'Westworld' Season 2: Everything We Know So Far

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.

Westworld Season Finale Spoiler Review

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.

westworld ed harris

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:

westworld dolores and man in black

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."

Westworld giant machine

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."

westworld delores and the man in black

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.

westworld jimmi simpson

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."

westworld wyatt

Will Dolores Go Full Wyatt in Season 2?

We have no idea what Dolores might be like in the second season. Will she be more like the Dolores we met at the beginning of the season, or more angry and violent like we saw in the finale? Joy says that is something we'll come to see, and something that Dolores will also come to find also.

If you've been subjected to the violence and seen the evil Dolores has seen, the pendulum wouldn't swing the other way, as we see it starting to do in the finale. But there's a point, too, where I think selfhood transcends the reactionary. The question will be when the dust settles and the pendulum stops swinging, who will Dolores be?

westworld jimmi simpson ben barnes

Will Jimmi Simpson Return as William?

In Westworld season one, Jimmi Simpson played William, a character who was revealed to be the 30-years-younger version of Ed Harris' Man in Black. So now that we are past the flashbacks, many fans have wondered if Simpson will reprise his role in some way. The show could feature more flashbacks or possibly William could be turned into a host (remember, those Westworld contracts require guests to sign away their DNA to DELOS). But if you ask the actor, you get three different answers.

Simpson told The Insider that "I definitely do not know that I am returning." But in a separate interview with Vanity Fair, Simpson simply said "no" when asked if he was coming back: "My William has served his purpose. As of now, I'll be done at the end of season one."

And in a third interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Simpson was asked the same question and gave the following answer: "Well, you know. Nothing's permanent. I'm not contracted to go back, but I'm sure there's a possibility." Asked by THR whether he feels like there's more to do with the character, Simpson responded:

Certainly, William kept going back to the park during all those years ... There are certainly stories they could tell. Based on these writers' skills, if it was their intention for young William to return, I know that he would be there for solid and interesting reasons. But I think this story is told, the story of William and Dolores' love affair. I think that story, tragically, has been told.

When the showrunners were enquired about the prospect of Simpson and Ben Barnes returning as William and Logan, Nolan would only answer, "I would say assume nothing with this show."

westworld finale samurai world

We Will See Other DELOS Worlds

The season finale of Westworld introduced the idea that DELOS also operates other theme parks. We see a backstage area with Samurai warriors, and it looks like we'll eventually encounter other worlds as well. Joy says that "the fun and challenge of this show is that season upon season, we'll only get more ambitious." And that they will "ultimately encounter other worlds," it's "just when and where remains to be seen." Nolan added that there are multitudes of "other places here" that "we hope to explore that in the seasons going forward."

westworld season finale

Season Two Will Move at Warp Speed

One complaint some viewers had about the first season was that it started off a bit slowly. Evan Rachel Wood has teased that season 2 will move a lot faster:

I know a little about what's coming in Season 2. I know how our ending for Season 1 will segue into Season 2 and... wow. That's all I can say. I think it was always that Season 1 was going to be this backstory and set up — getting to know the park and characters. I think Season 2 is really going to be warp speed. The show might really start in Season 2.

I wonder if we could possibly see a jump forward in time.


Season Two Will Explore the Robots' Needs

During the first season, Nolan was asked about how the Hosts are powered. He couldn't provide an answer, but only because he says that will be a key element that will be explored in season 2:

Their construction and their power source is something we're really going to get into during season 2. So we'd like to keep that mysterious. They're closer to biological than they are to mechanical, but they don't suffer brain death the same way we do. They're largely indistinguishable from a human beings, but their brains don't require oxygen — which opens up interesting possibilities. Their brains are not as fragile as ours. On one hand, their cognition is controllable and malleable, but on a structural level they can't be killed in the same way you and I can. There are advantages and disadvantages to being a host. Season 2 we'll be exploring more the nuts and bolts of what they are— as the hosts themselves are trying to understand.

While they can't suffer brain death, it makes me wonder what kind of resource is required to keep them operational. And will we learn that they need the humans to facilitate this resource?

westworld park 1

We Will Learn How Many Other Worlds Exist

This is probably most evident. The Westworld season one finale introduced us to the idea that Westworld is "Park 1," with us getting a glimpse of another theme park, SW, featuring samurai warriors. Lisa Joy says that "how many other worlds and what is the nature of the other worlds is something we'll start to explore more in season 2." Nolan says that the second season is "about opening up the world a little bit, as the hosts start discovering it."

That was the idea from the beginning: We only know what the hosts know. As the scope opens up in the second season, we'll see more, but 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?'

Nolan has also revealed that Ford "has had a great deal of sway over everything we're seeing," including these new parks.

westworld sw door

Does SW Stand for Samurai World or Shogun World?

In the season one finale of Westworld, we saw a new facility with an SW logo. The new facility featured hosts in samurai costumes practicing their sword fighting. Nolan has been asked if SW stands for Samurai world, and his response was "Stay tuned." When EW asked if the S stood for Samurai or Shogun, Nolan responded: "Those are good guesses."

HBO this week registered the domains ExploreSamuraiWorld.com and ExploreShogunWorld.com for potential viral sites to possibly use alongside ExploreWestworld.com. Registering both domain names seems non-commital or maybe complete misdirection.

About the Samurai/Shogun world, Jonathan Nolan says they chose to reveal that park next as it has "a very specific relation to the Western."

Some of my favorite movies are the Sergio Leone adaptations of the Akira Kurosawa samurai films: The Seven Samurai and The Magnificent Seven. In the period when the Western was the biggest genre in the world, the interplay between Westerns and samurai films in the domestic market in Japan was really cool. On that meta level, those two genres have this almost incestuous relationship with each other. We just couldn't resist.


Season 2 Will Delve Further Into DELOS' Secret Agenda

It's not much of a secret that from the opening episode that DELOS, the company that owns Westworld, has another agenda with the theme park. Jonathan Nolan told Esquire they would delve into that in season two:

Well, we've left some questions on the table for the second season in terms of what Delos' actual agenda with the park. We know from Tessa Thompson's character, Charlotte Hale, that the theme park aspect of it is not the central moneymaker for them. Which, for us, mapped onto the slightly cynical moment we have in this age in which most of the services we avail ourselves online are free because the companies that are providing them are monetizing what we're doing in other ways that are less transparent. Hopefully many interesting questions left for the audience going forward, but hopefully a lot of satisfying ones answered.

Westworld photo

Armistice Will Return

The after credits scene for the season one finale showed Armistice rip off her own arm which was trapped between a mechanical door. And Jonathan Nolan has confirmed Ingrid Bolsø Berdal will return as Armistice in season two, with a fleshed-out role.

Thandie Newton as Maeve Millay in Westworld

Who Will Be the Focus of Season 2?

Season one of Westworld ended with the hosts surrounding most of the human characters presumably slaughtered by the hosts. Of course, we don't see this happen, so we don't know that the people have been killed. When asked if the show will shift its focus to the hosts in season two with the humans relegated to either helper or adversary roles, Nolan gave the following response:

Not necessarily. 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, and that's something that we want to continue to play with throughout.

DELOS in Westworld

We Will Eventually Figure Out Where Westworld Is Located

Since the first episode of this series, fans have been speculating about the location of Westworld. Some have theorized that the park is actually built on another planet, while others have suggested Antartica. In the finale, we learn that the train brings visitors to the "mainland," a word that usually used in the context of being on an island. The one thing we do know for sure is the mystery is purposeful and will eventually be answered.

Lisa Joy has said that "part of the fun of figuring out where they are is something that we're going to... it'll be fun." Talking with Vulture, Joy adds:

I would just put my faith in the hosts that they're pretty crafty, and they're pretty powerful, and their intellect is growing and growing. I would imagine that at least one, ultimately, gets a bigger look at the world. Who and when, ... I can't say.

Nolan has warned that they "don't want to create the world's largest mystery around it because we have equally interesting, or more interesting, character questions to ask." He says that we are experiencing this place from the viewpoint of the hosts, and our worldview is limited to theirs: "They don't know where they are yet. We tried teasing that in the finale, but it doesn't seem fair that the audience would know if they don't."

Westworld Premiere

Ed Harris Will Return

While the Man in Black and the other DELOS investors and board members were surrounded by armed hosts in the season one finale, Ed Harris has confirmed that he will be involved in season two of Westworld. So we wonder if the Man in Black will be taken captive by the hosts or might he be on the run in Westworld from his new robot overlords?

westworld episode 8 Charlotte Hale

Don't Assume Any Character Won't Return

When asked if there is anyone that is definitely not coming back for season 2, Nolan told EW the following:

Again, I think with this show we like surprising people. And we like playing with them. We've established the show can track forward and backward in time. ... As we've established, the hosts can't distinguish their memories and realities. There is always an opportunity to revisit some of these characters.

westworld hosts coming out of the woods

The Hosts Coming Out of the Woods Are Not As Evolved As Dolores

Lisa Joy told TV Line that the hosts that came out of the woods at the end of the season one finale aren't as developed as Dolores. They are just following Ford's final narrative.

They were the hosts that had been stored in cold storage, so we know that those hosts, having been retired, had the drill bit up the nose. You can expect that they certainly aren't as immediately present as Dolores is right now.

So expect Louis Herthum's Peter Abernathy, Angela Sarafyan's Clementine Pennyfeather, and possibly Old Bill are included in that mob.

elsie is alive westworld

Are Elsie and Stubbs Alive?

A code hidden in the official in-game Westworld website led fans to some evidence that Elsie might still be alive. A video file showing that Elsie's diagnostic tablet is located in Sector 20, the same area that Stubbs went to investigate in "The Well-Tempered Clavier" to find her when he was notified of the same GPS ping sent from her device. Unfortunately, Stubbs was captured by the Ghost Nation tribe. The second link brings us to a brief audio clip of Elsie saying, "Hello?"

Could this be a hint that Shannon Woodward's character Elsie is still alive? We've theorized in the past that Ford would have had no reason to kill the character as the information she was chasing seemed in his benefit.

Joy has admitted that there were "early incarnations where we tied up" the arcs of Elsie and Stubs in the finale, where they "elucidated their fate more explicitly." As for their fates, Joy says "we know where they're going and we'll get there." Nolan in a separate interview admits that this is one of the things they plan to "circle back to and tee up for next season," adding, "We can't leave that story hanging."

westworld season finale trailer

How Far Along Are They in Development For Season 2?

As we know, production of Westworld shut down half-way through filming the first season to allow the showrunners to map out an arc for the entire series, which we've heard they hope to tell over "the next 5 or 6 years" of the series. As of the airing of the Westworld season one finale, they were already in a writers room for ten weeks working on scripts and outlines for season 2. Nolan told Esquire: "We got down a general structure for what we wanted the first three seasons to look like way back when, and we've been in with the writers for about ten weeks."

Lisa Joy commented to THR, "we have broad strokes for the entire season and are now working on specific episodes." She told Variety that "It's looking good" and "It's looking very ambitious." And by that, she means, "There's some surprises and bits of it that you won't see coming."

westworld behind the scenes

Filming Will Begin in Summer 2017

Ed Harris has said the plan is to start shooting Westworld season two sometime in June or July 2017. Apparently they are going to "spend more time [filming] in Utah next season," a month compared to the two weeks they filmed on location for the first season.

old westworld logo

When Will Season 2 Be Released?

Westworld season 2 won't air until 2018 at very earliest. Nolan has said that this time around they want to finish writing all of the scripts before shifting gears into production, which is the same way Game of Thrones is produced. Season one of Westworld was produced more traditionally, with writing happening at the same time as production, with the next episodes being written while they shot the current episode. The result means that we will not get a new season of Westworld on a yearly basis.