It may be one of the most confusing shows to follow, but Westworld season 4 was confirmed a couple of weeks before the Westworld season 3 finale, indicating the HBO sci-fi drama is still enormously popular. The futuristic thriller from showrunners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy reinvented itself last time around, and it seems to have retained enough of an audience to keep going.
"From the western theme park to the technocratic metropolis of the near future, we've thoroughly enjoyed every twist and turn," said president of HBO programming, Casey Bloys in a company statement. "We can't wait to see where their inspired vision takes us next."
The previous season largely ignored the android-filled play park for the rich, as we spent most of our time in the human world, and its final scenes suggest that isn’t about to change for season 4.
Spoilers for the season 3 finale follow, so make sure you're all caught up before you dive into everything we know about the season 4 release date, cast, and story direction.
An Instagram post shared by Jeffrey Wright (Bernard) suggests filming for Westworld season 4 is now underway. We also know Prodigal Son's Aurora Perrineau has joined the cast as a major character.
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Westworld season 4 release date: don't expect it before 2022
There's no concrete release date yet, but it won't be soon. The gap between seasons has typically been two years or so, which isn’t surprising for a VFX-heavy show like Westworld. While the wait may be shorter if season 4 runs to eight episodes as season 3 did - the first two each had ten - it’s unlikely we’ll see Bernard and the gang again before 2022.
We do know production is underway, though, thanks to an Instagram post shared by Jeffrey Wright (Bernard) hinted that filming has begun. The actor accompanied the post with the caption, “Good morning… old friend”, a less-than-cryptic reference to Bernard’s relationship with Anthony Hopkins’ character, Dr. Robert Ford.
Westworld season 4 cast and story: are we heading to the far future?
We don't know any specifics as to what’s to come next, but we know we won’t be seeing a certain maniacal trillionaire again. Serac (Vincent Cassel) is now dead, with his ridiculously advanced AI no longer controlling humanity.
What's less clear is the fate of Dolores Abernathy (Evan Rachel Wood). Technically she won't be truly dead unless all the hosts perish, as she was revealed to be the template machine on which all others were based. However, the femme fatale version of Abernathy bent on taking down the human world order appears to be no more: Serac deleted her memories in search of the keys to the Sublime, a secret server to which some hosts have escaped.
The thing is, humans and hosts return from death with such regularity in Westworld that there’s always a chance that characters can return as hosts. However, Wood implied that Dolores as we know her may properly be finished this time in an interview on The Tonight Show: "I think obviously it's been proven, you know, it's quite hard to get rid of characters, but I do think certain things are final."
"Dolores is gone,” Nolan said to Variety. "We love Evan Rachel Wood and we haven’t started talking publicly about exactly what the show looks like going forward. But it looks very different." Perhaps we may need to get used to a Westworld without her, then.
Back to the Sublime, and Bernard’s (Jeffrey Wright) final scene suggests that we may be heading even further in the future, perhaps to find "an answer to what comes after the end of the world". Once we discover that he has the keys to this android afterlife, not Dolores, he puts on a mysterious headset. Then we see him covered in dust, as if he's spent many years physically in the same spot.
Since humanity is descending into anarchy, there's still plenty to be resolved in the present. As Caleb (Aaron Paul) continues the revolution in Dolores' stead, Maeve (Thandie Newton) searches for her daughter and Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson) builds her host army alongside an android version of the Man in Black (Ed Harris), could we experience different timelines with Bernard in the future? Or a far-future world where the hosts are the dominant force?
Either way, while no cast details have been confirmed beyond the addition of Prodigal Son's Aurora Perrineau, we'd predict these key characters will return for season 4.
Westworld must build on season 3's simpler story
After the show's promising premise was established in season 1, the second became much too complex. With characters dying and returning all over the place, the stakes became ever lower, and it was easy to lose track of who was alive, dead, or Dolores.
Season 3 was a soft reset as the action mostly unfolded in a more digestible single timeline. Westworld season 4 should continue this approach: we don't want to have to get a pen and paper out just to remember what's going on.
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