Why ‘Westworld’ Season 2 Focuses on a ‘Woman Who Comes to Power’

TheWrap Emmy magazine: “It’s a thing we as a society are trying to navigate,” showrunner Lisa Joy says

This story about “Westworld” first appeared in the Down to the Wire issue of TheWrap’s Emmy magazine.

“Westworld” showrunners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy know that some fans found Season 2 to be more of a head-scratcher than Season 1. And that is saying something, since the first year of the HBO sci-fi hit made such an impact with audiences because of its twists and turns.

But the criticisms and confusion lobbed at the Evan Rachel Wood-led show were to be expected, as Nolan and Joy said they make the show on their own terms and took more than a few big swings in their sophomore year.

“The only way I know to write the show is to write it for ourselves,” Nolan said of the drama, which received 21 Emmy nominations, tying it with “Saturday Night Live” and trailing only “Game of Thrones” as the most-nominated program. “You make the show that you want to see and hope that there are enough people in the audience that are excited to see it. And that seems to be where we’re at.”

Joy echoed her husband and co-creator’s feelings, saying she’s “thrilled” with the way Season 2 turned out, especially because of the storyline for Wood, who plays a sweet rancher’s daughter turned gunslinging robot-army leader.

“In addition to being able to do a story that has long interested me about a woman who comes to power and has to navigate her own personality and choices, I think it’s really fascinating right now in society,” Joy said. “It’s a thing we as a society are trying to navigate.”

“Westworld” devoted a lot of its second season, which Nolan said was shot in “significantly less time than we shot the first season,” to locations in other theme parks adjacent to Westworld. One of those was Shogun World, which had almost an entire episode devoted to it.

“That was very, very exciting for us to do an homage to Akira Kurosawa’s work, and the influence Kurosawa’s work had on Western TV,” Nolan said of the legendary Japanese director of “Rashomon” and “Seven Samurai.”

“This is where our show becomes really fun for us,” he continued. “It’s about references. It’s about cinema. It’s about genre.”

And it’s also about HBO. “I think you’ve got a lot of people making ambitious television right now, but HBO kind of invented it,” Nolan said. “‘Game of Thrones’ blazed this trail for massive productions and ambition on television. Really cinematic television. It created this extraordinary opportunity for us to create a show that is this challenging.”

You can more from our interview with the “Westworld” creators — in which they preview Season 3 — here.

To read more of TheWrap’s Down to the Wire issue, click here.

TheWrap Emmy magazine 2018 Down to the Wire cover