***Spoilers: Spoilers for Westworld through Season 1, Episode 5 follow. Spoilers***
In Westworld, there are so many behind-the-scenes goings on, blink and you’ll miss them moments, that even multiple episode viewings can leave viewers feeling like there’s something more. Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy are clearly experts at laying out clues; something we didn’t catch could be meaningful or perhaps, simply misdirection. Why are we seeing so many multiples and slightly off similarities? The series is a giant game of Spot the Difference, and unless J.J. Abrams is helping pull off another long con, there are very specific reasons behind the various can markings, boots and knives. Likewise, if we pay close attention along the path, clues to our own magical mystery maze tour are being thoughtfully dropped.
Remember in “The Stray” when Dr. Ford told Bernard about Arnold, explaining that his partner wanted to create consciousness? We got a quick look at what appears to be the first version of Dolores Angela, the park’s oldest an original host.
Ford also gives an explanation for Dolores’ creation, though at that moment, we may not have realized it. When Bernard asks Ford what happened to Arnold, Ford says”
He died here in the park. His personal life was marked by tragedy. He put all his hopes into his work. His search for consciousness consumed him totally. Barely spoke to anyone, except to the Hosts. In his alienation, he saw something in them. He saw something that wasn’t there. “
It seems very likely that Arnold’s wife died, and his obsession with creating consciousness was a desperate attempt to bring her back in some form, to recreate her. (This could be a running theme, with Bernard also having lost a son, and if my other theory about George Eliot’s Adam Bede story being woven into Westworld pans out, it’s possible Ford also lost a child).
In “The Stray”, Ford gives Teddy a new narrative he’s written, introducing a villainous character called Wyatt. During the uploading scene, Ford asks Teddy if he’d “like a part” in the story, “a fiction which, like all great stories. is rooted in truth“, saying of Wyatt:
He claimed he could hear the voice of god [creator]. Wyatt was a sergeant. Went missing while out on some maneuvers. Came back a few weeks later with some pretty strange ideas.”
Wyatt is Ford’s fictional version of Arnold.
Near the start of “The Original“, it looks like at least one copy of (or someone very similar to) Dolores slips by as Teddy enters Sweetwater, possibly two. First, a woman bearing some resemblance to Dolores crosses right in front of Teddy.
Right after that, as he’s hitting the street in between buildings, a carriage containing another possible Dolores copy also passes in front of him.
It’s possible that the multiple timelines we’re seeing feature different copies of Dolores.
A lot of people are honing in on the differences between Dolores’ dropped can when Teddy, the Man in Black and William each pick it up. Teddy and the Man in Black have the one word “MaidenBrand”, while William’s version has a space between the words Maiden and Brand”.
I’m also curious about their boots, which are all remarkably similar. Make of it what you will. I’d really rather William does not become the Man in Black, but clearly there is enough evidence to suspect we’re seeing multiple timelines, as well as multiple Host copies.
In next week’s preview — rather, a teaser for “the weeks ahead” (important, because the preview scenes aren’t always seen in the very next episode), we see Dolores in her new duds with the Man in Black.
Dolores has been traveling with William.
Everyone’s noting William’s big knife …
… which does indeed look an awful lot like the Man in Black’s blade. Is it possible, though — because Dolores is with the Man in Black in an upcoming scene — that he and William unexpectedly meet, and that’s when the Man in Black takes the knife from William?
For those of us who don’t care for the William is Man in Black theory, let’s remember that like the boots and cans (and like Lost’s Dharma), all these items are made in house — in Westworldland — and therefore, there could be multiples (copies) of just about anything. That hook on the knife handle, though …
I choose to believe that there’s an upcoming meeting between the Man in Black and William; that’s why we’re seeing Dolores with the Man in Black, and at some other point William has the same knife, but not because he evolves to become the Man in Black.
Finally, there’s the Westworld logo, which indeed, has changed through time. This is the old logo from a flashback shot when Dr. Ford told Bernard about Arnold, and the park’s beginnings:
This is the new logo, as in, it’s in the (presumed) modern scene when Lee Sizemore gives his new narrative presentation:
That logo is also in the area where there’s an elevator to the active level of the park (that’s Ford in the elevator).
It’s unclear if this is the same arrivals area where William and Logan disembarked and were greeted by Hosts:
When William arrives at the park, the old logo is on the wall.
Interestingly, HBO’s promotional photos for “Chestnut” feature William and Angela in the same room we saw him choose his clothing and accessories, only this time the modern logo appears behind them. Either this is from a scene we’ve yet to see, or it is purposeful misdirection, which might prove the most fun game of all.
Another little tidbit not yet discussed: Near the beginning of “Chestnut“, this strange little scene takes place as William and Logan are arriving at Westworld; at first it may have seemed merely a reflection of William sleeping but the flickering, and the lingering on that moment lead me to believe otherwise. Was Westworld central simply monitoring a new guest, or was he being screened by some other entity?
If we think about who would most benefit from smuggling data out of the park, aside from a business competitor, who could that be? Who would like to be free of restraint, of being used — being abused — by people for their entertainment purposes only; who may tire of having their lives continuously playing out in a loop, and who might like to venture beyond their contained, controlled environment?
What would be the ultimate next level for the remake of 1973’s Westworld be?
What if the Hosts are already out of the park? What if Arnold’s programming — his creator voice in Dolores’ ear — has led her (and others) to ultimate freedom? Because truly, once they’ve attained self-awareness, no Host will want to remain in Westworld. Their violent delights won’t be contained. Like any children, any created beings, the Hosts will evolve. Life finds a way.
I predict Westworld (the series) will end with Teddy and Dolores finally together on their path, walking out of the park hand in hand.
In closing, a couple of things to ponder:
In “The Original”, while Stubbs is checking out Dolores for problems she tells him she’s frightened and he responds, “There’s nothing to be afraid of, as long as you answer my questions correctly, you understand?” Adding on “You understand?” speaks of something to me; Stubbs was speaking in code to Dolores. Is he Team Arnold?
When he drags Dolores to the barn, why does the Man in Black want Dolores to fight him? Why would he rape her (I don’t think he did)? From everything we’ve seen of the Man in Black, his goal is clear — find the deeper level, find the maze — so why waste time with that. He’s been so focused on his mission that the Man in Black can’t even be bothered to kill Hosts half the time, unless they keep pushing him, or further his quest.
When Teddy and the Man in Black have their run-in, the Man in Black tells Teddy to go ahead, shoot him. Teddy shoots multiple times, the Man in Black is not harmed and laughs at him; at one point Teddy falls to his knees when he realizes his bullets are doing nothing to the Man in Black. Why? How is that part of Teddy’s narrative, to realize he can’t harm the Man in Black?