'Westworld' knocks it out the park in season 3

The hit sci-fi drama, Westworld started out as a dark Wild West odyssey about the dawn of artificial consciousness and the birth of a new form of life on Earth. But with season 3 moving beyond the park, the playground just got a whole lot bigger. 

"It’s very different this season," says series co-creator Jonathan Nolan.

Fans will be happy to know that the returning cast members this season include Golden Globe nominees Evan Rachel Wood as Dolores and Thandie Newton as Maeve, Golden Globe winner Jeffrey Wright as Bernard/Arnold, People’s Choice nominee Tessa Thompson as Charlotte Hale, Screen Actors Guild nominees Luke Hemsworth and Rodrigo Santoro as Ashley and Hector respectively, and Oscar nominee Ed Harris as The Man in Black. And although James Marsden is out, we may not have seen the last of Teddy...

"The goal from the beginning was: Find the future. If you go out in the world, the future is there," Nolan says.

The crew found their vision of the future in Singapore, where this season was largely shot. "The streets look beautiful, gleaming," says co-creator Lisa Joy. "It really looks idyllic in a way, and ordered. But as Dolores comes to understand the world, she realises that there is a darkness underlying that order."

"Dolores discovers that in the real world there has been some serious data collecting going on, just like the place that she came from," says Wood. "She learns about this large company, Incite, which has all the promises of this utopia and a way to really carve out your life for you."

But Dolores, of all people, knows not to trust humanity’s idea of utopia...

New faces to look out for include Golden Globe nominee Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad’s Jesse Pinkman) as Caleb, Emmy winner Lena Waithe (Ready Player One) as Ash, Vincent Cassel (Ocean’s Twelve, Black Swan) as Serac, Tommy Flanagan (Sons of Anarchy) as Martin Connells and NFL star Marshawn Lynch as a badass named - wait for it - Giggles. Also see if you can spot Avengers’ Mantis, Pom Klementieff, and Grammy-winning American rapper Kid Cudi.

Aaron Paul as Caleb Nichols in Westorld season 3

(THE NEWBIE: Aaron Paul as Caleb Nichols. Photo supplied: Showmax)

"Lisa and Jona pitched me this idea for Caleb and my mind was blown," says Paul. "Westworld is so ambitious and they’re not afraid to take giant swings, and this season completely takes Westworld to an entire different level."

"The first two seasons do not paint a very warm picture of human behaviour, so for the third season we wanted a slightly more sympathetic take on it," explains Nolan, adding, "With Caleb, we’re introduced to a different understanding of humanity."

"We wanted this season to be hopeful," says Joy, "and the thing that I’ve always admired about Aaron Paul’s acting is he so easily channels the everyman."

Well, the everyman moonlighting as a criminal, perhaps. "You would imagine that a total surveillance state means no more crime," says Nolan. "That’s not how things work out. Crime is part of our economy. It’s not going anywhere."

In the series, Nolan explains, an app called Rico is designed to facilitate underworld deals. "You and I can have an exchange of services that the government cannot possibly track or trace, that is infallible, meaning I can’t cheat you, you can’t cheat me. You download the app, and specify the level of criminality you are willing to participate in. Caleb is not willing to participate in what we call 'personals' – kidnapping, murder – the heavy shit. Petty larceny, grand theft auto, all those things, sure."

"I think Caleb has nothing left to lose," says Joy. “And maybe he doesn’t value his life that much, honestly. But the one thing that doesn’t really stop, is his capacity to feel for others. … So when he finds Dolores, his programming insists that he save her."

[Spoiler alert]: That’s the really big news for season 3: Caleb and Dolores. "While Dolores is very hard to kill, she is capable of dying, and of needing help, and being vulnerable," says Wood. "She literally falls into Caleb’s arms, much like the way she fell into William's arms. So I think right away we know that something's about to begin."

Evan Rachel Wood as Dolores Abernathy in Westworld

(A NEW ALLY? Evan Rachel Wood as Dolores. Photo supplied: Showmax)

The question is, will either Dolores or Caleb really get to choose what lies ahead?

"In season 3 … the show suggests for the first time that the robots aren’t the only ones whose lives conform to existing scripts," says The Atlantic. "Determinism aside, this is a zanier, sillier Westworld, and much more entertaining for it ... but through it all, the show's anxiety about free will—and its extension of that conundrum to its human characters—is apparent." Westworld, they add, takes "the data mining and user profiling of contemporary life to its logical, dystopian extreme."

"What if thirty more years elapse, exactly the trajectory we’re on right now?" asks Nolan. "What does that world look like?"

For the show's creators, the answer is Westworld.

WATCH THE TRAILER HERE:

Season 3 of Westworld is now out, with new episodes coming to us express from the US every Monday, at 22:30 on M-Net and from 23:30 on Showmax.