Westworld Season 1 was an unusual viewing experience. While plenty of viewers were happy to watch along and learn the series’ twists and turns as they were doled out, lots of us flocked to reddit and message boards to try and decipher the story’s mysteries with the power of the hive mind. And some folks were so good at it, they had some of Westworld‘s biggest surprised cracked by Episode 2. That puts the creative team in charge of Westworld‘s second season in a unique predicament — how do you continue to build a puzzle when your audience has proven way too adept at solving it?
Well, they’ve got (maybe) an unusual and controversial solution to the problem that’s no doubt going to inspire some hot takes and even hotter twitter debates. Westworld creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy participated in a reddit AMA today, and while they were there, they proposed a completely insane solution that I don’t believe for a second — they’ll spoil the entire season in a single video that breaks it all down up front. Why on earth would they do such a thing? To prevent spoilers, or more accurately, the sharing of future spoilers on sites across the web that reported on the theories weekly.
“Many thanks for your great questions and thoughts. As I’ve said before, I’ve been a member of the reddit community for years (no I’m not going to share my original username…). And I greatly enjoyed watching the friendly folks at this subreddit guess the twists and turns of the season.
It creates a larger problem for us, though, in terms of the way your guesswork is reported online. ‘Theories’ can actually be spoilers, and the line between the two is confusing. It’s something we’ve been thinking about since last season. The fans of Game of Thrones, for instance, rallied around and protected the secrets of the narrative in part because they already knew those secrets (through season 5).
We thought about this long and hard, and came to a difficult (and potentially highly controversial) decision. If you guys agree, we’re going to post a video that lays out the plot (and twists and turns) of season 2. Everything. The whole sordid thing. Up front. That way the members of the community here who want the season spoiled for them can watch ahead, and then protect the rest of the community, and help to distinguish between what’s ‘theory’ and what’s spoiler.
It’s a new age, and a new world in terms of the relationship between the folks making shows and the community watching them. And trust is a big part of that. We’ve made our cast part of this decision, and they’re fully supportive. We’re so excited to be in this with you guys together. So if this post reaches a 1000 upvotes we’ll deliver the goods.”
That is, frankly, insane. It reads as genuine, and maybe it is, but this whole concept falls apart on multiple levels when you start to prod at it. First and foremost, the idea that Nolan and Joy would be naive enough to believe that the internet would responsibly shield spoilers once they were revealed. That wouldn’t happen. The video would be gif’ed and shared around social media. The spoilers would be posted across websites, and those websites that posted spoilery headlines in the past would continue to do so, but armed with actual spoilers this time. Basically, everyone and their mother would probably come up against an unwanted spoiler at some point. Or maybe I have a particularly dim view of people — after all, the Game of Thrones fans did help protect book spoilers, but that was an entirely different culture and didn’t demand that fans entirely change how the engage with the material.
Because the bigger problem is that this concept fundamentally misunderstands how Westworld‘s most diehard fans enjoyed engaging with the show — as a game that we could play along with the characters. Nolan and Joy have spoken at length about how their approach to the material was inspired by video gaming, and that influence also manifested in the format. The fans loved playing along, not because we love spoilers, but because we love puzzles. It wasn’t about knowing, it’s about not knowing and trying to find the answer. And lord knows, we got a whole lot wrong along the way. I spent each week endlessly puzzling over theories and possibilities because I enjoyed it, and I put together our own weekly compilation of the biggest theories because I enjoyed it and thought other people might too. If you remove the option of playing along, you do wrong by the show’s most dedicated fans. The fact that the post has been live for two hours with only 200+ (at the time of this writing) out of the 1000 requested upvotes (and 1000 upvotes is a pittance on reddit) demonstrates this isn’t what fans want.