Spoiler alert: It was all a prank.
Like most things to do with Westworld, the great saga of whether its creators planned to spoil all of season two for fans on Reddit has ended with us all twitching with a confused raised eyebrow, a tired groan, and a bemused smirk. We’ve been Rickrolled.
The Reddit community, Westworld fans, and TV critics, especially, were shocked Monday afternoon when the HBO show’s creators posted a lengthy note on Reddit from what appeared to be a verified account proposing the idea of spoiling the entire second season of the show for Reddit users. The idea was that, in doing so, they might persuade them from spoiling it for the rest of viewers with their fan theories that frequently end up being true.
Creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy wrote that they enjoy the way Reddit users obsess over figuring out the twists and turns of their show, but the problem is “in terms of the way your guesswork is reported online. ‘Theories’ can actually be spoilers, and the line between the two is confusing.”
Their proposal: If enough users upvoted their message, they’d post a video that lays out the entire plot of season two, so that anyone who wishes to can have the whole thing spoiled upfront. Then moving forward, it would be easier for writers to distinguish between excitement-generating “theories” and outright spoilers, which they wouldn’t publish.
Naturally there was skepticism over whether this idea could possibly be real. Networks and creators have become notoriously and increasingly secretive about spoilers, going so far as to not even, as in Game of Thrones’ case, screen episodes for critics before they air. Surely there would be no way these spoilers could avoid mainstream attention. Why in the world would the Westworld creators do this?
Well, overnight, that video posted, and it appears to be some sort of elaborate prank.
Titled “Westworld Season 2 — A Primer,” the video is captioned “FULL SPOILERS for Westworld second season. Proceed with caution.” It begins with Jeffrey Wright’s Bernard waking up on a beach, unable to remember what happened or how he got there.
He’s found and led away to be questioned by security. On his way he passes bodies littering the sand, each subsequent one opening the door to more memories of “how this all began.” Suddenly we’re back on the train to Westworld. He disembarks and discovers Evan Rachel Wood’s Dolores—well, not Dolores; it’s basically just Evan Rachel Wood in plainclothes—singing Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up.”
Should it need explaining, it’s a reference to one of the internet’s first memes, the bait-and-switch in which a person clicks a link promising something juicy only for the link to take them to the music video for Astley’s 1987 one-hit wonder.
A message flashes on the screen: “Dear Reddit, From all of us here at Westworld, thank you for watching. We hope you enjoy season two…” What follows is 22 minutes of black-and-white footage of a puppy sitting at a piano while the Westworld theme song plays. (???)
So, yes, it seems that the whole thing was just an elaborate joke. The question now is…why?
Is the Westworld team that mad about the Reddit theories? (During season one, they became such a phenomenon that online outlets started reporting on them, and many of them ended up true, including things like the identity of the Man in the Black Hat, and who Arnold really was.) So mad that they wanted to punish Reddit with a joke like this that doesn’t seem cruel so much as it is silly?
Or is it all in good fun—a digital-age marketing play to remind us all that new episodes of Westworld are indeed coming soon (April 22!)?
Orrrrr is it all actually a hint of what’s to come, that on season two of Westworld it’s April Fool’s Day and Dolores and the hosts keep waking up thinking it is, again and again?
All this theorizing and the season hasn’t even started yet. We’re already exhausted.