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Our Biggest Questions After Westworld, Episode Two

Jimmi Simpson as William, Talulah Riley as Angela. Photo: HBO

Spoilers ahead for episode two of Westworld, which is streaming early on HBO Go and HBO Now.

Mystified about Westworld? You’re not alone. We don’t have many answers yet, but HBO’s sci-fi brainteaser will surely parse out a few from week to week. So we’re following up each episode with the myriad questions we’re pondering.

“Chestnut” introduces us to gentlemanly first-time visitor William and the Man in Black’s reluctant sidekick Lawrence, while deepening each host’s apparent humanity and exposing the guests’ savage instincts. Where this literal and philosophical maze takes them is anyone’s guess, but if you want to make a Westworld prediction of your own, give it a shot in the comments.

How is Westworld even remotely safe for children?
We’re led to believe that parts of the park closest to Sweetwater are saner and more secure, but it seems like every inch of Westworld is susceptible to saucy language and sinister acts, if not outright violence. We do see children in tonight’s episode, and the park has made it decades without inducing any traumas they couldn’t cover up with a quickie settlement. Still, Mommy Poppins would hardly recommend.

Who is that little British boy?
It can’t be a coincidence that the wee programmed boy and Dr. Ford share overlapping yarns about their father’s insights into boredom. If we’re to assume said kid is the good doctor’s attempt at literally recasting his youth, it opens up a whole slew of supplementary curiosities, some headier than others. However concrete one’s interpretation, it seems Dr. Ford strayed far afield from where he belonged, and Westworld’s latest narrative is an effort to find his way back. Perhaps his outer inner-child can help in that regard.

Did Dr. Ford reach the maze’s end?
If so, maybe the end of the maze is just the beginning — the start of whatever next-level madness he has in mind as he gazes upon a steel cross atop a structure that may or may not be related to this “town with the white church” that gets mentioned. And there is a snake slithering around the sand, echoing Lawrence’s daughter’s prophecy. Unless Dr. Ford is the snake, and the eggs are a metaphor for what he’s yet to conceive. If so, he better watch out. The Man in Black won’t rest until he comes closest to the place that God — or whomever might be playing God — rests his hands, so he may be born again.

Was the Man in Black like William when he first came to Westworld?
And will William’s central struggle be an attempt to defy the park’s predeterminations about human nature? If he refuses to fall back in line with the rest of his race, what does that reveal about everyone else? And did the Man in Black alter his destiny by not merely succumbing to sin, but embodying it? It’s all very Anakin Skywalker–esque. Let’s just hope William doesn’t turn out to be his son.

What do Bernard and Dolores talk about?
Are they TED Talks, fireside chats, or is Dolores the one thing — living or otherwise — that Bernard confides in? (It’s not like he opens up to Theresa.) If so, will Dolores use his own disclosures and memories to manipulate him? Questions within questions within questions. Between his sweet nothings to Peter Abernathy and one-on-one talks with Delores, Bernard has definitely blurred the lines of the host-scientist dynamic. Will that be his awakening or his undoing?

How contagious is this “violent delights” thing?
It’s apparently like virulent gossip, if such scuttlebutt offered unparalleled insight and access into an individual’s deep-seated self. Maeve caught the bug from Dolores, Clementine’s having night terrors, Teddy’s increasingly depressed. Who knows how it started or with whom — Pat and the picture? An act of sabotage? “Human” error? — but it’s spreading, and the hosts’ quest for consciousness will be even more intense than guests’ eagerness to regress.

Are the saloon’s drinks spiked?
Sure, Westworld’s irresistible, but it wouldn’t take a cynic to wonder whether everything from the oxygen guests breathe to the bourbon they knock back is all part of the sensory experience designed to make them return until they — or, more accurately, Dr. Ford — find what they’re looking for.

How did Maeve get a MRSA infection?
Maeve’s sense memory seems to suggest that Dr. Ford messed around with her innards at some point in her many life cycles. Could it be horrible remnant of host experimentation? Something about reproduction? Just to be safe, William’s friend and anyone else having unprotected robot sex would be well advised to carry more protection than just a gun. Let’s hope Westworld has antibiotics.

How bad are the Savage Lands?
If things get pretty bad in Sweetwater, the Savage Lands must be the very far edge of wrongdoing. (Is that where Maeve and her daughter once resided? Seems so.) The Savage Lands aren’t enough for the Man in Black, but as our perspective on Westworld widens, so too grow the stakes for our protagonists. Teddy, William, Dolores, and Maeve will have to survive the park’s many levels before knowing what comes next. After all, you can’t see the bigger picture when you’re caught inside it.

What’s the deal with the QA department?
One assumes the job isn’t contracted out, since no ominous corporate entity is complete without a quality-assurance expert. One also can assume the woman running the department will be a central figure soon enough. (We’re waiting, Miranda Otto.) Then again, it would be totally apt if QA simply stood for the two things this show elicits and keeps close to the vest, respectively: questions and answers.

Our Big Questions After Westworld, Episode Two