With Westworld heading into season 2, HBO is building hype for the show’s already much-anticipated return. We’re stuck in a waiting period until April, but in the meantime, the network has released a new poster.
The second season will continue the often-twisted, always-intriguing story inspired by novelist Michael Crichton’s 1973 film of the same name. Season 2 will return viewers to the complex fantasy sci-fi world that features artificially intelligent robots who, as it turns out, don’t always do their job of letting the human guests fulfill their fantasies.
Read on for everything we know so far about Westworld season 2, and be prepared: Spoilers lie ahead.
Chaos takes control
Exactly one month before Westworld‘s return, HBO released a new poster for the series’ sophomore season. It is a captivating one, of course. The poster shows a mechanical vulture standing in a vast and barren landscape alongside what looks very much like the Man in Black’s hat. Adding to the ominous feel is the presence of what appears to be blood on the ground, the fiery red sky in the background, and the dark clouds rolling by.
“Chaos takes control,” it teases.
— Westworld (@WestworldHBO) March 22, 2018
Given that this is Westworld, there are probably clues hidden in the poster that we’re missing. Surely, though, the sleuths of the internet are on it. Let’s hope they let us know what they find out soon.
Creating a world
HBO gave fans a look at what goes into building the show’s intricate, fictional world in a behind-the-scenes video released March 20. In it, set decorator Julie Ochipinti explains how her job is to make the show’s world “feel as real as your own world that you live in.” For season 2, that has meant “building a ton of weird shit,” she says in the video.
Ochipinti didn’t divulge specifics about upcoming story arcs (like what we could see if we journeyed to other parks, for example), but her information intrigued us nonetheless. Apparently, much what is passed off as advanced technology on Westworld is actually random stuff the set decorator and her colleagues found in “crazy places like the airplane graveyard.”
“There’s no pretending that it’s just a normal show, ” Ochipinti says. “It’s not. … Nothing can prepare you for Westworld.”
Pictures tell a story
In mid-March, HBO released a set of photos from the second season of Westworld that offer a peek at what’s in store for the characters — human or otherwise — when the hit show returns.
The rest of the images can be viewed at Medium.com.
New creatures are coming
The first trailer for Westworld season 2 was full of cryptic hints, and we’re still learning about what it showed us. Helping us along are Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, Westworld‘s co-creators and showrunners. The two finally explained a scene in the first trailer showing a white robot following along behind Bernard Lowe (Jeffrey Wright), the park’s programming division head.
It turns out the android is called a drone host, and it’s not the only one of its kind. Nolan and Joy revealed as much during an Entertainment Weekly interview, telling the publication that the robots “relate to the corporation’s secret project which is hidden in plain sight in this park.”
“There is an agenda here that Delos has undertaken for a very long time,” Nolan said. “As Bernard is making his way through the wreckage of the fallout from the first season, he’s discovering things about the park that even he doesn’t know and coming upon creatures like the drone host.”
The park is a bottomless well of secrets, and this one looks like it could very well be creepy.
The list of confirmed survivors grows
Season 1 of Westworld ended in chaos and mass bloodshed, leaving the fates of some characters uncertain. We’ll get more clarity when season 2 returns but in the meantime, Nolan and Joy answered some of our questions. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, the two confirmed that the Man in Black will be back in both his older and younger forms (Ed Harris and Jimmi Simpson, respectively), giving us a chance to explore his present and his past.
Additionally, Delos employees Elsie Hughes (Shannon Woodward) and Ashley Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth) will return, but it will be a shock for them to see another side of Westworld. Joy quipped that she’s “not sure they’re enjoying their experience.” That will likely be true of park writer Lee Sizemore (Simon Quarterman) as well, as he’ll be a hostage.
Delos’ Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson) will also be “at the mercy of the hosts,” according to Joy, but the showrunner teased that the character “causes trouble.” We suspect that could be related to her plans involving Peter Abernathy (Louis Herthum), the father of Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood). The showrunners indicated the actor will return, not to mention have a bigger role than in season 1.
Last but not least, we’ll see more of Clementine Pennyfeather (Angela Sarafyan), but as shown in the finale, her character isn’t the same after everything that was done to her. Nolan and Joy wouldn’t spoil too much, though, so we don’t know yet exactly how she has changed.
A Westworld experience
HBO had quite the plan to celebrate Westworld at the South by Southwest Conference and Festivals in Austin, Texas, in March. The network announced February 21 that it was building an actual park based on the show that would be open to visitors from March 9 to March 11. The park was more than two acres in size, and it featured locations like the Coronado hotel and the Mariposa Saloon. There were even be actors playing “hosts” that visitors could interact with throughout their visit.
Perhaps the most exciting part of the entire experience was the fact that it offered season 2 clues. Visitors were able to look for them as they went through the different parts of the park, and they could try to uncover others in their conversations with hosts.
The visitor experience was about two hours long, and keeping with the theme, visitors were taken to and from the site in a Delos shuttle. There was, unfortunately, a limited number of slots available. HBO made half of them available online at the website DiscoverWestworld.com, and they filled up quickly. The others opened up during SXSW.
Secret website hints at new parks
The Westworld Super Bowl trailer was more than just a good ad; it contained at least one huge clue for the truly observant and clever. At the 33-second-mark, there are white bars above one of the android bulls, and as Redditor Askin1 discovered, you can read it in binary code and translate it to 126.96.36.199. When you enter that in a browser bar, you’ll find yourself at the website DelosDestinations.com. The secret website is for the fictional company that owns Westworld — and five other parks.
A total of six parks is more than we expected, but we did know there would be more. The existence of at least one other park, Samurai World, came up in Season 1, and in the movie Westworld, there were two others, Roman World and Medieval World. In fact, when asked about them, the series’ creators hinted that we could see them in Season 2 (we discuss that further below). With the website revealing six parks, it looks like the scale of the series could be even bigger than we imagined, which is exciting. New worlds would open up all kinds of possibilities, giving the show room to grow, not to mention run for numerous seasons.
So far, information about these other parks is sparse. The Delos Destinations website has plenty of information about Westworld, but Park 2 (presumably Samurai World) features a blurry image and Parks 3-6 say that reservations are “closed to the public.” Still, its worth poking around the site. Who knows what other clues are hiding?
A super trailer and premiere date
HBO made a big event even bigger when it debuted a new trailer for season 2 of Westworld during Super Bowl 2018. It also revealed the premiere date for the much-anticipated season. Fans of the series will want to mark their calendars: The dark sci-fi series returns to HBO with a new season at 9 p.m. ET Sunday, April 22.
The Super Bowl trailer for Westworld was directed by series co-creator Jonathan Nolan and is set to a cover of Kanye West’s Runaway performed by series composer Ramin Djawadi.
A blast from the past
Although Westworld star Jimmi Simpson previously confirmed that he will be in season 2, reprising his role as William, the young Man in Black, not everyone was in the know. During the Television Critics Association press tour on Tuesday, January 9, a reporter asked him if he would return, and he was surprised to hear the question. The confusion made him tight-lipped.
“I thought it was already a thing,” he said, according to The Wrap. “But now that you’re asking me, I’m gonna shut up.”
He didn’t exactly shut up, though. Instead, he confirmed that yes, he will “pop in” to show us more of the Man in Black’s past. He then delved into areas of the character that he wishes Westworld would show.
“I wish there was exploration between the time when William’s heart is broken and we see the result. I’ll say that,” he said. “I want to know how much it takes and how hard he tried not to go there.”
Ahem, Westworld writers, please take note, because that does sound interesting.
Production halted due to wildfires
Wildfires in Southern California have resulted in production of the latest season being halted, according to a statement from HBO. “Due to nearby wildfires,” notes the network, “Westworld stopped production earlier today and will resume filming as soon as it’s safe to do so.” Filming for the series’ second season takes place near Santa Clarita, where the Rye fire is currently situated. Several other fires are ongoing in the state as well, including the Thomas fire in Ventura County and Creek fire in nearby Sylmar. Production should resume once the fires have been put out, though the Santa Ana winds are making that difficult.
New season, new parks
If you thought the wild west park was Westworld’s only fantasy-fueled funhouse, think again. In season 2, we expect to be introduced to three new worlds — but maybe more. In addition to Samurai World, hints of which were teased in the season 1 finale, the series’ showrunners, Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, made comments in October teasing additional worlds. When asked specifically about why Roman World and Medieval World weren’t a part of season 1 at a panel, Nolan responded, “We had to save something for season 2.”
In the film, these parks are also owned by Westworld creator Delos and also enable people to live out their fantasies. They should make for interesting new backdrops for the story as it continues to unfold.
The (young) Man in Black is back
We didn’t get confirmation that William (Simpson), the young version of the Man in Black (Ed Harris), would be back when he appeared at San Diego Comic-Con 2017, but the actor finally made the news official on July 30. Responding to a fan on Twitter, he wrote, “Yessir, William will be black. I mean back.”
Yessir, William will be black. I mean back.
— Jimmi Simpson (@jimmisimpson) July 30, 2017
While internet forums had long speculated, it took until the season 1 finale for Westworld to reveal that William was indeed the park visitor who became the Man in Black. However, fans were left with plenty of unanswered questions regarding his character’s evolution. With Simpson returning, it looks like we’ll start to get additional pieces of the puzzle. In fact, Simpson dropped hints along those lines during Comic-Con, indicating that Nolan and Joy plan to delve further into the intriguing character’s backstory, as reported by Westworld Watchers.
The bloodshed has already begun
HBO gave us a first look at Westworld season 2 during San Diego Comic-Con in July, teasing — yes, you guessed it — a lot of gore. There is plenty of blood in the preview, from Maeve (Thandi Newton) and Lee Sizemore (Simon Quarterman) finding corpses inside Delos to Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) and Teddy (James Marsden) gunning down guests on the open plains.
— Westworld (@WestworldHBO) July 24, 2017
We all-but knew season 2 was going to usher in further brutality, but the preview confirmed the direction we are headed.
A host gets a bigger (and deadlier) role
It’s no surprise the death toll at Westworld is poised to grow, and after the bloody events of the season 1 finale, it sounds like we’ll see at least one lesser-known host get involved in the upcoming violence. That character is Angela, the host who has long greeted the park’s visitors. The actress who portrays her, Talulah Riley, has been promoted to series regular for season 2, according to Entertainment Weekly.
As a source indicated, the “host whose beatific face welcomed guests to Westworld for decades,” will get a darker role in season 2: “Angela will prove to be one of the last faces many guests will ever see.”
That sounds appropriately ominous.
An unsurprising renewal
The official confirmation for Westworld season 2 came in November after just seven episodes had aired, but the news was hardly surprising. Not only had the show been drawing positive reviews from critics, viewership was extremely strong, ultimately topping even the debut season of HBO’s current ratings behemoth, Game of Thrones. The renewal did come with somewhat bad news, though, namely that Westworld fans would have to wait till 2018 for season 2.
Although we’re still in for several months of waiting, it’ll all be worth it if the show’s second season can live up to its debut.
Updated on March 22: Added season 2 poster.