Now that we’ve had enough time to digest the Westworld season one finale, I wanted to take a look towards Westworld season 2. What do we know about the second season of this hit HBO series? I took a deep dive into interviews with Westworld co-creators and showrunners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, as well as chats with the series’ stars Evan Rachel Wood, Jimmi Simpson and Anthony Hopkins, a Facebook live Q&A as well as HBO’s ARG website and marketing materials.
In total, I swam through over two dozen different sources to uncover everything we know about Westworld season 2. So what did I find out? Hit the jump to board the train to Sweetwater.
Doctor Ford Is Dead, But Anthony Hopkins Could Return
Jonathan Nolan has confirmed that Ford is “dead,” putting to rest theories that Dolores murdered a host version of the park founder. He told IGN, “That was definitely a real Ford.” We do know that it was Dolores’ choice to kill Ford, and not a planned loop by the park creator: “it’s not that Ford couldn’t have anticipated it … he knows he could have predicted this outcome, but it’s absolutely her call. It’s a bold new starting point for her character.” As for why Ford needed to die, Nolan explains that the hosts “realize the only way for these creatures to be truly free is for that God to die.”
If on a very literal level, if Ford’s voice is the last thing … we’ve established his voice as an almost telepathic control of the park. The only thing standing between the guests and the hosts is Ford, so he removes himself from that equation.
But that doesn’t mean Anthony Hopkins can’t return for Westworld season 2. Talking with Deadline, Nolan commented, “Well, that version of Ford is dead.” He could return to play a host version of the character or appear in possible flashback sequences. When asked about this prospect in interviews, Nolan admitted that “with this show, you want to assume nothing,” before offering, “It was one of the greatest privileges of my career so far getting to work with Anthony for the first season.”
In another interview, Nolan says, “As for the show, where it goes, the characters — we’ve well established we’re playing in a more advanced ruleset in terms of death and resurrection than other [projects] I’ve worked on. So I would say: Assume nothing.”
During their Facebook Live broadcast, one viewer asked if Ford could have created a host version of himself using that fabrication machine in his secret underground laboratory. The producers called the question “really, really good” but wouldn’t answer it directly, only noting that Ford’s “sacrifice is real.”
I think in this line of questioning, we are approaching it from the view of a human. Maybe Ford doesn’t see the benefit of keeping his aging old human body alive? Maybe he did fabricate a host version of himself, and that is the version that will continue his life and legacy through the immortality of his creation.
Each Season Will Have a Distinct Feel and Theme
Jonathan Nolan has said that their goal is “to tell an ambitious story in season-long chapters, each with a distinct feel and theme.” So the big question is, what will be the distinct feel and theme of the second season? The answer may lie in our next quote:
Season 2 Will Be About Chaos and Transcendence
In the end of season featurette, Jonathan Nolan revealed that the second season would be about chaos:
If the first season was defined by control, the second season is defined by chaos. That’s part of what we come to understand Ford has been planning all along … Ford has set in motion what he thinks is a plan. The nature of that plan is something we explore in the second season. What his intentions are: are they to let Dolores or the other Hosts escape? Are they simply to teach the human guests a lesson?
Producer J.J. Abrams also added, “What happens at the dawn of consciousness? What happens when you begin to actually wake up? Elsewhere, when asked for three words each to describe season 2 during their Facebook Live, Nolan said “total f–king mayhem,” while Joy added “madness and transcendence.” Commenting to THR, Lisa Joy noted that the control vs. chaos theme reminds her of the Langston Hughes poem “about what happens to a dream deferred. We’ve set this up as Dolores living in a dream, but it’s someone else’s dream. She can’t live her own life. Then, at the end, we see. It explodes and goes out with a bang.”
Don’t Expect to See a Lot of the Same Sets
Nolan has said they have no intentions on revisiting the same locations season to season:
We never had any intention of staying in one place. We don’t want to shoot on the same sets for 10 years. We want to blow the sets up and move on to another piece of the story. So we said when we started working on the series that we wanted to be ambitious. We wanted each season to increase in that ambition and in the scope of the show. It also follows the story of our hosts. Their lives begin in loops, and then expand and change and grow. It’s an origin of a new species. We want to follow that story all the way to the bitter end.
Now does this mean the show will leave Westworld behind altogether and transition to Shogun World? I don’t think so.
Westworld Will Still Be the Center of This Show
But Nolan warns us that “this series is called Westworld” and that “Westworld remains the center of our narrative.”
That’s the title of the show and that’s what we’re doing, so that will remain the center and heart of what we’re doing. But we’re going to see the hosts start to realize and almost be offended by this notion: “Wait, we’re not the only ones here? There’s more?”
In another interview, he says “the hosts are going to become more curious about what else there is in this world for them to understand and explore. That’s where we want our show to go as well.”
Season One Was a Prequel to the Actual Show
Star Evan Rachel Wood has said that the first season of Westworld is “an amazing prequel and a good setup for the actual show.” But what does she mean by that? Nolan has explained that Ford’s story in this season was “a prologue to the larger story that we’re telling.”
In this narrative Ford is God. This is the death of God as the jumping off point for our story but also a full meal to itself.
Season 2 Will Shine Light On Guest Experience
Ome aspect we wish they showed more of was the guest experience of attending Westworld. Nolan told TV Line that the writers talked a lot about how the experience would feel for guests and they “laid out a lot of that logic in the writers’ room.” But when it became apparent that the season’s focus was the hosts, “it didn’t feel appropriate to spend too much time illuminating how unreal this place is, because the hosts believe in it so much up until that horrifying moment when they realize that it’s an artificial world. So we didn’t get bogged down in it.” But he promises that season two will “spend a little bit more time” in “shining a light on those aspects of the park — what does it feel like to come to it as a guest? — just a little bit before the mayhem starts.”