Showrunner Jonathan Nolan told ET his goal was to 'blow [fans'] minds and to blow up a lot of other sh*t too.'
That was the central question going into Sunday's season three finale of Westworld. Last week's penultimate episode saw Dolores and Maeve (Thandie Newton) both incapacitated after their brutal sword fight... but that didn't mean Dolores' plans for total world destruction would fail. In fact, as Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) revealed, Caleb wasn't just there to help Dolores with her grand plan -- he was the grand plan.
On Sunday's episode, Caleb fulfilled Dolores' wishes, but not for the reasons he thought. Dolores didn't pick him because of his penchant for violence; she chose him for his capacity to choose between that and generosity. With Maeve's help, Caleb successfully destroyed Rehoboam and -- plot twist, the person the program controlled -- Serac (Vincent Cassel), and Bernard opened the key to a new world.
"She wasn't trying to exterminate the human race. She was trying to save it," Bernard told Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth), after sensing Dolores' death. Yes, it seems we've finally lost her... or this version of her. "Humanity never reckoned with its own sins."
"Our world had to burn down until we could be free," he noted. "But there's still a chance."
With that, Bernard put on some headgear and looked into the future.
Now united, Maeve and Caleb looked upon the beautiful destruction Dolores had hoped for. "This is the new world," Maeve said. "And in this world, you can be whoever the f**k you want."
The credits rolled but the show wasn't over -- like last season, the post-credits scene was all about the Man in Black (Ed Harris). He had managed to escape the violence and head to a research facility, ready to "save the world." "You're right on time, William," Hale (Tessa Thompson) greeted him. And so did a host version of himself.
"Welcome to the end, William," his host counterpart said, slitting his throat. The camera panned to reveal Hale's hosts in the making, and then shot us right back to Bernard, waking up surrounded by dust and wearing his headgear. What does he know?!
Showrunners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy told ET's Leanne Aguilera at Westworld's season three premiere that they had one very specific goal in mind for the finale: "To blow [fans'] minds."
"Blow their minds and to blow up a lot of other sh*t too," Nolan playfully added.
Westworld has already been renewed for a fourth season -- so that big cliffhanger will be resolved eventually.
But what was the cast's reaction that epic conclusion? After a season full of Game of Thrones crossovers, a shocking Four-lores twist and cameos galore -- here's what they told ET about Westworld's season three ending:
VINCENT CASSEL: I was surprised, but I loved it. This way to always keep things open but giving satisfaction at the same time -- it's always very clever.
THANDIE NEWTON: It's unexpected and my god does it open up for opportunities in the future. Wow. Talk about a cliffhanger!
TESSA THOMPSON AND EVAN RACHEL WOOD:
Thompson: Yeah, it's a doozy.
Wood: Well, this season is more linear and I feel like this season unfolds in a way that's less like, "Here's a surprise! And here's a surprise! And here's a surprise!" And more like, all the surprises are saved for the finale. Not all of them, it's still Westworld. We still have surprises, but the finale was the big shock for me. That was when the big bomb dropped.
Thompson: I think it's just in general such an exciting season, because I think as hosts there's this idea of getting out of the park and that in the world there is freedom, and I think what this season presents is that the world is maybe not as free as we think it is -- that humankind is on a loop on its own. And I feel like if we look at like, the way that we are tethered to our phones and the way that data controls us, it's kind of true, it's not just speculative fiction. I think with the show, the question is asking us a question of today.
Wood: And what are the consequences of today, tomorrow.
AARON PAUL: Oh my god. I was begging for the finale, we all were for so long. You know sometimes we get the scripts a little ahead and in advance and sometimes it's just the night before we're shooting it. This was definitely one of those times.
It was exciting, you know? I had it on my lap and I poured a nice big glass of red wine and i just slowly took my time with it -- and it's a wild one.
JEFFREY WRIGHT: Yeah, that's Westworld.
See more on the HBO series in the video below.