Spoilers for Westworld Season 2 follow below.
If you watched the Westworld Season 2 finale, you probably left the episode scratching your head a bit. I did my best to unpack everything in a handy (and hefty) explainer, but it was an eventful episode that radically changed the character dynamics of the show while setting up a very different Season 3. This series that began as a show about a wildly expensive theme park has now evolved into a series that’s fully about A.I. consciousness and A.I.-kind, and the Season 2 ending leaves the show in a position where the park could be a very minimal part of the series going forward.
Luckily, Westworld showrunners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy gave some post-finale interviews to shed some light on some burning questions, and they offered up some tantalizing teases about Westworld Season 3. The big reveal, however, is a bit of a bummer: Nolan tells EW it’s going to be a while before we see the third season, although they haven’t set a Westworld Season 3 release date just yet:
“There’s going to be a bit of a wait for a third season but we want to surprise and hopefully delight people with the way things progress… We’re still talking it through, honestly, with our friends at HBO, and with the cast and the crew. We want to take the time to make every season as exciting as possible. And we have an enormous challenge going into Season 3 with the worlds that we’re building going forward. We want to make sure we have the time to do that right.”
There was already a pretty hefty gap between Season 1 and Season 2—nearly two years—and it sounds like a similar gap will ensue between Season 2 and Season 3. It’s understandable given not only how complex the show is, but how big it is, especially as Season 3 aims to expand the scope even further. Indeed, Nolan says Season 3 will primarily take place outside the park:
“Yes [Season 3 takes place largely outside the park]. We’re very excited about where the third season goes. It’s been a long build-up to get outside the park. And we’re incredibly excited about what that looks like and sounds like and what exactly our hosts discover out there.”
Joy tells THR that getting outside the park has been the plan all along:
“It’s going to be a whole new world. And we technically have three [hosts], because Hale is out there, too, or someone who certainly looks like Tessa Thompson! We’ll come to see who’s really there and what that character is in the future. This series is about reinvention and scope. The first season was a more intimate look at the park from within the loops. In the second season, the hosts broke out of their loops and were able to explore more of the park. In the third season, they’ve broken out of the park itself. We’re in terra incognita. From the beginning, when Jonah and I were thinking about the series as far back as the pilot, we knew we wanted to explore other worlds in the park, and we also knew the one world we would start to see little glimpses of throughout the first two seasons was the real world, and that we would get there eventually — and when we did, it would be a whole new experience.”
However, this doesn’t mean we’re leaving the park entirely behind, as Nolan points out that “not all of our favorite characters have managed to escape yet,” so the series purposefully left a couple of Delos’ parks unrevealed so they could be explored in the future (Fingers crossed for FutureWorld).
Both Nolan and Joy say there won’t be a significant time jump for Season 3, which Joy says will also primarily revolve around the relationship between Bernard and Dolores:
“In the end, the lesson [Dolores] learned is that she can change. She’s changed her mind. She’s changed her philosophy. She realizes she has but one path to potentially securing the hosts’ safety, when she helps see through Maeve and Akecheta’s plan by securing the sovereignty and safety of the Sublime, to which many of the hosts have escaped. It’s an acknowledgment that there are paths other than hers that she needs to be tolerant and accepting of and can’t stand in the way of. It’s much like how she tells Bernard that she understands they will likely be at odds. They will likely come into conflict. They may even kill each other. But she’s come to understand that true freedom isn’t something that arises from a lack of dissent, from a dictatorial or totalitarian rule of one set of ideologies. It’s something that has to happen with a plurality of ideas, sometimes coming into conflict. Because she’s learned her lesson, she’s bringing Bernard back into this world to be a check on her own power, in some ways.”
One storyline we may not be returning to in Season 3, however, is that of the hosts that went to the Valley Beyond, or “the Sublime” as Joy calls it. When asked if it’s safe to assume that the characters who went through the portal to the virtual Eden are not going to continue on, Nolan responded thusly:
“I think that’s on the safer end of things to presume. But there’s a big story we’re telling here so … yeah.”
They’re still out there, though, and I imagine the Valley Beyond will be crucial to the endgame of Westworld as we approach the show’s final seasons. For now, however, Westworld Season 3 has been teed up wonderfully, and it’ll be fascinating to see how this all plays out when the series finally returns.