The showrunners of Westworld have revealed that there will be a radical shift in season 3. Co-created by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, the science-fiction series is based on Michael Crichton's 1973 film of the same name, about a Western-themed park full of robots who go rogue and start attacking the guests. It first aired on HBO in 2016, earning rave reviews and impressive debut ratings as it explored the deeper themes only touched upon in the movie. Although it attempted to expand upon these themes and existential questions, as well as revealing other parks such as Shogun World and The Raj, the second season proved less popular. Dividing both fans and critics, many believed the show had become too complex and convoluted.
Despite this, HBO defended the show, having already renewed it for a third season. Season 2, of course, saw the robot uprising begin in earnest as the hosts attempted to maintain their newfound freedom, while the Delos Corporation struggled to get them back under control. With episode 10, 'The Passenger', the season ended on some huge cliffhangers and with several fates up in the air. With numerous characters uploaded safely into a new digital world known as The Sublime, and others seemingly meeting their ends, Delores (Evan Rachel Wood) and a reconstituted Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) finally escaped into the real world.
Speaking to THR, Nolan and Joy offered a few hints as to the direction of the show, and revealed that a radical shift is coming. When asked about their vision for season 3 and the fact that most of the action will take place outside of the Western-themed park, Nolan had this to say: "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. 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."
Joy was quick to add that season 3 "really is like repiloting". The prospect is one that Nolan finds "terrifying and exciting in equal measure". The husband and wife team revealed that they have a "diabolical arc" planned for Tessa Thompson, whose character was killed off, before being ultimately repurposed into the host form that Delores used to escape the park.
Despite the flaws of the second season, there was still a lot to enjoy. Episode 8, 'Kiksuya', most notably seemed to be a standout that unified both sides of the divided reaction. If it can get back to that level of emotional and character-driven storytelling, alongside the intriguing sci-fi elements, the show could see a return to early form. The potential directions and new questions season 3 could explore are certainly promising ones, especially Delores' plans for the real world, the possible expansion of the timeline, and the mysterious host control units Delores has in her possession. Which direction the showrunners ultimately choose to follow is anybody's guess - but fans will no doubt happily speculate and theorize until the show returns to HBO.