Westworld returns to HBO for its third season this week, with the series pivoting from its Old West theme park setting — as well as last season’s Shogunworld side trip — to the “real world” of the show. With Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) having escaped the park at the end of Season 2, she is now ready to take on humanity on her own terms in a near-future version of Los Angeles, even while Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) is on the run, accused of the massacre that took place at the Delos park, and Maeve (Thandie Newton) finds herself in an unfamiliar world herself.
IGN recently spoke with showrunners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy about the changes they’ve made for Westworld Season 3, and what to expect as the season progresses. Read on for some highlights from the non-spoilery part of our chat (and check back next week for more)!
The World Beyond Westworld
The first two seasons of the HBO series presented a near-future realm of amazing technology where lifelike androids could pass for human, but it was purposefully very limited in depicting the outside world beyond the Delos parks like Westworld and Shogunworld. Now, in Season 3, Nolan and Joy say it’s finally time to step outside the theme parks.
“The question for the first couple seasons was, when are we?” says Nolan. “The question for the third season, now that the hosts have caught up a little bit, is where are we? What is the larger world that we’re in? It’s also rooted a little bit in the perspective of our protagonists. In the first season, Dolores is not aware that she’s cascading through her own memories and conflating them with the here and now. In the second season, Bernard is trying to repair his own broken mind, which he’s come to understand. He’s deliberately scrambled himself to protect Dolores. In the third season, both Dolores and Bernard have a pretty good handle on where they are, and after a little bit of confusion Maeve figures out where she is pretty quickly.”
One of our main ways in to the bigger world of the show this season is through the new character played by Aaron Paul, Caleb. A construction worker who also takes on criminal jobs by night — for the thrill as much as for the money — Caleb offers a different perspective from the robots and rich folks of the first two seasons.
“When we’re coming to explore the world in the first episode, we are with someone who thinks he understands his world,” continues Nolan. “And Caleb’s understanding of the world is not when is he, but it’s more a question of who is he? So with the show from the beginning, we wanted to ground it in the perspective of its characters. And we also wanted to use every season as an opportunity to reinvent the look of the show, the feel of the show, tracking a group of characters that we’ve come to love and invest in, or hate and invest in, as they journey from one world to the other. So there’s a formal quality to the show that we love playing around with a little bit.”
Caleb’s understanding of the world is not when is he, but it’s more a question of who is he?
For now anyway, the producers seem content to let Westworld play out in a more traditionally linear manner than it did in the first two seasons. But it sounds like that’s not going to last forever.
“We’re not cascading through time this season,” says Nolan before adding with a laugh, “We will almost certainly return to that idea. If you think of two standing waves meeting here in the middle, we’re in the here and now for this season, and I can’t imagine we’ll stay there for long.”
It wouldn’t be Westworld without a little time-jumping, after all!
For more on Westworld, check out our spoiler-free review of the first episode of Season 3, get caught up with our recap of Seasons 1 and 2, find out what’s new in Westworld this year directly from the cast, or check out our five biggest questions we have about the new season.
And be sure to check back here next week for more from showrunners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy…