Spoilers for Westworld Season 2, Episode 2 "Reunion".
Westworld has finally revealed details about the park's origins, and its hidden, true purpose bears an unsettling resemblance to Facebook. Just as how the ubiquitous social network has come under fire for its practice of data mining its millions of users and selling private information for profit, this week's flashback-heavy episode "Reunion" reveals that the park's investors, the Delos Corporation, had similar designs for Westworld and its guests.
The series has famously toyed with time, depicting events in the "present" of 2052 and the early days of the park 30 years prior. After revealing last week that Westworld was built on an island, "Reunion" shockingly delves even further backward and takes fans outside of the park for the first time. We start with a younger Robert Ford, his partner Arnold Weber (who would be later resurrected as the host Bernard Lowe), and Dolores in desperate need of investors, and that's where Delos come in.
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It turns out Logan Delos was keenly interested in Westworld. He's easily seduced by the promise of being able to have relations with the Hosts (especially Angela) and jumps at the chance to invest his company's resources into Ford's park so he can personally sample its wares. We know from the events of season 1 how Logan's misadventures in the park ultimately resulted in his brother-in-law William "finding his true self" and forcing Logan to ride off naked into the sunset.
"Reunion" then reveals the aftermath of the events of season 1 for Logan and William, who both made it out of the park and met the wrath of Logan's father James Delos, the company's founder. James despises Westworld, Delos' involvement in it, and how his son's sojourn in the artificial Wild West turned him into a junkie. The elder Delos wanted to pull support of Westworld, but it was William who convinced him of the "virtues" of the park: Westworld, which costs $40,000 a day to vacation in, only attracts the wealthiest clientele. Remaining Westworld's prime investors allows the Delos Corporation access to intimate data on the park's guests. Delos can now monitor the rich visitors to the park, learn their likes and habits, and apply this data to other sectors for marketing purposes. Of course, William, who will become the Man in Black, has his own personal designs on the park.
The season 2 premiere showed Charlotte Hale has a secret bunker in Westworld where guest information was taken from hosts, but "Reunion" firms up that data mining was key to Delos' investment in the park all along. Through Westworld, Delos is doing what Facebook does to its millions of users: keep track of what people post, share, like, comment on, purchase, etc. and then sell that data so that advertisements are directly targeted to their tastes. However, the difference seems to be Delos' scope is far more limited than Facebook's; they are only focused on the upper 1% who have the means to visit Westworld and seemingly intend to horde the collected info for its own use. In comparison, Facebook's data mining targets everyone who uses their network, which has had disturbing and far-reaching implications. However, with William comparing what he did to God, it seems like he may have gone a lot more extreme than Mark Zuckerberg.
Westworld's science fiction allegories have thus far been concerned with using the life cycles of the Hosts to explore multiple timelines and themes like memory, the meaning of humanity, and finding one's true self and purpose. But this revelation about Delos adds a new and insidious real-world implication to the park and the multinational corporation that owns it. It's also a clever way to weave in a hot-button real-world issue into the series' DNA. Ultimately, the true intentions of Delos make Westworld creepier - and more real - than we had originally thought it to be.
Westworld airs Sundays @ 9 pm on HBO.