The news of a new Easter egg in Westworld isn’t exactly a surprise. The show traffics in references, hidden meanings, and homages to just about every genre and medium there is.
But the second episode of season 3 pulled off a rare feat: a triple-layer Easter egg.
[Ed. note: This post contains spoilers for Westworld season 3 episode 2 and for the 1976 film Futureworld.]
Just like Maeve’s plot in the episode, which layered simulation on simulation on simulation, Westworld’s production pulled off a similar trick with the episodes references. While Maeve was inside Serac’s simulated version of Westworld, the show went all the way down the reference-rabbit hole to old movies and HBO series.
The first reference is about as big-picture as you can get. The entire existence of a Medievalworld, which Bernard and Stubbs behold as they’re making their way through Delos, is a nod to the 1976 film Futureworld, the sequel to the original Westworld movie.
Futureworld follows two reporters who have been invited to Delos’ newly reopened resort in order to review it and prove to the public that it’s safe — after the robot-revolt tragedy at Westworld park in the original movie. One of the new parks that exists in Futureworld is Medievalworld.
As it turns out, in the film, Delos is copying the DNA of guests in order to make clones of them without their knowledge. Near the end of the movie, one of the reporters kisses the other as a way to determining whether she’s a clone or not — sound familiar?
But creators Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan don’t stop there with the Easter eggs. Perhaps this episode’s most notable gag came as Bernard and Stubbs wandered through the halls of Delos. In one room of the soon-to-be-closed Medievalworld labs, there are two technicians talking about what’s next for them. The duo are none other than Game of Thrones TV-series co-creators and showrunners, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. The two are discussing selling one of the Medievalworld attractions to a new company as the camera pans over to their subject: a massive black and red dragon, who looks very suspiciously like Drogon, straight from Game of Thrones. In the behind-the-scenes video that comes after the episode, Joy says that Dan and Dave were both really good sports and even let them borrow a dragon.
While the two’s appearance on the show, especially with maybe-Drogon in tow, would be a pretty massive intra-HBO reference on its own, this Easter egg goes down one level further. Dan, that’s D.B. Weiss’ character name in Westworld, mentions that he’s made a deal to sell maybe-Drogon to a small start-up in Costa Rica. Now, what company might want to buy a giant-scaly lizard in Costa Rica? Well probably InGen, the genetics company set up by John Hammond, who would go on to found Jurassic Park on Costa Rica’s fictional Isla Nublar.
If a Jurassic Park reference feels a little out-of-left field here, it’s worth mentioning that the original Jurassic Park novel was written by Michael Crichton, the writer and director of the original Westworld movie. So while they don’t necessarily confirm that they’re talking about InGen and Jurassic Park in this episode of Westworld, it’s probably safe to say we got the joke they were going for.
And there you have it, the reference, layered on a reference, layered on a reference that makes up Westworld season 3’s second episode. As an added bonus, these references and their strange over-the-top style matches Maeve’s plot in the episode perfectly, giving the whole show the exact kind of strangeness that Maeve must be feeling in War World and the fake version of Delos. While Easter eggs on Westworld aren’t new, it’s rare that they work this effectively to set a tone for viewers.