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“Guys…where are we?”
Charlie Pace is nowhere to be found on HBO’s Westworld, even if the late Lost hero’s first truly iconic phrase has cast a shadow over Jonathan Nolan’s and Lisa Joy’s series since its inception. From the very beginning, fans have wondered the same question about Westworld as they did about the setting of Lost: Where exactly is all of this action taking place?
An alternate universe. An alien planet. The lost city of Atlantis. These were some of the more outside-the-box theories that Lost fans cooked up about the mystical island’s location over the years, before the official details were finally revealed on the show. Similar questions and theories surround Westworld, or at least questions and theories on a similar level.
Among the biggest theories about Westworld’s whereabouts: it’s somewhere away from Earth. Fans have drawn up various reasons to believe that the park exists somewhere far from our home world, what with casual references to orbital launch stations and decompression periods littered throughout the first season. The fact that the series itself has stopped short of confirming Westworld’s physical location has only bolstered the theories further.
While stopping short of outright debunking the theory, the first two episodes of season two have seemingly put a major dent into the idea that Westworld exists off-planet. A few reasons why:
• During his first encounter with host technology, Logan (Ben Barnes) expresses completely bewilderment in the face of it all. “We’re not here yet,” he stammers. “No one is.” Extraordinary leaps forward in artificial intelligence and extraordinary leaps forward in interstellar travel don’t necessarily go hand in hand, but one struggles to see the host technology as so utterly baffling if the series takes place in a world where people can casually leave Earth.
• What’s more, we see Earth at multiple points this episode. It begins in China, where Arnold (Jeffrey Wright) and Ford (Anthony Hopkins) have taken the hosts as a means of drumming up interest from investors. When he shows Dolores his home in the middle of the city, Arnold says he wanted his family to live close to his work — suggesting close proximity between China and the park.
• Related to the above point: in the first episode, Karl Strand (Gustaf Skarsgard) argues with a Chinese officer, and orders him to leave “the island.” Many fans have taken this as evidence that Westworld exists somewhere in the South China Sea, though your mileage may vary on that front.
• Several hosts have been allowed to leave the park in order to seduce Logan, including Dolores, Angela (Talulah Riley) and others. Getting them from a remote location to civilization was surely an expensive feat, but one can hardly imagine the costs involved in transporting the hosts from an off-world facility back to Earth. And as we learn, it’s not even the only time hosts have visited society: Dolores has been summoned away from the park twice, and that’s only accounting for the moments we currently know about.
• James Delos (Peter Mullan) seemingly has very little interest in Westworld, and yet he makes an in-person visit to indulge his son-in-law William (Jimmi Simpson). Vastly wealthy as he is, it’s hard to imagine the Delos founder casually leaving Earth behind unless space travel is as accessible as an international flight. Once again, it’s hard to imagine, based on Logan’s reaction to host technology earlier in the episode.
• Also worth noting is it’s not just billionaires who visit Westworld. At the very least, full families have been seen in the park, such as the mother, father and son who encountered Dolores by a river bank in the very first episode of the series. Bachelor parties are thrown in the park. It would be one thing to imagine someone of James Delos’ means being able to leave Earth for Westworld; it’s another matter entirely extending the same abilities to so many other individuals.
Granted, the whole “Westworld doesn’t take place on Earth” theory hasn’t been fully obliterated yet. After all, it takes two weeks for Strand and his team to arrive on site, following Dolores shooting up Ford and the other Delos board members in Escalante. Would it really take that much time to organize a search, rescue and destroy mission if Westworld were somewhere on Earth? Is it a testament to the relative inaccessibility of the park — and if so, where the heck is it?
It’s one of the nitty-gritty details that surely should have some flat-out resolution before too much longer, beyond the clues littered throughout the episodes. The human guests will have to start talking about Westworld’s exact location soon enough, as they continue their struggle to survive in the face of the park’s collapse. What’s more, some of the hosts should even be able to weigh in on the issue — including Dolores, who has visited the world outside of Westworld at least twice. The first two episodes of the series have made it very hard to imagine that the park resides somewhere away from Earth; inevitably, future episodes will fully settle the question one way or the other.
What are your theories about where Westworld takes place? Sound off with your theories in the comments below and keep following THR.com/Westworld for more coverage.
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