Wednesday, November 2, 2016

5 Thoughts at the Midpoint of HBO’s “Westworld”

Westworld just keeps getting better and better. The writers are killing it, and it seems like every line of dialogue on this show holds a clue to its many mysteries. So, as we’ve reached the midpoint of season 1 (and I really hope HBO renews it for season 2), here are five thoughts I have about the show’s biggest secrets. Please note, if any of these prove true, they could be huge *SPOILERS* of things to come. 

The dual timeline theory looks real

Last week I wrote about a theory that the scenes with William and Logan were taking place years earlier than the scenes with the Man in Black, as well as those of Maeve and the scenes in the control room with Ford, Bernard, Elsie, and Cullen. This past week, the William and Logan narrative took them to the outlaw haven of Pariah, where they encounter the bandit kingpin El Lazo. These scenes are juxtaposed with those involving Lawrence, Teddy, and the Man in Black, and together they make the dual timeline theory a virtual certainty. 

Right after the Man in Black kills Lawrence in the present, Lawrence shows up in an entirely new narrative with William and Logan as El Lazo. This suggests he was always El Lazo in this Pariah narrative, which seems like concrete proof that the two narratives are taking place in different time periods, with the William and Logan narrative in the past. (And if there was any doubt that El Lazo and Lawrence are one in the same, he later tells William and Delores on the train: “You can call me Lawrence.”) The only other explanation for this is that there are two Lawrences existing in two different narratives at the same time. But we’ve seen no evidence that’s how Westworld operates. All the hosts appear unique.

There may be another clue as well. In the Day of the Dead parade in Pariah, I swear Delores sees the card dealer that the Man in Black killed in episode one, and even Maeve, with her face painted like a skeleton’s. Perhaps they were both characters in the Pariah narrative, lending even more proof to the theory that the William and Logan scenes are taking place in the past.

Even more, the scenes in Pariah may be showing us how the Man in Black first met Lawrence (who he seems to know well in the present), which lends further credence to the theory that the Man in Black is really William 30 years later. (Or, perhaps, he’s Logan, as I pondered last week, though I’m beginning to doubt this more and more after William threw Logan up against the brothel wall and then abandoned him in Pariah). 

The scene where the Man in Black kills Lawrence may also point toward William. When Lawrence insults the Man in Black, he tells him: “There’s not a man in the world that would take the tone with me that you do. In a past life, perhaps.” Remember, earlier, the Man in Black told William that he “was born here.” We also know, particularly from episode 5, that Logan talks down to William. So maybe this is a subtle hint that William was in fact the Man in Black’s past life. Maybe we’re seeing him being “born” in Pariah.

What is Logan’s relation to Delos Corp.?

Last week’s episode suggested that Logan might actually be one of the principals behind Delos Corp., which eventually bought control of the park. Of course, this theory only works if the separate timeline theory holds true, but let’s just go with that now. 

Early in the episode, Logan tells William a rumor that the park is hemorrhaging cash, so “we’re considering buying them out.” He then reveals a number of interesting facts, all of which again point to the mysterious Arnold. “Supposedly this place was all started by a partnership,” Logan tells William. “Then right before the park opened, one of the partners killed himself. Sent the park into a freefall. I mean, I don’t know any of the details, don’t even know his name.”

“We must have a team of lawyers looking at this place,” William says.

“Yeah,” Logan replies, “but it came up empty. He’s a complete mystery. Not even a picture.”

Perhaps Logan and Delos do end up buying the park. And if the Man in Black is either Logan or William (both of whom worked for the same company), that might explain why the Man in Black has free run of Westworld – and why he searching for something related to the mysterious Arnold (see below).

Who is talking to Delores?

We know Delores is hearing voices. In episode 3, the voice tells her to “kill him” right before she shoots her would-be-rapist. The voice is clearly male, and in the opening scene with Delores in episode 5, she hears that same voice tell her: “Find me.” 

“Show me how,” Delores asks the person speaking in her head.

I believe we learned the identity of that voice later in the episode during Ford’s interrogation of Delores. Not coincidentally, he’s talking to her about Arnold.

“I’m sure you remember him, Arnold? The person who created you,” Ford says.

“I’m sorry,” Delores responds. “I don’t think I recall anyone by that name.”

“And yet you can,” Ford says. “Somewhere under all those updates, he is still there, perfectly preserved. Your mind is a walled garden. Even death cannot touch the flowers blooming there. Have you been hearing voices? Has Arnold been speaking to you again?”

While Delores denies talking to Arnold recently, Ford puts her into “analysis mode,” forcing her to admit that her last contact with him was 34 years, 42 days, and seven hours ago. “Yes, Delores,” Ford says, “the day Arnold died.” Then he asks her: “What was the last thing he said to you?”

“He told me I was going to help him.”

“Help him do what?”

“To destroy this place.”

After Ford leaves the room, Delores says, seemingly to no one: “He doesn’t know. I didn’t tell him anything.”

So . . . it seems that Arnold is the voice speaking to Delores, and it also seems that Ford and Arnold were at odds about Westworld. They seem like the ultimate rivals, and I think their conflict underlies everything we may be seeing on this show. 

Which leads me to one of the wildest theories spreading around the internet – that Bernard may actually be an android created in Arnold’s image. If true, this means that the scenes between Bernard and Delores might also be out of time, and actually depicting Arnold’s original conversations with Delores that set her on the path to destroy Westworld. Heavy stuff, I know (and who knew a copy of Alice in Wonderland could be so powerful). But that’s what I love about this show. At this point, almost every theory has a bit of evidence to support it. 

One last thing – during the scene in Pariah where Delores kisses William, she says, “There’s a voice inside my head, telling me what I need to do. And it’s telling me I need you.” Could Arnold (or whatever’s left of him in her memory) be trying to recruit a man to ultimately stand up to Ford and help destroy Westworld? If so, it gives the next scene some added significance . . .

God & the Devil have a chat

This may have been the most intriguing scene in the entire episode, where Ford – the literal god of Westworld – sits down with the Man in Black, who I again think is playing the role of the “devil” in this narrative. Though it may be more like John Milton’s devil, the antihero of Paradise Lost

The Man in Black recognizes Ford at once. He even tells Teddy, “everything that’s good that ever happened to you in your life, and everything rotten, this is the man you have to thank.” The Man in Black also calls Ford by his first name. “How am I doing, Robert?”

Next, the Man in Black tells Ford something that all but proves he’s the “devil” in this narrative: “I always felt this place was missing a real villain, hence my humble contribution.” Even more, the Man in Black hints to a competition of sorts between the two men, when he asks about “Wyatt” (the outlaw in Ford’s new narrative): “Is he just another stooge for the tourists to mount on their wall at home, or have you finally made a worthy adversary? Someone to stop me from finding the center of the maze?”

When Ford asks what the Man in Black is hoping to find there, the Man in Black brings up the mysterious Arnold, who had a “deeper meaning he was trying to express” in Westworld. “Something true.” The Man in Black also knows that Arnold died 35 years ago, and then he reveals something big – Arnold “tried to take this place with him. Almost, but not quite, thanks to me.” This may very well be another clue pointing to a connection with William or Logan and Delos Corp. (And why is ‘Delos” starting to look like a take on the name “Delores” the more I read it?)

Then the Man in Black reveals something even more significant. “But maybe [Arnold] left something behind. I wonder what I would find if I open you up –” That’s when he raises his knife to Ford, who displays more of his godlike powers with the hosts, causing Teddy to grab the knife barehanded with a grip the Man in Black can’t break. 

So what might this mean? Has the Man in Black taken up Arnold’s cause? Or does the Man in Black suspect Arnold left some androids disguised as humans? Maybe that’s the answer he’s seeking at the center of the maze.

Is Maeve making her own narrative?

Last episode’s final scene had Maeve waking up in the body shop where a tech named Felix is playing with an android bird he’s been trying to resurrect, against company rules no less. “Hello, Felix,” she says as the bird perches on her finger. “It’s time we had a chat.”

Maeve has clearly become self-aware after episode 4, and I think she’s found someone in Felix that she just might be able to relate to. After all, Felix seems truly compassionate, is fascinated with android life, and is willing to break the rules. The question going forward is whether she will use him to discover the whole truth behind Westworld. 

As for how this relates to Arnold and the other storylines, it’s hard to tell. But again, that’s what makes this show so damn fun.

* Images courtesy of HBO.

No comments: