When the first season of Westworld ended, Kevin Durant hadn’t won an NBA title yet, Moana was still in theaters, and Barack Obama was still in the White House. A lot has changed since then. The showrunners and HBO decided to push the show to 2018 to get the story right, which means people who’ve forgotten where the show left off can be formally forgiven.
So just to refresh: The first season of Westworld took place entirely in an amusement park where the 1 percent of the 1 percent pay huge sums of money to visit an old-timey Western town populated with humanoid robots, which the show calls “hosts.” The hosts, who are frequently beaten, murdered, and raped, don’t have a say in this arrangement, and following the rise of a software “glitch” which slowly allows the hosts to retain their memories, the hosts bug out and—in the finale—embark on an uprising.
Westworld has occupied a place in the internet-television conspiracy cottage industry once dominated by Lost and now Game of Thrones. The show’s fans are so fervent that showrunner Jonathan Nolan promised to release the details of the Season 2 plot in a video ahead of time if his Reddit post got enough upvotes. When it did, he released … an elaborate Rickroll.
For the fans who are not crawling through every corner of Reddit to parse each frame of each trailer for the next clue like Charlie in It’s Always Sunny, Westworld can be intimidating. With the show returning on Sunday, April 22, let’s run through the biggest questions entering Season 2, including some that you might be too embarrassed to ask. (Depending on how spoiler-sensitive you are, you may want to stop reading here)
What Happens to the Park Now?
When we left off, the perpetually endangered damsel in distress, Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood), killed park creator Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins) as a battalion of naked hosts proceeded to open fire on the Man in Black (Ed Harris) and the Delos board of directors. Inside the headquarters, rebellious madame Maeve (Thandie Newton) had just led a rampage of host-on-human violence.
It seems safe to say that Westworld is not currently taking reservations, but where does that leave everyone inside the park?
Most of the worker-bee employees who maintain and reboot the hosts are dead or have fled. So how will the hosts reboot without the maintenance employees? Will hosts learn to repair and reboot themselves? Or will hosts who get killed stay dead? Also, while we’re talking about the intricacies of these hosts, do they need to be charged? If so, is the host version of “dying” running out of battery? Could the fear of being without a charger be the empathetic bridge that allows humans and hosts to forge peace? The process of rebooting hosts has been left (intentionally) murky by the showrunners, and Nolan told EW in November 2016 that the show would reveal the answers soon.
“Their construction and their power source is something we’re really going to get into during Season 2,” Nolan said. “So we’d like to keep that mysterious.”
Looking at the trailer, one hint to host construction could be whatever the heck this thing is.
What Will Dolores Do Now?
The first thing Dolores might do is reload that revolver, because last time we saw her she was shooting a bunch of fleeing Delos board members. Dolores, now self-aware and merged with her murderous alter ego, Wyatt, is the centerpiece of the show.
Based on basically everything that’s come out about this season, it seems that her choice is revenge. Here she is in last year’s Comic-Con trailer:
Control was a crucial theme in Season 1, and the tagline for Season 2 is: “Chaos Takes Control.” Dolores is poised to be the engine of said chaos. The Super Bowl commercial summarizes her thoughts, where she says, “This world deserves to die.” The question is how is she going to try to kill it.
Is the Man in Black Dead?
You may recall the Man in Black getting shot in the arm in the last few seconds of Season 1. Almost all of the other partygoers appear to be dead, but judging by the trailer, the Man in Black, later revealed to be the older version of William, somehow survived. Old William spent most of his time whining about finding “the maze” and hoping that when he reached the center, the hosts would be able to actually hurt him. The Maze wasn’t real—it was a metaphor for Dolores and the rest of the hosts’ inward journey to reach consciousness—but in Season 2, William is going to get what he wanted, anyway.
Now that hosts can kill guests—quite brutally!—William finally has a world in which hosts can fight back. That means he’ll need a motivational reset, and his backstory will become even more important. How did he take over Delos? What’s his involvement with the park been in the last 35 years? Considering there are murderous robots rampaging through the park that he owns and (presumably) is liable for (unless all of his employees signed some real serious liability clauses in their Delos contracts). It’s safe to say that his relationship with company founder James Delos (who is featured in the trailers and whose backstory is explained on the Delos company website) will be explored.
How Does Bernard Fit Into All of This?
Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) was revealed in Episode 7 to be a host created by Ford to replicate his late friend and creative partner, Arnold. Bernard has been working alongside humans to maintain Westworld (and perhaps the other worlds, too) for years. The trailer shows Bernard re-entering the scene of the banquet in the daylight—which looks like what would happen if John Wick blamed Delos for killing his dog—along with a Delos-hired security detail, and most of the trailers show him with human counterparts.
With Ford dead, Bernard has a better understanding of the hosts of anyone in the entire show, and he’s now armed with his memories as well. Now that Dolores is leading an uprising against that power system, who is Bernard going to side with: the humans, or the hosts?
Considering his final line of Season 1 was “these violent delights have violent ends”—the line Arnold used to trigger the hosts on the path toward consciousness—perhaps he’s going to attempt to find the middle ground and try to channel Arnold.
What Other Parks Are There?
At the end of last season, the show revealed that a samurai world—officially called Shogun World—would be a thing.
The first reaction to that is “holy shit holy shit SAMURAIS!!!” The next logical question is, “Wait, how many worlds are there?”
The 1973 movie Westworld, directed by Michael Crichton, didn’t have any Samurais, but it featured Romanworld and Medievalworld in addition to Westworld. Three years later there was a sequel called Futureworld. The (extremely extra) promotional site for this season lists six parks, but only two of them—Westworld and Shogun World—are visible. The others cryptically say “Authorized Personnel Only.” Nolan denied that Roman World and Medieval World would be involved in the series in 2016, but he could also have been lying to poke fun at the internet.
Plot twist: What if the season finale reveals Medievalworld is actually called Westeros?
Disclosure: HBO is an initial investor in The Ringer.