Now that Westworld’s second season has aired and we’ve all had time to at least try to get our heads around the non-linear storytelling, unexpected twists and mind-boggling revelations, it’s time to be inpatient and look ahead to the future of sci-fi western series. With a third season already green-lit and heading our way in the (hopefully) not too distant future, let’s explore some of the hopes I have for the show’s future after a largely successful, but occasionally messy, second season.
Death in Westworld is a curious and rather underdefined thing. Maeve, Hector and company seem to be killed by Delos soldiers and “Clementine-d” hosts in the second season finale but we’re offered a glimmer of hope that Felix and Sylvester will fix them, essentially confirming they’ll be back for Season 3. It seems like headshots might be the only way to put a host out-of-service permanently, by destroying their ‘brain pearl’, and if that’s the case then Lawrence, the Man in Black’s tag-along companion, could be out of the show for good considering the last time we saw him he caught several bullets to the back of the head. That means that William will need a new companion and who better than himself. Not all of the guest data was deleted by Dolores in the finale, and even if William’s was I’m sure Ford kept a back-up himself, so we could see a robotic version of William in Season 3. Ed Harris could play dual roles but I’d think it would be more interesting if Harris could share screen time with a version of his younger self, portrayed by Jimmi Simpson who is in danger of not being relevant to the show as the timeline moves forward. The Man in Black is questioning whether he’s human or not, and losing his humanity in the process, so teaming him up with a robotic version of himself will only mess with his head further and maybe put us on the path leading to that surprising post-credits scene set in the far future. Maybe pairing William with a host version of himself could be another part of the twisted game Robert is playing with him from beyond the grave.
Sticking with William, he’s in need of a new hand and getting a robotic replacement looks likely. This will undoubtably mess with his head even further and I hope there’s a scene similar to Luke Skywalker looking at his robotic hand in Return of the Jedi. The moment after he defeats Vader by tapping into the Dark Side, the hand being a stark warning of what he could become if he continues down that path. William’s also going to need to recuperate after losing several fingers and being shot multiple times so I hope he’s kept out of his beloved park for a while. Either healing in the Mesa or even off the island and back in the real world. How does someone who thinks they’re a host, even though they are probably not (at least not at this stage), ingratiate themselves back into the human world, away from the violence of the park? In this respect the Man in Black’s storyline in Season 3 could parallel Dolores’ as she traverses the real world.
In Season 2 I was pleased that the other parks, both Shogunworld and the brief sequence in The Raj, didn’t overshadow the titular Westworld. However, moving forward I do want more from these worlds than quick escapades and diversions and, after losing several characters in the tail-end of Season 2, I’d love if a new primary character came from one of these parks. I’m hoping there’s a completely separate subplot focusing on a new character in an as yet unseen park throughout the season, and that they wouldn’t crossover with anything else going on in the show or meet characters we are familiar with until the third season finale. This could allow the writers to play with time, something Jonathan Nolan seems obsessed by, with this subplot seemingly playing out at the same time as the rest of the show only to be revealed in the finale that it was taking place in the past or maybe even the future, helping to set up the fourth season in an interesting way. Speaking of Season 4, I’m currently of the opinion that the show should only last four seasons, especially now that our two primary characters are out of the park, seemingly for good.
Looking back on Season 2, the first three episodes stick out as being the weakest. They meld together as one big episode because all 3 feature most of the main characters as we get snippets of each of their respective journeys. On the other hand, episodes 8 and 9 rank among the season’s best and are second only to the outstanding fourth episode. That’s because the eighth and ninth episodes are focused largely on one specific character and act as successful character studies; episode 8 for Ake and 9 for the Man in Black. I hope this style of storytelling continues into the third season and there’s one character in particular I want an episode dedicated to: Stubbs. Ashley Stubbs was used sparingly in season 2 (to put it nicely) but the finale held a huge character revelation. He’s implied to be a host, stating he was hired by Ford so long ago he can hardly remember and that his “core drive” was to ensure the safety of the hosts rather than the guests, allowing Dolores, in the body of Hale, to finally leave Westworld. This reveal brings forth lots of questions such as did Stubbs always know he was a host? Is he truly ‘awake’, and if so, how? Was he privy to Ford’s plans? And what’s next for Stubbs? I’d love an episode spanning decades, seeing Stubbs being brought online for the first time, with a return for Anthony Hopkins as Ford, all the way up to the present just like with Ake’s episode in Season 2.
So, there are my hopes for Season 3 when Westworld returns in what will likely be a couple of years. What are your hopes for Westworld’s third season and what do you make of mine? Let me know in the comments and geek out with me about TV, movies and video-games on Twitter @kylebrrtt.