One of the biggest questions that Westworld fans have had is who will make it to the end of the season. Thanks to a new interview on BBC 4, we also now know who will make it through to the second season and it’s a bit of a game changer.
Spoilers: This post will contain spoilers for everything that’s happened in Westworld thus far.
During an interview with BBC 4’s John Wilson, Ed Harris, who plays the Man in Black, confirmed that he would be returning for the show’s second season. Harris also confirmed that the second season would run 10 episodes, as is standard with most HBO programs.
“I was just talking to Jonah Nolan last night, who’s a creator of this thing with his wife Lisa Joy, and yeah, they’re doing another season,” Harris told Wilson. “They’re going to do 10 more episodes, and I will be involved.”
This may come as a bit of shock to some people who assumed, almost from the start, that Harris’ character would be the one to bite the dust by the end of the current season. The Man in Black has made a couple of cryptic references to dying on the show, which was the main argument for the character’s thought to be short-lived life, but there was also Harris’ star power.
Like Anthony Hopkins, who plays Dr. Ford, Harris is a highly desired actor who has already signed on to do a couple of movies, including one with Oscar-nominated director Darren Aranofsky, and is working on a play in London’s West End. Logistically, Harris’ role seemed like a one-and-done type of deal, which HBO is also known for. True Detective brought on Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson for its first season before switching to an entirely new cast in its second, and while it wasn’t a serialized show in the same way Westworld will be, the idea of having the two stay on for longer than 10 episodes when they were both so in demand for other projects seemed ludicrous.
Now that we know the Man in Black is coming back, what does this mean for the future of Westworld? We speculated that Ford would be killed off — again, for reasons listed above — as would Logan, Lee Sizemore, and Sylvester and Felix. We didn’t, however, guess that Theresa Cullen would be the first to go, and that has thrown us off a little.
The biggest theory, ironically enough, involves the character dying. Harris never revealed in the interview how involved he would be or what his character’s future looks like — and why would he when Nolan and Joy haven’t even written it yet. But there’s a strong possibility that the Man in Black could return as a host. Especially if Nolan and Joy play around with the show’s timeframes. It would be an interesting way to bring the character back, and set up a narrative that supports what Nolan has said he wants to do with the second season: explore what exactly makes up a host.
It’s a mechanism that modern TV shows like to employ. Game of Thrones did it with Jon Snow and The Walking Dead did it with Glenn. While Game of Thrones actually did kill off Snow, they brought him back soon after, and The Walking Dead pretended that Glenn was dead for quite some time — even removing the actor’s name from the opening credits — before revealing that he was alive. It’s a tool that’s gotten flack from critics, but we’re seeing it used now more than ever before. Having the Man in Black be killed off only to be brought back as a host is certainly a possibility.
Another theory floating around is that the Man in Black will be brought back through flashbacks and memories. This seems like a lazier way to go about it, but Nolan isn’t immune to playing around with flashbacks, memories and alternate timelines. If we look at Interstellar, Memento or The Prestige, we can see the way that Nolan uses flashbacks and memories to progress a story and illuminate things that wouldn’t have been noticed otherwise. It’s a mechanism he uses in his work quite often, so it wouldn’t be too surprising if this is how we saw him return.
The last big question that fans have about the return of the Man in Black is what this could mean for William — again, if another popular theory is proven to be true. Practically since the beginning of the series, fans have wondered if William is actually the Man in Black in an alternate timeline. That hasn’t been proven, and both Nolan and Joy have been pretty null about answering questions related to it, but as more information is released, more fans are jumping on board with the idea.
Of course, this is all just speculation, as much with Westworld is. That’s part of what makes it so intriguing — just like Lost — and so frustrating all at the same time. What we do know for sure is that HBO has renewed Westworld for a second season and that it probably won’t air until 2018 to allow Nolan and Joy enough time to map it out and finish the script.
Westworld airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.