This Sunday, April 22, fans will travel back to Westworld. The HBO original show returns after a two-year hiatus to follow through on the promise of “violent ends” meeting “violent delights.” If the season one finale was any indication, the board of directors for Westworld’s parent company, DELOS, will not be having a good time in the foreseeable. Except for the Man in Black, who will finally be experiencing his dream of living in fear of imminent and bloody death.
But while the trailers have focused on the struggle between humans and hosts, there is a bigger question lurking just under the surface. What exactly does DELOS want? Sure, a theme park full of painfully hot pansexuals operating under dubious consent is money in the bank, but the first season proved the hosts were more than capable of performing their sexy functions before they became organic. Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) and William (Jimmi Simpson) fall in love despite the fact Dolores is skin stretched over mechanical innards. In fact, the Man in Black later laments to Teddy (James Marsden) about how elegant the hosts were before they were ruined with organic parts. But to understand the inner logic of the hosts, we need to think about the show’s external circumstances.What do we really know about the world outside of Westworld? Not much. We don’t even know if the theme park is housed on Earth. We have no concept — by design — about the state of the real world or even what year it is. Even the scenes of the “modern” world in the season two trailer are suspect, as they could be yet another part of the DELOS parks. But if there is one thing science-fiction has taught me, it is that there are only two reasons for scientists to create defacto replacement humans: babies or espionage. Either (or both) could be the reason DELOS has not only dumped untold amounts of funding into Ford’s (Anthony Hopkins) creation, but also why the Westworld fine print states any DNA left behind by guests becomes the property of DELOS.
Let’s start with the more altruistic of the two options. Sometime in the future, humanity screws itself over. We’re pretty good at that. Perhaps we end up in a Children of Men situation, or maybe a nuclear wasteland dystopia wipes out the population. Perhaps we start populating other planets but the birth rate can’t outpace the amount of time necessary to get colonists set up and self-sufficient. Whatever the case, birth rates tank. Now we need incubators and/or studs to repopulate. DELOS attempts to solve the problem, but mechanical innards aren’t viable at first. So under the more palatable concept of a theme park, they begin testing their hosts on the healthiest remaining human population: the hyper-wealthy.
Of course, nothing about DELOS screams “altruistic,” which leaves us with the second option. Spycraft and infiltration. As audiences witnessed at the end of season one, Maeve was moments away from escaping Westworld under orders from Ford, before choosing to find her daughter instead. It’s extremely unlikely Maeve was the first host to be assigned a real-world mission. Combine that with the knowledge that DELOS keeps the DNA of the rich and powerful lying around and you have a recipe for “catch and replace.” How many world leaders, titans of industry, and other sundry movers and shakers have been replaced with host doubles? How would you even know? With organic bodies, hosts are indistinguishable from their human counterparts unless you go diving into their spinal column.
Then again, it could be a combination of the two. Send hosts out into the world, have them pretend to be human, and interbreed with an unsuspecting population. If that’s the case, there is no telling how much offspring DELOS has created as Westworld is purposely vague about the passage of time. Oh sure, we see William as a fresh-faced young man and later a grizzled bitter old shell, but that means nothing in this world. Who knows if William is even himself of simply acting out his part in a never-ending purgatory where the hosts are upgraded each time. How many times has DELOS reset the park? How many times have they killed their board of directors? Is Ford just a brain in a jar somewhere, hundreds of years old and biding his time for eldritch and unknowable reasons?
Regardless of which — if either — option DELOS is operating under, their end goal is that of any evil corporation: world domination. The trailer for Season 2 alone showcases that certain DELOS divisions have been busy creating ground troops for unknown reasons. No one makes a prototype of military androids (née army) for good reasons. And we all know nothing happened at Westworld without Ford’s knowledge. So the real question is, how many versions of Ford were there? Did he make a host copy of himself for each park? Each division? Are there any actual humans left in the entire organization? Hopefully, we’ll all find out this season.
Image Credit: HBO
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