The Westworld season 3 finale features several longterm characters facing the end of their journey – but is one in particular as dead as they appear?
The Westworld season 3 ending sees some journeys come to an end, possibly including that of William – but is he actually dead? Co-created by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, the science-fiction series is based on Michael Crichton’s 1973 film, about a Western-themed park full of robots who start attacking the guests. The series first aired on HBO in 2016, earning rave reviews as it explored the deeper themes only touched upon in the movie. Though Westworld’s ratings have steeply declined, season 3 trod new ground – with Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) and fellow hosts now trying to survive in the real world.
Played by Ed Harris, William debuted in Westworld season 1. Established as the mysterious Man in Black, his backstory was slowly unfurled across overlapping timelines. In Westworld season 2, William was confronted by the consequences of his violent sins as Westworld’s robot uprising began in earnest. William remained haunted in Westworld season 3, as the tables were finally turned and he instead now found himself embroiled in a game of Dolores’ design. Used as a pawn and driven further into madness, he was forcibly committed and reduced to what was widely referred to as the Man in White – a development that Harris was opposed to. After a surreal therapy session, William emerged with a new-found belief that it was his purpose to save the world. To that end, he was recruited by Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) and Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth). As it turned out, however, an entirely different fate awaited him.
After shooting Stubbs and vowing to eradicate hosts from the planet, William wasn’t seen until the first of two post-credit scenes. Arriving at a Delos facility, he killed a security guard and made his way down to the building’s lower levels. There, he encountered the newly unstable version of Dolores inhabiting the form of Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson). Before William could act as her executioner, she revealed that she had been expecting him. Furthermore, she stated that his desire to save the world would come to fulfillment – but that it would be on behalf of hosts. It was then that she unveiled a host version of William in full Man in Black outfit. Engaging William in combat, the host made quick work of his human counterpart – ultimately slitting his throat.
Clutching at his wound, William dropped to the floor. Rather than following through on watching him die, however, the camera panned to show the extent of Charlotte/Dolores’ host building endeavor. It was a conspicuous decision that turned what could’ve been a decisive moment into something all the more ambiguous. Ordinarily, such a thing as a throat being cut would be irreparably final. Given the technological advancements demonstrated in Westworld, however, even such a wound as that could be easily fixed – if treated quickly enough.
If William did survive the encounter to fight another day, it will be a question for Westworld season 4 why Charlotte/Dolores allowed such a thing to happen. Fans, however, will likely be pleased by that development. Since the character’s inception, William has been a monstrous specter that hung over the lives of countless hosts. For decades, he tortured and abused Dolores. His list of victims also included Maeve and her daughter. As a result, viewers have been eager to see him get a brutal comeuppance. He’s come close several times, at the hands of both. But he always managed to escape, no matter the injuries he’d accumulated. Having him die now at the hands of someone else has the unmistakable feeling of anticlimax and lacks a truly cathartic power. Though, arguably, that may have been the unceremonious point.
Whatever the case ends up being, Harris will still be back for the recently confirmed Westworld season 4. As a host version of the Man in Black, it brings the character in line with the version played by Yul Brynner in the original movie. Not to mention it’ll also be more pleasing for Harris, too, as an actor. And should the original, human William survive another near-death experience, Westworld season 3 already gave Harris much practice in playing multiple versions of the character simultaneously.