I know, I know. I said I would stop with the Westworld blog posts, but the finale’ has finally arrived and I want to see what you all think. Here’s my thoughts at a high level on a couple of things that really stick out. (We talked about this in Episode 15 of the Geek Wolfpack Podcast if you want a listen.)
(SPOILER ALERT) Do not read past this if you aren’t all caught up on Westworld Season One.
Warm up question. Bernard/Arnold. – Viewers learned a few episodes back (in horrifying fashion) that Bernard was a host. This was the major turning point in Episode 7 (and for the larger story as well). It isn’t until Episode 9 that viewers learn that Jeffrey Wright’s character is, in fact, an homage by Dr. Ford (Anthony Hopkins) to his original partner, Arnold. These were two very popular fan theories, and they were written very well. In fact, Bernard’s attempts to return further and further to his point of origin are an incredible study on the “bicameral mind” theory that Arnold supported. Watching him let the memory of his dying son, Charlie, evaporate is a dagger to the heart as a parent. Bernard wants to go back to his origin to meet Arnold, and instead, winds up having a conversation with Delores that is an even larger reveal to the overall plot.
Topic 1: William/The Man in Black – Another fan theory that was proven to be accurate. Jimmi Simpson‘s naive first-time visitor, Billy, actually becomes the Man in Black. That means that viewers have been seeing multiple timelines over the course of the season, timelines that are 35 years apart. In episode 9, Billy learns how to play the game that is Westworld, and with that revelation, maims and destroys dozens of hosts in horrific fashion. This begins his obsession with the park, and extends his obsession with Delores, if obsession is the right word. I believe he is initially infatuated with her, but over time, his infatuation is not with a single host, but what it is that the hosts will eventually evolve into. In that aspect, he and Ford are opposite sides of the same coin. It is repeated to him several times that “the maze was not made for you”, which could foreshadow some very bad things for the Man in Black, now that the hosts have effectively reached the center of the maze, and the evolution that goes along with it.
Topic 2: Was Maeve ever really in charge? Another character who underwent a fantastic journey in Season One was Thandie Newton’s Maeve. She awoke while undergoing maintenance and she became aware of who she was, how the park operated, how to manipulate some of the employees, and she created a grand escape plan to leave and go to the “real world.” In the end, she returned, seemingly haunted by the memory of a daughter that she had in one of her past narratives. However, it’s hinted that all of that was written into possible parts of her arena of improvisation. Did she ever truly have control? Was this just another test to make her suffer? Ford’s biggest area of debate with Arnold was that the hosts needed to suffer more before they could transcend and access their bootstrapped consciousness. That was the circular point behind the maze itself. If Maeve was in control, then she just made the conscious effort to return to the park and rewrite her own narrative. If she wasn’t in control, but just evolved, well, remember who killed her daughter. The Man in Black could have yet another adversary.
Topic 3: Ford? Is that the end? (Is there a Fordbot?) – Ford, for all his grandstanding and power mongering, gives himself a bullet in the brain for his troubles. Death by host, if you will. Is that it for the mad scientist? I would hate if it were true because Hopkins has absolutely slayed in this role, and it’s not only the viewers who agree. Almost every interview with other cast members are colored with a tone of respect and awe at working with Hopkins. I’m not even stepping outside of the show to look at who is under contract for whatever. I just want the character to be a part of the second season, though I suppose there’s a little bit of the Han Solo question there. If he isn’t meant to die, why is he even in that part of the story?
That’s a lot of speculation and opinion, and none of it may matter at all. For me, part of the fun of Westworld was trying to follow all of the different intertwining stories and to see where the show’s creators and terrific writing team took the viewers over the first 10 episodes. Let me just say, speculation and fan theories are fine, but they damn sure aren’t necessary to enjoy this show. It’s okay to be along for the ride. It’s a good one. The story is cool. The questions about consciousness and by extension, ethics, are challenging. The cinematography is just gorgeous, and the soundtrack is a delight.
No more Westworld until 2018. That gives us plenty of time to reflect and figure out what the heck just happened and where do we go from here.
All the best,