Westworld is a puzzle box. Each week, the show reveals another layer of mystery about the theme park’s history, the hosts, Delos Corporation, Robert Ford, or any combination of the above. If you’ve even a passing interest in keeping up with the show, you’ve probably noticed a divide emerging both with fans and critics. On the one side you have those who want all speculation to stop because the important thing is to focus on the themes of Westworld instead of trying to get ahead of the show by solving the puzzle. Then there’s the rest of us, combing over every frame of footage and promotional item for another theory that might explain what the ever-living heck is going on.
Here’s the important part: HBO is encouraging us. From the network’s official website, where fans can plan their own “visit” to the park to co-creator Jonathan Nolan dropping hints on Reddit, it’s clear Westworld is inviting us to solve the puzzle. If we want to. Nothing HBO is releasing appears to be crucial knowledge for following the plot of the show. It’s supplemental lore for an audience ravenous for more information about this mysterious and menacing universe. To that end, a couple of new pieces of information were revealed today!
#1: Westworld doesn’t throw away anything.
Yesterday, Reddit user Mattdezine asked the question we should all be asking: “What ha[s Delos] done with the ‘roughly’ 10,950 paintings [Dolores has created]?” Several hours later, to the surprise of Matt (and the rest of the internet) he got an answer from Westworld co-creator Jonathan Nolan in the form of a short video in the comments section.
This brings up more questions such as “Who is that? Why are they in a hazmat suit? Where is this kitchen? Are those blue gloves a shout-out to Firefly’s ‘two by two, hands of blue’?” The best part of asking those questions is knowing Westworld will actually have answers. This is what happens when you begin with the end in mind.
#2: So you want to know how the park keeps tabs on guests, huh?
If you have even a passing interest in the lore of the show, I suggest you sign up for Westworld emails sent out by the official site Discover Westworld. Emails include spotlights on different narratives at the park, updates about new episodes cleverly disguised as glitches in the system, and “hacks” into the inner workings of the park behind-the-scenes. For example, the most recent email has a section entitled “Safety Guaranteed: How are you protected from explosions, weapons, and trigger-happy black hats? See how Quality Assurance works to keep you safe,” which takes you to a mini-game training session for all Delos employees. The first thing you learn answers the question as to how Delos keeps track of guests and why there aren’t more security cameras. The hosts are the security measures and, unfortunately, their sensitivity has not been calibrated high enough to catch all improper behavior. Read into that as you will.
The training module then moves into a guest simulation in which you are tasked with deescalating several scenarios that could end in guest-on-guest violence. While playing, you learn Delos strives to keep a ratio of ten hosts for every one guest and tries to ensure each group of guests has a little contact as possible with other humans. The game is a concise, informative, and fun way to showcase how thoroughly the writers have fleshed out the world of Westworld.
With Westworld renewed for a second season — albeit not returning to television until 2018 — there will be ample opportunity for HBO to keep stoking the flames of curiosity and I, for one, plan to jump at every chance they present.