Westworld‘s second season was at times exciting, moving, shocking, and (unsurprisingly) complex. The confusing time shifts upset many fans, while others enjoyed putting the puzzle pieces together. As the finale came to an end, however, the stage was set for a very different Westworld – with a number of characters dead, many more locked away in a virtual world perhaps never to be seen again, and a few lucky escapees. In a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, showrunners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy reflect on season two and tease where the story is headed next.
While Westworld has been criticized for being needlessly complicated at times, Nolan isn’t too concerned, believing that fans of the show will put in the effort to understand it. “It’s funny because the project really originated with Lisa and me sitting alone in a room thinking about what Michael Crichton was thinking about 40 years ago and then trying to build on it.” He recalls being pleased at the audience response for their hard work. “The reception was obviously incredibly exciting, and the level of engagement from people. And we know that our show requires people to lean forward a little bit and pay attention and maybe hold off on going to make that sandwich for another five minutes.”
Given that two of the main characters – Bernard and Dolores – are now in the real world, season three will likely spend a significant amount time outside of the park. Nolan remarks that we will see “a radical shift” in the story. “What’s compelling and appealing about these characters is that they’re not human…You couldn’t expect human characters to withstand and survive the kind of story that we’re telling. The hosts have a different version of mortality, a different outlook. I think clearly with Dolores, as she’s laid out, there is a longer view here, a larger set of goals. They’re existential. They span eons. And that’s a fascinating level of story to engage in.” Joy comments that the change in tone “really is like repiloting.” Perhaps there will not only be new locations to explore, but a time jump as well?
Another character who made it out of the park is Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson) – or at least, her host body. Nolan and Joy decline to comment on whose mind she possesses, but Joy admits that we will find out. “It’s something we’re really excited about, especially because Tessa is such a fun, amazing and versatile actress. When you have someone like her, it just opens up limitless possibilities. So we always knew that we were going to do this reveal and let her expand into this new role. We have a very diabolical arc for her planned out. Part of the fun for the character will be self-realization. She will be realizing the things we know about who she is.”
When asked about the fan response to season two, Joy admits, “I’ve gotten more personal responses to this season than anything I’ve ever written…one of the things that has touched me deeply is hearing from people who have been trapped in loops in their lives that they’ve struggled desperately to get out of, whether they’re cycles of violence or cycles of addiction.” Nolan adds, “All of us are struggling with human foibles and this feeling that we’re backsliding…When people talk to you about finding things in this very heightened show simultaneously in the future and the past, how it speaks to them about human behavior and about things they’ve struggled with, that’s very powerful.”
Did you enjoy Westworld season two? Are you excited about what’s to come? Sound off in the comments!