This week saw the final feature-length episode of HBO’s Westworld hit screens, and it answered an awful lot of questions. From the real identity of Ed Harris’ Man in Black (he was an older version of Jimmi Simpson’s William, duh) to Dr Ford’s (Anthony Hopkins) real motives (unleashing sentient robots on the world, more or less), it’s safe to say enough was learned to permanently boost our bulk apperception.
However, one question on many a fan's lips went unanswered – where on Earth can the series go next when it returns in early 2018? What will happen, which characters will be there, and how will the world be expanded?
Still, don’t bust your circuits worrying too much – because we’ve compiled everything we DO know so far about the return to Westworld, and you’d have to have a heart of steel to avoid spending a few loops poring over it.
What will happen in Westworld series 2?
Two people who know an awful lot more than anyone about what we can expect, of course, are series showrunners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, who spoke to EW about their plans for next year.
“We talked about the idea that the first season has been the hosts' expanding understanding of the situation they’re in,” Nolan said. “There is an awful lot left to explore.”
“Now the thing we get to explore is once they’ve heard their own voices and once they’ve embraced who they are, what choices will they make?” Joy added.
“It speaks to a thing of how identity constantly evolves. They were steeped and raised in violence. These violent delights did indeed have violent ends at the end of the season. And I think we’re going to see how that pendulum swings going forward.”
More succinctly, during a Facebook Live event the pair were asked to describe season two in three words, with Nolan offering “total f***ing mayhem,” and Joy going for “madness and transcendence.” In another interview, they describe series two as “very ambitious”.
Overall, more of the same then.
Will we see other robot parks?
This week’s final episode teased the existence of other host-staffed parks when the characters encounter robot Samurai (Westworld is also referred to as “Park 1”), mirroring the fact that there are multiple parks (including Roman and Medieval settings) in the original Westworld movie and its sequel, Futureworld.
And according to Nolan and Joy, that’s something that we’ll be seeing more of in future seasons.
“We’re definitely teasing there are other worlds,” Joy said. “How many other worlds and what is the nature of the other worlds is something we’ll start to explore more in season two.”
Will any hosts enter the real world?
Maeve (Thandie Newton, above right) might have given up her chance at escaping the Delos resort to find her daughter, but season two could see at least one host escape into the wider, futuristic world.
“I would imagine that at least one, ultimately, gets a bigger look at the world,” Joy told the Vulture podcast. “Who and when, I'm not quite sure yet.”
Will the series focus less on the humans next time around?
The series finale saw the death of some human characters and the sidelining of others as the hosts began their revolution – but according to Nolan, we shouldn’t assume it’ll be a robot-led show in future.
“One of the great things about this omnibus, ensemble storytelling that HBO has mastered is the ability to shift that perspective and find empathy for different people,” he told The Hollywood Reporter, “and that’s something that we want to continue to play with throughout.”
However, it does seem like there won’t be any more human guests entering Westworld for the time being, with HBO in-universe websites DiscoverWestworld.com and DelosIncorporated.com explaining in rather creepy terms that the park is now closed.
“The park won’t be taking reservations for a long time to come, and you have to take responsibility for your small part in that,” chatbot Aeden said. “Wyatt will be coming to collect.”
Who’s coming back?
The Man in Black himself, Ed Harris has confirmed that he’s returning for Westworld series two, and though there have been no other announcements we’d assume most other non-dead leads (including Jeffrey Wright’s Bernard, Evan Rachel Wood’s Dolores, James Marsden’s Teddy and Thandie Newton’s Maeve) will also be making a comeback.
Joy and Nolan did reveal that two characters who were captured and missed the final couple of episodes – Luke Hemsworth’s security man Stubbs and Shannon Woodward’s programmer Elsie – still have a part to play in Westworld’s future, despite many fans fearing they had been killed off-screen.
“Their fates – we know where they’re going and we’ll get there,” Joy told EW.
Easter Eggs hidden on the Delos Incorporated site show Elsie still alive in the park (a voice clip of her saying “Hello?” is also buried there) so it seems like she survived her confrontation with Bernard earlier in the series.
Who’s definitely NOT coming back for series two?
It seems reasonably likely that Anthony Hopkins’ park creator Dr Ford (above right) will be gone from the series after his death in the finale, but Nolan urges we “assume nothing” considering the series’ “more advanced ruleset in terms of death and resurrection” (in other words, he could come back in flashbacks or in robot host form).
However, there is one cast member who’s definitely ruled themselves out of returning – young man in Black William, aka Jimmi Simpson, who told Vanity Fair that he isn’t reprising the role next series.
“My William has served his purpose,” he said. “As of now, I’ll be done at the end of season one.”
How long do we have to wait for more episodes?
Alas, all our other questions will remain unanswered until 2018, when the series will return after a long break.
“Look, we said to the network very early that this was a different kind of show, having gone through the experience of making the pilot,” Nolan told THR.
“We knew for ourselves that going forward, the production is enormously challenging and ambitious, and so is the writing. So we said very early on that we wouldn't be able to turn this around every year, and knowing full well that that's been a time-honored tradition in television.
“But in film, my other life, on the Batman movies, the best we could do is turn another one around in three years. I really feel like we're splitting the difference here.”
Oh well – hopefully the violent ends to these violent delights will be well worth waiting for.
Westworld will return