This story contains spoilers for Season 2, episode 10 of Westworld, titled "The Passenger" and speculation for Season 3. Check out our Season 2 finale review here.
The Westworld Season 2 finale leaves us with two major cliffhangers: In the episode's official ending, we see that Dolores, Bernard and another unidentified host (in Charlotte Hale's body) are now out in the real world beyond the park, and Dolores is ready to go scorched earth on mankind in retribution for the years of torture the hosts have endured. Bernard, on the other hand, is determined to stop her, since he still sees the good in humanity. (Even after being double-crossed by Elsie, who then poetically got double-crossed by Hale!)
The finale's post-credits scene finds William at some point in the future, seemingly trapped in his own loop and replaying the events that led to his daughter's death - there's even a host version of Emily there to test him for "fidelity." Is he a host at that point in the future? Possibly, but as we explore in our post-credits explainer, the Man in Black definitely hasn't been a host all along.
But we may not get an explanation for that William flash-forward for several seasons, according to co-creator Lisa Joy, who told The Wrap, "We get the feeling that, in the far-flung future, the Man has been somehow reconjured and brought into this world and he’s being tested the same way the humans used to test the hosts. And that is a storyline that one day we’ll see more of."
Emphasis on "one day." So we shouldn't necessarily expect a time jump in Season 3, which will instead follow Dolores and Bernard outside the park, as Joy told the Hollywood Reporter: "I think that storyline is something we'll get to eventually. But season three, the main story, will not be leaping forward that far forward."
Joy expanded on that idea further in her interview with The Wrap, pointing out that they've got a lot of story to mine from the new positions that Dolores and Bernard find themselves in now that they're free: "It was always the plan to explore the real world and we have Dolores there, Bernard’s there and a creature that is certainly inhabiting Hale’s body is there. So we’ll come to know more of who 'Hale' is. There are three hosts out in the world and next season will really be an exploration of what they find and who they become."
Plus, there are those five "pearls" that Dolores snuck out in Hale's handbag. "There is host data in the actual hosts who did not 'sublime' [i.e. cross over into that digital paradise] — so their CPUs are still intact. So, if they didn’t sublime, those pearls still contain their information," Joy told The Wrap. "In each of those little balls in the purse is a host, so there is a handful of them — but not an infinite amount of them. There are five. One host per pearl." Who's on them will be explored in Season 3, but it might not be as obvious as we'd think - since we don't know if Dolores had time to retrieve the CPUs from Maeve, Hector, or Armistice before she left.
We also got to see three out of the six Delos parks in Season 2, including The Raj and Shogun World, but there are still three others that have yet to be explored. In an interview with EW, co-creator Jonathan Nolan hinted that since "not all of our favorite characters have managed to escape yet," there could be an opportunity to visit the other parks in future seasons.
Since it was implied that Felix and Sylvester would be able to salvage Maeve's body in the finale, if she's not on one of the pearls Dolores stole, perhaps she'll be our eyes and ears on the inside in Season 3, still fighting to free more hosts from Delos' grip - since it's clear that only Westworld's lucky hosts made it to the "sublime" digital world.
But perhaps the biggest question for the next season has nothing to do with the plot - when will Season 3 actually premiere? Nolan told EW that "there’s going to be a bit of a wait for a third season," admitting "we’re still talking it through, honestly, with our friends at HBO, and with the cast and the crew. We want to take the time to make every season as exciting as possible. And we have an enormous challenge going into Season 3 with the worlds that we’re building going forward. We want to make sure we have the time to do that right."
Since Season 1 ended in December 2016, and Season 2 didn't premiere until April 2018, that means we could be looking at more than a year's wait for Westworld Season 3. EW suggested that the show might return at the end of 2018 or the beginning of 2019, and although Nolan didn't confirm an exact return date (because it sounds like it hasn't been decided yet), given the elaborate production values of the season, plus the fact that Dolores, Bernard and "Hale" will presumably now be in a futuristic version of the real world, it's doubtful the showrunners will want to rush things.
Wondering what to watch now Westworld's over? Check out our picks for the best new shows of 2018 so far in the gallery below, and share your predictions for Westworld Season 3 in the comments!