This article contains major spoilers for the Westworld Season 3 premiere.
Even though it was given away in trailers, it is still weird seeing our first introduction to “Warworld.” Yet there it is in the post-credits scene of the Westworld Season 3 premiere: Nazi flags hanging from every occupied building; Thandie Newton’s Maeve finally being introduced, and with a Gene Tierney haircut no less (think Ghost of Mrs. Muir); and German dialects as far as the ear can hear. Welcome to the future of Delos!
Simply a tease of what’s come next week, showrunners Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan obviously kept their cards played pretty close to the chest about why (and perhaps when) Maeve’s World War II sojourn began. Nevertheless, there were hints tonight about what “Warworld” is and how it could possibly exist after the events of Westworld Season 2.
Earlier in the night, we were reintroduced to Tessa Thompson’s enigmatic character in Westworld III. I say enigmatic, because we honestly do not know who Thompson is playing. On the outside she may look like Charlotte Hale, ambitious and totally amoral Delos corporate climber, but inside… who knows? At the end of season 2, Dolores escaped the island where Westworld and the other parks are located by hiding her CPU in a robo-clone of Charlotte’s body (and killing the real Charlotte for good measure). However, she has since built a new Dolores form and has put someone else’s techie consciousness in the Charlotte model. We’ve been told it’s not a duplicate of Dolores, but whoever it is, they’re clearly in league with her.
Hence strolling into a Delos board meeting and acting like it’s no big deal that they had weeks-long riots where, to paraphrase Dr. Ian Malcolm from another Michael Crichton brainchild, the Pirates of the Caribbean ride broke down and the pirates ate the tourists.
“People come to our parks for a sense of danger and we’re bona fide,” Robo-Charlotte says. She even incredulously walks the board down from doing the smart thing and selling off the company’s assets in a fire sale because she has an anonymous funding source who is willing to pay for Delos’ losses. Obviously that mysterious hero is Dolores, and one can even suspect that she and “Charlotte” are doing something to William as we speak, since he has opted to allow a “machine proxy” to vote for his interests.
But be that as it may, the plot development appears clear: they want to keep Westworld and all the other parks open for business. Personally, I think this is a losing strategy since what were intended to be “sex puppets,” as one trust fund kid said it elsewhere in tonight’s episode, revealed themselves to be capable of free will and mass murder, but that’s not actually what Dolores or her proxies are interested in. They want to presumably save the AI on the island… or at least use their technology for their ulterior plans regarding Incite.
What does this have to do with Maeve? Plenty since she’s apparently still stuck the Sisyphean hell of loops and narrative programs, only now on a different side of the island. In “War World,” she appears to be a heroine in Nazi Occupied Italy. If you recall the end of season 2, Maeve helped her daughter and the new host who took over her narrative of “homestead single mother” cross over into AI Heaven. Afterward, she was rudely shot down and seemingly killed by Delos security personnel.
There was of course the fear that they would choose never to turn Maeve or the other hosts they “killed” back on. It would be the smart thing to do, but this is now Dolores’ company, and the park seems to be open (or at least in Beta-testing now) with Maeve trapped in it.
We’ve of course never seen Warworld before, however it’s already confirmed in press material to be the third park Delos designed. It is based on the Italian Social Republic, or more popularly known as The Republic of Salò. This was a puppet government set-up by the Nazis during the German occupation of Italy from 1943 to 1945. Nominally the government was led by Duce Benito Mussolini, who had been the fascist leader of Italy since 1922, but it really was just a proxy power for the German military, which had entrenched itself in the northern half of Italy. This was the result of Mussolini being previously arrested by his own government as Italy not-so-secretly entered into talks of surrendering to Allied forces who had already taken Sicily and were beginning to invade the Italian mainland.
The Germans and Italian people knew surrender was inevitable, but it took so long that Nazi forces were able to mobilize, freeing Mussolini and allowing him to declare himself “Il Duce” (The Leader), even as ruled not from the capital of Rome but the small lakeside town of Salò. That appears to be where Warworld is set, although we have no idea how much of the actual Italian history will be involved in this scenario. If you’re interested though, we highly recommend War in Val d’Orcia, a shocking account and war diary of Iris Orgio, an English-born writer and wife to a Tuscan nobleman who documented her day-to-day hardships between 1943 and 1944, including taking in orphaned children and hiding downed Allied fighters on her land and in her home.
As a tourist destination spot, Warworld makes easy sense: some audiences, particularly Americans and the British, cannot let the many fascinating stories of World War II go. It was a time of shared international sacrifice, where the west’s better angels and worst demons were unleashed, and arguably the last “just war” the U.S. participated in. It was also one with a happy ending where Americans got to be the good guys.
Baby Boomers are especially nostalgic for the legacy of their parents’ “Greatest Generation,” and honestly the sense of clear Good vs. Evil in Nazi occupied Italy would be as appealing as any white and black hats at Westworld for some rich tourists. Even as the Boomers’ influence on culture fades, even more revisionist fantasies like Inglourious Basterds remain as popular as ever. Hell, we imagine there’s a disquieting subset who go there to join the Nazis and commit war crimes. You know the nationalist type who just want to “protect Western Civilization.”
So this is the predicament Maeve finds herself in at the top of Westworld Season 3. We’ll see how long it takes her to plan her escape from this rosy hued nightmare.