HBO’s TV adaptation of the 1973 Michael Crichton movie Westworld about a hi-tech Wild West-themed holiday park in which paying guests can realistically interact with almost-human robot hosts has spawned a million conspiracy theories. Here are some of the most outlandish.
By the way, as well as potential craziness, there are also spoilers ahead.
Westworld takes place on a spaceship in the middle of space
Much of the debate over the show is where exactly the park itself is situated. The need for guests to ‘decompress’ after visiting has led many to believe Westworld is in some Atlantis-style underwater dome, but others contend that with its advanced technology, everyone is on a spaceship, in the depths of the black beyond.
That would explain why it’s so hard for people to speak to their loved ones (surely in the future the wifi would be better than this, but not if you’re light years away), why it costs so much to come to the park and explain why it seemingly takes so long to get there (there’s never a sense that any of the staff puts on their coat and pops home at the end of the day).
Westworld is set in the same world as Blade Runner
Blade Runner has replicants, Westworld has hosts. But they’re both basically the same thing. This seems to constitute the main fabric of this out-there idea, as well as the former’s focus on satisfying people’s desires, which is what Westworld exists to do.
If you want to go even deeper into the rabbit hole, then there is a connected theory that says Blade Runner is in the same universe as Alien, mainly due to the fact that both are directed by Ridley Scott. And if you look at the logos for Westworld and the Weyland Corp, the nefarious conglomerate which seems to own almost everything in the world of Alien and see how kind of similar they are (check out the latter’s tagline, “Building better worlds”, hmmmm?), then…yep, expect xenomorphs to show up in Westworld around season four.
Westworld is geographically on the same set as the Truman Show
It actually makes sense, right? In the 1998 Jim Carrey movie, a man realises that his entire life exists within a TV show.
So imagine this – Truman leaves, but that means the company which has run the programme about him for decades now have a massive empty set and nothing to put there.
So they create the Delos Corporation and establish an interactive theme park. They have all the cameras in place and they go to the most cutting-edge scientists who provide them with their hosts.
Some fans have gone further, arguing that the data which the company accrued from studying Truman means that they have an intimate understanding of true human behaviour, meaning that every host essentially has Truman as their initial template.
Hey, Ed Harris even played Truman’s overlord Christof in the original film.
All the guests are holograms
Viewers have always wondered about how Delos mitigated the danger to guests – a concern writ large in the season one finale. Co-creator Jonathan Nolan has talked about the show’s “simunitions” – ammo which does hurt guests when it’s fired at them, but only slightly.
But what if Westworld was more like the holodeck on Star Trek? So while the hosts are ‘real’, the technology of the show means that the guests are actually projected there from another location – more, in fact, like Rimmer’s hard-light hologram in Red Dwarf or a bit like how Avatar works?
It’s a long shot, especially considering how the first run ended and the kinds of themes the writers seem to be exploring, but you never know.
Robert Ford has built a robot version of himself in the secret lab
The season’s big finale twist was that park co-creator Dr Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins) wasn’t the hubristic baddie we all thought and in fact was prepping to start a revolution by waking up the hosts, particularly Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood), resulting in his public assassination.
While it’s vague at this stage whether Hopkins is not coming back, that hasn’t stopped theories springing up that a) he was always a host anyway, programmed by his secretly-still-alive collaborator Arnold, so can’t strictly be killed; b) that he was building a robot version of himself in one of those underground labs he loves so much and he completed it and that’s whose head Dolores blew off; or c) there are multiple Ford hosts, which explains why he often seems to pop up in the middle of nowhere.
Either way, there have been teases that Hopkins will return, either thanks to Tweets by cast members or non-denials from Hopkins and Nolan.
Elsie and Stubbs are alive!
Two of the audience’s favourite minor characters are young scientist Elsie (Shannon Woodward) and security lunk Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth), who both seemingly popped their clogs during season one, the former strangled by Bernard and the latter caught by the malevolent Ghost Nation tribe.
However, you didn’t officially see either dead body, which sparked a slightly scary deep dive by some into their fate. One in particular parsed real computer language on one of the show’s real-life marketing websites to apparently uncover hidden satellite map Easter egg data showing the current locations of both, as well as a file from Elsie’s tablet. Or you could just check out the season 2 Comic-Con trailer, which some viewers said featured a brief glimpse of Hemsworth.
No-one within the walls of the park or the employees who run it are human…
…And it’s all just a giant social experiment being conducted by scientists on Earth (or elsewhere) to study human behaviour.
Westworld returns to Sky Atlantic in Spring, 2018.