Westworld is a series famously filled with mystery, from the true identities of its many characters (if indeed they have them at all) to its various symbols and recurring metaphors to exactly when each individual scene is actually taking place. In just one season on HBO, the sci-fi drama developed a reputation as one of the most complex shows on television. Now, with Season 2 on the horizon, more mystery awaits, and one of the showrunners just offered up a major tease, at least by this show's standards.
SPOILERS for Westworld Season 1 below
Right now, we know precious little about what's in store for Season 2. We know that Ford's "new narrative" is in effect, and that hosts including Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) and Maeve (Thandie Newton) have gained a new understanding of the park, its secrets, and their purpose. We know that guests can now be harmed by hosts, and that Dolores is taking full advantage of this as the Man in Black (Ed Harris) ventures deeper into the high stakes world he always wanted. And we know that a new facet of the park, called Shogun World, is set to be revealed in at least some degree of detail. There isn't much else out there at the moment, but now we at least know the title of Season 2.
This title isn't something you're going to find on any official HBO marketing materials for the series, though. See, while the series is just known as Westworld to the public, the show's writers have their own subtitle for each season. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, co-creator and co-showrunner Jonathan Nolan revealed — to co-creator (and wife) Lisa Joy's amazement — the subtitles for both Season 1 and Season 2.
"We think of our seasons as discrete components in the series, to the point where we’ve named our seasons," Nolan said. "The first season was called ‘The Maze.’ The second season is called ‘The Door.' ”
Any Season 1 viewer will immediately understand why it's called "The Maze." The maze is a symbol seen throughout the park in the first season. It's carved into the soil, emblazoned on coffins, and even tattooed into the scalp of one particular host. The Man in Black is obsessed with The Maze, believing it to be an as-yet undiscovered part of the park's narrative, something that will finally give purpose to his decades-long quest to uncover every last secret the park has to offer. In the end, The Maze turns out to be metaphorical, a symbol inspired by a child's toy that Arnold (Jeffrey Wright), the late co-founder of the park, used to explain his ambition to create true consciousness in the hosts. By the end of Season 1, Dolores has essentially solved Arnold's maze, attaining freedom (and the ability to harm and even kill humans) in doing so.
So now we come to Season 2, and the subtitle "The Door," another name that can easily be literal or metaphorical, or both. Doors lead from one place to another, from inside to outside or vice versa. They can be locked and barricaded, but also unlocked or kicked down. They can be large or small. They can exist in homes, in vehicles, or in our minds. It is, in typical Westworld fashion, a very vague term with seemingly infinite possibilities. Nolan does offer a brief explanation, though, for this thematic approach to Season 2.
"If the first season was a journey inward, this is a journey outward,” Nolan said. “This is a search for what is else is beyond the park, and what else is in the park. Are there more parks? How big is the park? What’s beyond the park?"
As we begin Season 2, Dolores has already opened a door to a new existence as a self-aware, free host, while Maeve has opened a door leading to the inner-workings of the park and, potentially, Shogun World. What will the door leading to Shogun World reveal, if we do indeed see it opened? Will we see doors to other parks? Are there still more mental doors for the hosts to open within themselves? Almost certainly, but we'll have to wait until Season 2 reveals its secrets to us to know for sure.
Westworld returns April 22 on HBO.