Westworld has been teasing out the mysteries of its first season—and inspiring fan theories—by going heavy on emotions and technical details and remaining tantalizingly light on actual, concrete backstories.
Chief among the persistent question marks is the identity of Ed Harris’ antagonist (or protagonist), the enigmatic “Man in Black.” Here’s every little bit we know about him without diving into the many, many fan theories surrounding his identity.
He’s Been Going to the Park for at least 30 Years
This comes straight from the horse’s mouth.
He’s Known Dolores, Lawrence, and Teddy for a Long Time
Or at least he tells these long-surviving hosts he has. Particularly, he seems to have had great times with Dolores in the past, respected whatever Teddy was before he became whatever he is now, and seems to think Lawrence has fallen on hard times. That said, he wasn’t aware Lawrence had a family and didn’t know anything about Teddy’s (new?) violent backstory.
Maybe He Raped Dolores, Then Again…
Maybe he didn’t. The barn doors close and the next thing we know the MiB is chasing down another lead on his maze hunt. Did he indeed rape Dolores, or get a crucial bit of information from her we don’t yet know about?
He Carries a Rare, 10-Bullet Gun
With a special slot for an extra-large cartridge. What’s notable here is that the gun isn’t an option offered to first-time guests (as we see when William enters the park). He also holsters it in an odd handle-forward, opposite-hip way—one that actually slows down his draw in certain scenes. But that’s okay because…
He’s So Used to Being Shot, He Doesn’t Care Anymore
Either he’s been hit so many times that he’s completely inured to the feeling of being shot, or he’s developed a particularly high threshold for pain somehow.
He Knows Who Ford Is, But…
When he meets him in a saloon, he knows Ford by sight, but still seems surprised by the “honor” of seeing him there. He also lightly threatens him with a knife. One could say they’re not exactly pals. Conversely…
Ford Knows Who He Is
The above goes both ways and shouldn’t be all that surprising for a guest who’s such a long-time regular.
But the Hosts Don’t
Even as a regular, he’s never worked his way into the hosts’ memories… except maybe Dolores.
He’s a VIP
So say the techs and workers who encounter him. Also, his various requests—including his bid to blow himself out of a jail cell using dynamite—are all approved. As Stubbs says, “that man gets whatever he wants.”
He Seems to Understand the Financial Stakes
In his conversation with Ford, he seems to know the various business issues at hand in Westworld, something no other guest aside from Logan seems to care about or appreciate.
He’s Famous Outside the Park
Or at least he is to one guest who claims, “Your foundation literally saved my sister’s life”. The guest’s companion seemed equally in awe of the Man in Black, who shooed his admirers away with a threat.
He’s on “Vacation”
As he tells those same, poor guests.
But Must Have Massive Means to Pay for It
Unless the MiB is getting a sweet deal on park access (see below), he’s shelling out $40,000 on the regular. Over 30 years, that can add up.
He’s as Confused About Arnold as We Are
Dead? Alive? A part of the game? Its creator? These are questions we share with Harris’ character.
He Didn’t Know Hector and His Gang
He knew of them, but made it clear to both the bandit leader and Armistice that these are his first encounters with the two. Seems he never sought out the “focus grouped” experiences the relatively new characters represented.
But He May Know Wyatt
The new villain on the scene is an unknown to everyone but Ford and Teddy, except maybe the Man in Black who smiled when first hearing his name.
He Feels He’s a Hero Who “Saved” Westworld
Or at least that’s what he tells Ford. He says that when Arnold died 35 years ago, he, “almost took this place with him. Almost, but not quite thanks to me.” Perhaps that’s where all his privileges and regular access come from. He also seems to think of himself as a hero—despite the black hat—for pursuing the mystery of the maze.
Then Again, He Sees Himself as a Villain, Too
As he tells Ford, “You know, I always felt this place was missing a real villain, hence my humble contribution.”
He Knows Hosts from the Insides Out
As he tells Teddy, “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.” Somewhere along the line, he got to see the inside of a series 1 host.
He Thinks of Westworld as His Home
It where he feels he was born (figuratively), and where he is most truly himself. One would hope so after 30 years of visits.
Matter of Fact, He’s Never Going to Leave
As he tells Lawrence about his current trip, “this time, I’m never going back.”