With Westworld heading into season 2, HBO is building hype for the show’s already much-anticipated return. The wait is almost over, but the network is keeping anticipation high with a steady stream of news. Most recently, Ed Harris teased his character’s less villainous season 2 journey, as you’ll see below.
The second season will premiere at 9 p.m. ET on April 22 and 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.
Man of less mystery
The identity of the Man in Black was one of the big questions of season 1, and now that we’re in the know, we’ll learn a lot more about him. Ed Harris joined the show’s creators and cast at the Telvision Academy’s For Your Consideration panel in Hollywood on April 17, and he shed some light on his character’s journey. When asked to describe it in one word, he asked for two and went with “make amends,” Indie Wire reports.
Harris went on to discuss how he sees his character, as well as how he doesn’t think he’s a villain, and teased that we’ll come to see why in the upcoming season.
“I see him as a protagonist actually, yes,” the actor said. “Particularly this season. The maze is … history. He’s on a whole other track this year, and I think the track that he’s on definitely makes him a protagonist.”
Harris also promised that we’ll “learn more about him” and that the Man in Black “becomes less mysterious.” With Jimmi Simpson returning to play William, the young version of Man in Black, we hope that means delving further into his backstory.
More is more
Westworld season 2 has a lot of story to get through, and it couldn’t be done with just 60-minute episodes. The upcoming season will include some extra-long episodes. Showrunners and co-creators Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan revealed as much to Entertainment Weekly, telling the publication that the season premiere will clock in at “a little over 70 minutes,” while episode 4 also tops the 60-minute mark. They added that the finale will just “keep going and going.”
As they say, it’ll be “epic.”
Binge your heart out
To get ready for Westworld season 2, it can’t hurt to rewatch the show’s first 10 episodes. You don’t necessarily have to be an HBO subscriber to do so, either. The company has partnered with Xfinity on “Watchathon Week,” which runs to April 22 and allows Xfinity TV subscribers to watch season 1 episodes via On Demand or streaming. You might want to get started now.
A lot is changing on Westworld, including the cast. While we’ll see plenty of familiar faces in season 2, there will be several new ones as well. Five more recurring stars have been announced, Deadline reports. The actors we’ll see join the sophomore season of HBO series include Tao Okamoto (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice), Kiki Sukezane (Netflix’s new Lost in Space), Julia Jones (Twilight), Zach McClaron (Strike One, Longmire), and Martin Sensmeier (The Magnificent Seven).
Of the group, only Sensmeier has appeared on Westworld before. He portrayed the Native American warrior Wanahton in season 1, and he’ll do so again. Okamoto will join the cast as Hanaryo, Sukezano as Sakura, Jones as Kohana, and McClaron as Akecheta. That’s as much as we know right now, but with the show’s premiere coming quickly, we’ll learn more soon.
Rolling out spoilers
On April 9, Westworld co-creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy took to Reddit — at /r/Westworld — for an AMA (“ask me anything”) Q&A session, a regular promotional tactic for celebrities with upcoming projects. During the AMA, the two revealed their plan for a wild tactic likely to be divisive among the show’s fans.
Nolan posted a comment thanking fans for their interest in the AMA, but his real intent was to talk about the way spoilers are handled in the digital age: “[We] 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),” he continued. “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.”
In short: Nolan and Joy offered to release a “spoiler video” which would reveal all the plot details in season 2, but only if the Reddit post reached 1,000 upvotes. The post received more than 4,000 upvotes in 24 hours, prompting them to release a video featuring some new footage from the second season … and something else entirely.
Welcome to Shogun World
We’ve known for a while now that there was a second park with a samurai theme, but a new addition to the website for Delos Destinations (the fictional company that owns Westworld and the other parks) finally confirms that park’s existence and name, and offers an ominous hint at the violent delights the park offers its guests.
Visitors to Delos Destinations can view the official description for Shogun World, which reads as follows:
For those for whom Westworld is not enough, the true connoisseur of gore can indulge their fantasies with the slash of a katana. Modeled after Japan’s Edo period, Shogun World offers a chance for guests to embrace their inner warrior, in a landscape of highest beauty and darkest horror. Let your true self take shape in the land where self-discovery is an art form.
Given the state of things at the end of the first season, it will be interesting to learn how Shogun World fits into the events to come, and how the remaining four, still-unidentified parks will play into the story.
The first trailer, and so much more…
HBO premiered the first, full-length trailer for Westworld season 2 (see above) on March 29, and the preview of the upcoming story arc does a nice job of touching on many of the narrative loose ends remaining after the first season. From the fate of Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) to the awakening of Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood), and a necessary, chilling moment with the Man in Black (Ed Harris), the trailer packs quite a bit into just over two and a half minutes.
It also does so over a haunting, orchestral cover of Nirvana’s Heart-Shaped Box by series composer Ramin Djawadi.
Hinting at the terrifying events to come, the trailer ends with Dolores telling Bernard, “Why on Earth would you ever be frightened of me?”
But that’s not all the trailer contained. An eagle-eyed Reddit user noticed some code hidden in one scene from the trailer, and the discovery led to several pieces of cryptic, online video with ties to Westworld. One of the creepiest discoveries is a video embedded on a site for Delos Incorporated, the shadowy parent company of Westworld, which — as you learn while watching it — has apparently been corrupted. The quest is detailed on Reddit, but the (no longer) secret site is located at delosincorporated.com/freedom.
Among the strange images peppering the video is this shot of a train track that uses bodies instead of wooden planks.
That video then offers a login code (“XOMEGACH”) that can be used on the Delos homepage, which eventually — after clicking on a mysterious blue door image and scanning around a 360-degree white room for a while — prompts another video to load.
That video implores the user to find “Peter Abernathy” — the host portrayed by Louis Herthum in the first season.
How is that for some ominous marketing? Well played, HBO.
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 220.127.116.11. 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 April 18: Added info on the Man in Black in season 2, episode length, and re-watching season 1.