In the premiere episode of HBO's new show Westworld, the head engineer, Bernard, says that the park hasn't experienced a critical failure in 30 years. While some might have dismissed the line as throwaway, some attentive viewers have speculated that this critical failure from three decades ago is actually going to have some significance in the plot going forward. This of course begs the question, what happened at Westworld's critical failure 30 years ago?
Well, the show Westworld is actually based on a film of the same name and concept directed by Michael Crichton (who also wrote Jurassic Park, incidentally). The film came out in 1973, which is a little more than 30 years ago, but could definitely be a link. In the film, one of the robot hosts suffers a glitch, and begins offing guests of the park left and right. Somehow I get the feeling that Crichton wasn't a big Disney World fan. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Jonathan Nolan, one of the show's creators, says of the line, "It’s playful but not meant to be literal. 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. They stretch back to when Crichton was playing with them."
So maybe the events happening right now aren't literally part of the same universe as that original movie, but it is still possible that they're connected. You might have noticed also that the Man in Black said that he'd been visiting the park for the past 30 years. Employees of Westworld also said of the Man in Black "that gentleman gets whatever he wants." If the events of the film are somehow a part of this Westworld universe, could the Man in Black be a survivor of that incident some 30 years back? Or could he, as some others have speculated, actually be the glitched out trigger-happy robot host himself?
Personally, I'm inclined to believe that the critical failure from 30 years ago is both related to the events of the movie, and will play some sort of role in the coming drama. I am also totally convinced that the Man in Black had something to do with it.