westworld

Since Westworld began airing, one of the biggest logistical questions fans have had about the show is: where is Westworld located? In our first dive into Westworld theories, we considered a possible mindblowing twist about the location of this immersive western theme park. As the story has continued and we have adventured into the far reaches of the park, we are just now getting an idea of just how huge this park is. And now showrunner Jonathan Nolan speaks up about the park’s location, answering some questions while presenting more mysteries.

Here is the quote from EW’s interview:

We see the train carrying Dolores and William and it’s going on and on and the park is starting to seem impossibly vast. They talk about how the park’s biggest value is in the code but I can’t help but wonder, especially since this is set in the future, wouldn’t the biggest value be in the real estate. Will it make sense to us at some point how large this place is?

Jonathan Nolan: If you drive across the Western United States — and I don’t think that’s where the park is located — but if you do that … we were pretty rigorous about the scope and scale of it, about size of the park. It’s within 500 square miles. I think Ted Turner owns that much in Mexico. It’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility that a park this size would exist here in America.

Okay, so Nolan doesn’t confirm the location of Westworld, but he does provide us with an interesting detail: the park is 500 square miles in size, which is indeed HUGE. The running theory is that Westworld might not be located on Earth. How could the Delos corporation obtain so much land for this western theme park experience? We also know that the park is apparently isolated enough that employees need to live on site, rotating home every few months. Guests reach the park via a highly fast train, the likes of that doesn’t exist currently. You can read that whole theory and see some further examples here.

Nolan’s tease of Season 2 seems to add more fuel to the arguments that the park might be located on another planet like Mars or a post-apocalyptic Earth:

Their construction and their power source is something we’re really going to get into during season 2. So we’d like to keep that mysterious. They’re closer to biological than they are to mechanical, but they don’t suffer brain death the same way we do. They’re largely indistinguishable from a human beings, but their brains don’t require oxygen — which opens up interesting possibilities. Their brains are not as fragile as ours. On one hand, their cognition is controllable and malleable, but on a structural level they can’t be killed in the same way you and I can. There are advantages and disadvantages to being a host. Season 2 we’ll be exploring more the nuts and bolts of what they are— as the hosts themselves are trying to understand.

We’ve theorized in the past about what purpose DELOS is secretly using the park for. I’ve suggested they are trying to reach the singularity and produce a recreation of a human in which we could upload our consciousness in order to live forever. But Nolan’s comment about the brains inside the hosts not requiring oxygen could hint at something more. Perhaps we did have to leave earth. If that is the case, it would be much easier for us to survive without oxygen. I remember seeing a lecture from Space X once where they even talked about in their effort to colonize Mars; they are exploring ways to modify the human body to live in that environment as that could be easier and cheaper to terraforming the planet for our liveability.

We’ve seen park employees communicating with loved ones via computer terminals, which implies that getting a signal from the park might be difficult. Some have also pointed out that the sculpture we saw in the sublevels of a planet with the word ‘DELOS’ emblazoned on it, doesn’t appear to be Earth as we know it today.  Lisa Joy has previously said that “regardless of where they are, the park is very, very vast, and you don’t rotate home often.”

“You don’t have open communication where you can just pick up a phone. Even senior people have to go to the coms room – because [the park is] protecting their intellectual property. We’re hoping to paint a portrait of the culture of the corporation.”

Jonathan Nolan has sais that we’ll find out the location of Westworld by the end of the first season, although his co-showrunner disagrees:

By the end of the first season, if you’re paying close attention, you will know where it is. [There’s some offline chat.] Lisa disagrees with that, by the way.

With a few episodes left, we’ll see who is right in a few weeks. If there is even a hint of the location in the episode, I’m sure the die-hard Westworld viewers will pick up on it.

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