'Westworld' Season 2: The Cast Teases the Fates of Their Characters
Girls rule the world. Westworld, that is. The futuristic theme park explodes into mayhem when androids Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) and Maeve (Thandie Newton) lead a violent robot rebellion in Season 2 of HBO’s twisty sci-fi series.
The newly woke park "hosts" ditch their programmed personas of sweet rancher’s daughter and scheming madam for a guns-blazing attack on the rich guests and employees of park operator Delos Inc. We can’t wait for the payback. "The androids are off the rails," confirms executive producer Jonathan Nolan, who co-created the series with his wife, Lisa Joy.
Last season, many of the hosts slowly discovered a heartbreaking (or should we say, circuit-breaking?) truth: They weren’t flesh-and-bone people but robots reliving narrative loops for the pleasure of often-sadistic guests. The fury crested in the finale after Dolores shot the man who created the sick setup: park creator and mad genius Dr. Ford (Anthony Hopkins).
Maeve escaped, only to change her mind and return in search of the murdered daughter she remembers from a previous program and track down those responsible. "The question driving this season is: What will they do to the people who have tormented them?" Nolan says. "How much of their humanity will they hang on to, now that they know they’re not human?"
First on Maeve’s revenge list: Lee Sizemore (Simon Quarterman), who developed the hosts’ stories. "Lee finds himself a part of the game all of a sudden," Quarterman says. "That puts him out of his comfort zone."
Maeve, however, is laser-focused. "She is determined and completely self-absorbed. There’s no loyalty, even to other hosts," says Newton. The action expands to bigger guns, large-scale battles and more sections of the park. (Hello, Shogun World!) Also, look for our fave Old West town to get a bit battle-scarred. Teases Nolan, "Let’s just say Sweetwater looks a little different."
So does Dolores. In the finale, she discovered a new persona—gunslinger Wyatt— buried in her code. "Dolores sees the beauty in everything. Wyatt sees the ugliness," says Wood. "They’re constantly competing."
To beat the bots, Delos calls in reinforcements, including new face Karl Strand (Vikings’ Gustaf Skarsgård). "He’s an ex-military guy, a problem-solver," Skarsgård explains. "He’s been through a lot but never faced the adversary of artificial intelligence before." We’ll also meet the corporation’s creepy white drone hosts, part of a secret project Delos is hiding in plain sight in the park. And we’ll learn more about the company’s history and ulterior motives.
The character most excited about the host-guest reckoning is, perhaps, the Man in Black (Ed Harris), who Dolores was shocked to learn was once her hero, a guest from a much earlier timeline named William (Jimmi Simpson). "He has this other agenda in what he is hoping to accomplish in the second season," says Harris. "It has to do with the past and how one aspect of the park he’s responsible for is now maybe not such a good thing."
Stuck between the hosts and humans is head of behavior/programming specialist Bernard (Jeffrey Wright). He, too, learned that he was an android—a replication of Ford’s original partner in building Westworld. "Bernard is vulnerable; he has allegiances to both sides of this new conflict," Wright says. Plus his cognitive abilities are diminished thanks to the bullet Dr. Ford instructed him to put in his own head.
Still, he knows Dolores is the key to the future. “Her attitude is: I’m fighting for my freedom. I’ll do whatever it takes,” Wood says. “Even if it’s absolutely brutal.”
Westworld, Season 2 Premiere, Sunday, April 22, 9/8c, HBO
This article also appeared in the Apr. 16 - Apr. 29 issue of TV Guide Magazine.