Not since Lost has a TV show boggled as many minds and provoked as much what-if theorizing as HBO's Westworld. But while the reimagination of Michael Crichton's 1973 sci-fi movie has been very well-received, even the most hardcore fans will arrive at this Sunday's Season 1 finale scratching their heads. What's really going on? Here are the lingering questions we hope the 90-minute episode "The Bicameral Mind" answers so we don't get stuck in a pondering loop until Westworld returns in 2018.
OK, even though this one is all but confirmed, Westworld's most discussed question is, technically, still a mystery. All of the teased-out corporate connections, familial ties, and lines of dialogue ("I've been coming here for 30 years, but you still don't remember me, do you?") point to the Man in Black being William three decades down the line, as do other very strong hints (e.g., the knife William uses in Episode 9 looks a lot like the one MiB has) and recent reveals (e.g., there are multiple timelines involving Dolores, as we learned via the Bernard-Arnold revelation). But we need the Westworld finale to straight-up reveal that the Man in Black's real name is William because the drama of the series depends on the definitive connection between these two characters vis a vis Dolores' journey toward sentience (also, we'll go crazy if we don't know). All that said, those five hold-outs on Reddit who swear MiB is actually Logan could turn out to be right.
What will the Man in Black find at the center of the maze?
Early on, Ed Harris' mysterious park visitor declared that he was on a go-for-broke mission to solve the shrouded game that Arnold hid inside the Westworld experience. But as he's been told at least twice so far, the maze isn't meant for him -- probably because he's an honest-to-goodness human trying to solve a puzzle intended to test a robot's sentience. So what will happen when the knife-wielding Delos board member reaches the center of Arnold's maze?
Given that he said early on that he's "never going back" to his old life and that Arnold's game "cuts deep," you could infer that the Man in Black is planning to die -- or maybe to upload his consciousness into a robot. But we're more interested in what will actually happen than what he's looking for -- and it's still maddeningly unclear. One thing's for certain is that he's close to solving it, having reached the same church where Dolores accessed Arnold's underground laboratory back in the day. Perhaps Dolores is the key, after all.
Is the photo Logan gives to William his "Inception totem"?
The photo of Logan's sister was given to William as a way to bring him back down to earth, but the move was ineffective. William, in his past timeframe, is now on the hunt for Dolores, and having snapped, seems to be willing to do anything to get her. The preview for the finale indicates that we'll see William at Abernathy Ranch -- could he have dropped or discarded the photo? And is it the same one that Peter Abernathy digs up in the series premiere?
What is Ford's new narrative?
Ford has always said his new narrative was not going to be a retrospective. But the only glimmers of it we've seen have been Wyatt's bulletproof masked men, a heavy machine that demolished huge swaths of the park, and allusions to Teddy's killing sprees. Is Ford's new narrative really a hunt for Wyatt, or is it a ploy to slaughter problematic hosts and reboot Westworld? The smaller details are a bit hazy, but the ultimate goal of Ford's latest project is clear: retain his dominion over the world, its occupants, and its moneymen.
What was Ford building in that underground lab in Episode 8?
Remember Ford's personal 3D printer? We thought that was spitting out a new Theresa, but now that seems pointless. (Everyone important already knows she's dead, so Ford wouldn't be fooling anyone.) Was it a copy of someone else? A new Bernard/Arnold? Charlotte? Stubbs? Elsie? An immortal version of himself? He seemed to be finished with it in Episode 9, so whoever that bot is supposed to be should be ready for their debut soon.
What's going to happen to Stubbs?
Seems like the people who run this park really ought to have tried harder to avoid cell reception dead zones. The Ghost Nation warriors who assaulted Stubbs -- when he was out tracking down Elsie's signal certainly didn't look friendly. Stubbs appeared to be walking in the same area where Ford's family house was, but he didn't see it. Does that mean he's a host? Also, who set off Elsie's signal? Was it Elsie, and is she working with the Ghost Nation to thwart the board's plans? Or is this Maeve's attempt to lure the security head away from his command post and kill him?
What role did Teddy play in the park's first "incident"?
As "The Well-Tempered Clavier" showed, Teddy's back story and his visit to Escalante are more complicated than we thought. Was he coerced into his killing spree by someone with powers à la Maeve? Had Arnold given him a deadly directive? Or, better yet, could the role of Wyatt actually be Teddy's prior loop? The finale should shine a light on why the former soldier was relegated to the role of perpetual loser in Sweetwater, as well as on what his new narrative entails for the future of the park.
What information is Charlotte beaming out of the park?
Welp, it's still unclear what all that confusing corporate espionage is about. Charlotte has previously said that the Delos board is only interested in the IP (i.e., Ford and Arnold's code) for the hosts, which means what actually happens in Westworld could be very small potatoes for the bigger Delos story. If they're just interested in code, does that mean Delos wants to work on bringing people back from the dead using artificial intelligence -- à la Bernard vis a vis Arnold? Charlotte's latest move was to upload a boatload of data to Peter Abernathy, who is supposed to make a move for the next train out of Sweetwater in next week's episode. If he and Charlotte are caught -- which seems likely, because her plan is terrible! -- hopefully we'll get some more info on the precious cargo.
What were all the hosts doing in the creepy church?
When one of the Doloreses visits the church, the pews are filled with a glut of first-gens glitching out. Was this church a haven for glitchy hosts? Or was this where Arnold was doing his bicameral mind experiments, outside of Ford's supervision? All the hosts sitting down appeared to be talking to themselves, much like that bandit who went on his milk-fueled killing rampage. In the future timeframes the church is buried -- likely because of what Dolores did to Arnold.
Will Bernard reboot and start over, like all the other park hosts?
So what if he died? Maeve's done that a million times. Can't he just start over and eventually have that conversation with Ford again for the third time? Or is Ford abandoning his partner for good, with plans to lobotomize Bernard and dump him into the decommissioned host storage room? Might he lead an uprising down there? Regardless of Ford's intent, it seems likely that we'll see Bernard again, in some form or another. If Maeve's conversation with him from earlier in Episode 9 is any indication, the robo-duo could pair up again in the finale. "We're stronger than them. Smarter," she told him. "We don't have to live this way."
Is Maeve the "Judas steer"?
The Judas steer, a term Dolores explains to Teddy in Westworld's premiere ("Rest will follow, wherever you make him go"), is the leader of a herd whose constituents will follow it anywhere, especially to slaughter. The operative part of her line is that last part, which we've italicized: It implies that someone might be controlling one of the leaders we've already met in the show. If Ford knows about Maeve's ability to control the other hosts, for example, he might be using her backdoor code (the same way he did with Bernard's gun-toting Clementine ploy) to fool her and all the other hosts into stumbling into a purge. Is Maeve then a key part of Ford's new narrative, or will she really escape? In the preview for next week, we do see her wearing modern-day plainclothes and riding the escalator to the monorail. But if she's not the Judas steer, who is?
Why didn't Ford ever (to our knowledge) reassign Dolores?
At this point it seems like Dolores is the only first gen host never to have been reassigned (see: Maeve, her dad, Angela, Clementine, etc.), a fact that would tie into Dolores being Arnold's pet. But what if she's played another role -- one we haven't seen yet -- somewhere between "present-day" and "the incident" of 30 years ago? Or will Dolores's current unraveling lead to her finally being reassigned?
Did Dolores really kill Arnold?
Episode 9 reveals that Dolores was the bot that killed Arnold, after saying that his maze only brought her terror and pain. With Dolores unraveling it's been hard to know what's hallucination, memory, reality. Will next week finally bring her back to reality and also show us how her pursuit of consciousness led to Arnold's death? If so, you can expect to see more of Jeffrey Wright, despite his string of heartbreaking goodbye tweets.
Season 1 has been coy about Westworld's relationship to the real world. We still don't know where the park is physically located, where the Delos board resides, and, well, what kind of state planet Earth is in. There's been so much nebulous talk of corporate espionage, the Man in Black's foundation, and how shitty real life is, the show kind of owes it to its viewers to expand on all of the above. Will that happen next week, or is that territory Season 2 wants to explore?
What should we expect from Season 2?
Will the future of Westworld follow an escaped band of hosts? Could the show take a cue from the movie and whisk us off to another park like Medieval World? Or maybe it blossoms into an anthology series à la True Detective or American Horror Story, burrowing into a new sci-fi topic with a completely new cast? Anything's possible, but cross your fingers for a taste of what's to come, or the next two years (yes, the show is set to return in 2018) will be one long, painful loop.
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