‘Westworld’ Showrunners Tease Season 2, Exploring New Worlds, and the Bigger Scope to Come
Please be aware there are major Westworld spoilers for the Season 1 finale ‘The Bicameral Mind’ below.
Alrighty folks, we finally got some Westworld answers! But obviously, that doesn’t mean we don’t have questions to spare. Fortunately, showrunners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy did a significant round of press for the finale, so we’ve got some new insider perspective on all the craziness that went down in ‘The Bicameral Mind’. Speaking with THR, Variety, EW and Deadline, the showrunning duo behind the HBO’s mysterious hit series has offered up some pretty interesting insight about what went down in last night’s revelation-packed 90-minute finale
While they’re obviously not telling us what comes next in Season 2, they teased the possibilities to come, where they’re at on writing Season 2, just how large-scale their plans are for the series, the promise of visiting more worlds inside the park, if Ford is really dead and whether or not we’ll see him again, just how scared we should be of Dolores, and a whole lot more. Check out the highlights below.
Season 2 Definitely Isn't Coming until 2018
Nolan confirmed that we will not be seeing any more Westworld until 2018. Like, not a chance, buddy. “Definitely not coming back until 2018,” he told THR. Comparing it to Game of Thrones, which has been the trend since Westworld was first announced, Nolan pointed out that part of why they wanted to make the series on HBO was because Game of Thrones “has written the book on production values for television”, but that GoT also had the advantage of a (mostly) pre-written story from George R.R. Martin‘s books. Nolan also revealed that the network knew for a very long time:
“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.”
How far along are they on that schedule? Joy told Variety, “We’ve started working on scripts and outlines. It’s looking good. It’s looking very ambitious.”
Talking with EW, she also teased a journey of self-discovery for the hosts, a new species born out of violence and suffering:
I think part of it is we’ve looked at the hosts trying to become aware of the reality of their situation and who they are. To hear their own voices. That’s where we’ve gotten to at the end of this season. 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? 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.
Will they maintain the puzzle box form of storytelling (especially after the reddit hive mind figured it all out in advance)? “The puzzle of it all was never the focus for us,” Nolan said to EW, “We had a unique opportunity here with a set of protagonist hosts whose situation is unique. They don’t age the way we do. They’re not really equipped to understand the distinction between their memories and the present tense.” So while the puzzle may not be the priority Nolan continued, “We want to continue to grow our ambition in terms of how this form of storytelling works.” Along those lines…
You Could See Any Character Again (But Ford Is Totally Dead)
And for the question on everybody’s mind: Is Dr. Ford really dead? Well, their answers kind of range on that one. Nolan told Variety succinctly, “Oh, he’s dead,” and told Deadline “Well that version of Ford is dead,” but when asked whether or not we’d see Anthony Hopkins again in future seasons, they told pretty much every outlet “assume nothing with this show.” (Same goes for whether or not we’ll see Jimmi Simpson or Ben Barnes in future seasons.) As they explained to EW, Westworld‘s very construct leaves open the possibility for anyone to return at any time. “We’ve established the show can track forward and backward in time,” Nolan said, “There is always an opportunity to revisit some of these characters.”
As for why Ford had to die in the context of the narrative, Nolan and Joy made it clear Ford’s death is the death of God that acts as the jumping off point for the rest of the story. Joy explained to THR:
“It’s a little bit like when Arnold says: “The violence has to be real. The stakes have to be real.” Ford is doing this in such dramatic fashion in front of the Delos board. He’s basically taking the safety off. There’s no turning back from this. It’s not a kind of fiction anymore. I think that’s part of it.”
“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.”
They Always Knew They Wanted Multiple Timelines
Nolan and Joy were fascinated by telling the story of characters who lack the ability to tell the difference between the past and the present, and that meant that multiple timelines were always going to be a part of the narrative.
Nolan told THR,
“I remember my uncle, an engineer, telling me that the NSA would triple overwrite hard-drives and then drill holes in them, because you really never knew if you successfully erased that information from the system. But humans? We forget. We forgive, and we move on. Our perception of memory changes. Here, we had an opportunity with these protagonists and Dolores in particular to talk about ancient creatures in a sense who could get lost in their memories, because their memories are so faithful and are such a heightened reality that they can’t distinguish them from reality. So we knew from the beginning that we wanted our story to take place across many decades.We loved that Dolores would have a relationship with someone who represented a glimmer of hope, in which she forged a real connection with someone. Two people, really. At the end of our story, one of those people would be dead, and the other would transmogrify into her worst enemy.”
As for Dolores, she’s embraced her Wyatt programming and went full-tilt murder bot in the finale’s finale moments. Those were her first ever conscious actions, so has Dolores become a dark, possibly villainous character? Said Joy,
“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?”
We're Definitely Going to See Other Worlds Inside the Park
One major finale reveal that has fans in a tizzy is Maeve’s discovery of another Samurai-tinged world within DELOS’ walls. So, are we headed to Samurai World next season? Any question that cut and dry was met with a “stay tuned”, but Nolan and Joy made it very clear that they have every intention of visiting other worlds and constantly expanding the course of the show over the seasons. “One of the aspects of the original film that we loved is the idea that this is a place you can go where you can engage in whatever fantasy you want,” Nolan told THR, teasing that, “This park contains multitudes. We hope to explore that in the seasons going forward.” They also describe Westworld as the “proto-park” comparing it to Disneyland, which has continued to add new lands and parks over the years. And yes, Dr. Ford was likely heavily involved in any other lands we see as well.
Nolan dug a little deeper into why the show’s scale needs to grow so massive, calling it the “origin of a new species”:
For Lisa and myself, with this show, 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 onto 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.
Speaking with EW, Nolan also expanded on why they were keen to explore the Samurai genre in particular in relation to Westworld.
This samurai-shogun world, for us, 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 Samuraiand 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.
Joy also pointed out to THR that the introduction of Samurai World, or Shogun World or Sino World (they wouldn’t confirm any of the theorized names) provides an exciting opportunity to offer inclusive roles.
It’s wonderful to work with actors we haven’t worked with before. This allows us a lot of access to Asian actors and the Asian community which is very important to me as part Asian myself.