Westworld season 2: Everything you need to know

Morgan Jeffery
Photo credit: HBO

From Digital Spy

Westworld might have delivered its fair share of jaw-dropping twists, but landing a renewal from HBO back in November wasn't one of the bigger surprises.

The sci-fi western dystopia wowed viewers with its bleak yet beautiful storytelling – and in terms of numbers, it was bigger than even Game of Thrones.

Now all eyes are on showrunners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy as they prepare to take us even deeper inside the maze. Here's everything we know about season two so far.

Westworld season 2 release date: When's it back?

Photo credit: HBO

Even the news that Westworld was coming back for more was laden with a subtle twist of its own: the show wouldn't return to our screens till 2018.

"The production is enormously challenging and ambitious, and so is the writing," Nolan said, off the back of the renewal news. "So we said very early on that we wouldn't be able to turn this around every year."

Though it'll feel like a helluva long wait, it's smart for Nolan, Joy and their team to take their time with the new season. Let's not forget that they had to halt filming midway through production of their first 10 episodes in order to finesse the scripts.

Photo credit: HBO

Stubbs actor Luke Hemsworth – yes, the elder brother of Chris and Luke – has suggested that a two-year break between seasons will help avoid something similar happening again.

"They don't want to go in doing what they were doing last time, where they were under the cosh the whole time," he said. "They want to go in with a clear plan – A to Z and everything in between."

Westworld season 2 filming: When do they start shooting?

According to Ed Harris, the formidable Man in Black, ten new episodes of Westworld will begin filming in summer 2017, "probably June or July". We wouldn't dare argue with him.

Harris has similarly suggested that shooting on the "trippy" new season will wrap by the end of the year. "They're committed to having the scripts done to shoot so we're done by Christmas," he explained.

Nolan posted the title page of the season two premiere to Reddit in June, but made certain to obscure the episode's title. Only 'Journey into N...' was visible...

It would appear the full title is 'Journey into Night' - with the title appearing on the official Westworld site as part of a creepy teaser in July.

Westworld season 2 trailer

HBO started gearing up for Westworld's return with the release of the first season 2 trailer at Comic-Con in July 2017.

There's no dialogue at all, only the eerily appropriate Sammy Davis Jr standard 'I've Gotta Be Me' playing over startling shots of Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) standing over the body of a rotting animal and Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) in Beast Mode picking off park visitors with her pistol.

However, the most disturbing image comes last as the camera pans towards a smile creeping across the face of the blood-soaked Man in Black (Ed Harris) amidst the modern-day rebellion. Also teased are other worlds within the park, but we only get a brief glimpse.

Westworld season 2 cast: Who's starring in the new episodes?

HBO's yet to officially confirm a cast list, but we're guessing any major character who's not obviously dead will be in line to return.

That includes Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood), Teddy (James Marsden), Maeve (Thandie Newton) and presumably Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) – he may have shot himself under Ford's instruction, but he was bodged together again by Maeve and Felix.

Photo credit: HBO

One character who apparently perished in season one's closer could also be back for more. Though Ford (Anthony Hopkins) appeared to be shot dead by Dolores, Nolan has warned fans to "assume nothing" – and Hopkins himself has suggested that his fate on the series is still up in the air.

Ford could certainly reappear in flashback, according to Nolan: "I think there will be an opportunity to explore a little bit more of the backstory of how this park came to be, a little more of that story.

"We'll see the character's presence will be felt in that sense in terms of filling in a few more of the gaps about the early history of this place."

The Man in Black, now revealed as the older William (Jimmi Simpson), is certainly going nowhere, with Ed Harris confirming that he'll "be involved" with season two, though there's less obvious room for Jimmi Simpson's incarnation.

Photo credit: HBO

Simpson himself stated in March 2017 that his involvement in the upcoming run is "unclear" and that young William might miss out on season two entirely.

"If they have more for William, I would assume it would be a whole new kind of story," he said. "[But] I wouldn't be surprised if William showed up in season 3 or something."

But a few months later, Simpson confirmed that he would indeed be back, with Westworld set to dig deeper into William's transformation into MiB.

"There a few more questions that they're gonna answer for us as far as exactly how that transition occurred and what it felt like to him and other people," he explained.

Photo credit: HBO

Logan (Ben Barnes) was last seen left in a rather sticky situation by William – tied up, naked, on horseback – and while Barnes has since signed up to star in The Punisher on Netflix, it's probable he'll be all wrapped on that show before Westworld resumes filming, should they decide to explore more of William's youthful adventures.

We'll be seeing a lot more of Angela – who, in season one, was seen welcoming guests into the Westworld Mesa Hub before preparing them for their park visit – with Talulah Riley promoted to series regular for season two.

Photo credit: Sky Atlantic

Louis Herthum, who played robot Peter Abernathy, will also be a regular in the upcoming season, following a guest starring role in six episodes of the first season as Dolores's father.

The show's second season will also be adding two new characters to the mix, enlisting Sleepy Hollow star Neil Jackson as a character called Nicholas, who's described as "a charming, resourceful man who finds himself in uncharted territory".

Parenthood and American Gods cast member Jonathan Tucker is also on board and he'll be playing a character called Major Craddock, a commanding military officer, while The Leftovers actress Katja Herbers will play new regular Grace, a "seasoned guest in Westworld whose latest visit comes at the park's darkest hour".

Photo credit: Alberto E. Rodriguez / Staff / Getty Images

[Above: Gustaf Skarsgård]

Also cast as new regulars are Gustaf Skarsgård (Vikings) and Tyrant actor Fares Fares. Skarsgård will play Karl Strand, a white-collar guy who's comfortable in the field, while Fares takes on the role of a tech expert Antoine Costa.

Get Out actress Betty Gabriel will be recurring as Maling, who is trying to restore order on the ground, while Lost actor Hiroyuki Sanada will play Musashi, a character whose origins and motives are being kept tightly under wraps (though there's already speculation that the character will be linked to EastWorld or SamuraiWorld, as introduced in the first season's finale).

Photo credit: Mario Perez/ABC via Getty Images

The fates of Elsie (Shannon Woodward) and Stubbs will also be resolved next season, according to Nolan: "We know where they're going and we'll get there." More on Elsie below...

Westworld season 2 theories: What's going to happen next?

The first season wrapped with the Hosts teed up to fight back against their human masters, as Ford's masterplan came to fruition.

"If the first season was defined by control, the second season is defined by chaos," said Nolan. "That's part of what we come to understand Ford has been planning all along.

"Ford 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 or the other Hosts escape? Are they simply to teach the human guests a lesson?"

But will Ford be around to see what he's achieved? Many fans have speculated that he's still alive and that the Ford we saw die in the finale was a Host duplicate.

Elsie might not be a goner either. Even though we last saw her being choked by Bernard, on Ford's orders, an Easter egg on the official Westworld site implies that she's still out there somewhere, alive.

Ditto Stubbs, with Hemsworth insisting that his character is physically "well" and "doing all right": "[He's] just taking a sabbatical," the actor said, while Stubbs can also be glimpsed in the first season 2 teaser.

Photo credit: HBO

The Westworld site got an update in July 2017, with a new opening animation appearing to show someone broadcasting a distress call. Could it be Elsie or Stubbs?

Meanwhile, having led the Host uprising, we'll see a "completely different" Dolores next season, according to Evan Rachel Wood: "I'm really curious to see the unleashed version of her that we caught a glimpse of at the very end of the finale," she said.

Photo credit: HBO

"Those final seconds, I think we were seeing a completely different side to her, completely different programming and completely off of her leash, so I don't think she will be the same person; she'll be an evolved version."

Season two will also delve more into about how the Hosts are made. Nolan again: "Their construction and their power source is something we're really going to get into... they're closer to biological than they are to mechanical."

Photo credit: HBO

Joy, meanwhile, has hinted that at least one of the Hosts could escape Westworld and venture out into other parks... and possibly beyond.

"I would imagine that at least one, ultimately, gets a bigger look at the world. Who and when, I'm not quite sure yet."

We know for a fact that Samurai World – a feudal Japanese theme park – will feature in the second season, having been introduced in 'The Bicameral Mind'.

But don't expect the show to go totally crazy on that front. Roman World and Medieval World – two other parks featured in the original Westworld film from 1973 – won't be introduced this season, according to Nolan.

Hilariously, while actual plot details are pretty thin on the ground, we do know that one story twist planned for season two had to be scrapped... because clever cats on Reddit had "already figured [it] out".

Photo credit: HBO

In fact, Joy had this to say to any fans wanting to stay spoiler-free ahead of season two: "Maybe don't log on to Reddit."

"Reddit has already figured out the third episode twist," said Nolan. "So, we're changing that right now.

"It's annoying sometimes when people guess the twists and then blog about it, but the engagement is gratifying, on one level, because if someone guesses your twist, it means you've done an adequate job [of structuring the series]."

Said structure could be a little less haywire heading into season two, with Westworld potentially dropping the multiple timelines for a more straightforward narrative.

"I think we'll experiment in different point of views and different angles," said Joy. "You don't necessarily want to repeat the same thing."

Westworld returns to HBO and Sky Atlantic in 2018.

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