This article contains spoilers from the Westworld Season 2 premiere.
There are plenty of mysteries and intriguing tangents constructed within the new maze they call Westworld Season 2. We’ve already developed our first fully fledged theory about one of them, revolving around Jeffrey Wright’s enigmatic Bernard. And yet, there are always more curious side streets, sometimes even occupied by characters technically existing in the same subplot. In this vein, please consider one Charlotte Hale, who is played by the ever versatile Tessa Thompson.
Indeed, hidden from much of the marketing for season 2, Thompson (whose seen her career take off to blockbuster fame since season 1) plays the woman who fired Bernard Lowe from Delos last season, and yet is reluctantly bringing him into one of the company’s most sordid but terrifying secrets: The Westworld park is nothing more than a giant data-mining operation!
This twist and its implications are shocking but somehow obvious in retrospect. After all, the entire conceit of Westworld is that it’s a place where guests can indulge in their sickest or most perverse fantasies without judgement or oversight… except from the control room staff who record everything. Simply from an advertisement perspective, they’d know each desire, titillation, heartstring-pull, fear, or hero complex the elite and wealthy possess. Which is to say they would know every avenue to exploit major marks in advertising.
And yet, Charlotte reveals that Delos is more than just recording guests’ actions; they’re obtaining their DNA, the literal genetic building blocks of those who think shooting and stabbing, and poking the robots is entirely consequence free. This is stunning when you move beyond the basic modern use of data-mining. In essence, Delos has the ability to blackmail or lean on any guest with a public life and private life that they wish to keep separate. They also have the ability to use DNA to place guests in compromising situations… or even take the science fiction angle further by duplicating guests’ attributes in their very hosts. After all, this is based on the work of Michael Crichton.
If you think it might be implausible for anyone to risk allowing such sensitive data falling in the hands of a company operating an X-rated fantasy island, please do remember Facebook was partially founded by Mark Zuckerberg on the pretense of bringing hip hacker culture to the mainstream. Everything is free, like hoodies and flip-flops. And when the site finally began including advertising, it came with a pledge that it was mostly just to pay for servers and bandwidth… and billions of dollars later, Zuckerberg is testifying before Congress about not realizing Cambridge Analytica was data-mining users. Yet billions of people will continue to use the social media site that allows you to waste time staring at old acquaintances.
Do you really think any similar paranoia could stop you from personally traveling to Westworld? We didn’t think so.
This is one of the many secrets Charlotte is apparently hiding. She is also a company woman through and through. When Delos goes Weyland-Yutani on her and says they won’t send in the proverbial cavalry until she acquires the “package,” who is really the host Peter Abernathy, she’s soon enough suiting up and getting ready for battle like she’s Sigourney Weaver in the third act of Alien. Now whose data is stored on Abernathy, and why is it so important? That we’ll leave to the most imaginative fans to theorize about, but it’d be fun to think it might have all the data in the world on Old Man William (Ed Harris), who probably has left thousands of skeletons in the Westworld park over the years, and is an uncle whom Charlotte doesn’t seem particularly close to. This could be one way to remove another king, not that firing Robert Ford worked out too well for her last season…