WESTWORLD III (Saturday – Hall H) – We live in a strange time. Companies are increasingly desperate to break through the clutter and get their marketing message out to the general public, but the social media age has made it nigh impossible to keep confidential information out of the grubby hands of the hungry masses. So how does HBO market a TV show — with massive downtime between seasons at the biggest pop culture event in the world — when even the slightest detail of the upcoming season can potentially be a massive plot spoiler?
Such was the dilemma facing creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy as they brought their cast into Comic-Con’s Hall H for their panel on Westworld Season 3. Moderator and futurist Amy Webb had her work cut out for her to get anything out of the stonewalling cast, which included Evan Rachel Wood (Dolores), Jeffrey Wright (Bernard), Thandie Newton (Maeve), Tessa Thompson (Hale) and cast newcomer Aaron Paul (Caleb). I’m mildly surprised they even let us know Caleb’s name and that he’s a mechanic. Oh, and Luke Hemsworth was there too, coming out late in a well-recieved gag before remarking at how bad his character of Stubbs appears to be at his job.
Paul provided the most enthusiasm on the stage, a self-professed die-hard fan of the show now afforded the opportunity to join the rank-and-file. (He also confirmed that, since they’re still in the middle of shooting, that even they don’t know how this onion peels. Not that he could tell us even if he did.) Hemsworth provided entertainment value, breaking into song at one point because…why not? Thandie Newton merrily dropped f-bombs multiple times when talking about how badass her character is (undeniably true) and when urging production to play the damn Season 3 trailer already after Nolan was playing coy about it. More on that in a moment…
Wood was largely silent, though she did remark at one point on how Dolores is alone in Season 3 and that Paul’s Caleb makes her challenge her own view of the world and of humanity. She also gave some tidbits of what she told Thompson regarding physical tics of Dolores that she could apply to her own performance. (Watch Wood’s hands whenever she sits down in the first two seasons.)
Other than that, direct answers were few and far between in spite of Webb’s best efforts. Asked about the fate of the character Logan, Nolan and Joy remained silent. When asked what year the season takes place in (or any season, really,) Nolan took a silent drink of his water. Jeffrey Wright was asked about the meaning of the Season 2 post-credits scene and answered “That’s the question.” Newton expertly took a fan question about Season 3 and deflected it into an answer talking about Season 1.
While the secrecy was at times amusing (these people are paid to be charismatic after all,) there was an undeniable sense of time wasted from a portion of the crowd that was checking their watches to see how how much time was left before Marvel took the stage. Then the trailer hit…
Yeah, holy shit. While it of course raised more questions and provided no answers (aside from confirming the return of Ed Harris’s Man in Black in some capacity,) the trailer did so with Nolan and Joy’s typical expert craftsmanship. What we can ascertain: Edgar and Dolores are on opposite sides. Edgar at least attempts to recruit Maeve to his cause as a foil to Dolores. Dolores and Hale (Dolores II?) share a very intimate relationship that may be romantic, may be maternal or may be two bodies of one mind. (Or a combination of the three…this is Westworld after all.) Maeve and Hector are in…Nazi Germany? What? And there’s a clear jusxtposition of Dolores, Hale and Caleb in a sleek dystopian paradise and Maeve and Hector in an old-fashioned World War II love story while Bernard remains somewhere in the middle.
Nolan did confirm one thing unequivically after deferring many of the other questions to his wife, who threatened divorce if he kept throwing her under the bus.
Season 1 was “The Maze.” Season 2 was the “The Door.” Season 3?
“The New World.”
It certainly is.