Westworld Season 3 Comic-Con Panel Live Recap

Westworld is literally opening the door to a whole new world in season 3, as the series effectively soft reboots in a tale of the world that' (seemingly) outside the robotic fantasy world, including the introduction of a whole new cast of characters.

With all the mystery surrounding the season 3 storyline, the Westworld panel has been one of the most highly-anticipated events fo San Diego Comic-Con with good reason. And now, we're about to find out exactly what HBO has in store to reveal to fans!

The panel was moderated by futurist Amy Webb, who welcomed cast members Jeffrey Wright, Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton, newcomer Aaron Paul and showrunners Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan.

Nolan refused to commit to the statement that Ed Harris' Man in Black is gone forever. The showrunners joked about informing cast members they're dead, and they joked it was easy in Liam Hemsworth's case. Then Hemswoth bounded onstage.

A question about when Season 3 takes place prompted the debut of the new Westworld season 3 trailer. It set up a season in which Dolores and Charolette Hale exist in the outside futuristic world, while Maeve lives in a new WWII World in which she still runs things. Bernard is brought back through mysterious means, and tries to recruit Maeve to stop Dolores. Aaron Paul is seen eventually being part of Dolores' gang (willingly or not). Some thought-dead faces pop-up, and the action and suspense quotient looks jacked up to a serious degree.

Nolan describes this new season as "The New World".

We learn that Aaron Paul is construction worker names Caleb, living in the 2050 - 2060 era. He has a robot pal named George, but Paul teases that Caleb may not be the "white hat" he initially seems to be. He's complicated.

Nolan talked about how Westworld started a dystopia, but now looks like a best cast scenario. He pointed to the show's A.I. characters being thoughtful, while in the real world we're headed for artificial stupidity. He went deep on Algorythmic Determinism - a Netflix effect where people are dependent on services telling wheat they want, how to think etc. That will be a theme explored in season 3, which will deal "with the world as it is - which is a giant sh*t show," Nolan said.

Webb pointed out that Westworld has an interesting point where patriarch cruelty gave rise to generation of powerful women. The conversation veered to Nolan talking about the stealth development of A.I. mirroring real life companies, developing A.I. out of site. It all came together in the point that Westworld is a shepherd more real-world ideas and themes than fans may think.

Tessa Thompson teased the mind-trip of Hale's flipped position (from an actor's perspective). Hale was very human and saw the robots as commodities; now Hale is a robot, fighting against that very idea. Webb got things trippy with a question of whether Thompson things she has free will as an actor in choosing what she does. Thompson went with the idea of choosing fulfilling roles.

Thompson and Wood recounted the moment Thompson leanred she was "Halores," and how funny the correspondence between them was. Wright refused to sing for the crowd, but Liam Hemsworth was totally game. Nolan jokes, "This is why we asked him not to come."

Wright was asked whether Bernard's empathy is programmed. He went zen, saying that's the central question of the show, "Roll with the question." When asked how he takes on such powerful and emotive characters in sometimes mind-bending works, Wright cited the creators for how they pace him with development and reveals. When asked about Bernard's intensity, he joked years of torture under Ford did it, and Wood corrected him that Dolores is now his re-creator.

Newton spoke about the emotional drain of playing Maeve in season 2, with her arc of finding free will and extremely sacrificing it. She cites the growth of the A.I. character on their journey to discover their humanity - and how badly we're doing in comparison.

The cast were questioned on whether they have smart speakers in their home (half); whether they've uploaded DNA to a testing service (Nolan and Joy): or drive a smart car of some kind (several of them). The point from Webb is that Westworld tells us these realities are leading to something very bleak - are the showrunners down on humanity?

Joy and Nolan are married, but that answer seemed to cause some division. Nolan demurred his wife knows how to love flawed people as her source of optimism to his pessimism; she admitted that while thinking humanity is beautiful, it is circular in its cycles of destruction and violence. She cited the disconnect between our ideals of wanted to grow and evolve, and the failure to overcome base instincts. She furthered the point of the show's violence by saying it's not out of step with real-world abuse and violence, and should be uncomfortable.

Asked if Westworld has changed any of the casts perspective on life and themselves, Paul admitted that while maybe not fundamentally, it does make him philosophically crazy. Thompson, described a scene where Halores shot down two guards and stepped over them, feeling powerful, and later had to hold a gun to Bernard's head, and being very triggered by it. It put in perspective the difference when violence is close to our cares, versus with some detached "other." That changed how Thompson viewed herself and her views of violence. Wright had no idea that ever happened. Wright himself spotlighted technology's role in wealth disparity, and how Westworld has brought that into focus for him.

Wright also managed to bring Webb's entire point into focus: Westworld is happening *now* people!

The Q&A started after that:

Aaron Paul was asked how hard this future world is for his character, Caleb. The actor states that like in this world, his character has emotional needs that aren't being met, and longing for more. He's not wealthy apparently, and was born into a "complicated thing," that forces him to "roll with the punches."

Wood talked about how Dolores grey moral code has opened up her own ideas about what morality is. How people called heroes may act just like villains do, while villains can get that label for trying to do noble things, the wrong way. She teased that Dolores in season 3 may be a mastermind, but still has some growth of her own to do.

Paul was asked why he plays the characters he does. He said that he likes deep-rooted complicated, conflicted characters. The showrunners' version of Caleb was definitely that.

Newton gave a story about new cast memeber Vincent Cassel not remembering how much she was nude in season 1, and how that made her realize that show Maeve was naked all the time, it wasn't a sexualized nudity and therefore was far more empowering and comfortable for Newton (and presumably other cast members).

Paul did a long dodge about what his character arc is in season 3 then the trailer was played again.

That ended the Westworld Season 3 Panel