Watching any episode of Westworld is an exercise in TV viewing, with co-creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy crafting one of the most complex and detail-rich series out there. The abundance of intentionally cloaked mysteries and arcs, combined with the sandbox narrative, may have some viewers assuming that Nolan and Joy are on a high-speed train without a clear destination. But Joy is here to soothe those worries, saying they've had a rough ending planned out since they wrote the pilot.
We have an ending in mind; we've had it from the pilot. It's very emotional, I think. I can't tell you exactly when that ending will come but I think for every season what we try to do is tell a chapter of the story that gives you closure and then opens a door to a new chapter. The overarching question of the series is, what will become of this new lifeform? So I feel it would be irresponsible to not have an end goal in mind.
At the risk of being overtaken by faux fury, let's just take a second right now to consider Lisa Joy's thoughts within the context of the final season of Lost. [pause for consideration] Okay, now let's move on.
Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan had previously stated that they're aiming to take Westworld beyond five seasons, though not too much further, so they seemingly have a loose outline for the Big Picture narrative, complete with an end game. Of course, that outline could be nothing more than a short list of thematic arcs, with the first two seasons marked as "The Maze" and "The Door." With the ending also getting an enigmatic title like "The Bumblebee" or "The Epilogue's Epilogue."
All silliness aside, Lisa Joy makes a good point by telling Stuff that if she and her husband and co-showrunner didn't already have a notion for how Dolores' story would play out, then it would arguably be an irresponsible use of the show's central through-line. To be sure, most TV shows don't enter the landscape with such a complex and specifically lofty goal in place, so no one needed for the creators of Friends or Law & Order: SVU to have the final act already pencilled out. But for meticulously crafted series like Westworld and Game of Thrones and Better Call Saul (among others), there are always going to be expectations for the stories' paths to have been all figured out from the get-go, as unfair to the creative teams as that might be.
Without going into spoilers, the Season 2 finale ended by tipping its hat to a future scenario that won't necessarily get explored yet in the next season. But it was at least a possible sign of faith that there is a final (Delos) destination in mind for Westworld. And I'm having quite a bit of fun taking the long and winding journey to find it.
Westworld probably won't return to HBO for Season 3 until 2020 or so. A lot of other TV shows will probably face their own endings before then. To read about some new beginnings, though, head to our summer premiere schedule.