Westworld Creators Address Season 3 Finale's Eerie Parallel to Coronavirus Pandemic

Over the course of three seasons of Westworld, the series has attempted to draw real-world parallels to the nature of technology, artificial intelligence, and how these all relate to human nature, with the riots in recent episodes of the series drawing unexpected parallels to protests taking place across the country as demonstrators demand the government prioritize the reopening of businesses in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. Series creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy confirmed that they did draw real-life inspiration when crafting those sequences, though they were as shocked as anyone to see how accurately the series was recreating actual events unfolding in reality.

"In terms of timing, we were much more inspired by the Hong Kong protests [in 2019]," Nolan shared with Variety. "I never anticipated in a million years anyone would be f—ing stupid enough to protest, you know, a disease, right? I mean, you’re looking for these moments where the way America used to f—ing be where we would take on was clearly a collective, impersonal, non-political problem, and we would tackle it as a nation together. This has nothing to do with what this show is about, but this is the tricky thing about making a show. The idea of social revolution — that’s an idea that can be interpreted and reinterpreted by people however they want. You kind of let these things go after you make them. If it resonates for people in different ways that’s not up to us to decide."

In the HBO series, a tech company mines data to such a degree that an algorithm can predict a person's entire future, up to and including their demise. When these algorithms go public, society begins to crumble at the realization of their fates, thrusting cities into chaos.

"When we look at Dolores’ arc, you know, she went from being in a loop where her life was one way, and it went on that way in Season One for a long time — so much so that she was unaware she was in a loop and just took for granted that the days would proceed that way," Joy expressed. "And then something happened and she began to be aware of the great, systemic lies and structures that were in her life without her being fully aware of them, that she kind of learned to glide over. Once she started to feel the ruptures and problems, they became impossible to deny, and the outcome for her was to break out of them, was to change her life."

She continued, "I think that the same way that that happens to people, it can also happen to organizations, these amalgamations of people and systems and behavior that becomes repeated and in some ways degraded or corrupted with repetition. I think that human history tends to be cyclical, in some ways. It is very hard to have periods of — well, it’s been impossible to have periods of uninterrupted peace, uninterrupted tranquility. Humans have not been good at that. They always break down and then they always reassemble. It’s terrible and it’s difficult, but we are a species that takes out of the wreckage, hopefully, something that they can start and build anew with. The idea that revolution is a part of that cycle of human history isn’t something we invented, it’s just something that is apparent, if you look at any history of any society in world."

While the causes of the various protests vary, whether they be the current demonstrations about reopening businesses or the Hong Kong protests that more directly inspired the events of the series, large demonstrations resulting in the expression of the highs and lows of society is an eventuality in both our world and fictional narratives.


Season Three of Westworld is now available on HBO.

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