Casually, the season premiere of Westworld dropped what is probably its biggest reveal. After two years of speculation we know now all the Delos parks are located on an island. In fact, the framing of the very first episode, “Journey Into Night,” finds Bernard waking up on a beach at the very edge of the island. Delos security is helicoptering people in from the outside world, establishing that this is probably the initial way most guests get to Westworld, Shogun World or any of the other robot amusement parks we’ve yet to see. But where could this island be IRL? One very brief scene seems to lay it all out.
Spoilers ahead for Westworld season 2, episode 1 “Journey Into Night.”
Because the future time of Westworld isn’t clearly established in the series, we don’t know much about the state of the environment of the Earth. Based on comments from the older William in season 1, we get the sense that the real world is pretty great for most people, which makes it seem like the polar ice caps didn’t melt, and that the Earth is mostly the same, but with less conflict. So where in the world is the escapist Delos destination? Short answer: it’s probably in the South China Sea. Here’s why.
A Bernard is being led along the beach, we briefly see the Delos head of operations, Karl Strand, arguing with some official looking guys in military fatigues. Based on their uniforms, these guys are totally part of the People’s Liberation Army, specifically and appropriately, the Navy. They’re clearly upset about what is happening on the island. Strand says that Delos has total control over what happens on the island, regardless of what their government wants. Strand tells his lackeys to get the military guys to sign an NDA. So, is the Westworld island located in Chinese waters?
Weirdly, because this is a sci-fi show, it’s kind of a big assumption to say with absolute certainty that the Westworld island is located in Chinese waters. This is the only the first episode of the new season, after all. Plus, the entire story of Westworld could be set in a future where China’s boundaries are totally different from what we’re familiar with. Correlatively, if the real world of Westworld derives from an alternate present, then again, all sorts of different things could have happened with China’s sphere of influence.
Still, for the sake of making an educated guess about the location of this island, it’s easier to assume that the China of this future controls pretty much the same areas we’re familiar with today. And if that’s true, then it seems like the best spot for the Westworld island is somewhere among islands of Hainan.
Hainan island itself is the largest island under Chinese control, but it’s doubtful that Delos occupies the entirety of Hainan, since that would be like saying the Island of Manhattan was converted into an amusement park. Hainan itself is too densely populated to have been purchased by Delos, which means the mysterious island itself could be one of many of the other smaller Hainan islands. Most notably, among the “real” islands in the South China Sea, there are also several artificial islands.
The one that seems like a possible location for Westworld is the still under construction Nanhai Pearl Artificial Island. Though, because it’s only one square mile, it doesn’t seem near big enough for all of Westworld, Shogun World, and all the other parks to exist upon it.
Still, the fact that there are several artificial islands in the South China Sea seems to be the fictional model upon which all of this is based. Just because none of the artificial islands in the South China Sea are big enough now, doesn’t mean they couldn’t continue to grow huge ones in the future.
What does all this mean for the rest of this season of Westworld. It all depends on if those folks from the Chinese military decide to come back or not…
Westworld season 2 airs on Sunday nights at 9pm eastern on HBO.