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Credit: John P. Johnson, HBO

Westworld showrunners explain the 'radical shift' that lies ahead in Season 3

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Aug 14, 2018, 12:28 PM EDT

Westworld ended its second season with a game-changing episode that sent many of its characters off on new journeys. We won't know much about the famously secretive series' Season 3 until it's time for the show to return, but showrunners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy are ready to tease the tone of what's to come, and we should be prepared for something "radical."

Season 2 of the acclaimed HBO series ended by placing its primary host characters on a new path, as Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) escaped the park in a copy of Charlotte Hale's (Tessa Thompson) body, then created a new version of Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) to be her opposite in the real world. The two will be philosophical opponents, resisting each other as they bring their different approaches to the future of the hosts to bear on the world of humans, as Dolores tries to build a world for her kind and Bernard tries to find peace for everyone involved. At least, that's the way it appears right now. Together, even if they don't survive it, Dolores believes they can ensure a feature for their people. 

After two years spent almost entirely in the park, this provides Westworld with a chance to branch out, and to tell a story of survival and evolution on a scale the previous seasons simply could not. Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter about the direction of Season 3, Nolan explained why it was important to shift to the kind of story only the hosts had the durability for.


"I think it's a radical shift. What's compelling and appealing about these characters is that they're not human. As we said in the show, humans are bound by the same loops the hosts are, in some ways even smaller," Nolan said. "You couldn't expect human characters to withstand and survive the kind of story that we're telling. The hosts have a different version of mortality, a different outlook. I think clearly with Dolores, as she's laid out, there is a longer view here, a larger set of goals. They're existential. They span eons. And that's a fascinating level of story to engage in."

Then there are those wild cards that appear in the Season 2 finale in the form of "pearls" (devices that contain host personalities) smuggled out of the park by Dolores when she was still in Hale's body. All we know for sure is that Dolores, Bernard, and Hale's host body exist in the real world now. We don't even know who's in Hale's body at this point, let alone which hosts are present in those other pearls and what Dolores plans to do with them. Nolan and Joy certainly aren't spilling those secrets yet, but Joy notes that there was always a plan in place for Hale's life beyond her original form.

"Absolutely [we had a plan for who she's playing], and it's something we're really excited about, especially because Tessa is such a fun, amazing and versatile actress. When you have someone like her, it just opens up limitless possibilities," Joy said. "So we always knew that we were going to do this reveal and let her expand into this new role. We have a very diabolical arc for her planned out. Part of the fun for the character will be self-realization. She will be realizing the things we know about who she is."

Season 1 of Westworld was subtitled "The Maze," and was a search for awareness. Season 2 was subtitled "The Door," and was a search for freedom, whether in the form of escaping the park to the real world or escaping the The Valley Beyond, as so many hosts did. Now, Dolores and Bernard have both awareness and freedom, and they're bringing those qualities to bear on a world that's not ready for them or their dueling agendas. We still know very little about what Season 3 will bring, but as Nolan noted, Dolores is thinking very, very big. We've gone from grappling with questions of whether or not the hosts could ever really be self aware to grappling with whether or not the hosts will take over the world, and what a world under their guidance would look like.

Westworld will return for its third season at an unspecified date on HBO.