Thursday, December 1, 2016

What Game is Ford Playing on Westworld?

With one episode to go, a few mysteries still remain on HBO’s Westworld, even though two of the biggest appear to have been solved last Sunday. One remaining mystery concerns the new narrative Ford has been obsessing about since episode 2. This begs the question: What game is Ford playing on Westworld?

Here’s what we know. The narrative has something to do with the “city swallowed by the sand” – that little village with the black-steepled church that may or may not be named Escalante. It also involves a villain called Wyatt, as well as Teddy, who helped Wyatt murder a company of Union soldiers in that same village long ago. Or did he?

At least that’s the memory Ford implanted in Teddy’s head back in episode 3, when I believe his and Delores’ “present” journey began on the show. But last Sunday, Angela (Talulah Riley’s character) got Teddy to tap into a deeper memory. One where he was a sheriff who murdered innocent townsfolk instead of Union soldiers. And once again, his dialogue with Angela reveals a ginormous clue about what’s really going on.

As Angela is holding the Man in Black’s knife and walking toward Teddy, he asks her, “Where’s Wyatt?”
“Wyatt has yet to return,” she says. “You’ll find him where you saw him last.”
“Escalante . . .” Teddy replies. “Wyatt went missing while I was away on maneuvers. Came back with some strange ideas. He told me he needed me. I couldn’t resist. It was like the devil himself had taken control of me . . .”
All the while, Teddy is reliving the moment as a Union solider. “We mutinied,” he says. “We killed every soldier. Then Wyatt killed the general. Then he turned on me.”
Teddy recalls Wyatt shooting him when Angela asks, “Are you sure that’s how it was?” She grabs him by his hair and says, “Look at me Theodore, don’t you remember?” This triggers Teddy’s memory of the distant past, where he sees himself murdering innocent townsfolk, with Angela among them. Notably, the carnage looks like the flashback Delores sees in episode 2 before she tells Maeve, “These violent delights have violent ends.”
“No,” Teddy says, shaking his head. “I couldn’t have.”
“But you did,” Angela says, “and you will again. This time we will be fighting with you. When Wyatt returns, we will be by your side in the city swallowed by the sand.”

So what might this all mean? It appears that Teddy’s flashbacks were of the first critical failure that happened in Westworld, the same one Delores keeps seeing in her mind. We also know that Delores played a huge role in that first incident, likely inspired by her conversations with Arnold that encouraged her to question her reality. These would have seemed like “strange ideas” to Teddy, which makes me believe that Delores played the role of Wyatt in the distance past. She was the one who convinced Teddy that these violent delights have violent ends, causing him to carry out the massacre. Then she killed Arnold – just as she admitted last episode – just like Wyatt killed the general.

While all of this may be fascinating, what does it mean for Ford’s new narrative? Is he trying to recreate the incident that happened years ago? Could another mutiny of hosts be part of his master plan? If so, this might explain how Maeve has been able to get away with so much in the present. Maybe Ford is letting her. Maybe this is all part of his grand new narrative?

Another thing to consider is: Who are the other players in this game? We know Arnold had a game, and his game “cuts deep.” Also, despite Arnold’s demise, Ford and he still seemed locked in the conflict that’s existed between them since the beginning. Could Ford, through his new narrative, be trying to prove Arnold wrong? Might he be setting the same events in motion, only to prove they will end differently this time around?

Or does this have more to do with the Man in Black and Delos Corp.? During the scene where Ford confronts the Man in Black in a saloon, there sure seemed to be a rivalry between the two men. We also know that Ford and Delos have long been at odds. So, might Ford be luring the Man in Black to the center of the maze as part of Ford’s grand new narrative? (One where Delores is the “gatekeeper” to the maze?) Or will the new Escalante spell the end for Charlotte and her band of Delos cronies, all at the hands of Teddy, Angela, and a mob of violent hosts? 

I truly don’t know, but I’m glad the show has left us with a few mysteries now that we know that William is likely the Man in Black and that Bernard was made in Arnold’s image. (In fact, as more astute observers have pointed out, “Bernard Lowe” is an anagram for “Arnold Weber.”) Yet we still do not know how this is going to end, or what Ford is really up to. Of all the characters on Westworld, Ford keeps his cards closest to his vest. And I suspect that his big reveal might be the most surprising one yet. 

PS – During the scene where the Man in Black is talking to Teddy, what did the scary guy with the mask remove from one of the dead host’s arms? Could it be an explosive charge? And if these scary men work for Wyatt, serving Ford’s new narrative, why are they tampering with the hosts?

* Images courtesy of HBO.

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