What happens after the end of the world? If we’re talking about Charlotte Hale’s failed utopia on Westworld, what follows is a chance to start anew.
Season 4 ended with the destruction we (especially Bernard) saw coming, with humans and hosts killing each other in the streets, descending into madness and possibly even extinction; but there’s also a spark of hope that Dolores can make a new world, one that can actually lead to freedom. We know she’s capable of it, too: as the season progressed, she (as the character Christina) began to understand her ability to control the narrative and characters around her.
At the end of the season 4 finale, Charlotte, per Bernard’s advice, chooses to put her trust in Dolores. She uploads Dolores’ pearl (her consciousness) into the Sublime and, from there, Dolores can create one final test. “One last loop around the bend. Maybe this time we’ll set ourselves free,” she says. We can assume that plot point will be the focus of season 5.
Here’s what else we know.
Has Westworld been renewed for fifth season?
There’s been no public confirmation yet. But the closest thing we have is Ed Harris’ July interview with The Hollywood Reporter, in which he said, “We have one more season, which will start filming next April and May. I have no idea where that’s going to end up.” While he hinted that production for season 5 will begin in spring 2023, did he just let slip that the fifth season will be Westworld’s last?
Earlier reports have said the series could even go up to six seasons, but the season 4 ending does seem like the story is being set up for a grand finale. Dolores’ intentions to create “one last game” and a “final test,” along with hints that next season will take place once again in the Westworld park, where it all started, seem to signal that we’re reaching the end of the maze.
What will season 5 be about?
We’ll have to go off of our own theories for now, but the season 4 finale has given us a lot to chew on. The closing scenes suggest we’re going back to the Westworld park, but it’s not physically the same place we saw in previous seasons. This is a version Dolores, now in the sublime, has rendered from her memories of the real park. She’s set it up as a final test—“a dangerous game with the highest of stakes: survival or extinction,” as she puts it.
Along with hosting this experiment, Dolores will be likely on the search for Teddy—the real Teddy in the sublime, not the version of him she subconsciously created within Charlotte’s world. During their loving goodbye, he tells her to come find him; and we’re sure that’s exactly what she’ll do. They’re each other’s cornerstones after all. Surely they can’t stay apart for long.
Which cast members will return?
Considering nearly every character is now a host, which means they can be easily brought back to life if they met their end in season 4, there could be hope to see even the fallen soldiers back up and running come season 5. We’re hoping that Evan Rachel Wood, Jeffrey Wright, Thandiwe Newton, Luke Hemsworth, and Aaron Paul return. And perhaps an appearance from James Marsden, who made his grand return this season, and Angela Sarafyan and Zahn McClarnon, who popped in for a few cameos.
It’s unclear if we’ll see Ed Harris again, as it’s unclear how William can reincarnate after Charlotte kills him and destroys his pearl in the season 4 finale. Same goes for Tessa Thompson, since Charlotte destroyed her own pearl at the end of the episode. But then again, this is Westworld. Anything is possible.
Erica Gonzales is the Senior Culture Editor at ELLE.com, where she oversees coverage on TV, movies, music, books, and more. She was previously an editor at HarpersBAZAAR.com. There is a 75 percent chance she’s listening to Lorde right now.