Netflix, but everywhere, and evil: That’s the chilling idea at the center of the third season of “Westworld.”
As star Evan Rachel Wood explained during a live interview on the “Variety After-Show” — streamed via Variety‘s Instagram account after the third episode of “Westworld” aired on HBO — her sentient robot character Dolores now knows what she’s up against as she’s continued her bold exploration of the real world outside of the park: A massive artificial intelligence called Rehoboam that controls just about everything.
“When you sign onto Netflix, it’s says, ‘Oh, you watched this show, you’ll probably like this show and this show,’ and then you start watching those shows,” Wood said. “But then after a while, you go, well, do I really like these shows, or am I just watching them because the algorithm told me that I would like them? Imagine that, but it runs the entire world.”
In Episode 3, “The Absence of Field,” Dolores explains the machinations of Rehoboam to Jacob (Aaron Paul), a human construction worker who rescued an injured Dolores at the end of Episode 1. Dolores explains to Jacob that Rehoboam has already mapped out his entire life including his (apparently) eventual suicide, so it blocked his efforts to rise to a higher station.
“Imagine this digital trail that we all leave: Emails, phone calls, everything you like, everything you dislike, everything you retweet, everything you search on Google, the people that you speak to — imagine if all that was compiled,” Wood said. “Imagine if they just took all of that data and they just put it into a big machine, and could determine what your next move was going to be, or what choices you were probably going to make, and in the future they were able to do that to the point where they could determine how you were going to die and how you were going to live your life. The system could then determine who they want to invest in, and who they don’t want to invest in.”
Wood said that working on “Westworld” “has really opened my eyes to so much” to the ways current technology could unfold in a direction similar to the cruel dystopia depicted on the show.
“We’re sort of already living in that kind of world, this is just a deeper look into what happens when all the data collecting goes unchecked and it becomes this digital war that we’re already in,” Wood said.
With so much of the show now confronting questions more directly connected to the real world, Wood said she was sad to leave the Wild West setting of the first two seasons of the show.
“I miss the dirt,” she said. “I miss the horses.”
But when one fan on Instagram asked during the Q&A portion of the “After-Show” if Season of 3 of “Westworld” would visit any more new areas of the park, Wood couldn’t help but offer one of the show’s trademark cryptic teases.
“I mean,” she said with a smile, “we don’t know that we aren’t seeing one right now.”