It’s interesting to watch as the first season of Westworld draws to its bloody conclusion, and one fan theory after the next comes true. I can’t say with absolute certainty that each of the following theories will be confirmed by next Sunday’s season finale, but I suspect very strongly that this will be the case.
In last night’s episode, “The Well-Tempered Clavier,” quite a few big clues were dropped, and many of the pieces of this temporal jigsaw puzzle came snapping into place. For viewers who haven’t been paying close attention to fan theories, there’s likely been some huge surprises. In fact, for many viewers who don’t spend time reading about the show online or thinking about it all the time, I suspect some of the dots now being connected are a little confusing.
For those of us who spend far too much time puzzling over Westworld’s mysteries, the surprises are less profound. I think this is still a deeply satisfying show on many, many levels, but it’s done very little to surprise us in the past few episodes. Even as it masterfully answers our questions, tying up loose ends in a way that should make myriad other shows green with envy, we watch less in amazement and more in a sense of confirmation. Our best guesses have been validated.
Let’s take a look at some of the big fan theories that were still only mostly true by last Sunday, and are now either absolutely true or only almost positively true by this morning. We’ll also look at a couple theories that are still largely up in the air.
William is the Man in Black (Almost Positively True)
Last week, a major clue was dropped about the timelines of the Man in Black and William/Logan/Dolores. The Man in Black and Teddy encounter a prisoner of Wyatt. It’s the blond woman who first greeted William when he came to the park. The Man in Black tells her he thought Ford would have retired her by now. This proved beyond doubt that the two timelines were separate, though it didn’t prove that William was the Man in Black.
This week, that theory became even more likely however, for several reasons. First of all, Logan gives William a photograph of his sister. It’s the same photograph that Dolores’s father found outside their ranch house, that made his mind snap. This means at some point after the events in the show last night, William went to the ranch house and dropped the photograph. This hints very strongly at William being the Man in Black, who has visited Dolores at the ranch house over and over again for thirty years.
Second, there was William’s break with reality after Logan cut Dolores open and showed him her mechanical insides. While Logan sleeps off his boozing, William proceeds to kill every host in the battalion, hacking off their limbs to examine their inner workings. This is a major break from the innocent, guileless William we’ve come to know. The romantic is dead; all that’s left is the obsession—an obsession we see in the Man in Black.
The Man in Black also mentioned at one point that he’d seen a host opened up, saw its machine innards, before they’d been made into flesh and bone. This would appear to be that scene.
And finally, the Man in Black is interrupted by Charlotte and it turns out that the two are working together to steal secrets from the park, and that Charlotte wants the Man in Black’s help to push Ford out. The Man in Black doesn’t care one way or another about Ford; he’s interested in the game that Arnold built. Charlotte mentions that it was the Man in Black who kept Ford in business all those years ago and we know from conversations with Logan and William earlier in the season that their company was invested in Westworld. We can assume that William became a major player in that company, quite possibly pushing Logan out in the process. After all, we saw a much-changed William last night, the sort of man who could easily take matters into his own hands.
Last week, the Man in Black also revealed the nature of his marriage, his wife’s suicide, and so forth. Before that we learned he had a large charitable foundation. All the pieces have come together perfectly at this point. What we don’t know is just what William/MiB is after. Is it just a deeper meaning? A deeper game? Or is he trying to set Dolores free still? Just how villainous is he really?
A couple weeks back we learned that Bernard was in fact a host, and one that was kept secret from everyone save Ford. Ford even used Bernard to carry out his dirtiest business, killing both Elsie and Theresa and lord knows who else. The next bit of speculation was that Bernard was made in the likeness of Arnold, Ford’s old partner.
One theory was that when Ford showed Bernard the picture of two men we were made to assume it was Ford and Arnold. Later, however, we discovered the second man was Ford’s father. There was a blank space to the right of the two men, and we guessed it was where Arnold was, and that Bernard couldn’t see him because it was him, and hosts can’t see what they’re programmed not to witness. Tonight, that was confirmed when we once again saw the photo, this time with Bernard’s likeness in it.
We also knew that Bernard’s name—Bernard Lowe—was an anagram of Arnold Weber. Of course, we didn’t know if Arnold’s last name was Weber until tonight. That’s a bit odd. It would have been a better clue if it came a bit earlier in the season, given we learned that Bernard was made in Arnold’s image the same night as the clue itself. Oh well.
Suffice to say, Bernard is Arnold’s doppelganger, built both to look like Arnold and to suffer his tragedies, and even to think like him on a certain level. But what of Arnold’s fate?
Dolores is actually Wyatt (Still Up In The Air)
So it turns out that Dolores killed Arnold, though whether she did this as part of a terrible glitch, on Ford’s own orders, or by Arnold’s design itself remains a mystery.
There’s a very interesting scene in last night’s episode as at least three timelines converge.
We see Dolores running away from Logan and his troops, her belly torn open by Logan’s knife. She falls and suddenly is in a future timeline, unhurt. A while later, this unhurt version finds herself back at the village with the white church. Once there, she enters the confessional booth, which doubles as an elevator down into the labs.
But as she walks through the labs we see her flicker between two timelines. She’s hurt in neither, which means we’re seeing her in three total timelines during this segment—one where she’s been wounded by Logan, one that takes place before that, and one that takes place thirty years into the future.
In the earliest timeline she wears a blue dress and meets with a living Arnold. The facility is clean and everything is in order. In the latest timeline, she wears pants and a tucked-in shirt and walks through a facility that’s been destroyed. She talks with an Arnold that’s only in her memory. “Remember,” he tells her. And she remembers. She was the one who killed him.
In this latest timeline she leaves the labs and goes back to the church (which in this timeline is empty.) The Man in Black enters and the credits roll.
Now let’s look at Teddy’s memories. In his memory, he kills a town filled with soldiers, aiding Wyatt for reasons he can’t explain. We see Wyatt as a grizzled soldier.
But when the blond woman asks him if he’s sure that’s what he remembers, the scene suddenly changes. Now we see Teddy gunning down civilians, both men and women. What we don’t see? Who Wyatt is.
We know from one of Dolores’s past memories, that she also once gunned down a town of civilians. I think that both these scenes are connected somehow, that if you put them together we’d see Teddy and Dolores amidst the dead. I could be wrong, however. It could be that these two events don’t take place at the same time at all. Teddy could be a host built on the likeness of William, as some have suggested. This memory could be entirely false. Perhaps Dolores is still Wyatt, perhaps she is simply the template for Wyatt.
I do think that somehow she went down that elevator shaft in the church, emerged on the other side and started killing real people, including Arnold. Is this also what Maeve will do? What is Maeve’s destiny here? She was able to make Bernard aware of his true nature, but that’s happened before. Has it all just happened before? Is it all just a massive narrative loop?
We still don’t know everything, and hopefully we still won’t by the end of the season 1 finale. Mystery needs to carry over into the second season, after all. Still, I want to know more. I want to know exactly what’s going on with this new narrative Ford plans. I want to have an idea who Wyatt is. I definitely want to see what happens with Maeve. And why did Ford have Elsie killed? What is his role in the transmissions being sent out to older hosts?
Nine episodes in, and Westworld remains one of the best shows on TV. Like my colleague, Paul Tassi, who also writes about this show, I feel as though I’d be better served not speculating so much in season 2. I want to let the mystery be a mystery, and work it out on my own without all the help from other fans. How much I would have figured out on my own I can’t say; I was exposed to too many other theories and other peoples’ thoughts to know with any kind of certainty.
In fact, I wanted to not do that at first, and to just watch the show and enjoy it, but the nature of writing about something invariably leads to questions, conversations, and ultimately spoilers. Or perhaps the show itself telegraphed its various twists too much. I do love that it all makes sense, that the foreshadowing and little clues all ended up leading somewhere that actually works. But at the same time, it seems as though at least some of these fan theories should have been proven false. What a surprise that would have been!
My other complaints tend toward the impracticality of it all. Why does Maeve burn herself and Hector to death? Isn’t there a chance that the repairs necessary for such a death would completely screw up her plans? What if Hector is reset and sent back to the park before she’s turned back on? A fiery death will destroy most of their bodies, requiring extensive repair. It’s all very dramatic and sexually charged, but it’s also pretty dumb all things considered. There have been other similar moments, and I hope we see less of those in season 2.
I wonder if there’s another big twist in the works that none of us saw coming. Can they pull something like that off to end season 1 with a bang, and keep us hungry for more? I hope so. But at this point, I find it more likely that our suspicions will come true rather than any new incredible twist. That’s still better than the numerous shows that simply don’t resolve mysteries, or resolve them with terrible or nonsensical resolutions. Westworld remains in a league of its own, but just how great this first season will be relies a great deal on how satisfying and surprising next week’s finale is. I think the show has handled many of its big reveals and big mysteries with expert skill, but now that so much is on the table, wrapping things up may be the real challenge.
What do you think? Where does the show go from here?
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