Westworld Season 3: Is Game of Thrones a Delos Park?
We unpack the implications of several easter eggs in the latest episode of Westworld.
This article contains spoilers for Westworld Season 3 episode 2.
It’s a cheeky moment that even the most dedicated reddit theorist did not see coming: HBO’s premiere nerd shows, Game of Thrones and Westworld, had a crossover. Kind of.
The surreal moment comes midway through Westworld Season 3 episode 2, as Bernard Lowe and robo-Stubbs sneak their way into the bowels of Delos’ island of theme parks. Even though the parks are still technically shut down after the small matter of hosts gaining consciousness and killing hundreds of humans, the chop shop guys in the basement are still treating the multiple broken units left over by the failed robot revolution. “These techs are just waiting to see if they get laid off,” Stubbs says of all the engineers running around the mysterious “Park 4.” But then the theme is revealed in the most ludicrous manner.
There among the techies of “Park 4” are Game of Thrones creators and showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. And there also be dragons.
“There’s a buyer,” Weiss says to an unimpressed Benioff. “Some startup in Costa Rica.” Apparently an enigmatic entrepreneur, perhaps with an island off the coast, is willing to pay top dollar for the robotic mechanics of Benioff and Weiss’ dragon. He wants Drogon, the last surviving dragon in the Game of Thrones series finale, and whose CGI model also makes a fourth-wall shattering cameo in this scene. The sequence is amusing, particularly because it invites the most obvious and silly of fan speculation: Are the creators of Westworld and Game of Thrones saying that the latter series is just an elaborate fantasy on Westworld’s Park 4?
We aren’t going to lie that it’s fun speculating about the idea since Game of Thrones’ Westeros shares a lot of similarities with what we’ve seen of Robert Ford’s narrative visions for the original Westworld park from the first season. Both “narratives” rely a lot on violence and cynical assumptions about the nature of humanity, and neither Ford or Benioff and Weiss are above using titillation (and some might say exploitation) to keep people coming back.
In the early seasons of Game of Thrones Littlefinger’s brothels in King’s Landing were almost as important a set as the Red Keep’s Iron Throne room, not unlike Maeve’s establishment in Sweetwater. Meanwhile noble hearted heroes like the white-hatted Teddy and Lord Eddard Stark are set-up to fail. You might even have been mistaken in thinking of Teddy as a guest, or at least a sincere romantic hero for Dolores, during the opening prologue of Westworld’s pilot. While not nearly so long a deception as Ned being the protagonist of an entire season of Game of Thrones, the same pessimistic cruelty of their fates remains the same.
“Winning doesn’t mean anything unless someone else loses,” Old Man William snarks to Teddy in Westworld’s first episode. “Which means you’re here to be the loser.” He may as well be talking to poor dead Ned. Or Robb Stark. Maybe Catelyn too. Definitely the Red Viper and Hodor.
One could even make meta fan theories about why the narrative of Game of Thrones changed so much in its later years, at first gradually and then drastically. As gleaned from the first season of Westworld, the park was the vision of Robert Ford and his partner Arnold Weber. But as the years came and went, a whole narrative department was opened with new writers like Lee Sizemore taking over to finesse the details. Perhaps in Westworld’s universe, there is a man named George who was put in charge of Park 4 and who came up with brilliant if subversive ideas. As he got older and maybe retired to Santa Fe, like Ford was supposed to do, he left the park’s narrative to two techies named Dave and Dan, and while they kept the spirit of the park alive, even following his outline, it just wasn’t quite the same.
Then again, kidding aside, Benioff and Weiss are good sports, and to theirs and George R.R. Martin’s credit, Game of Thrones was never quite so cynical as the world within Westworld. Whereas Delos worked to keep Dolores, Maeve, and the rest of the hosts obliviously docile to their victimhood and objectification, Game of Thrones and its source material whittled its cast of men while revealing the female characters to be the most complex and fascinating on page and screen—those that took back the North at the end of Game of Thrones.
Benioff and Weiss also actively refused to work toward satisfying the customers by giving them what they wanted. It’s fair to say that, ultimately, Game of Thrones did the exact opposite of trying to please the passing tourists. And really what tourist wanted to be in King’s Landing the day Daenerys Targaryen reclaimed her birthright?
So maybe Game of Thrones isn’t a fourth park. Then again, it could all be connected, including the two other major Michael Crichton easter eggs in this section of the episode.
Benioff, Weiss, and Drogon might all be present for cameos, the rest of “Park 4” is much more vaguely medieval. I even think they missed a trick by having the court musician host playing a riff on the Westworld theme instead of “The Bear and the Maiden Fair” or “Jenny of Oldstones” (“The Rains of Castamere” is played out, no?). But that might be by design because the original Westworld movie did feature a medieval park.
Yep, while samurai nor colonial India were options in Crichton’s 1973 movie, there was a Medieval World and a Roman World. And these nods to Crichton don’t just stop with the theme of Park 4, but also with where Drogon as headed. If we return to Weiss and Benioff for a moment, the former tells the latter that their buyer has a startup in Costa Rica. And as any child of the ‘90s will tell you, startups and Costa Rica in science fiction only conjure one image: Jurassic Park.
The Jurassic Park novel is a spiritual sequel to the Westworld movie—or at least Crichton perfecting the idea and getting it right the second time—wherein shady businessman John Hammond opens a dinosaur amusement park on a private island in Costa Rica, precisely to get away from the prying eyes of government regulators in the U.S. and Europe. The idea became iconic in Steven Spielberg’s 1993 adaptation of Jurassic Park, which the Westworld TV series has been unafraid to borrow from on occasion, including in revealing Delos has set up its park on a mysterious island in international waters.
It’s easy to muse Weiss and Benioff are even selling Drogon as scraps to a John Hammond, who in this universe is a little less forthcoming about his claims of “Bingo, Dino DNA.” Seriously, how hard would it be to turn Drogon’s mechanics into a Tyrannosaur?
Still, if Game of Thrones is really just another Delos park, Drogon getting cut up and shipped off for tourists and lawyers is an even worse fate than losing his mama!