Photo: HBO

Westworld’s season-two finale was an unusually expansive one, relying not so much on cliffhangers or coy teases as a massive dilation of the show’s scope. The first season took its “robot cowboy theme park” concept remarkably seriously, and the second one explored the violent ends created by those violent delights. But now, shit, we’ve got a lot of balls in the air, including but not limited to: an entire new digital universe (called “The Sublime”) inhabited by the pure consciousnesses of hosts; that universe being blasted out into space somewhere; hosts waging war out of the park’s confines and in the real world; and a jump to a far-off, post-apocalyptic future in the season’s post-credits scene.

Executive producer Lisa Joy has been making the rounds doing interviews following that sprawling finale, and she’s being unusually forthcoming with her answers, offering a lot of hard “yeses” and “nos” in addition to the sort of “wait and see” equivocation these interviews generally yield. Most interestingly, she’s providing pretty solid glimpses into the future trajectory of the show, particularly in a long interview with The Wrap.

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Here she is on whether or not the next season will be exploring the real world:

Absolutely. It was always the plan to explore the real world and we have Dolores there, Bernard’s there and a creature that is certainly inhabiting Hale’s body is there [laughs]. So we’ll come to know more of who “Hale” is. There are three Hosts out in the world and next season will really be an exploration of what they find and who they become.

And on the future of the digital world that the hosts fled into:

I think what (Dolores has) done is she fulfilled their wish. They wanted to escape to a digital space where they could be truly free and create their own world, untarnished by human interference. And in changing the coordinates and kind of locking in and stowing them away, Dolores has finally found a way to accept their choice and give them what they so desired.

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Elsewhere in the interview, she gets into the fate of Hale (Tessa Thompson), who was inhabited by Dolores for one of the second season’s timelines. But if Dolores is back in her own body, who will be in Hale’s? That question, Joy says, will be one of the focal points of the next season. As for what she was smuggling out of the park in those final moments, Joy set up a sort of Battlestar Galactica-style slow reveal:

There is Host data in the actual hosts who did not “sublime” — so their CPUs are still intact. So, if they didn’t sublime, those pearls still contain their information. In each of those little balls in the purse is a Host, so there is a handful of them — but not an infinite amount of them. There are five. One Host per pearl.

Presumably, they will quietly reveal the identities of those smuggled hosts over time. When asked about Hale’s weird interaction with Stubbs, the show’s requisite Hemsworth, Joy got downright expository, confirming that Stubbs knew he wasn’t talking to Hale and then adding:

We don’t say it explicitly, but if you are left wondering with all [Stubbs’] talk, his knowing talk about, “I’ve been at the park a very long time,” and Ford designed him with certain core drives, and he’s gonna stick to the role he’s been programmed with; it’s a little acknowledgement of just why he might have his suspicions about what’s going on with Hale, and then lets her pass.

And doesn’t it make sense if you are Ford and designing a park and you have a whole master plan about helping robots that you would keep one Host hiding in plain sight as a fail-safe? Maybe the Host who’s in charge of quality assurance? And by the way, that was totally meant to be subtle [laughs].

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Meanwhile, in a slightly less forthcoming Hollywood Reporter conversation, she promised that the main storyline of season three wouldn’t take place as far in the future as the post-credits scene indicated, focusing much more instead on the struggle between Bernard and Dolores in the real world. And she sort of tap-danced around the question of whether or not we’d return to that digital world full of host consciousnesses:

I think we have to take Dolores at face value. It’s locked away. Humans can’t access it anymore. They’re gone. They’re in a place we can’t touch. There was an interesting corollary to this for me. Even religions and mythologies deal with this, an idea of a heaven or a nirvana where you don’t have to be attached to your body anymore. You can be pure and free in that way. It’s a sort of digital afterlife for them. The stakes and the finality of it are important. It’s not something where I think the humans can type it up and get back in and start messing with them anymore. It’s what so many hosts sacrificed so much for, to see their kind to this safe space.

Which, in other words, means we’re definitely going back there. And, lastly, in a long interview with Wired that does a great job explaining the previous season’s plot points and themes, she makes pretty apparent that we haven’t seen the last of Maeve:

There is a lot of death in Westworld this season, but you also do see Maeve being given to Sylvester and [Felix] Lutz, delegated for them to take care of. So we’ll see how hapless those two idiots are next season.

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There’s no real timeline on when season three will be around, so it’s time for the show’s Reddit hive-mind to go into hyper-drive on speculation.

Check out the full interviews on The Wrap, The Hollywood Reporter, and Wired.