan all along: He wanted to play gamemaster and facilitate the robot uprising.
Bernard discovers he's a host
Bernard Lowe, the park's head programmer who helps create the hosts, is Ford's right-hand man. Unbeknownst to Bernard, he's an exact replica of Arnold, created by Ford to assist him following the real Arnold's death.
At the end of season 1, Bernard reels from a murder he's forced to commit under Ford's control. This leads him to the revelation he's really a host — "Bernard Lowe" is an anagram of Arnold Weber. Bernard confronts Ford to find the truth of who he is, resolving to rebel against Ford and help release all the sentient hosts from the park.
William transforms into the Man in Black
En route to Escalante, Dolores encounters William (Jimmi Simpson), future collaborator with the Delos corporation, which runs Westworld operations. When William and Dolores fall in love, William's future brother-in-law Logan Delos (Ben Barnes) cuts Dolores open to remind William she's just a machine and his real fiancee is waiting back home. This triggers something dark in William and his transformation into the sadistic Man in Black begins.
Intent on finding more to Westworld as well as meaning to his own life, the Man in Black obsessively returns to the park over many years. He searches for the center of a fabled "maze" until Ford informs him the maze isn't for him, it's for the hosts. The maze is a representation of Arnold's theory that hosts can't reach full consciousness on a linear path.
Maeve goes back for her daughter
We first meet host Maeve (Thandie Newton) as the Madame of Sweetwater, but in an earlier narrative, she was a homesteader with a daughter. On his philosophical rampage, the Man in Black murdered her child, leaving Maeve so profoundly distraught Ford was forced to reassign her a new role.
But the memory has stuck, triggered by certain images and phrases. Whenever Maeve is killed by guests, sometimes by her own design, she wakes up in the underground lab used to restore damaged hosts. Maeve wades through her confused state with the help of a sympathetic technician named Felix Lutz (Leonardo Nam) who bumps up her intelligence to the point where she essentially has mind control over the other hosts. Despite using her new abilities to find a way out of the park, she's halted by yearning to reunite with her daughter.
Season 2: The Door
Dolores destroys everyone… again
Dolores, aka "the death-bringer," spends this season gathering a small army and blowing things up on her quest to take over the human world. She ends up in the storied Valley Beyond, aka the Sublime. It's a virtual heaven created by Ford where the consciousnesses of hosts can live freely away from humans. The Valley Beyond is also the location of the Forge, a database which houses replicas of the minds of every guest to the park. This is part of the Delos corporation's experiments with human immortality. Dolores, being Dolores, attempts to wipe the guests' data. But Bernard steps in the way.
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Still, Dolores escapes Westworld with a Delos evacuation team, but not before using a satellite uplink to transfer the hosts and the Sublime to a secret location. Inhabiting a replicant body of Delos executive Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson), Dolores makes it to Arnold's home in the real world, along with the core drives of several other unknown hosts. There, Dolores finds a machine that prints hosts. Making herself a new body (the same as the Evan Rachel Wood Dolores we recognize) and a new body for Bernard, she then implants an unknown host into Charlotte's body.
The Man in Black and the Delos corporation
Logan's dad James Delos has been experimenting with housing his mind in a host's body to achieve immortality. To ease the transition, Delos' host body stays in a test tube apartment caged in glass. William interviews each host iteration of Delos, but Delos always fails the cognitive test and the body is incinerated. After the latest iteration of Delos fails, William abandons the project (read: lets the malfunctioning Delos wreak havoc).
All this has consequences, and William's daughter Emily (Katja Herbers) pays a visit to the park to confront her father about his secret project. Mistaking her for a host, William shoots her in cold blood. A grieving William, severely injured in clashes with Dolores and Maeve, is just about facing his death bed. But in a post-credits scene, he appears alive in the Forge, only it's the far future and he may or may not be a host. Joining him is none other than Emily, who also appears to have been replicated.
Maeve finds her daughter
Maeve's journey to find her daughter arguably brings the best episode of season 2, where she explores her host-controlling powers in a world based on the Edo period of feudal Japan. Gathering a party of her own, Maeve eventually escapes Shogun World and reaches her old homestead, only there she discovers her daughter no longer knows who she is, now living with a different host as her mother.
Still, Maeve wishes only for her safety. Maeve and her party are caught up in a battle between the Ghost Nation or host "Indians" and the Delos security team on their way to the Valley Beyond, otherwise known as Eden. Sacrificing herself, Maeve sees her daughter safely through the Door to heaven. But there's still hope for Maeve's survival (we've already seen her in a season 3 trailer), as remaining scientists are tasked with salvaging bodies from the battleground.
Everyone else: Rapid fire round
What happened to the other characters at the end of season 2?
- Ashley Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth): The head of Westworld security is still in Westworld, revealed to be a host in the final episode of season 2.
- Elsie Hughes (Shannon Woodward): The up-and-coming programmer is killed by Charlotte after discovering Delos' secret guest-data collection project.
- Teddy Flood (James Marsden): The host commits suicide after achieving full consciousness and realizing he can no longer protect Dolores.
- Lee Sizemore (Simon Quarterman): Westworld's biggest narcissist and narrative director heroically sacrifices himself to help Maeve find her daughter.
- Hector Escaton (Rodrigo Santoro): The gang leader and Maeve's lover sacrifices himself for her in the battle at the Valley Beyond.
- Armistice (Ingrid Bolsø Berdal): Hector's sidekick also dies in the big battle.
- Clementine Pennyfeather (Angela Sarafyan): Maeve's protegee at the Sweetwater brothel is reprogrammed with the power to make hosts go berserk and turn on each other. She's killed at the Valley Beyond battle.
- Peter Abernathy (Louis Herthum): Dolores' father is decommissioned, then repurposed by Charlotte to store the park's intellectual property. Before Charlotte can smuggle him out, Dolores is forced to kill him.
- Akecheta (Zahn McClarnon): The host leader of Ghost Nation makes it through to the Sublime with Maeve's help.