For all the rampaging robots, it’s not hard to see the appeal of Westworld. Who hasn’t dreamed of leaving the real world behind for a week or two and riding across the plains of the American west, slaying bandits and saving damsels? The cost is high (both financially and, in some cases, morally), but the result is complete, unwavering immersion. But what if you, like cinemagoers after the 1960s, don’t like westerns? Well, Delos has you covered - the original film had Richard Benjamin stalked by Yul Brenner’s (robotic) Man in Black gunslinger through Roman World and Medieval World, while sequel Futureworld not only brought those parks back, but also introduced the more laid back Spaworld.
Ever since the show was announced back in 2013, fans of the original have wondered whether we’d get to see updated versions of those parks (with some even erroneously theorising at one point that the show doubled as a sequel to the original film). When asked about this at the start of the show’s run by SlashFilm, Jonathan Nolan was rather straight and to the point, yet oddly specific:
"You said Roman World and Medieval World, right? No!"
The season finale revealed why his words were chosen so carefully; it introduced a totally new park complete with its own logo, S-World.
Maeve's escape attempt took her and her followers through the inner workings of the Westworld facility, all the way from "WW" to a new area with the logo "SW". Only the behind-the-scenes robotic workshops were shown, unsurprisingly of the same sterile structure to Westworld’s but with one big difference: instead of gunslingers the hosts were Samurai. So, what’s the deal with Samurai World (or possibly Shōgun, but we’ll go with the former)?
Extrapolating from Westworld, we can presume this is another fully-functional, totally immersive theme park, just set in feudal Japan, rather than a work-in-progress or new side venture. In fact, there have been a couple of hints throughout the season at the park, with several Japanese hosts appearing in the control areas - one posing as a worker for Clementine's show of violence and a couple being showered when Maeve first uncovered the truth - and while they could have been part of Westworld, those robots never appeared on screen in the park; they're much more likely from the Samurai adventure.
That aside, the only real info we have on it comes from Felix who, when asked "What is this place?" by Maeve, responds with "It's complicated". Any further explanation is cut off by the park alarm and the line itself is obviously intended to keep things vague for the future, but his delivery could provide a bit of insight; he's not flippant, but genuinely struggles to vocalise anything beyond that. Felix has been stunned by Maeve ever since she first gained some semblance of awareness, unable to stop helping her in her increasingly manic schemes presumably out of some deep-seated infatuation (he was confirmed to not be a host in the finale), and this response represents the other side of that affection; he's trying to protect her from discovering even more of her world is a lie. If finding out the wild west was monitored and controlled sent her on a sociopathic track, what would discovering she's from just one constructed world of many do to her?
After all, this would be a pretty big info dump for the host as, crucially, S-World doesn’t appear to be the only other park out there. The note Felix gives Maeve detailing the location of her daughter cites that she’s in “Park 1”. That’s presumably Westworld (although she could have been rotated elsewhere), but the naming intrinsically points towards there being more – like with movies and TV seasons you don’t call something “1” unless there’s a “2”, “3” and beyond. We know one of those is Samurai World, but there’s scope for things to go much larger. The numbering is likely low to give the writers an easy get out if the show’s direction changes over time, but all the required groundwork for Roman, Medieval and Futureworld (or others) has been laid.
What does it mean for Season 2?
The reveal coming so late in the game, after nine weeks of speculation centred on Westworld as a singular entity, prompts some pretty big questions about the scale of the show and where it could be heading in season 2. As discussed previously, it alters how the location question is asked; not only is the Delos complex much larger than previously assumed, making placing it even harder, but as we’ve at the very least got a replica of feudal Japan alongside the wild west, then we most certainly aren’t really in Utah.
It also raises a question of the scope of the operation. The development of artificial intelligence has been presented entirely from within Westworld, a centralization that would establish it as the first park (which makes sense given that the Wild West is the primo American fantasy), and still remains the primary park; this would explain primary shareholder William’s obsession with it over all others. Although could we be the subjects of major misdirection? As with William and Logan’s adventures secretly unfolding thirty years prior, much of the show relies on assuming different scenes are connected while they’re not. It’s entirely possible that on rewatch several sequences involving Ford, Bernard, Theresa and Charlotte discussing the park, hosts and Delos in general are revealed to be vague to the point of potentially being about another World.
And with that said, we come to the most important element of the reveal; what part, if any, does Samurai World and its ilk play in Ford’s new narrative and Season 2? It’d be safe to assume that the creator’s reveries and meddling with consciousness didn’t extend beyond Westworld (although, as discussed in the previous paragraph, not out of the question), but now a fully conscious Dolores and an emotionally-charged, if not-so-freethinking Maeve are out there with a good chunk of the board dead (and the primary shareholder presumably having the time of his life with real stakes), things won’t be contained to a single park for long.
Uprising, escape or a new robot nation? Whatever they're planning, it's going to involve the Samurai; a game-changing finale wouldn’t have introduced the concrete existence of other parks if it wasn’t going to be essential in show's future. The big question, now, is what worlds are next?
Westworld will return in 2018.
- Westworld (2016 - ) release date: Sep 25, 2018