More so than Lost, Game of Thrones, or really any series ever, Westworld seems genetically engineered by a team of narrative specialists for the purpose of inspiring fan theories. Right from episode one, Reddit and the comments section of every decent website covering the HBO show have been awash in possible solutions for its many ongoing mysteries, which run from the highly reasonable to the simply preposterous.
Because, honestly, obsessing about what exactly is going on inside the park is the best thing about Westworld, here are the top theories you need to know.
The Hosts Speak to Workers Via Virtual Reality
So how is that Dolores can chat with Bernard moments after chatting with Teddy? Some have tried to solve this by suggesting that these discussions are actually happening via some sort of virtual reality, whose existence is hinted at throughout the series. Others suggest that these “analysis sessions” are neither in-person or virtual-reality meetings, but figurative, cinematic devices portraying workers simply interfacing with a computer.
The Maze Is So Many Things
Some have called the maze an allegory for artificial intelligence. Others are saying the maze is simply the design level of the park (note how the man in the middle closely resembles the device that stitches hosts together). Others hold that the maze is a real place, but that Arnold is in the middle. There’s a lot of different ways to go here.
The Park Is on Another Planet
Westworld, the resort, is incredibly vast and, to some, doesn’t seem to announce itself as in any particular state or country. Would it be such a huge leap for Ford to have etched the whole park into, say, a terraformed Mars instead of the American Southwest? The geography would make sense as would the lack of airplanes in the sky. Proponents haven’t explained the existence of the Moon (or the lack of Mars’ many moons), but still, it’s something to ponder. Others solve this by suggesting the park is on some sort of space station, thus accounting for its disk-like shape.
The Hosts Are Living, Breathing Creatures
This is slowly shifting over from theory to fact. In the last two episodes we’ve not only gotten a close look at the very mechanical insides of what hosts used to be like, but a stunning quote from the Man in Black who tells Teddy: “It’s not my fault you’re suffering. You used to be beautiful. When this place started, I opened one of you up once. A million little perfect pieces and then they changed you — made you this sad mess of flesh and bone, just like us. Said it would improve the park experience. But you really want to know why they did it? It was cheaper. Your humanity is cost-effective. So is your suffering.” The techs told Maeve, who had a MRSA infection, pretty much the same thing. Terrifying.
Almost Everyone Is a Host
You simply can’t watch a show about androids pretending to be people and not wonder which purported humans are actually robots. Of course, the more paranoid you are, the more robots you’ll see. The logical follow up to believing that (almost) everyone is a host is the notion that the park, the robots, the guests, and even the workers are all part of some massive, cycling experiment whose goal is the creation of true, self-aware artificial intelligence.
Bernard Is an Arnold Clone
Among those forwarded as hosts in disguise is Bernard, who, in Elsie’s words has been at Westworld, “forever”, has the implicit trust of Ford, and seems deeply, unaccountably interested in questions of host identity. It’s all got some people making the leap and saying he’s a robotic clone of the late Arnold.
Recently, Ford made a quip about how great artists—Arnold included—“always hid themselves in their work,” while addressing Bernard. That he said so while hanging out with hosts based on his late family is just more grist for the mill. Moreover, it’s been noted that “Bernard Lowe” is an anagram for “Arnold Webb”. Granted, we don’t actually know Arnold’s full name yet, but it does raise an eyebrow, yes?
Look at Bernard’s odd, analytical behavior, the fact that no one seems to know what Arnold looked like, and the notion that the death of his son could have been a “backstory,” and you’ve got a theory second only to the idea that…
The Series Unfolds in Two Timelines
Many have pointed out that the woven storylines of the Man in Black and the malfunctioning hosts don’t actually intersect with William’s adventures. This could mean that they just haven’t intersected, but many posit that we may be seeing two timeframes here separated by 30 years. Some have even suggested we’re seeing three.
Watch carefully, and you’ll see that Ford, Bernard, and more simply don’t appear in William’s travels. As well, characters such as Lawrence fill different roles in the two arcs. For evidence, you’ve got shifting logos, variant milk cans, and more. Stew on it for a moment and then you might start to believe that…
William Is the Man in Black
If the two exist in two timeframes, it could very well be that they’re the same person. Yes, every time the Man in Black casts his memory back to his early times in The Park with Dolores, Lawrence, Teddy, and so on, he’s remembering events we’re seeing play out in William’s storyline. If you consider that William is a rising VP of a company and that the Man in Black seems to be a veteran executive and other little tidbits (Maeve is not at the brothel when William passes by, etc.), it all starts to make a startling amount of sense.
Now, there’s little evidence that actually supports this theory. Really, what makes it so convincing is that there’s absolutely nothing to contradict it. While that’s bad in terms of deductive reasoning, it’s pure gold in the world of fan theories.