Here's Exactly WTF Is Going On in 'Westworld' Before the Season Finale
It’s always the little things that give it away: the aspect ratio, Bernard's glasses, the moisture level of Dolores' dress. If you want to follow what's been happening in Westworld (and, more crucially, when), the devil is in the details, some of which flit by very quickly. When Dolores and Bernard talk at the top of this season's sixth episode -- testing his fidelity, freezing his motor functions -- she stands up and walks behind her chair, and in that moment (literally, one second), the back of her dress is visible. And it's wet. Really wet. Miss a detail like that, and you miss figuring out when the Dolores-Bernard interactions take place in the show's often-confusing chronology (after the flood, right?) or being attuned to the power dynamics really at play. As Sunday's Season 2 finale looms, let's put a bow on some of the confusion around Westworld before we plunge ahead to the Valley Beyond.
For hopefully the last time, who is a human and who is a host?If you haven't questioned the nature of every character's reality yet, you're not playing the game of Westworld properly. Season 2 has been less about tricking viewers with a crumb trail bait-and-switch (see: Bernard in Season 1), instead stoking paranoia around the nature of reality as we get closer and closer to opening The Door. Don't be fooled: William, most likely human. William's daughter, Emily, who he killed because he suspected she was a host sent by Ford, also likely human. Charlotte Hale, human. Probably.
The twist in all of this is that a third alternative was introduced this season: human-host hybrids. Now that we know Delos is toying with the formula for eternal life, a William-propelled initiative merged the consciousness of the deceased James Delos into host form, an experiment that couldn't crack the mental plateau 149 different times. But Ford, secretly racing to beat Delos at its own game, seems to have made a version that won't degrade: Bernard. By reviving Arnold as Bernard using only Ford's memories of his old partner, and testing his fidelity against Dolores, who knew Arnold better than anyone, Ford managed to avoid degradation. Still TBD what all the Bernards in the closet are for, though it's possible there might have been multiple Bernards running around Westworld at any given time.
How is Ford still "alive?"Buckle in: Remember that Ford expected to die when he revealed his "Journey Into Night" narrative, which essentially cut the last cord that was tethering down the hosts' free will. Before that, Ford had Bernard print a control unit (that sleek blood-red ball Bernard pocketed) for himself. Bernard uploads Ford's unit to the Cradle where he can function stably. When a brain-wiped Bernard meets him in the Cradle version of the Mariposa, Ford monologues about the evils of humanity before snatching away Bernard's free will (if he really had any to begin with) and sidles himself into Bernard's consciousness, hitching a ride along to the Valley Beyond, invigorating Bernard's bloodlust along the way. That is, until Ford suggests that Bernard kill Elsie, which he rejects and deletes the code that's been holding Ford as a subconscious phantasm. Ford might be gone from Bernard's periphery, but there's probably no way he's gone for good.
Are all of the major characters heading to the same place?Yes. By now, most viewers should have deduced that the Valley Beyond -- or the Forge, or Glory, or the Pearly Gates, or the Door -- are all different names for the same thing: Sector 16, Zone 4, where the data storage system is housed and where everyone -- Bernard, Ford, Hale, Dolores, William, Maeve, Akecheta -- is headed, though over a couple different timelines. (There's the Dolores/Bernard/Clementine timeline we saw in the penultimate episode, and then the one with Hale/Strand, who are using Bernard to locate Abernathy, sometime in the future.) It’s been glimpsed by a few characters before it was flooded, like when William showed the construction site to Dolores. (Big mistake!)
In addition to the data, there should also be a lot of empty bodies -- ones awaiting uploads. This would explain why the security team found that a third of the recovered host bodies floating in the flooded area were "virgin." Are some of these bodies backups for hosts we’ve already met? (This would explain why the dead Teddy pulled out of the lake doesn’t seem to have a gunshot wound to the head.) Are some of these bodies clones of the human guests? And were they meant for purchase, or perhaps something more sinister? (The sequel to the original Westworld movie, Futureworld, involved the Delos company hoping to replace the human guests in the real world.) Probably all of the above!
It makes sense that the Delos vs. Dolores battle would take place here: one side wants to preserve its corporate investment, the other wants to strike back and take it for themselves -- but it still isn’t clear why Ford would send William on a quest here. However all that data is stored behind the Door, it’s secured by the encryption key housed in Abernathy's control unit that Dolores ripped out of his head. Access advantage to Dolores.