While Westworld co-creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy were relatively tight-lipped about what’s ahead in season 2, they did offer one big revelation during the show’s panel at PaleyFest on Saturday.
During the season finale, Maeve (Thandie Newton) executed what seemed to be the perfect escape from Westworld only to discover that everything she had been doing was programmed. However, when Maeve ultimately exited the train in search of her daughter — thus abandoning her escape plans — the question remained whether that was her choice or part of her programming. And now we have an answer!
“I’ve been waiting for the message boards on Reddit to tell us,” Nolan joked before offering: “The way that we designed it and the way we shot it… that is really the first decision she’s ever made. For me, it’s a very emotional moment in the episode because you’re seeing the first freewill.”
However, Nolan was much more cagey on whether Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) had also achieved freewill during the finale when she shot Ford (Anthony Hopkins). “Isn’t it more fun to just guess?” Nolan said.
During the panel, which was moderated by EW’s Jeff Jensen, Nolan was joined by Joy, stars Evan Rachel Wood, Ed Harris, Thandie Newton, James Marsden, Jimmi Simpson and executive producer Roberto Patino. Though they didn’t tease much about season 2, Nolan marveled at how quickly fans were able to deconstruct the dual timeline storytelling in season 1. “It’s annoying sometimes when people guess the twists and blog about it,” Nolan said, but also noted that “you can’t complain when people are that engaged… just stop doing it, please.” Joy added: “It’s amazing some of the theories he would tell me they were coming up with.”
But Nolan also stressed that creating Westworld wasn’t just about making twists and turns in order to deceive the audience. “Everyone is trying to rip the medium apart and see how many boundaries you can push,” Nolan said. “It really came organically from the first idea, J.J. [Abrams’] pitch of, ‘Well, you can make part of the narrative about the hosts,’ we took that and ran a country mile with it. You’ve seen a lot of looking at A.I., and we were taken with starting a story where you start with them and they don’t know they are A.I. and it’s really about what they make of us. The fact that their understanding of the world was limited really [bolstered the story].”
As for season 2, Nolan initially joked that it would be a musical. Alas, not true. But they are already full-steam ahead on writing season 2. “In truth, they say, ‘It’s not TV, it’s HBO;’ they’re not kidding,” Nolan said. “It’s a 10-hour movie we’re making here. We’re writing right now. We’re terribly excited [about] what we’re writing. Reddit has already figured out the third episode twist; we’re changing that.” He was kidding. Probably. As for whether they’ll venture to new worlds — like the Samurai World glimpsed in the finale — Nolan, of course, played coy: “God, that would be cool, wouldn’t it?”
Westworld is expected to return in 2018. Get more scoop on what’s ahead here.