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Westworld season 2 on HBO: Everything we know so far

Not only is the disturbing Old West theme park open for business again, so are a few more parks. Here's how to watch and what to expect when season 2 returns.

HBO/Composite by Aaron Robinson

Ready to go back to Westworld? Just like Jurassic Park, it offers a terrifying example of how futuristic theme parks can go terribly wrong, despite their owners' elaborate dreams. The HBO show debuted in 2016 with a 10-episode season, and another 10 episodes are due up this April. The show was pretty much a hit from the beginning, with the series debut earning HBO's highest ratings for a premiere since 2014's True Detective. Westworld boasts the most-watched first season of any HBO original series -- and that's saying a lot for a network that's home to Game of Thrones.

Like the 1973 Michael Crichton movie on which it was based, the first season of Westworld takes place in an Old West-style theme park run by the Delos Corporation, where paying guests mingle with realistic android hosts, and everything from murder to rape is on the menu. 

As the first season ended in December 2016, the hosts had risen up and were about to get their revenge. Maybe plan a Disney vacation instead.

We'll update this story as new information is revealed.

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Episode one airs Sunday, April 22

Season 2 will begin on HBO on April 22. Remember, HBO isn't Netflix: You can't binge-watch the whole season at once. The 10 episodes will air one per week, at 9 p.m. across time zones (8 p.m. Central) on Sunday nights. In the UK it's on Sky Atlantic at 2 a.m. Monday morning, then again that night at 9 p.m. It's also on demand on Sky's Now TV. In Australia it's on Foxtel's Showcase at 11 a.m. AEST on Monday, then again that night at 8.30 p.m. AEST.

While we didn't discover the title of season one until the end, showrunners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy told Entertainment Weekly that season 2 is called "The Door." As for now, only the first episode title has been released: "Journey Into Night." (Season one was called "The Maze," and if you watched, you know why.)

Episode titles

We now have titles for the first five episodes:

  • Journey Into Night: Written by Lisa Joy and Roberto Patino; directed by Richard J. Lewis
  • Reunion: Written by Carly Wray and Jonathan Nolan; directed by Vincenzo Natali
  • Virtù e Fortuna: Written by Roberto Patino and Ron Fitzgerald; directed by Richard J. Lewis
  • The Riddle of the Sphinx: Written by Gina Atwater and Jonathan Nolan; directed by Lisa Joy
  • Akane No Mai: Written by Dan Dietz; directed by Craig Zobel

How to watch Westworld

To watch the new season, you'll need a subscription to HBO (or a friend with one), but if you don't have cable, you can pay for HBO Now, a streaming subscription version of HBO that doesn't require a regular cable subscription (or even a TV). Not sure you'll like it? You can stream HBO Now free for 30 days. 

If you don't have HBO and aren't going to pop for it, you can at least get caught up on season one, which is now out on Blu-ray, DVD, and 4K Ultra Blu-ray, and available on Hulu with an HBO Premium Add-on

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Meet the cast

Many stars from the first season are returning: 

Wood is back as Dolores, the android host who plays the sweet rancher's daughter who learned that her life is an elaborate lie. Newton returns as Maeve, a host who's most recently played a madam, but has memories of another life -- and a child. Wright returns as Bernard/Arnold, who discovered a huge secret about himself in the first season. Anthony Hopkins won't be back as Robert Ford (but expect to see a younger version of Ford in flashback, played by another actor). The Man in Black (Harris) and William (Simpson) will be back too, with some snippets of William in the park's early days. 

Marsden will return as Teddy, Dolores' fellow host and love interest, and Santoro returns as host Hector, a wanted man. 

William's pal Logan (Ben Barnes) looks to be back, too, but IMDb only lists him as returning for the first episode. Riley, who plays host Angela, has been promoted to series regular, as has Herthum (who plays Dolores' father Peter Abernathy). (Fun fact: Riley is the ex-wife of billionaire Elon Musk, which may explain at least a little bit about why he stopped by the show's SXSW panel in March.)

Delos programmer Elsie Hughes (Woodward) and security head Ashley Stubbs (Hemsworth) will be back, EW reports, but "not doing so hot" (she disappeared and he was captured in season one). Tessa Thompson's Charlotte Hale is back too, but the corporate villain is finding that the park's not so great when you're no longer in control. Also returning: park head writer Lee Sizemore (Quarterman), Dolores' father Peter Abernathy (Louis Herthum), and now-apparently-lobotomized brothel worker Clementine Pennyfeather (Sarafyan), among others.

New this season: The creepy white-faced hosts called "drone hosts," who get pretty violent in the footage that's been shared so far. "The drone hosts relate to the corporation's secret project, which is hidden in plain sight in this park," showrunner Nolan told EW

Welcome to the World:  Rinko Kikuchi, the first Japanese actress ever to be nominated for an Oscar (in 2006, for the ensemble drama "Babel"; she also stars in Pacific Rim Uprising), was spotted in a recent season 2 trailer in geisha makeup, and reportedly plays a character named Akane. Another new character is James Delos, founder of the Delos Corporation which runs the park, played by Peter Mullan

Other newcomers, though little is known about their characters, include:

All the hints about the plot

For a while, it seemed as if spoilers might become a non-issue this season. On April 9, showrunners Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan took part in a Reddit Ask Me Anything session where Nolan offered to post a video that lays out all the plot twists of season 2. Guess what, internet-meme maniacs? The video shared later that night was a well-designed Rickroll. You wouldn't get this from any other guy.

  • It looks like Charlotte had a big part in the "rebellion" that unfolded late last season. There's also a theory about her relationship to Bernard that might or might not be true.
  • There are at least five other theme parks under the Delos umbrella. Little is known about most of them, but one is set in ancient Japan, and it's called Shogun World, not Samurai World, as many initially thought. It seems fair to assume Kikuchi's Akane and the character played by Hiroyuki Sanada will be hosts (or guests?) at that park. On April 2, HBO updated the show's Delos Destinations site to describe the park: "For those for whom 'Westworld' is not enough, the true connoisseur of gore can indulge their fantasies with the slash of a katana. Modeled after Japan's Edo period, Shogun World offers a chance for guests to embrace their inner warrior, in a landscape of highest beauty and darkest horror."
  • Shogun World may not be the only park viewers get to see this season. In the Reddit AMA, Nolan said "the new worlds required their own look," and the fact that he said "worlds," plural, opens up plenty of possibilities. (Medieval World and Roman World appeared in the 1973 Yul Brynner movie, while Future World and a free-from-pain-and-aging park called Spa World appeared in the 1976 sequel.)
  • Ready to book it? According to the showrunners' AMA, among the literary references in season 2 are nods to John Steinbeck's 1952 novel East of Eden, William Blake's poem Auguries of Innocence, Andrei Tarkovsky's 1979 Soviet sci-fi art film Stalker, and Mo Willems' oh-so-meta children's book, We are in a Book.
  • Is Westworld on an island? As Gizmodo notes, when Delos troops arrive in the season 2 trailer, they're arriving on shore. Just like Jurassic Park on Isla Nublar, it can be easier for parks with questionable motives to hide out on islands.
  • Don't expect the show to keep rehashing the same-old, same-old: "We never had any intention of staying in one place," co-creator Nolan told The Hollywood Reporter. "We don't want to shoot on the same sets for 10 years. We want to blow the sets up and move on to another piece of the story."
  • Star Evan Rachel Wood promised at SXSW in March that the new season would bring tons of action, so much so that working on it has been grueling for the cast.
  • After the trailer dropped, some very interesting information started to pop up around the Westworld/Delos site, and we're pretty sure they all lead to a new Door
  • And it's not too early to start thinking about season three. In the AMA, Nolan hinted that the title for the show's third season will be hidden somewhere in season 2.

Reviews so far 

Early reviews of the second season are in. Here are some highlights:

Westworld's new season is bloodier and even more meta
"Westworld's season 2 begins on a strong note by feeding fans the answers to several fan theories right away. Immediate gratification is always nice, even if the rest of the opener simply manages to raise more questions about the entire story."  --Caitlin Petrakovitz, CNET

Westworld season 2 is brutal, ambitious and completely absurd
"
This second outing ... is a full-on slaughter and survival-fest. Here, the theme park-gone-wrong, robots rebelling premise of Michael Crichton's original 1973 film is rendered in sprawling, savage and vastly more expansive fashion."  --Mark Butler, iNews

Westworld season 2 ditches philosophy for horror thrills
"This series has never been for the faint of heart, but because the stakes are so hard core now, and you're expecting sudden acts of violence from nearly any character at any time, Westworld has succeeded in doing something shockingly novel with the idea of a robot revolt. It actually feels scary."  --Ryan Britt, Inverse

This article was first published on March 31, and will be consistently updated as we learn more. Come back soon! 

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