Westworld has been nothing if not mysterious throughout its early run of episodes. The Jonathan Nolan-led series has been full of twists and turns, all while teasing at a larger secret that threatens to destroy our main characters from the inside out. We’ve slowly but surely been given teases at an answer to that secret, but not before raising even more questions along the way. The episode entitled “The Adversary” dives in headfirst, featuring a subtle yet ominous homage to Michael Crichton’s 1973 Westworld movie.
1. The Easter egg in question
In the original Westworld movie, Yul Brynner plays the Gunslinger, a robotic host designed to participate in and lose duels to the theme park’s various guests. A ways in though, he begins to develop some decidedly more murderous tendencies after being infected with a virus, as he begins to gun down guests and wreak general havoc. Cue Westworld, bringing in an Easter egg with some massive implications.
The homage in question goes by in an instant, but one Reddit user managed to catch it. Above we see Bernard wandering the lower levels of Westworld, in search of the culprit transmitting the park’s data offsite through a handful of corrupted hosts. In the background, we see a blurry visage of a deactivated host, gripping his belt in a way that’s unmistakably familiar. As you see in the above photo, the host looks a whole lot like Brynner’s Gunslinger, and it doesn’t seem at all coincidental.
2. What it might mean
There’s little doubting the fact that someone is out to sabotage Westworld. Elsie (Shannon Woodward) has already uncovered Theresa as the one co-opting hosts to transmit data, and meanwhile, someone’s tweaked Maeve’s programming to make her self-aware enough to manipulate two lab techs into pumping her intelligence up to genius-level. Suffice it to say, things are beginning to unravel quickly. The fact that a Yul Brynner lookalike just so happened to appear in the last episode seems to tease at just that, as a similarly destructive virus begins to turn Westworld‘s robotic hosts violent.
3. Is this crazy head-canon or backstory for the park?
When Westworld picks up in the series premiere, the park has been active for upwards of 30-some years. But as we begin our journey down the metaphorical rabbit hole, we hear hints at some sort of disastrous “event” that took place in the park’s early years. We know very little about what exactly that event entailed, but what we do know is that it claimed the life of Westworld’s co-founder, Arnold. That being so, seeing the decommissioned Gunslinger gathering dust in the basement might not just be an Easter egg; it could be the connection between the 1973 movie and the HBO series.
It seems entirely possible that at least some part of Michael Crichton’s original film could be canon in the context of the TV show. Perhaps Yul Brynner’s Gunslinger actually did wreak havoc in Westworld 30 years ago, gunning down Arnold in the process.
4. The story moving forward
The first couple episodes of Westworld show us clearly that a virus has begun to infect the hosts, brought on by a key phrase whispered to each android. We can expect HBO’s TV series to try and set itself apart from the 1973 film, but at the same time, it’s tough to ignore the parallels. The virus has already touched a handful of hosts, and it’s beginning to make many of them act against their prime directives.
But perhaps this isn’t the first time this has happened — maybe Arnold unraveled the Gunslinger 30 years ago, and his virus has gotten out once again, putting the park’s guests and creators in mortal danger moving forward. We won’t know if that theory holds water until we get more information, and yet it still is plenty logical given what we know so far.
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