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Westworld season 3 preview: Full timeline so you can catch up before it airs

Westworld season 3
(Image credit: John P. Johnson/HBO)

Westworld season 3 is almost here, but are you ready? Yes, the violent delights of Westworld will have violent ends once again when the HBO sci-fi drama returns next week, but if you feel a little fuzzy about the show, we've got everything you need to recall the state of play.

The new Westworld season premieres on March 15, a little less than two years since the second season ended. The finale blew up the show’s foundation, taking the action outside of the park and into the real world. 

The Westworld season 3 trailer indicates we'll be seeing almost a completely new show, with a new setting, new characters (including one played by Breaking Bad star Aaron Paul) and new philosophical questions. 

Westworld jumps around in time, using flashbacks, memories and other narrative trickery to keep viewers guessing. So, if you’re confused as to what happens when, you are not alone, which is why we built this handy timeline. It goes over the most important events to remember for Westworld season 3.

Note: This timeline is based on the timestamp shown in footage of Maeve (Thandie Newton) and her crew almost breaking out of the park: June 15, 2052. 

The abridged Westworld timeline aka the tl;dr version

OK, so the below timeline is a lot. It basically broke my brain to write. If you just want the nitty-gritty, five things to know before watching Westworld season 3, here they are:

1. Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins) and Arnold Weber (Jeffrey Wright) created AI hosts that looked and acted like humans. Both ended up regretting their work and died.

2. The hosts began to evolve. Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) and Maeve (Thandie Newton) both achieved full consciousness. 

3. William (Jimmi Simpson) and Delos have been secretly storing guests’ consciousness to place into hosts. 

4. The hosts rebelled against the park employees in bloody fashion and some were able to go to a digital heaven. 

5. Dolores escaped the park with several pearls holding the consciousness of hosts. She plans to wage war against humanity. 

Westworld 3

(Image credit: HBO)

The full Westworld timeline

Around 2015: Pre-Westworld 

Robert Ford and Arnold Weberbegin creating AI hosts, and pitch the idea of a park to investor Logan Delos (Ben Barnes). 

Around 2017: Westworld's origins

Arnold develops a maze to test if Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) can gain consciousness. 

Feeling guilty that he’s created something terrible, he uploads the murderous character Wyatt (Sorin Brouwers) into Dolores and arranges a massacre of all the hosts and himself.

Ford buries Escalante, the site of the massacre, under sand. Only  the church remains. He opens Westworld.

At some point, Ford creates Bernard (again, Jeffrey Wright), an AI version of Arnold that poses as an engineer at the park.

2022: Guests arrive at Westworld

Logan Delos brings William to Westworld for the first time. William meets Dolores while she experiences a reawakening that drives her to find the maze again. They leave behind Logan.

After Dolores and William find the buried Escalante, Logan catches up to them and reminds William that she is a host. Later, Dolores is wiped of all memories of William. This triggers his transformation into the Man in Black (Ed Harris).

Westworld

(Image credit: HBO)

Left to fend for himself, the naked and sun-crazed Logan tells Akecheta (Zahn McClarnon), the leader of the Native American tribe Ghost Nation, that the park is not real. He begins to remember his other lives and also sees construction equipment at the edge of the park. Akecheta begins to spread this information to his fellow Ghost Nation hosts, using the symbol of the maze on their scalps.

William convinces his future father-in-law James Delos (Peter Mullan) to invest more into the park. He usurps Logan’s place in the company. He later marries Juliet Delos (first Claire Unabia, then Sela Ward) and they have a daughter.

Now in charge of Delos, William starts building the Forge, to house all the data they glean from the park’s guests.

2032

James retires and later dies. His son, Logan, also dies (of a drug overdose). 

2040

William visits an AI version of James, but he isn’t functioning perfectly.

2051

The Man in Black (an older William) visits the park. His wife is dead and he’s estranged from his daughter, Emily (Katja Herbers, and Adison LaPenna as young Emily). As an outlet for his pain, he brutally attacks Maeve and her daughter. 

Westworld

(Image credit: HBO)

An unconsolable Maeve is wiped and reprogrammed as the madam of Sweetwater’s brothel.

Akecheta meets Ford and impresses him with his level of consciousness. Ford advises him to watch for the “death-bringer” (Dolores) and then lead his people to a new world.

2052: Westworld season 1

The Man in Black begins to search for the maze he has heard about over the years.

Ford releases an update introducing “reveries” that allow hosts to remember past lives. 

Peter Abernathy (Louis Herthum as Old Peter, and Bradford Tatum later on), the host father of Dolores, sees a real-world photo of William’s wife Juliet. This causes him to short-circuit and pass on Arnold’s phrase “These violent delights have violent ends” to Dolores. She, in turn, repeats it to Maeve. This sets both of them on the path to full consciousness.

Maeve repeatedly dies so she can interact with a technician, Felix (Leonardo Nam). He bumps up her intelligence level, which allows her control over other hosts. Maeve recruits Felix to help her escape the park, but just as she’s about to leave, she decides to go back and find her daughter. 

Park employees Theresa Cullen (Sidse Babett Knudsen) and Elsie Hughes (Shannon Woodward) begin to register that certain hosts are behaving strangely. Theresa teams up with executive board member Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson) to smuggle intellectual property out of the park via satellite uplink. Elsie figures this out and tells Bernard, who attacks her.

Ford creates a new Wyatt storyline, over the objections of narrative design lead Lee Sizemore (Simon Quarterman). Charlotte convinces Lee to hide the Forge data in the Peter Abernathy host.

Westworld

(Image credit: HBO)

Dolores retraces her steps in the maze. The Man in Black, with Teddy’s help, finds her Escalante. But he soon realizes the maze is not for him, it’s for hosts to achieve consciousness. Dolores is horrified to realize that the Man in Black is William. 

Ford orders Bernard to upload his consciousness to the Cradle. Later, he also orders Bernard to kill Theresa. Ford wipes Bernard’s memory.

Ford helps Dolores remember killing Arnold and she completes her journey to full consciousness. He gives her a gun and she shoots him in front of the entire board.

The hosts rebel. Dolores and Teddy go on a killing spree of the board members. Dolores intends to take over the real world, too.

2052: Westworld season 2

An injured Bernard and Charlotte flee the massacre, but she learns that they won’t be extracted from the park until they find “the package,” Peter Abernathy (and the Forge data he’s storing). They find him, but both Peter and Bernard are taken hostage by Confederados, a band of ex-Army soldiers. Charlotte escapes.

The Man in Black learns of the Door, a new game devised for him by Ford, and recruits old friend Lawrence to help him. Akecheta is also searching for the Door.

Back in the park to find her daughter, Maeve forms a team including Felix, Sylvester, Hector, Armistice and Lee Sizemore. They wind up entering Shogun World.

Dolores begins gathering an army to venture to Glory aka the Valley Beyond. Along the way, they run into the Confederados, who have her father, Peter Abernathy. 

Charlotte and a security team sweep in and take Peter. Dolores gives chase.

During the raid, Bernard is taken to a cave where he finds Elsie. He reveals that he is a host and asks for help in repairing himself. In the facility, he discovers that he created another consciousness for Ford but doesn’t remember who it was.

Westworld

(Image credit: HBO)

In the Raj park, Emily (William’s daughter) is trying to survive the chaos. She, along with security chief Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth), is captured by Ghost Nation hosts. When she escapes, she runs into her father.

In Shogun World, Maeve realizes that Lee cut corners and essentially made its storyline a version of Sweetwater. She decides to help her counterpart, Akane (Rinko Kikuchi), and Akane’s daughter by taking down the Shogun. After that, Maeve and crew go to Homestead.

Now that she has the package, Peter Abernathy, Charlotte contacts Delos. Stubbs, who has escaped Ghost Nation, returns to Mesa. They greet the extraction team led by Coughlin (Timothy V. Murphy).

Bernard and Elsie also return to Mesa, where they enter the Cradle. He discovers that Ford’s consciousness has been uploaded to it. Ford’s consciousness merges with Bernard and together, they disable the park’s systems.

Things are tense between William and Emily. He abandons her and makes his way to Homestead, where he runs into Maeve. Out of revenge, she shoots him. 

In Mesa, Dolores arrives and finds Abernathy. She takes his pearl (the drive holding his conscious), then blows up the Cradle, destroying the hosts’ backup files.

Emily rescues the injured William and informs him that she’s going to reveal his dirty secret project of copying guests’ consciousness. But he accuses her of being a host and shoots her.

Lee and crew bring a bullet-riddled Maeve back to Mesa. There, she gets a message from Ford giving her park admin rights. She can use this to fight back against Charlotte, who wants to destroy all the hosts.

Dolores and Bernard meet up and head to the Forge. She wants to destroy it, but Bernard shoots her instead. He takes her pearl, replaces it with Abernathy’s pearl, then triggers the flood failsafe. 

Maeve and crew head to the Valley Beyond, where hosts are going through the Door. Maeve is gunned down, but Akecheta, Maeve’s daughter and others make it through to a virtual heaven. 

Bernard returns to Mesa, where he sees Elsie confront Charlotte about Delos secretly storing guests’ consciousness. Charlotte shoots her, horrifying Bernard. This pushes him to become fully conscious.

Bernard builds a copy of Charlotte’s body and puts Dolores’ pearl in it. Dolores then kills the real Charlotte. 

Westworld

(Image credit: HBO)

Bernard scrambles his memories and wakes up on the beach, confused. He is found by the security team.

The Delos security team, led by Strand, discover the flooded valley filled with host bodies. They are also told by Charlotte/Delores that Abernathy has gone missing again. The valley is drained and the hosts are sent back to Mesa.

At Mesa, the security team realizes that the Cradle has been destroyed, with all of the host backups. 

Strand takes Bernard and Stubbs to Ford’s cabin. In the cabin is a room full of Bernard copies. Charlotte/Delores forces Bernard to tell her where Abernathy’s pearl is. 

When Bernard takes them back to the Forge, he admits that he put Dolores’ pearl in Charlotte’s body. Dolores then kills the entire security team.

Dolores uploads the Valley Beyond data to a secret satellite location. She kills Bernard and takes his and Abernathy’s pearls with her as she leaves the island. She has a total of five pearls. We don’t know who the other pearls are.

She goes to Arnold’s house, where she makes new bodies for herself and Bernard. She places one of the unknown pearls into Charlotte’s body. She tells Bernard that they will go their separate ways to figure out how to protect hosts from humans.

Sometime after 2052 (flashforward)

A copy of William enters the Forge and meets a host version of his daughter, Emily. She gives him a fidelity test, much like he did years ago with the James Delos host.