After more than a year off the air, Westworld will return to HBO this spring. Showrunners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy have been tight-lipped about what to expect from the show's long-awaited sophomore season, but here's everything we know so far.
The show will return with 10 new episodes this spring: HBO revealed the show's premiere date during the Super Bowl; the 10-episode second season will debut Sunday, April 22 at 9/8c. Set your DVRs.
There will be a time jump at the start of Season 2: Nolan confirmed to Entertainment Weekly last year that the series would not pick up immediately after the events of the Season 1 finale, which saw Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) lead a rebellion against the park's guests and board members after achieving full consciousness and Maeve (Thandie Newton) abandon her attempt to escape to search for the daughter she had in a previous storyline. However, Joy did note that fans are "definitely going to see the aftermath and the effects of what happened."
The second season will explore the culmination of Ford's new narrative: In an interview following the Season 1 finale, Nolan said that chaos would be a theme of the second season: "Ford (Anthony Hopkins) has set in motion what he thinks is a plan. The nature of that plan is something we explore in the second season — what his intentions are: Are they to let Dolores and the other hosts escape? Are they simply to teach the human guests a lesson?"
We will be exploring other parks too: In the Michael Crichton film upon which the series is based, there were two other parks: Roman World and Medieval World. While it's unclear if the same two parks exist within the show's narrative (a website for Delos Destinations advertises six parks that are active or in development, with only the Westworld site being accessible), fans have long suspected the show would introduce a separate world known as Shogun World ever since Maeve first saw hosts dressed in armor similar to that of feudal Japan and brandishing swords during the show's first season. Evidence of the park grew: Last summer, popular toy maker Funko released a new figure during San Diego Comic-Con that was dressed in samurai gear. His name was Musashi. Then Hiroyuki Sanada (Helix, Lost) has joined the show for multiple episodes as a character with that name. And in the official trailer, we finally saw footage of Shogun World, with Maeve moving through a field of Shogun World banners with someone in samurai armor.
Westworld's Delos Destinations website — a fake promotional site for the corporation that operates the parks — released a description of Shogun World, and it sounds even more twisted than Westworld: "For those for whom Westworld is not enough, the true connoisseur of gore can indulge their fantasies with the slash of a katana. Modeled after Japan's Edo period, Shogun World offers a chance for guests to embrace their inner warrior, in a landscape of highest beauty and darkest horror. Let your true self take shape in the land where self-discovery is an art form."The site also teases that there are six parks total, the remaining four of which are currently "closed to the public."
In addition to new parks, we could also be getting a look at the real world outside of Westworld, which has so far existed entirely off-screen. Simon Quarterman told TV Guide, "This season is way more expansive. It's blowing out the boundaries way further. So we're getting to discover a little more about maybe the outside world and maybe other areas of the park. It's huge."
Like the Cylons, the hosts have a plan: In the Super Bowl teaser — a full trailer will be released at a later date — Dolores reveals a master plan in a voice-over accompanied by footage mostly taken from the new season. "This beautiful world — we built this world together, a world where dreams come true, a world where you can be free," she says. "But this world is a lie. This world deserves to die, because this is your world. We've lived by your rules long enough. We can save this world. We can burn it to the ground, and from the ashes, build a new world: our world." OK, so it's not so much a plan as a threat, but it turns out the Cylons didn't really have a plan either so...
Maeve has a very specific plan: Maeve is holding Lee (Simon Quarterman) hostage at the start of Season 2, forcing the Westworld scriptwriter to live "his nightmare." Maeve decided to return to the park after Season 1 and she could have cornered Lee because he's the most likely to know where her host daughter is hiding within the park.
A number of familiar faces will be returning: Although there's no word on whether or not we'll see more of Anthony Hopkins as Dr. Ford — he was seemingly killed by Dolores in the finale, but that doesn't necessarily mean anything — there are a number of cast members confirmed to be returning for Season 2. Wood, Newton, James Marsden (Teddy), Jeffrey Wright (Bernard/Arnold), Ed Harris (the Man in Black), Tessa Thompson (Charlotte) and Luke Hemsworth (Stubbs) will all be back.
If you were one of the fans wondering what happened to Shannon Woodward's Elsie, who was absent from the second half of the first season after she was seen being choked by Bernard, HBO has been dropping hints about her survival for a while now. So, look for her to hopefully return in Season 2.
Meanwhile, HBO has announced Louis Herthum (Peter Abernathy) and Talulah Riley (Angela, the blonde host who first welcomed William to the park) have been promoted and are now series regulars. And don't be surprised if you see more of Clifton Collins Jr. (Lawrence/El Lazo), Ingrid Bolsø Berdal (Armistice), Rodrigo Santoro (Hector) and Angela Sarafyan (Clementine). Steven Ogg, fresh off playing Simon from The Walking Dead, will also return to play the outlaw Rebus.
William and Logan will be back too: Because William appears in a separate timeline in the past, it wasn't immediately clear if Jimmi Simpson, who played William's younger self, would be returning to the show in any capacity. However, Simpson has confirmed he'll be returning as the more innocent version of Harris' Man in Black, though we don't yet know how. Also confirmed to return is Ben Barnes as the debauched Logan, the man who first introduced William to the park, but the Punisher actor wouldn't say much else about his return. Still, he makes a brief appearance in the Super Bowl teaser: he's attending a very swanky party, but all the hosts have frozen around him.
We'll also meet a number of new characters: New series regulars for Season 2 include Vikings' star Gustaf Skarsgard as the white-collared Karl Strand; Katja Herbers (Manhattan, The Leftovers) as seasoned park guest Grace, who visits during the park's darkest hour; and Tyrant star Fares Fares as tech expert Antoine Costa.
Elsewhere, Neil Jackson (Sleepy Hollow) and Jonathan Tucker (Kingdom, Justified) will be joining Season 2 in recurring roles. Jackson will play a man named Nicholas who finds himself in unfamiliar territory, while Tucker will play a military officer named Major Craddock. Zahn McClarnon (Fargo) has also joined the show in a mystery role, while Peter Mullan (Top of the Lake, Quarry) will be taking on the role of James Delos, the founder of the the corporation that ran the park.
Chaos will take control: HBO released the official poster for Season 2 on Thursday, March 22 with an ominous electronic vulture standing over a bloodied black hat. Does this mean that the hosts will take over their primary villain? The enigmatic photo seems to set up that the Man in Black's days are numbered.
The trailer raises the stakes: A full-length trailer shows the Man in Black growling to Dolores, "up until this point, the stakes were never real. But now you and the rest of your kind are free." For her part, Dolores is figuring out who she is going to be now that she can choose. "There is beauty in what we are," she tells Bernard, who's less comfortable with his identity as a host.
Westworld returns for Season 2 on Sunday, April 22 at 9/8c on HBO.