Jonathan Nolan Offers an Ominous Hint About the Direction of Westworld's Next Season

From Westworld season 3.
From Westworld season 3.
Image: HBO

A reckoning is coming. (Spoilers for the end of the third season incoming.)

Illustration for article titled Jonathan Nolan Offers an Ominous Hint About the Direction of Westworld's Next Season

Things might get pretty wild, and pretty bloody, in the next season of Westworld. Recently, showrunners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, alongside the cast of the show, had a roundtable (or, well, round-Zoom-chat) discussion about the show’s third season courtesy of the Paley Center for Media, and while much of the discussion was retrospective, Nolan offered a few key hints about the future of the series.

Nolan’s hints centered on the Man in Black, Ed Harris’s character (his name is William, but that ain’t any fun to say, now is it?), who we now know is being controlled by Tessa Thompson’s character... who herself is being controlled by the mind of Dolores, a character originated by Evan Rachel Wood. It’s complicated. But according to Nolan, this particular bit of manipulation, in addition to being a lot of fun for him as a writer, might end up being pretty spicy.

“I’m a big believer in being guided by irony,” Nolan said, as transcribed by Entertainment Weekly. “[William] winds up becoming this thing [a host] that he’s controlled for so long. And on a visceral level, I just can’t wait to watch Ed kill everyone.”

Menacing! To be fair, we had a presentiment that Dolores/Halores was going to use her power over the Man in Black to do some damage. But to hear that anticipation from the showrunner is something else entirely. And Ed Harris shares it.

“I was happy to get back in my black suit,” Harris added. “I have no idea what they have planned for me. I’m teamed with Tessa, I know. Hopefully, we can do some rightful damage.”

Hopefully so. Westworld will return for a fourth season, probably in 2022 if it doesn’t get derailed.


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io9 Weekend Editor. Videogame writer at other places. Queer nerd girl.



I binged watched s3 and made the right call. Season 1 was worth watching an episode once a week. Season 2 and season 3 are more enjoyable by through binging for those who didn’t like it if they had to wait too long between episodes. By binging many episodes, it’s possible your mind doesn’t have time to think about what happens next only to raise expectations too high that you’re bound to be dissapointed.

So I understand why many viewers and critics may have not been happy with how the season ended especially the final episode. It was well made, but also by the numbers. No real twist that you didn’t see coming or you haven’t seen before in other shows, movies, or games. I enjoyed it because I didn’t have time to think about what swerve the show was going to do. And when The Man in Black swerve came, I thought it was cool and made sense. I’ve seen it before in. Supernatural did something like that. And if anything it makes me look forward to the next season.

I think season 3 did a good job because unlike season 2, they weren’t focusing on the big twist. They were just trying to tell a good story. If it has a twist then awesome but don’t gamble on the success of the show to revolve around a twist. Let that be just bonus points if it turns out well.

I think the Man in the Black storyline will have good potential for season 4. And it’s possible it can be used as what drives season 4 to be the final season maybe. Ed Harris character may now have shifted into being a terminator like killing machine, but it still has a copy of the mind of William fused with it.

For now it may be under control, but we’ve seen what happens to the machines when they have inner conflicts. William is not a follower. Season 3 showed that he was not stable for most of his life. His penchant for violence for anything that pushes him around, his hatred for machines and being one himself are all fused with the machine version of the Man in Black. That hatred, that unstable mind, those violent delights he carries are now with the power and endurance of a machine. So the show might let his character arc turn him into an Agent Smith or Sephiroth kind of villain. He could become an even worse evil forcing human and machines uniting together to try stop him.

It wouldn’t surprise me if the character goes into an insane direction believing that true peace can only be achieved when there’s no more hatred or conflict by extinguishing all life on Earth. Season 3 William said,  “I’m going to save the world.” And in season 4 The Man in Black could say, “I’m going to save the world by killing everyone. Organic and inorganic.”