If you’re a Westworld fan, you know that secrets are a big part of the show’s appeal. Throughout the first season, creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy tried to keep many of the series’ big reveals — like who was secretly a host, or who the Man in Black was — close to their chest. Of course, they didn’t always succeed, but that fact didn’t make the finale’s revelations any less epic.
Westworld fans also know that the series boasts an already rich and layered mythology. It began with Michael Crichton’s 1973 film, and expanded to include a host of other assets, all of which have revealed new details about the park, its players, and Delos, the company that runs it all. While many avid viewers are constantly on the lookout for any new piece of information they can find, there are lots of little secrets about the world that may have slipped past them. Here are 10 secrets about Westworld that you might not have picked up on yet.
1. The HBO series has two official websites
Digital marketing for TV and film has become really creative, and Westworld is no exception to that rule. The series currently boasts two official websites in addition to its homepage at HBO.com. And both of these assets serve a very specific — and intriguing — role in disseminating information about the series to its fans.
DiscoverWestworld.com is set up like a promotional site for the park within the series. In the past, visitors could sign up for updates about the park, plan their (hypothetical) visit, and chat with a host named Aeden. The site has also been, predictably, chock full of glitches and hidden gems that reveal more about Westworld than we’re “supposed” to know — like how likely it is for a guest to die in the park.
DelosIncorporated.com isn’t quite as flashy as its counterpart — but it’s not designed to be. It serves as the company’s online corporate headquarters, and offers visitors a glimpse behind the scenes. On the surface, it seems a little bland, with training manuals and a map of the Mesa hub office. But fans have also found more intriguing information, like a breakdown of Dolores’s complete narrative loop.
2. The websites change in response to the show’s story
Westworld‘s websites aren’t just fun hubs for Easter eggs. Since the show began, the sites have changed in subtle ways to reflect the first season’s story arc. And after the exciting events of the Season 1 finale, both DiscoverWestworld.com and DelosIncorporated.com went just as haywire as Westworld’s hosts. The sites got seriously glitchy, for one. And Aeden, the friendly host on the park’s marketing site, started revealing signs of his own sentience. Over at the corporate site, hosts seem to be in control — and if you can get past an admin block, you might find some interesting information about a character many of us thought was dead.
3. A date within the show’s extensive timeline was recently revealed
Time is a big deal on Westworld, and in more ways than one. Since the series premiered, fans have theorized about everything from when the series takes place, to how many points in time we were watching as the first season progressed. While the first question was seemingly answered in the Season 1 finale, fans were still left in the dark as to exactly how far in the future Bernard, Dolores, and Maeve’s adventures are taking place. However, the DelosIncorporated.com website may have revealed a key date in the series that would help us nail down a definitive timeline.
While navigating through the site, one Reddit user found a video that shows footage of Armistice as she, Maeve, and Hector were attempting to break out of the Delos compound — and it’s time stamped for June 15, 2052. If that date holds up, it means that William and Logan’s fateful trip to Westworld likely happened in the early 2020s, roughly four years from present day. That may feel like a stretch for some, but in any case it gives us our clearest idea yet of when Westworld takes place.
4. The original Westworld movie had a sequel
It’s fairly common knowledge that HBO’s Westworld is based on a feature length movie. Written and directed by Michael Crichton, the film was a huge success when it was released in 1973, earning rave reviews from critics and grossing far more than its $1.25 million budget.
Unfortunately, its 1976 sequel, Futureworld, failed to replicate its predecessor’s excellence, despite starring high-caliber actors like Peter Fonda and Blythe Danner. Crichton had little to do with the film, and the story — about a team of reporters who find danger in Delos’s other amusement parks — was nothing to write home about. However, Futureworld did offer up a slew of other themes that we could someday see in a Westworld park. Who wouldn’t want to see hosts go rogue in Spaworld?
5. HBO’s Westworld isn’t the first TV adaptation
HBO is already racking up some pretty impressive accolades for the first season of Westworld. But this isn’t the first time that a network tried to bring Michael Crichton’s robot-themed story to the small-screen. In 1980, CBS introduced Beyond Westworld, a sci-fi drama series about a Delos employee trying to stop one of the corporation’s scientists from using robots for world domination. The series’ premise was pretty far-fetched — one episode featured hosts hidden on a nuclear submarine. And as a result, it understandably failed to capture the same kind of energetic devotion that HBO’s adaptation has found. Beyond Westworld only aired for three episodes before CBS pulled the plug.
6. Westworld‘s cast members post some awesome stuff on social media
Dolores, William, Logan, and Bernard aren’t exactly what you’d call happy-go-lucky characters. So it’s difficult to picture them singing along to OutKast or acting out scenes from Friends. But if you follow any of Westworld‘s stars on social media, that’s exactly the type of foolishness you’ll find — and it’s wildly refreshing, given the show’s more serious tone.
Actors Evan Rachel Wood, Jimmi Simpson, Ben Barnes, and Jeffrey Wright have all posted humorous behind-the-scenes photos and videos to Twitter and Instagram. From mashing up Frozen and The Office to playing on Simpson’s uncanny resemblance to Christian Slater with a Dubsmash from Heathers, they’ve really upped the ante for all future drama ensembles to show off their goofier sides.
7. The gunslinger from the Westworld movie made a cameo in the TV show
In the 1973 film, Westworld, the main antagonist is the Gunslinger, a Terminator-esque host who terrorizes the park’s guests after malfunctioning. Played by The King and I‘s Yul Brynner, he’s far and away the most memorable part of Crichton’s movie — and a character that some thought might pop up in HBO’s adaptation. While the Gunslinger never materialized as a main character in Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy’s Westworld, he did get a brief cameo appearance as a wink-and-nod to movie fans.
In Episode 6, we got a glimpse of Delos’s basement, a subterranean storage unit that Bernard visited to do some research. In the corner, just for a moment, was the blurry image of an old host that looked nearly identical, in costume and stature, to the Gunslinger himself. There’s still time for Nolan and Joy to resurrect the old villain, so maybe he’ll make another appearance in Season 2.
8. There’s hidden meaning in the Mariposa’s piano tunes
The Mariposa is obviously one of the most alluring destinations in Westworld for, well, obvious reasons. With its lovely ladies and tendency to be ground zero for shoot-outs, it’s the kind of place that is designed to deliver that Old West experience that the park’s guests pay such a high premium for. But one of its less-attended entertainment offerings, the self-playing Bowen piano, is also one of its best kept secrets. Since the first episode, the saloon’s piano has churned out a steady stream of alternative rock hits from bands like Soundgarden, The Cure, Marilyn Manson, and Radiohead — lots of Radiohead.
Sure, they’re not exactly songs that you’d expect to hear amongst the tumbleweed and petticoats in the frontier, but they’re a clever way to merge the modern and old-fashioned — much in the same way the series does. And sometimes, the songs that the Mariposa piano plays don’t just set the mode, they help tell the story.
The closing moments of the Season 1 finale, for example, featured Radiohead’s “Exit Music (For a Film).” The opening lyrics for that song include the words, “Wake from your sleep,” which is exactly what was happening to the hosts as the song played in the background.
9. The first movie reference to computer viruses was in the 1973 Westworld
While its special effects may seem outdated now, Michael Crichton’s original film was pretty forward-thinking in its approach to technology. Westworld was the first full-length movie to utilize digital image processing, which it employed in its android-POV sequences. It was also the first movie to reference the idea of a computer virus.
In the 1973 film, one robot begins to malfunction and turns violent, and that starts a chain reaction among other hosts in the park. One of the Westworld park technicians explains to his cohorts that this behavior — with one turning, and then another, and so on — resembles an infectious disease. While the words “computer virus” aren’t used in Westworld, the description of the behavior is still historic, and also impressively predictive of the ways in which technology would, in fact, become compromised in the future.
10. It costs way too much to visit Westworld
Westworld is captivating sci-fi, for sure — but between its super-realistic robots and sprawling, seemingly never-ending park space, it’s not exactly the most realistic TV show out there. Perhaps the most confusing part of the theme park’s whole premise is exactly how much it would cost to take a vacation there.
According to the DiscoverWestworld.com website, a single day at the park would cost about $40,000. Given that it seems like most guests, like William and Logan, spend several days at Westworld, we’re talking about a six-figure getaway — and who knows if that even covers transportation to and from the park. Sure, the series is set in the future, and those prices could seem a little bit more realistic 100 years from now. But it still seems like a high price to pay just to get to hang out with robots for a little while.
Follow Katherine Webb on Twitter @prufrox
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