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Westworld’s creators offered to spoil season 2 in exchange for 1,000 Reddit upvotes

Spoiler: They just trolled Reddit.

And really, why not?
Alex Abad-Santos is a senior correspondent who explains what society obsesses over, from Marvel and movies to fitness and skin care. He came to Vox in 2014. Prior to that, he worked at the Atlantic.

In the age of spoiler warnings and fan theories, a proposed gambit from Westworld co-showrunners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy materialized on Monday.

As part of a Reddit Ask Me Anything session, Nolan and Joy said that if certain requirements were fulfilled, the Westworld team would post a video spoiling the entire plot of the second season of their show, which returns on April 22.

“If you guys agree, we’re going to post a video that lays out the plot (and twists and turns) of season 2,” Nolan and Joy wrote on Reddit. “Everything. The whole sordid thing. Up front. That way the members of the community here who want the season spoiled for them can watch ahead, and then protect the rest of the community, and help to distinguish between what’s ‘theory’ and what’s spoiler.”

The requirement: 1,000 “upvotes” — Reddit currency for popular posts.

This proposition came in the wake of the previous season, and preceding the final season, of HBO’s Game of Thrones, a show that has become a flashpoint when it comes to spoilers and how they affect television. Both Westworld and Game of Thrones have massive and engaged fan followings who dissect every aspect of the show (including but not limited to their source material, episode and script leaks, theories, rumors, actor contracts, set photographs, etc.), which then become spoiler fodder; as the post puts it, “‘Theories can actually be spoilers, and the line between the two is confusing.” And for some fans, these theories/spoilers can break the viewing experience.

What Nolan and Joy were suggesting was a sort of radical transparency that serves to distinguish online theories from actual spoilers, with the (perhaps idealistic) notion that those who want to be spoiled can learn what happens and then “protect” the larger fan community with their knowledge of what’s an actual spoiler.

“It’s a new age, and a new world in terms of the relationship between the folks making shows and the community watching them,” they wrote. “And trust is a big part of that. We’ve made our cast part of this decision, and they’re fully supportive. We’re so excited to be in this with you guys together.”

Given the heightened response that often accompanies spoiler discussions, this was a bold move; it could also have been a troll-y one, given that Nolan has said in the recent past that he and the Westworld team “love to fuck with Reddit.” Nothing bound Nolan and Joy to making good on their word — or from releasing a video that amounted to a red herring or a Rickroll — though given HBO’s history with leaks surrounding its high-profile series, it’s unlikely the network would let the Westworld team go rogue in this regard.

“This is an initiative from the Westworld showrunners. We suggest you stay tuned to Reddit for their next move,” HBO responded in a statement to Vox.

The post surpassed the 1,000-upvote count overnight on Monday, and Nolan and Joy made good on their word and released a video — an elaborate Rickroll:

Spoiler-seeking fans might be disappointed. Although they didn’t end up spoiling the show as promised, one thing is certain: Nolan and Joy found a way to get fans buzzing ahead of Westworld’s return.

Here’s Nolan’s full post (and its votes):