HBO super-fans who were feeling the sadness of Game of Thrones' upcoming end found major solace in Westworld. The epic sci-fi ensemble ended with a bang (several, actually, but more on that below) and left fans hungry for more. Here's what we know about Season 2, but word of warning: spoilers ahead.
So, there's good news and bad news. The good news, of course, is that Westworld is definitely coming back—the series snagged an official renewal from HBO in November. The bad news? It's not coming back for a whiiiiiile. Like a not-until-2018 while.
In an interview with Variety, Westworld creator Jonathan Nolan confirmed the long lead time for Season 2, and explained why it's going to be worth the wait (not that we're any less impatient as a result).
"We won't be on the air until 2018," he said. "We started that conversation with the network when were shooting Episode 2 and we realized the complexity of trying to write and produce the show at the same time. We both work in the movie business as well, and in the movie business the best that you can possibly hope for with a film franchise is to turn around another installment in two or three years. So really on that schedule, we're doing great."
As for when in 2018, we hope January 1, but honestly, it's not clear. Den of Geek predicts a Fall 2018 premiere date (specifically October 7, 2018, based on Season 1's premiere date), but that's just sad to think about.
One of the big "bangs" at the end of the first was the sound of the gun Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) used to kill Ford (Anthony Hopkins), but fans were split on what that meant for the future of his character (see "Fan Theories" below for more on that can of worms). According to Westworld creators, Ford is really most sincerely dead...but that doesn't mean Hopkins won't appear in Season 2.
"We were very lucky to have one amazing season with Anthony Hopkins. We loved working with him," Nolan told Entertainment Weekly. "As for the show, where it goes, the characters—we've well established we're playing in a more advanced ruleset in terms of death and resurrection than other [projects] I've worked on. So I would say: assume nothing."
Meanwhile, Evan Rachel Wood has enthusiastically confirmed her return for Season 2 (direct quote: "No one's more excited than me to come back—I guarantee it!"), and Ed Harris has confirmed that his incarnation of the Man in Black will "be involved"—despite being shot in last season's finale. This also means that at least some (or at least one) of the humans at the party for Ford's new storyline will survive the android attack. Also good news? Jefferey Wright, who plays Bernard, told Rotten Tomatoes that he's "in it for the long haul."
There might also be some surprise returns. Shannon Woodward, who plays fan favorite Elsie, might return for Season 2 in spite of her apparent death earlier in Season 1. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, co-creator Lisa Joy said of Elsie (and Luke Hemsworth's Stubbs), "We know where they're going and we'll get there." In addition to that big hint from Joy, Elsie has also popped up on HBO's Delos website, along with clues that lead some fans to believe she's still alive.
Another actor whose Westworld fate fans are dying to know is Jimmi Simpson, who played the younger version of Ed Harris' character. Simpson has given mixed messages about a possible return. In an interview with Vanity Fair, he said, "As of now, I'll be done at the end of Season 1."
But he changed his tune when speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, saying "Well, you know. Nothing's permanent. I'm not contracted to go back, but I'm sure there's a possibility."
When it comes to the rest of the main cast—Thandie Newton as Maeve and James Marsden as Teddy, in particular—we'll assume they're in for the foreseeable future until we hear otherwise.
Filming for Season 2 will begin in Utah this summer, according to Ed Harris. "We're doing 10 episodes. Probably won't start shooting until June or July," he told Entertainment Weekly, later saying, "They have very specific plans for Season 2. I think they're gonna spend more time in Utah next season—they were there for two weeks last season, next season will be a month."
Aside from Harris' tidbit about Utah, we don't know what to expect from the filming locations for Season 2—but we shouldn't expect to see many of the same places we saw in Season 1.
"We never had any intention of staying in one place," Nolan told The Hollywood Reporter. "We don't want to shoot on the same sets for 10 years. We want to blow the sets up and move on to another piece of the story."
With its inherent mysteries and epic scope, Westworld is primed for fan theories and rampant speculation. Here are some of the biggest theories that may be addressed in Season 2.
Ford will return.
There's a lot of speculation that Ford will be back, either as a human or as a host. You no doubt noticed the fabrication machine in Ford's secret underground lab, which appeared to be hard at work building an unknown host throughout Season 1. Naturally, one of the most prominent theories is that Ford was building a host version of himself, which gives rise to two spin-off theories: Dolores actually shot Host Ford at the end of the show's first season, or the the "real" Ford is dead but he'll live on through his host doppelgänger.
The creators were asked about this possibility during a Facebook Live session, and while they called the question "really, really good," they stopped short of giving a straight answer—instead insisting only that Ford's sacrifice was "real." Hmm....
A sub-theory of Ford's possible return hints that he may never have been human at all, and might instead be Arnold's first host. This one's interesting, but less wildly speculated on than the idea that Ford built a host version of himself.
We'll visit other worlds.
At this point, it's more than just a theory that other parks exist. This was pretty much confirmed in the finale, when Maeve received a note about the location of the host who played her daughter, which said: "Park 1, Sector 15, Zone 3."
If there's a Park 1, it stands to reason that there is at least a Park 2—and maybe even more. Although the show creators have said we won't see Roman World or Medieval World (the other worlds featured in the 1973 movie of the same time), Samurai/Shogun World was teased heavily toward the end of season one.
"We're definitely teasing there are other worlds," Joy explained to Entertainment Weekly. "How many other worlds and what is the nature of the other worlds is something we'll start to explore more in Season 2."
Since HBO recently registered both exploresamuraiworld.com and exploreshogunworld.com, it seems likely we'll see one of them in Season 2.