Monday, November 7, 2016

Who is at the Center of the Maze on Westworld?

Episode 6 of HBO’s Westworld was just another outstanding chapter in what has become the most intelligent series on television. It also featured one of the show’s most fascinating scenes – with Maeve and Felix – set to a beautiful and haunting score. And it just might have given us the biggest clue to what, or who, might be at the center of the maze.

Every time we see the drawing of the maze it features a stick man in its core. Even more, the image of the maze was everywhere in last night’s episode: carved on a table in the Spanish village, as the face of the brand the Union soldiers were going to use on Teddy, and in what had to be Arnold’s notebook that Ford is flipping through, right next to a sketch of Delores. 

It was Teddy’s dialogue with the Man in Black, however, that gave us our biggest clue to what is at the maze’s center. Teddy called the maze “an old native myth,” then he tells the Man in Black this:
“The maze itself is the sum of a man’s life, the choices he makes, the dreams he hangs onto. And there, at the center, is a legendary man who has been killed over and over again, countless times and clawed his way back to life. And, in return for the last time he vanquished all his oppressors in a tireless fury, he built a house, and around that house he built a maze so complicated only he could navigate through it. I reckon he had seen enough fighting.”
So . . . who is the man Teddy is talking about? My newest theory is that he is speaking of Ford’s old colleague Arnold. In fact, like pictures of the maze, Arnold was lurking everywhere in last night’s episode.

Arnold is supposed to be dead, killed 34 years ago based on Delores’s dialogue with Ford last week (as well as Logan’s comments to William, and the Man in Black’s words to Ford in the saloon). Yet the scene with Bernard and the cottage with the five anomalies casts doubt on this.

In the cottage, Bernard finds a family, and the first thing he asks the father is: “Are you Arnold?” This is potentially huge. Bernard knows the anomalies are all first generation hosts, so might this mean that Bernard believes Arnold is actually an android? This would sure fit with Teddy’s myth about the maze, because only an android could be killed countless times and claw his way back to life.

What this would mean, however, is that Ford created Arnold. Yet we also know that Arnold supposedly built the five hosts based on Ford’s family (including Ford’s little boy doppelganger), and that Arnold created Delores. The only way this makes sense is if Ford was using Arnold to create other androids. Which may have merit, because Arnold seems to have always sided with the androids, especially when he asked Delores to help him destroy Westworld.

Then we have Elsie’s discovery in that creepy old storage place. She learned that someone has been using the system to re-task hosts and change their prime directives, to the point where they could lie to the humans and even hurt the guests. She believes the culprit is Arnold. Bernard tells her Arnold is dead. Then Elsie replies: “He’s a pretty prolific coder for a dead guy. Whatever argument he was having with Ford, it doesn’t seem like he was done making his point.”

Elsie’s suspicion is not inconsistent with the theory that Arnold is an android who created other androids at Ford’s urging. Yet it could also point to Arnold as some form of computer virus or sentience living inside Westworld’s computer systems. That wouldn’t jive as well with Teddy’s old native myth, though both theories could be true to an extent.

We know from Ford’s dialogue with Delores last episode that Arnold’s words live deep inside her memory. I suppose it’s possible that a human Arnold, or an android Arnold, implanted some of his sentience into the old hosts, and that one of them has taken up his cause. Someone who lives at the center of the maze.

But that’s just a theory. Who do you think lurks at the center of Westworld’s maze?

PS, did you notice the ginormous Easter egg in last night’s episode? When Bernard was on floor 82 in the subbasement, there is Yul Brenner’s gunslinger android in the background. This had to be a shout out to Michael Crichton’s original Westworld, and I wonder if the gunslinger has something to do with the park’s first critical failure?

PPS, if Ford created Arnold to help him build androids, this would be consistent with one of the wildest fan theories on Westworld: that Bernard is an android made in Arnold’s image. Might Bernard simply be Ford’s latest helper? It is consistent with Bernard having been at Westworld “forever,” like he told Elsie . . .

* Images courtesy of HBO.

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