Westworld is back, and the season 3 premiere brought us our first glimpses of the big city. But, ironically, the first episode spent entirely out of Delos parks may have actually given viewers more information on the actual parks than ever before. Near the end of the episode, it seems that one character may have finally revealed to us where Delos’ island is actually located.
[Ed. note: this post contains spoilers for Westworld season 3, episode 1]
Near the end of the episode, Bernard — who seems to be having a rough go of things after leaving the park — talks a local boat owner into taking him back to Westworld. To show the nice man exactly where he needs to go, Bernard whips out a map and for a split second we see where he’s pointing to.
The one thing that’s very clear on the map is that Bernard is pointing to somewhere in the South China Sea. More specifically, it looks like he’s referencing an actual island chain in the region called the Spratly Islands. These small remote islands are Chinese controlled territory, which would fit with the information we already have about the park’s location.
Last year, we got a few prominent shots of security forces speaking Chinese, and Karl Strand telling someone to get those forces “off my fucking island.” That supports both the idea that the park is on an island, and that the island is controlled by the Chinese government.
Unfortunately, the image of Bernard pointing to the map doesn’t quite give us a clear enough picture to know exactly which island Delos park might be on, but thankfully this isn’t the only time this particular locations has come up.
In the Finnish version of the final episode of season 2, subtitles give an oddly specific message: an exact set of coordinates. This is in reference to the location of the park, but it was difficult for fans to know if they should really trust the location or not, after all ... it was a random spot in the South China Sea. Sound familiar?
Now that we’ve seen Bernard point to approximately the same location on his map, it’s worth revisiting those coordinates to see if they give us an exact match for locations, and as it turns out they do: Mischief Reef.
In the real world, Mischief Reef is actually an atoll in the South China Sea. The reef is currently under the control of the People’s Republic of China — though it’s been the subject of territory disputes between the Philippines and China over the last three decades. Somewhere around 2016, China began developing the island into a military base with artificial land. To the best of our knowledge, there are now several anti-aircraft and missile-defense systems on Mischief Reef as well as a large runway and airfield.
All of this complicated history, and recent military interest, makes Mischief Reef a pretty reasonable place to set the Delos parks in the Westworld universe. That along with the coordinates, and the fact that Bernard points directly to the Spratly Islands means that we can at least be pretty confident in saying that Westworld’s Delos Parks are located on Mischief Reef.
Of course this still leaves quite a few questions for the show to answer. And with so much of Westworld season 3 taking place in the real world and outside the confines of the theme parks, maybe we’ll learn how exactly Delos managed to buy a man-made militarized island from the Chinese government.