Is Bernard a clone of Arnold?
After last week's surprising-to-some-but-predicted-by-many revelation that Bernard is actually a robot, you'd think the show would give poor Jeffrey Wright a break when it comes to playing a character with hidden motives. But, despite the fact that he spent part of last night's episode erasing himself from pictures, destroying love letters in a fancy microwave, and removing all his lovey-dovey memories of the dearly departed Theresa Cullen, it still feels like there's another Bernard twist coming. The guy cannot catch a break.
Besides the "Bernard is a robot" theory, the most popular Bernard take floating around online is the "Bernarnold" theory, which is way more complicated than that very silly Brangelina-style pun might suggest. The simplest version of the theory is that Ford uploaded Arnold's consciousness into Bernard after Arnold's death so that he would have a more compliant, easily controllable partner. From a management perspective, it's easier to boss around your co-worker when you have an iPad that controls his every impulse.
The many one-on-one scenes between Dolores and Bernard that have occurred so far are important to this theory. "Bernarnold" supporters believe the two have such a close bond because Arnold created Dolores. Are the scenes with Dolores and Bernard taking place in a different timeline? Are we seeing flashbacks or flash-forwards? As Dolores says in this episode, in yet another neat bit of meta-commentary, "When are we? Is this now? Am I going mad?" (We feel your pain, Dolores.)
If you buy into the "Bernarnold" theory, the most recent episode provided some gatling-gun-like firepower. For one thing, the conversation between Ford and Bernard contained some heavy insights into Ford and Arnold's partnership, particularly about what caused conflict between the two. When Bernard asks Ford what the difference between his and Ford's pain is, Ford delivers one of those patented creepy Anthony Hopkins soliloquies that you either relish or dread at this point:
"This was the very question that consumed Arnold, filled him with guilt and eventually drove him mad," says Ford. "The answer always seemed obvious to me. There is no threshold that makes us greater than the sum of our parts. No inflection point at which we become fully alive. We can't define consciousness because consciousness does not exist. Humans fancy that there's something special about the way we perceive the world, and yet we live in loops as tight and closed as the hosts do, seldom questioning our choices."
The fact that Bernard would be so disturbed by the same distinction that eventually "consumed" Arnold does suggest that they likely share more than just a fondness for tinkering with androids. Bernard's self-consciousness about these questions will undoubtedly increase in the coming weeks, as the brief memory we saw of him killing Elsie suggests. As Maeve and Dolores have learned, bad memories don't stay hidden for long.