HBO's Westworld provided the premium cable provider with fan enthusiasm that hadn't been seen since people lost their collective minds after the events of the Red Wedding in Game of Thrones.
The dystopian Western proved to be a cerebral, sci-fi epic that matched the aforementioned medieval show in terms of violence, character evolution, and of course, left a multitude of unanswered questions despite a 90-minute finale packed with gut punch after gut punch.
The people have clearly spoken - making Westworld the most-watched debut season in HBO history. But perhaps lost amongst the adulation, are some serious questions that demand answers.
For those that watched the first season, your first thought is probably, "where do we go from here?" With many of the hosts running amuck, Delos seemingly in need of new leadership, and the acknowledgement that creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy used alternate timelines to their advantages, here are the biggest questions we have about season 2 of Westworld.
NOTE: MAJOR SPOILERS BELOW
Is Ford really dead?
The events of the finale would suggest that Sir Anthony Hopkins' character, Robert Ford, chose to fall on the sword as a means of not only ribbing his employers, but also as a sort of "come to Jesus" moment where he finally understood the concern's of his late partner, Arnold, who years ago realized that the hosts could reach a heightened state of consciousness and thus would remember being constantly raped and murdered.
But let's step back for a moment? Would Ford really go away so easy? The events of the first season proved he was willing to go as far as murdering employees in order to maintain his vision for the park.
He's also proved that he is a master craftsman, and can program/create hosts into fooling their human counterparts (Bernard!). Thus, it would be within the realm of possibility that Ford crafted a host to look just like him in order to be "murdered" by Delores.
Ford also proved that there are areas of the park that Delos and the board don't know about. So if he were to still be alive, he could continue to be the puppet master while existing on the premises.
Will Delores continue on as Wyatt?
Much of the action of season 1 focused on various characters seeking out a mysterious vigilante/outlaw named Wyatt. He seemed to be of particular interest to both Teddy and The Man in Black who each thought they could provide greater meaning to their existence - albeit in different manners given the nature of host vs. human.
Ultimately, we came to understand that "Wyatt" was actually Delores who had been programmed by Arnold to kill a multitude of hosts and himself when the park was still in its beta stage. Again, this ties into the above description of how Arnold pleaded with Ford not to open the park.
When asked about her origin story, actress Evan Rachel Wood felt just as in the dark and shocked as the audience did when she went full-on outlaw.
"They introduced this looming character of Wyatt, and I kept asking people on the set: 'Have we cast him yet? When is he going to show up? Who's playing him? Who's Wyatt?,'" she said. "I went and looked everywhere, turned over every stone, and came up with nothing — and then I realized I hadn't turned over mine. I looked everywhere else, and figured it had to be me. So I asked [co-creator Jonathan Nolan], and he laughed and walked away. It wasn't confirmed until the [finale], and I was so excited. I thought it was a genius move on their part. This whole season, she's been going through this Jekyll and Hyde thing. We've seen Wyatt poke his head out at multiple times. When she slashes Logan's [Ben Barnes] face, or during her last speech to Ed Harris; halfway through, her voice shifts and the eyes get darker. That's totally Wyatt."
It seems that there is no way she is going back to the docile, blue-dress clad "Delores" that we first encountered back in Sweetwater who got butterflies in her chest when a helpful stranger would help her with a dropped can.
Will Delores and Teddy become enemies?
Lost amongst the bloodshed and shocking reveals about who was human and who was host, were dual love stories involving Delores and Teddy and Delores and William/The Man in Black.
With the latter seemingly out of the question given Delores' understanding about who William became, the last bit of romance to tie up heading into season two will be whether or not Teddy chooses to pursue a life with Delores.
Aside from the fact that they are both hosts - and programmed to feel a certain way about each other - Teddy was also given an update by Ford to exact revenge on Wyatt. Now that Delores is essentially Wyatt, Teddy is certainly going to have some conflicting voices going on in his head.
"Yes. I think the question on a lot of people's minds is if they're now going to be enemies, or are they going to join forces?," Evan Rachel Wood said. "I think that's a good question."
Did Maeve really go sentient?
Barroom madam, Maeve, was one of the first hosts to seem to grasp what was happening to her - not only in terms of the physical brutality - but also how her so-called backstory had shifted several times during her tenure in the park.
But all of that seems to have occurred as the result of changes to her code by Robert Ford - seen in a screen cap which reads, "deceive, coerce, recruit, escape, manipulate, mainland infiltrate." That is, until that fateful moment on the train when Maeve could have either entered a new world and followed her final directive, or go and find her daughter despite the awareness that their relationship was fabricated and written by "Gods."
Co-creator, Jonathan Nolan, seems to echo a point that would suggest that Maeve was both following orders and achieving greater consciousness.
"That's the strong implication of her storyline, is that it has been a feature of [Ford's] overall plan here," he said. "Bernard has shown us -- and I'm sure all the lovely people over at Reddit have transcribed -- the programming of her plan. And the next step of her plan is not what she does at the end of the finale. What we're seeing there is both the kind of gut-wrenching realization that so much of the journey we've been on with her has been facilitated by Ford, who has apparently re-programmed her storyline toward a different narrative and also facilitated the overall security system cutting her a little a slack and letting her slide by. He has total control over this place, he's so absolute. We want to believe that what's happening here is free will and that belief is challenged."
"For me, that last moment with Maeve where she decides to get back off the train...We changed our approach in terms of shooting it. Everything that's taken her onto the train throughout the entire season has been steady cam or studio mode, and when she makes that decision and we pull her back on the train and for the first time and for the first time in the series, we're seeing handheld photography, which begins to suggest that we're entering a new phase with them. We just want to underline that visually a little bit."
Will we see other worlds?
As alluded to in the finale, when Maeve, Hector, Felix and Armistice go on a machine gun spree in the Delos headquarters, we get our first glimpse at hosts outside of the Westworld framework - medieval samurai - which pays homage to the original Michael Crichton film in which people had their choice to visit three themed "worlds": Westworld, Medieval World and Roman World.
In our initial review of the pilot episode, we thought it was wise to focus solely on the Westworld aspect as any medieval connotations initially would seem like a desperate ploy to attract Game of Thrones enthusiasts.
But now, it seems like a tactic that would fit in with the developments which occurred in season 1. Specifically, we have to assume that if The Man in Black/William survived the hoard of hosts who descended upon the gala, he would be energized to seek out new opportunities to go full "black hat."
When Jonathan Nolan was asked at New York City Comic Con about the possibility of seeing additional worlds in season 2, he shot it down, saying, "no."
But one has to think that the inclusion of the samurai hosts wasn't merely an homage or an Easter egg. Additionally, Maeve's decision to get off the train to find her daughter who is in a different park suggests she is going to attempt to visit a different world.
What happened to Logan, Elsie & Stubbs?
Three members of the Delos staff/security team seemed to meet untimely deaths. The first, Theresa, was a confirmed casualty after Ford instructed Bernard to kill her. The second, Elsie, seemed to meet a similar fate as Theresa at the hands of Bernard, but it seems like the creators have been intentionally vague as to what happened. Finally, the last we saw of Stubbs, he was investigating Elsie's disappearance and overrun by Ghost Nation hosts.
And then there's the whole Logan storyline. After William sent him off into the wilderness - buck naked, bound and on horseback - we can't believe that he just went home and resumed his life after everything that transpired with his would-be brother-in-law.
If the hosts did indeed wipe all the humans out, there is the possibility that three have managed to stay hidden within the park - even if they exist on different timelines.