Whenever a new story-based series hits, it’s hard not to wonder just how much juice there can be in a premise. Fans of LOST will remember those middling years where things seemed aimless and meandering, meanwhile, AMC’s Breaking Bad knew exactly how best to pace their story, and just how long it could run before it overstayed its welcome.
The current king of serialized TV is arguably HBO’s Game of Thrones, but there is another series from the cable network that many have grown to love, and that’s Westworld. But following that monumental first season, we can’t help but wonder just how long the showrunners expect it to last. Do they have a long, 10-season arc in mind, a shorter, five-season arc, or are they just planning it as they go?
Speaking with EW, series co-creator Jonathan Nolan opened up about that very subject, saying:
“When we wrote the pilot we thought we’d get a bit further [into the story during season 1] than we did. The shape of the season emerges as you get down to writing. We want to feel like the show is rocketing ahead, and want to be fearless. We have an idea about how this breaks down but it’s not so much the number of seasons but the ambition of the story we’re telling. These hosts don’t live on the same timeframe we do and don’t have the four-year lifespan as [Blade Runner] Replicants. If left to their own devices, they could live forever. So our story has some real scope to it. There’s a story here with a beginning and middle and end. To that end, we don’t like to endlessly build mystery. We like to settle our debts by the end of the season. We view each season as a self-contained chapter and the questions [raised at the start of each season] are largely answered by the end of each season. We want each season to feel satisfying the way a film franchise feels satisfying with each film. We want you excited to come back after 18 months but that you haven’t been left hanging on the edge of a cliffhanger — that doesn’t really feel fair to the audience.”
Hm…Well, that wasn’t much of an answer, now was it? But there is one good thing to take from this. It sounds like they have an idea of the beginning, middle, and end of this story, and so long as they continue to barrel ahead towards that end, I see no reason to worry about it growing drawn out too much.
Plus, with them having the mindset of each season needing to “settle its debts,” as it were, then I don’t see why each season can’t be compelling in its own way, all while contributing to the main, overarching story.
Westworld returns to HBO on Sunday at 9pm on HBO!
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