Westworld is getting a major upgrade for its long-awaited season 3. The HBO sci-fi drama has several new locations (such as a near-future Los Angeles) and some new major cast members (like Breaking Bad alum Aaron Paul), and the famously ultra-twisty show makes its most surprising change yet — a storyline that’s a bit easier to follow.
“This is season is a little less of a guessing game and more of an experience with the hosts finally getting to meet their makers,” co-showrunner Jonathan Nolan says.
Giving their first interview about the new season, Nolan and fellow showrunner Lisa Joy describe a new iteration of the acclaimed HBO drama that’s a major departure in some respects from the first two seasons, where the rebelling android hosts were largely trapped in the Wild West theme park. At the end of season 2, Evan Rachel Wood’s vengeful Dolores (check out the new photo above) escaped the park and took the CPUs for several of her companions with her.
“I love shows that find a groove and hang with it for 100 episodes — that was never this show,” Nolan says. “We always wanted every season to find our characters in radically different circumstances. And with a cast this talented, watching the metamorphosis of all these characters is one of the most fun parts.”
And which characters are those, exactly? We know Dolores is back, but the showrunners aren’t yet saying which other familiar faces are returning.
As for Paul’s mysterious new character, we found out a few tidbits. Paul plays a construction worker in Los Angeles named Caleb who has a strong impact on Dolores, who along with other hosts experiences major “culture shock” now that she’s in the real world.
“Aaron’s character will challenge Dolores’ notions about the nature of humanity,” Nolan says. “He’s the type of person who doesn’t get to go to Westworld.”
And not only is the story line a bit more linear this season, but there’s no time jump either (at least not at first), with season 3 picking up directly after the events in season 2. “We’re looking at the aftermath of the massacre in the park,” Joy says. “After all they went through to get out of the park, Dolores finally got what she wanted, so we wanted to see how she interacts with the world and what her plan is. That’s a part of the story we were excited to tell.”
In case you’re wondering if the title Westworld is now a bit out of date given the show’s changing focus, Nolan points out that’s not really the case due to the new modern-day L.A. setting (one of several locations for the show this year).
“Part of the story plays out in the Western United States, and that’s a thematic through-line in the show — the American West as a setting and an ethos,” Nolan says. “The idea of the West as a wild place, where just over the next hill or horizon there are no rules. On that thematic level, Dolores emerges to figure out what happened to the real West. And the answer is: We paved the thing over, and civilization eventually caught up with all those people who were running away from it.”
Here’s the previously released teaser trailer:
Westworld returns to HBO in 2020.