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John P. Johnson, HBO
John P. Johnson, HBO

13 Westworld Easter Eggs You Might Have Missed

John P. Johnson, HBO
John P. Johnson, HBO

Freeze all motor functions. Bring yourself back online. HBO’s hit series Westworld might be made up of a lot of cryptic speeches and shoot-em-up action, but there is definitely another level to the game. So saddle up and put some modern hits on the player piano at the Mariposa Saloon because here are a few of the best Easter eggs you might have missed. Spoilers ahead!

1. CONFUSED ABOUT TIMELINES? KEEP TRACK OF THE BRANDING.

Westworld doesn’t waste any time explaining that the series operates on multiple timelines, with characters appearing years—and even decades—apart. But if you’re confused about the “when,” keep an eye out for the distinctive “W” logo of the park in the background of certain shots. If you spot a retro, 1970s-infused looking wordmark—like the ones seen when Angela introduces William to the park in “Chestnut”—then you’re in the past timeline.


HBO

If you spot a sleek, Apple-like “W,” like the one seen toward the end of the same episode when Sizemore shows the Delos executives his new narrative, “Odyssey on Red River,” then you know it’s present day within the show.

A scene from 'Westworld'
HBO

2. THE ORIGINAL GUNSLINGER MAKES A QUICK CAMEO.

The series is based on the 1973 film of the same name, which was written and directed by Michael Crichton and features a similar premise of robots leading a revolt against guests in a Wild West-themed amusement park. The main villain of the movie, with his distinctive robotic posture and black hat, is “The Gunslinger,” played by actor Yul Brynner. While the movie and the series aren’t specifically in the same universe, Brynner’s antagonist makes a quick appearance in the background of the show when Bernard explores the old section of the park in “The Adversary.”

A scene from 'Westworld'
HBO

Yul Brynner as "The Gunslinger" in 'Westworld' (1973)
MGM

Co-creator Jonathan Nolan talked about any movie/show crossovers with Entertainment Weekly, saying, “We wanted to connect to the ideas in the original film, but also take a look at this place as a cultural institution that is not new, because these ideas aren’t new.”

3. DOLORES IS GOING DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE.

A scene from 'Westworld'
HBO

Besides Dolores’s distinctive blue dress, blonde hair, and a plot about awakening in a surreal locale, there are a few more direct allusions to Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland throughout Westworld—and beyond.

In “The Stray,” Bernard asks Dolores to read an excerpt from the book during one of their consciousness sessions, having her say, “Dear, dear, how queer everything is today. And yesterday, things went on just as usual. I wonder if I've been changed in the night." But the mystery goes a little further down the rabbit hole ... or, more precisely, the J.J. Abrams rabbit hole.

The same exact passage was featured in Episode 10 of Season 4 of Abrams’s TV series, Lost, when the character Jack reads a bedtime story to Claire’s son.

4. ROBERT FORD AND ARNOLD ARE DEFINITELY CLAUDE DEBUSSY FANS.

The so-called reveries, first introduced in “The Original,” are a series of memories and gestures supposedly programmed by Ford and his partner Arnold as part of a routine host update, but actually end up causing the hosts to recall their past loops.

They could have been called something other than the eloquent-sounding term that roughly translates to daydream in French, but it’s obvious that Ford and Arnold couldn’t let their fandom for French composer Claude Debussy go unsaid.

We first hear Debussy’s song “Reverie” in “The Stray,” when a pianist host plays the track during Ford and Bernard’s private conversation in the park executive’s office. Ford later uses the specific song to calm Maeve down in “Trace Decay”—perhaps an indication he did the same thing to Bernard earlier, since we eventually find out that Bernard is, in fact, a robot version of Arnold. 

5. BIOSHOCK FANS BEWARE.

A scene from 'Westworld'
HBO

It’s no secret that the park resembles an open world video game construct where players can wander wherever they please and get into any number of subplots and scenarios. So it’s no surprise that series creators Nolan and Lisa Joy were inspired by classic open world video games like BioShock when planning out all the supposedly real-world shenanigans guests could get into in the show. 

The popular first-person shooter was such an influence that a bust of Sander Cohen, a character from the game, can be seen in Ford’s office in “The Stray.”

At a Westworld panel at New York Comic-Con, Nolan explained: “I was [with] Ken Levine, the designer of those games, talking about the non-player characters—Elizabeth, specifically, in BioShock Infinite. In a scene, I think I had just run through and shot everyone and kept going. And he was talking about how much craft had gone into all the conversations that the non-player characters had, and all their dreams and aspirations. And I just thought, 'Oh, isn’t that tragic? Isn’t that sad? And the player just ignores it all. The bastards.'"

6. FELIX SPEAKS JOHN HAMMOND’S LANGUAGE.

A scene from 'Westworld'
HBO

“Contrapasso” features a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it nod to original Westworld creator Michael Crichton’s other theme-park-run-amok classic, Jurassic Park.

In his spare time, bumbling but lovable host repairman Felix secretly tries to revive a malfunctioning robot bird in an attempt to be the Westworld programmer he always wanted to be. And when he finally wakes his fake feathered friend, he offers some familiar words of encouragement. "That’s it. Come on, little one," he says, sounding eerily similar to Jurassic Park’s Robert Ford proxy, John Hammond, in a scene from the 1993 Steven Spielberg film based on Crichton's book.

We suspect that won’t be the only Crichton/Spielberg allusion as the series progresses. In season two's "Reunion,” the host named El Lazo (played in this loop by Breaking Bad star Giancarlo Esposito) monologues about why he's done with his current situation by telling a story about a childhood visit to the circus, much in the same way John Hammond tells a metaphor for the failings of Jurassic Park by recounting a trip to the circus as a child.

7. THE CHARACTER NAMES ARE APOCALYPTIC.

Given Ford’s nihilistic look at humanity (this is the guy who said, “Never place your trust in us. We’re only human. Inevitably, we will disappoint you,” after all), if Westworld is building to some sort of robo-apocalypse, then it should make complete sense. It was all in the names.  

Some of the symbology behind the character names in the show are literally apocalyptic. Forlorn cowboy Teddy Flood’s surname could refer to the biblical flood of Noah’s ark. Teddy’s ostensible rival, Wyatt, is described by hosts as “a pestilence,” or one of the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse in the Bible. Roguish bandit Hector Escaton’s surname is a slightly different spelling from eschaton, a theological word meaning the end of the world.

8. THE SERIES CREATORS MUST HAVE LOVED SHAKESPEARE IN SCHOOL.

If you’re a lit nerd, and especially a fan of the Bard, then watching Westworld must be a blast from the get-go. Malfunctioning host Peter Abernathy’s monologue at the end of “The Original” quotes from a whopping three different Shakespeare plays: King Lear, Henry IV, and The Tempest.

Arguably the most prominent line by a number of hosts (including Dolores and Peter) throughout the show comes from Friar Lawrence’s line from Romeo and Juliet, when they say, “These violent delights have violent ends.”

One of the scariest and saddest Shakespeare quotes is from “Trompe L’Oeil,” when Ford has the robotic Bernard kill head of quality assurance Theresa Cullen. Ford slightly misquotes Hamlet when he says "for in that sleep, what dreams may come?"

9. LIKE MOZART, BEETHOVEN, AND CHOPIN, FORD NEVER DIED.

In the season one finale, “The Bicameral Mind,” Ford hints that he isn’t done with the park just yet even though Dolores kills him. In his monologue in front of the Delos board he says, “An old friend once told me something that gave me great comfort. Something he had read. He said that Mozart, Beethoven, and Chopin never died. They simply became music.”

In much the same way those geniuses “became” their work, Ford pops up again in season two’s premiere, “Journey Into Night,” as the younger host version of himself who challenges the Man in Black to a new game in the park.

The Chopin connection goes a bit further in a flashback to Jim Delos’s retirement party in “Reunion,” when Dolores plays Chopin’s “Sonata for Piano No. 2 in B-Flat Minor,” to which the grizzled billionaire and Ford antagonist says, "Anything but f***in' Chopin."

10. ROBERT FORD MUST HAVE LOVED PSYCHOLOGY CLASS.

One of the incredibly abstract but driving concepts behind season one of Westworld was “The Bicameral Mind,” a theory that Arnold and Ford use to “bootstrap consciousness” in the hosts. The hypothesis imagines a three-tiered pyramid approach to allow the artificial intelligence of the park’s robots to be self-aware with memory at the bottom, improvisation and self-interest in the middle, and a big ol’ question mark at the top because, as Ford explains, Arnold never figured out what’s at the top. Maybe that’s why all the hosts go haywire.

Anyway, the notion of the Bicameral Mind isn’t some made-up mumbo jumbo. It actually originated in the 1976 book The Origins of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind by American psychologist Julian Jaynes. In the book, Jaynes posited that humans developed the ability to think for themselves only after they were able to discern that the voices in our heads weren’t god. Similarly, hosts like Dolores hear voices in their heads and think it’s Arnold only to realize they’re hearing their own consciousness, and thus are self-aware beings.

11. DR. FORD, OR DR. FRANKENSTEIN?

The similarities between Ford and the main character of Mary Shelley’s gothic classic Frankenstein are a bit obvious: mad scientists who create a new form of life that backfires against them. So it’s perhaps fitting that one of Ford’s witticisms is taken directly from the book.

In a conversation between Ford and Bernard in “Trace Decay,” when the latter asks the former why he had him kill Theresa, Ford responds by explaining that her death doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of his new narrative. He caps it off by quoting Shelley: "One man's life or death were but a small price to pay for the acquirement of knowledge which I sought, for the dominion I should acquire."

12. FORD KEEPS HIS FAVORITE HOSTS CLOSE.

Ford is nothing if not an eccentric weirdo. This is a guy who keeps a host in his office to do nothing put play the piano every time he wants some music while brainstorming AI consciousness. But there are some more recognizable hosts in his office besides the piano player.

If you look closely, directly behind Ford’s desk there is a wall of faces. Though never explained, these are ostensibly dry run versions of host faces created by the still unexplained white goo that solidifies into host skin. Two of those faces belong to Ford’s favorite star-crossed robots: Dolores and Teddy.

13. MAEVE IS OFF HER LOOP ... OR IS SHE?

A scene from 'Westworld'
HBO

The thrilling finale of season one saw the newly conscious, former madame Maeve recruit fellow hosts Hector and Armistice to mow down park security on her way out on the park train to freedom. But an onscreen revelation from Bernard makes it seem like she’s not as free to control her own destiny as she thinks she is.

After resurrecting Bernard, he uses one of the programmer devices to show her that her programming was actually altered to make her want to escape, recruit hosts, and get out via the train. Maeve, refusing to admit she doesn’t have free will, tells Bernard, "These are my decisions, no one else’s," but the device proves her wrong. Look closely and you see that Ford has pre-programmed the steps for her to "Recruit," "Escape," "Manipulate," and even "Mainland Infiltration." It seems Ford wanted her to be free, but not in the way she wants.

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10 Things You Might Not Know About Steve Martin
NBC Television/Courtesy of Getty Images
NBC Television/Courtesy of Getty Images

Is there anything Steve Martin can't do? In addition to being one of the world's most beloved comedians and actors, he's also a writer, a musician, a magician, and an art enthusiast. And he's about to put a number of these talents on display with Steve Martin and Martin Short: An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Life, a new comedy special that just arrived on Netflix. To commemorate the occasion, here are 10 things you might not have known about Steve Martin.

1. HE WAS A CHEERLEADER.

As a yellleader (as he refers to it in a yearbook signature) at his high school in Garden Grove, California, Martin tried to make up his own cheers, but “Die, you gravy-sucking pigs,” he later told Newsweek, did not go over so well.

2. HIS FIRST JOB WAS AT DISNEYLAND.

Martin’s first-ever job was at Disneyland, which was located just two miles away from his house. He started out selling guidebooks, keeping $.02 for every book he sold. He graduated to the Magic Shop on Main Street, where he got his first taste of the gags that would later make his career. He also learned the rope tricks you see in ¡Three Amigos! from a rope wrangler over in Frontierland.

3. HE OWES HIS WRITING JOB WITH THE SMOTHERS BROTHERS TO AN EX-GIRLFRIEND.

Thanks to a girlfriend who got a job dancing on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, Martin landed a gig writing for the show. He had absolutely no experience as a writer at the time. He shared an office with Bob Einstein—better known to some as Super Dave Osborne or Marty Funkhauser—and won an Emmy for writing in 1969.

4. HE WAS A CONTESTANT ON THE DATING GAME.

While he was writing for the Smothers Brothers, but before he was famous in his own right, Martin was on an episode of The Dating Game. (Spoiler alert: He wins. But did you have any doubt?)

5. MANY PEOPLE THOUGHT HE WAS A SERIES REGULAR ON SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE.

Martin hosted and did guest spots on Saturday Night Live so often in the 1970s and '80s that many people thought he was a series regular. He wasn't. 

6. HIS FATHER WROTE A REVIEW OF HIS FIRST SNL APPEARANCE.

After his first appearance on SNL, Martin’s father, the president of the Newport Beach Association of Realtors, wrote a review of his son’s performance in the company newsletter. “His performance did nothing to further his career,” the elder Martin wrote. He also once told a newspaper, “I think Saturday Night Live is the most horrible thing on television.”

7. HE POPULARIZED THE AIR QUOTE.

If you find yourself making air quotes with your fingers more than you’d really like, you have Martin to thank. He popularized the gesture during his guest spots on SNL and stand-up performances.

8. HE QUIT STAND-UP COMEDY IN THE EARLY 1980S.

Martin gave up stand-up comedy in 1981. “I still had a few obligations left but I knew that I could not continue,” he told NPR in 2009. “But I guess I could have continued if I had nothing to go to, but I did have something to go to, which was movies. And you know, the act had become so known that in order to go back, I would have had to create an entirely new show, and I wasn't up to it, especially when the opportunity for movies and writing movies came around.”

9. HE'S A MAJOR ART COLLECTOR.

As an avid art collector, Martin owns works by Pablo Picasso, Roy Lichtenstein, David Hockney, and Edward Hopper. He sold a Hopper for $26.9 million in 2006. Unfortunately, being rich and famous doesn’t mean Martin is immune to scams: In 2004, he spent about $850,000 on a piece believed to be by German-Dutch modernist painter Heinrich Campendonk. When Martin tried to sell the piece, “Landschaft mit Pferden” (or "Landscape With Horses") 15 months later, he was informed that it was a forgery. Though the painting still sold, it was at a huge loss.

10. HE'S AN ACCOMPLISHED BLUEGRASS PERFORMER.

Many people already know this, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that he’s an extremely accomplished bluegrass performer. With the help of high school friend John McEuen, who later became a member of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Martin taught himself to play the banjo when he was 17. He's been picking away ever since. If you see him on stage these days, he’s likely strumming a banjo with his band, the Steep Canyon Rangers. As seen above, they make delightful videos.

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Star Wars © & TM 2015 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
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Star Wars Premiered 41 Years Ago … and the Reviews Weren’t Always Kind
Star Wars © & TM 2015 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
Star Wars © & TM 2015 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

A long time ago (41 years, to be exact) in a galaxy just like this one, George Lucas was about to make cinematic history—whether he knew it or not. On May 25, 1977, moviegoers got their first glimpse of Star Wars, Lucas’s long-simmering space opera that would help define the concept of the Hollywood “blockbuster.” While we're still talking about the film today, and its many sequels and spinoffs (hello, Solo), not every film critic would have guessed just how ingrained into the pop culture fabric Star Wars would become. While it charmed plenty of critics, some of the movie’s original reviews were less than glowing. Here are a few of our favorites (the good, the bad, and the Wookiee):

"Star Wars is a fairy tale, a fantasy, a legend, finding its roots in some of our most popular fictions. The golden robot, lion-faced space pilot, and insecure little computer on wheels must have been suggested by the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, and the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz. The journey from one end of the galaxy to another is out of countless thousands of space operas. The hardware is from Flash Gordon out of 2001: A Space Odyssey, the chivalry is from Robin Hood, the heroes are from Westerns and the villains are a cross between Nazis and sorcerers. Star Wars taps the pulp fantasies buried in our memories, and because it's done so brilliantly, it reactivates old thrills, fears, and exhilarations we thought we'd abandoned when we read our last copy of Amazing Stories."

—Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

Star Wars is not a great movie in that it describes the human condition. It simply is a fun picture that will appeal to those who enjoy Buck Rogers-style adventures. What places it a sizable cut about the routine is its spectacular visual effects, the best since Stanley Kubrick’s 2001Star Wars is a battle between good and evil. The bad guys (led by Peter Cushing and an assistant who looks like a black vinyl-coated frog) control the universe with their dreaded Death Star."

—Gene Siskel, Chicago Tribune

Star Wars is like getting a box of Cracker Jack which is all prizes. This is the writer-director George Lucas’s own film, subject to no business interference, yet it’s a film that’s totally uninterested in anything that doesn’t connect with the mass audience. There’s no breather in the picture, no lyricism; the only attempt at beauty is in the double sunset. It’s enjoyable on its own terms, but it’s exhausting, too: like taking a pack of kids to the circus. An hour into it, children say that they’re ready to see it again; that’s because it’s an assemblage of spare parts—it has no emotional grip. “Star Wars” may be the only movie in which the first time around the surprises are reassuring…. It’s an epic without a dream. But it’s probably the absence of wonder that accounts for the film’s special, huge success. The excitement of those who call it the film of the year goes way past nostalgia to the feeling that now is the time to return to childhood."

—Pauline Kael, The New Yorker

"The only way that Star Wars could have been interesting was through its visual imagination and special effects. Both are unexceptional ... I kept looking for an 'edge,' to peer around the corny, solemn comic-book strophes; he was facing them frontally and full. This picture was made for those (particularly males) who carry a portable shrine within them of their adolescence, a chalice of a Self that was Better Then, before the world's affairs or—in any complex way—sex intruded."

—Stanley Kauffmann, The New Republic

“There’s something depressing about seeing all these impressive cinematic gifts and all this extraordinary technological skills lavished on such puerile materials. Perhaps more important is what this seems to accomplish: the canonization of comic book culture which in turn becomes the triumph of the standardized, the simplistic, mass-produced commercial artifacts of our time. It’s the triumph of camp—that sentiment which takes delight in the awful simply because it’s awful. We enjoyed such stuff as children, but one would think there would come a time when we might put away childish things.”

—Joy Gould Boyum, The Wall Street Journal

Star Wars … is the most elaborate, most expensive, most beautiful movie serial ever made. It’s both an apotheosis of Flash Gordon serials and a witty critique that makes associations with a variety of literature that is nothing if not eclectic: Quo Vadis?, Buck Rogers, Ivanhoe, Superman, The Wizard of Oz, The Gospel According to St. Matthew, the legend of King Arthur and the knights of the Round Table … The way definitely not to approach Star Wars, though, is to expect a film of cosmic implications or to footnote it with so many references that one anticipates it as if it were a literary duty. It’s fun and funny.”

—Vincent Canby, The New York Times

"Viewed dispassionately—and of course that’s desperately difficult at this point in time—Star Wars is not an improvement on Mr Lucas’ previous work, except in box-office terms. It isn’t the best film of the year, it isn’t the best science fiction ever to be translated to the screen, it isn’t a number of other things either that sweating critics have tried to turn it into when faced with finding some plausible explanation for its huge and slightly sinister success considering a contracting market. But it is, on the other hand, enormous and exhilarating fun for those who are prepared to settle down in their seats and let it all wash over them.”

—Derek Malcolm, The Guardian

“Strip Star Wars of its often striking images and its high-falutin scientific jargon, and you get a story, characters, and dialogue of overwhelming banality, without even a ‘future’ cast to them. Human beings, anthropoids, or robots, you could probably find them all, more or less like that, in downtown Los Angeles today. Certainly the mentality and values of the movie can be duplicated in third-rate non-science fiction of any place or period. O dull new world!”

—John Simon, New York Magazine

"Star Wars is somewhat grounded by a malfunctioning script and hopelessly infantile dialogue, but from a technical standpoint, it is an absolutely breathtaking achievement. The special effects experts who put Lucas' far-out fantasies on film—everything from a gigantic galactic war machine to a stunningly spectacular World War II imitation dogfight—are Oscar-worthy wizards of the first order. And, for his own part, Lucas displays an incredibly fertile imagination—an almost Fellini-like fascination with bizarre creatures.”

—Kathleen Carroll, New York Daily News

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