HBO's Westworld is off to a strong start with a highly rated debut and an intriguing second episode that revealed more about the Man in Black (Ed Harris) and continued to unravel the many mysteries surrounding Dr. Robert Ford's (Anthony Hopkins) sprawling automaton-filled theme park. The show is already delving deep into its theme of the nature of reality and the human characters' ability (or inability) to distinguish between real and artificial.
The digital age is a better time than ever for a show like Westworld and its ability to make the experience of watching it feel as real as possible for viewers. As episode 2 made its debut, so did a new website that, in the spirit of the series as a whole, functions as a manufactured place that feels strangely authentic.
The new website, entitled "Westworld: A Delos Destination," can be found at DelosIncorporated.com and takes you to the "Security Panel" of the theme park. It features several message threads containing conversations between the behind-the-scenes workers at the park as they sort through various issues involving the automaton Hosts. Much of the issues surround the "narratives" of the robots inhabiting the park as the workers carry the kind of conversations you'd see in a heated email exchange between a dysfunctional marketing team.
One message is addressed to Westworld employees and CC's Theresa Cullen (Sidse Babett Knudsen), who works in "Quality Assurance" at Westworld. It cryptically reads that "certain employees in Livestock Management have forgotten the standards to which we hold all Delos Employees regarding tampering with company assets." Other threads refer to "neglectful conduct," "insubordination," and "interpersonal conflicts." The whole website generally gives the feel of a park wracked by mismanagement and internal conflicts that will almost certainly lead to external problems throughout the park.
As all of Westworld's human guests venture through the park figuring out what's real and what isn't, there's a constant sense of dread and a world on the brink of chaos. The new website only adds to that theme of impending danger and the blurred lines between reality and fantasy, giving what feels like a very real glimpse into what adds up to an unnervingly volatile setting.
The website also sneaks in a few Easter eggs to give you a wink and a nod toward the show itself. It ultimately reveals itself as a marketing tool for the show, which initially looks like one of the most immersive new programs to debut on the small screen in some time. The presence of promotional posters for the show ultimately stops the website short of a completely immersive experience, but the site gives the idea of how deep the mysterious problems bubbling underneath Westworld really go.
Westworld continues next Sunday with 'The Stray' @9pm on HBO.