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“Rick, roll yourself back online.”
Those words are not directly spoken in the latest look at Westworld, but creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy have certainly offered something up in line with that message. During a Reddit AMA this week, the creative minds behind the genre-bending HBO drama announced a surprising plan of attack in their ongoing efforts to challenge theory and spoiler culture around the show: by spoiling the show themselves.
If their post received enough support from fans — 1,000 upvotes, to be exact — Nolan and Joy promised to release a video that would spoil the entire second season (premiering April 22) in vivid detail, as a means of defining the line between theories and spoilers. Asked about the validity of Nolan’s and Joy’s proposal, HBO issued the following statement to THR: “This is an initiative from the Westworld showrunners. We suggest you stay tuned to Reddit for their next move.”
Tune in indeed, as the next move has been made: Nolan’s and Joy’s post received more than enough support (more than 4,000 upvotes, as of this writing) to release the video, and true to their word, a video has been provided — if not quite as advertised.
Watch Nolan’s and Joy’s “spoiler-filled” video below, if you dare.
Dedicated Westworld watchers already knew not to underestimate Dolores, played by Evan Rachel Wood. But even the most loyal viewer couldn’t have anticipated her ability to annihilate the devoted online fandom with nothing more than a “Rick Roll,” one of the Internet’s classic memes: Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up,” standing in stark contrast to your expectations, hopes and dreams.
The specifics involved in the video are a delightful surprise (and you know what they say about Westworld and delights), even if the overall idea is not. Nolan and Joy have been vocal about their belief in a gray line between theories and spoilers, often citing the ideas spawned on Reddit as a hotbed for this issue. Case in point: the theory about William (Jimmi Simpson) and the Man in Black (Ed Harris) being the same person, which ultimately panned out in the first-season finale.
“I love the community on Reddit who spends their time picking the show apart,” Nolan told The Hollywood Reporter in 2016. “I’ve been a part of that site for a long time and it’s a great site. It represents a very small portion of the audience that wants to engage very aggressively with the story that’s being told, because it’s part of the enjoyment for them, and that’s awesome. And for the general audience, I hope next season people will be careful to avoid spoilers, and maybe in writing about the show, understanding the difference between a theory and a spoiler, which is complicated itself. But it’s incredibly gratifying to see this many people engaging with what we’re making.”
For what it’s worth, Nolan’s and Joy’s “spoiler” offering might not be entirely without merit. The first minute and a half or so features new footage focused on Bernard (Jeffrey Wright), the host-studying scientist who also happens to be a host himself. The video frames Bernard as an amnesiac, waking up some time after Dolores’ revolution began, in the company of human survivors — including Karl Strand (Gustaf Skarsgard), a new character described by Wright’s narration as “Westworld’s head of security.”
Walking through a veritable sea of dead bodies — most of them hosts — Bernard internally begins to remember something, “like a door opening in Bernard’s mind. The deeper he goes, the closer he gets to the meaning behind it. Can he remember how this all began?”
Bernard then experiences flashes, similar to how Dolores experienced multiple points in her own history at once during the show’s first season…but it amounts to very little else other than a “Rick Roll,” followed by roughly 20 minutes of footage of a dog sitting beside a piano while the Westworld theme plays on a loop. (Rest in peace, Bento.)
Given the trolling, it’s hard to read too much into the Bernard sequence, though it feels like a valid and compelling enough start for his journey into night this season. But if Nolan and Joy’s experiment accomplished anything, it’s this: be very wary about taking the Westworld creators at their word — because they are more than happy to misdirect you and send you straight into a Rick Astley tailspin.
What do you make of the Westworld trolling? Do you think there’s validity to the Bernard portion of the video? Sound off in the comments section below and keep checking THR.com/Westworld all season long for more coverage.
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