The Man in Black: "I always thought this place could use a real villain. Thus, my humble contribution."
Ford: "I lack the imagination to even conceive of someone like you. The urgency, however, doesn't quite fit the character. It betrays a certain anxiety."
OK, so maybe the Man in Black isn't a robot. Ford built his hosts to live in fear and obey. The Man in Black is a chaos agent -- though, like the awakening robots, he has become unhinged from reality. He sees the rules, faced the rule-maker, and wants to dismantle everything to prove a point. It's the true gamer instinct, the speed runner who wonders if he can beat Super Mario Bros. in record time by sliding down a buggy pipe. Art becomes pragmatic, reduced to function and dying to be broken. The NES scenario isn't too perilous. For the Man in Black, whose glitchy game sports hundreds of armed and dangerous adversaries, the move sounds downright villainous.
The Man in Black: "Wyatt, on the other hand, is something new. Someone to stop me from finding the center of the Maze."
Another tip that Dolores likely reached the Maze's center years back is the existence of Wyatt, who sounds like Minotaur of the labyrinth. The Man in Black's showdown with the cyberpunk will be the boss battle we deserve.
The Man in Black: "The world outside is a world of plenty. A fat, soft teat people cling to their entire life. Every need taken care of, except one: purpose. Meaning. So they come here and they can be a little scared, thrilled. Sweetly affirmative bullshit. Then they take a picture and go home."
There's been scant discussion of what existence is like outside Westworld's walls. Logan and William have talked about their corporate life back home. Theresa mentions a childhood visit to the park, Bernard phones home from the isolated work location. In "Contrapasso," Elsie learns that someone is beaming information out of the park via laser-based satellite uplink. The Man in Black -- who we know funds some sort of humanitarian foundation in the real world -- describes life beyond Westworld as a depressing utopia, which makes me imagine complacent Wall-E humans with more bipedal movement. People often wonder where Westworld could go after Season 1. The answer seems clear: into the world of plenty. The Man in Black is ready for a disruption.
The Man in Black: "The man I'd be asking died 35 years ago. Or maybe he left something behind... I wonder what I would find if I opened you up."
Sorry, "Ford is Arnold" and "The Man in Black is Arnold" theorists, "Contrapasso" is here to debunk you. Literally, anyway. With all the talk of consciousness and ulterior motives on the Delos corporation side of Westworld, the idea that Arnold may have downloaded his or a loved one's mind into the 3D-printed husk of a host is a rampant conclusion made by many Westworld diehards. The idea gains steam here. The Man in Black could be joking that, like Kissy the poker dealer from Episode 1, Arnold might have a portion of the map inked into his scalp. Or maybe he believes that Arnold, dead for years, could still be firing between synapses, either in a host's mind or Ford's own.
"Even at death's door you're still a loyal pet."
Ford's psychic lordship over the hosts becomes more and more unsettling with each passing week and each effortless flexing of his muscle. We now know there's a Asmovian "protection code" built into Westworld's robots: Ford is the master, they are the servants, and if anyone tries to slice his cranium open, they'll jump into action to save him from harm. If there's a literal switch to flip at the end of the Maze, it may be connected to Ford's power. Arnold may not have approved of his partner treating hosts like slaves. The Man in Black certainly doesn't.
Ford: "Mr. Flood, we must look back and smile at perils past."
A harmless Sir Walter Scott quote, a triggering code word for Teddy's kill mode, or a oblique allusion to "the Incident," in which Teddy may have played a murderous part? In Ford's case, all three could be true.