The twist-ridden Season 1 finale of “Westworld” offered more questions than answers: Whatever happened to Elsie Hughes? What’s up with those Shogun hosts? Is Dr. Ford really dead?
As Sunday’s premiere of the second season approaches, the “Westworld” cast and crew have remained tight-lipped about the new plot, but since-released trailers and stills, as well as the showrunners, themselves, have revealed a few key details. Here’s what we know about the latest season of HBO’s hit sci-fi western.
Six New Actors Joined the Cast
The second season features debut performances from Katja Herbers, Gustaf Skarsgard, and Fares Fares as series regulars, as well as Betty Gabriel, Jonathan Tucker, and Neil Tucker in recurring roles. “Vikings” actor Skarsgard plays Karl Strand, who HBO described as a white-collar guy comfortable in the field. “The Leftovers” actress Herbers plays seasoned guest Grace and “Rogue One” actor Fares portrays tech expert Antoine Costa. “Get Out’s” Betty Gabriel joins the cast as Maling, who wants to restore order on the ground, while Tucker recurs as commanding military officer Major Craddock. Jackson’s Nicholas is described as a charming and resourceful man who finds himself in uncharted territory.
Plenty More of Peter Abernathy and Angela
In addition to adding six all-new cast members, HBO also announced the elevations of Louis Herthum and Talulah Riley to series regulars. Herthum, who plays Dolores Abernathy’s father, host Peter, exited the first season after his character made a possible insight into the nature of his robotic reality, causing the park staff to replace him as a precautionary measure. Riley’s Angela, the longstanding host who welcomed William to Westworld, had a few brief appearances in Season 1, but a new still from Season 2, as well her blood-smattered, gun-wielding appearance in the latest Season 2 trailer, offer a first look into Angela’s larger role.
Ed Harris and Jimmi Simpson Will Return as the Man in Black/William
Fans last saw the Man in Black, Westworld’s majority shareholder and cruelest regular customer, on the outskirts of the Delos exec massacre in a final twist that left the question of his Season 2 return open-ended. Newly revealed stills that show the Man in Black standing among dead bodies, however, confirm that Ed Harris will reprise his sinister role. The Man in Black also played an appropriately dramatic role in the final Season 2 trailer, along with Jimmi Simpson as William, the Man in Black’s younger self. Simpson will return as William’s Season 2 arc explores, through flashbacks, how he came to hold extensive power over the park.
Ashley Stubbs Is Alive and Well
After being ambushed by Native American hosts toward the end of Season 1, the fate of Westworld head of security Ashley Stubbs was left uncertain. However, a new still from Season 2 sees Ashley back in the field alongside Maling, Karl, and Bernard, hinting at his return. Luke Hemsworth, who plays Ashley, also confirmed his reprisal at the PaleyFest in May, where he said, “Physically? He’s well. He’s doing all right. Just taking a sabbatical,” in reference to the state of his character. The latest Season 2 trailer features Ashley and Bernard patrolling the beach at the edge of the park, teasing the comeback of the programmer-security team.
There’s a New Host in Town
Also featured in the initial Season 2 trailer is an all-white, faceless host that slightly resembles the molds from the assembly-line opening title sequence, but is just unfamiliar enough to cause a stir. The image of the mask-like face looming over Bernard’s shoulder was among the most talked about moments after the trailer’s release. “Westworld” showrunners Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan have since confirmed the figure is indeed a different breed of host — called a drone host — under the control of the Delos corporation. According to the showrunners, the park has two purposes, which differ for the guests and the company, and the drone hosts are a pawn in Delos’ hidden agenda. In the final Season 2 trailer, the drone host revealed its violent potential, harshly throwing a body into what appears to be a water tank of some kind.
Elsie Hughes Is Not Dead
As far as other Westworld staffers know, the park’s wittiest programmer is taking a leave, but viewers of the show know the real explanation behind Elsie’s disappearance — Bernard strangled her in her last scene. The suspenseful turn effectively killed Shannon Woodward’s character for the remainder of Season 1, but an interactive map on a promotional site for the show pegged Elsie within the park, hinting that Bernard never actually finished the job. Joy has since confirmed that Elsie will make a lively reappearance in the second season.
Charlotte Hale Survived the Delos Exec Purge
The executive director of Delos’ board was supposedly a prime target in the robot uprising, but Season 2 stills of Tessa Thompson’s no-nonsense character show her interacting with Bernard, confirming the continuation of Charlotte’s quest for total park domination. The latest trailer from the second season also sees Charlotte riding on horseback through a canyon in a bulletproof vest, suggesting that she is still far from safe from her android pursuers.
Maeve Will Reach Westworld’s Head of Narrative
Another still from the new season features Thandie Newton’s Maeve and Simon Quarterman’s Lee Sizemore staring off into the distance, teasing a first meeting between the park’s most deviant host and its head of narrative, that could have disastrous implications. The second trailer for the new season expanded on the still, zooming out to reveal the pair standing in front of a smattering of dead bodies.
Dr. Ford Will Return, But Anthony Hopkins Won’t
In perhaps the largest water cooler moment of Season 1, Dolores gunned down Dr. Robert Ford as part of a mass robot insurrection. While the perfect headshot wound Dolores delivered didn’t leave much to the imagination, some still speculated that the Ford she shot was merely a host version of Westworld’s creative director, made by Ford to allow him to continue his personal agenda in the park undetected. The showrunners, however, have reportedly confirmed that Anthony Hopkins will not reprise his role, as Ford is truly dead. But they have said that a younger version of Ford, played by another actor, will appear in flashbacks to fill in Ford’s backstory.
Xfinity Will Stream Season 1 ‘Without Limits’
Xfinity customers without HBO accounts can stream the entire first season of “Westworld” free of charge up until Sunday’s Season 2 premiere. Fans have the option to watch the first season in their homes on Xfinity X1, on the go through the Xfinity Stream app, or by visiting the web portal on their smartphone, laptop, or tablet.
More Piano Covers
Aside from providing visual clues like new hosts and animal robots, the Season 2 trailers have also offered first listens into Season 2’s musical landscape, featuring instrumental covers of Kanye West’s “Runaway” and Nirvana’s “Heart-Shaped Box” from composer Ramin Djawadi. The latest season will continue to include classical versions of popular songs in its score, adding to Season 1’s covers of tracks like “Paint It, Black” and “Black Hole Sun.” The show will also release studio recordings of the instrumentals on streaming platforms; “Runaway” and “Heart-Shaped Box” are available now, while the remainder of the Season 2 album has yet to be announced.
The Park Is Expanding
The possibility of alternative theme parks within the Westworld-verse has been on the table since the Season 1 finale offered a glimpse into the hosts of a mysterious “S” world, wielding katanas and donning samurai armor. Felix, a Westworld technician, also seemed to corroborate the existence of more sub-parks in the Season 1 finale when he handed Maeve a slip of paper that said she could find her host daughter in “Park 1.” A Season 2 trailer that debuted during SXSW confirmed Shogun World would indeed have a place in Season 2, though it’s unclear if Shogun World and Park 1 are synonymous. Shogun World also played a major role in the final Season 2 trailer, which includes a host in geisha makeup and Maeve wearing a kimono. The creators have not confirmed whether the universe will expand to more areas featured in the original movie, like Roman World and Medieval World.