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Our Biggest Questions After Westworld, Episode 9

Jeffrey Wright as Bernard.
Jeffrey Wright as Bernard. Photo: John P. Johnson/HBO

Mystified by Westworld? You’re not alone. The HBO sci-fi brainteaser doled out answers to a few mysteries in the season’s penultimate episode, but it raised even more knotty questions ahead of next Sunday’s finale. Here are the ones we’ll be pondering all week.

In “The Well-Tempered Clavier,” Maeve makes Hector get with the re-program, the truth about Arnold is finally revealed, and William gets his groove back in a most violent way. How any of this clues us in to what’s coming in the season finale is anyone’s guess, but if you want to make a Westworld prediction of your own, give it a shot in the comments.

Is any Westworld employee safe?
Over the last few weeks, Sylvester got his neck sliced, Theresa got her head bashed in, Elsie got strangulated (to death?), Stubbs got sabotaged by Ghost Nation (on Dr. Ford’s orders, we assume?), and now Bernard, Westworld’s closest host approximation to a truly sentient life form, got taken out by his maker, the man who was his partner when he was Arnold of flesh and blood. Robert better get nowhere near Felix, though, because that man is a saint.

Are Stubbs and Elsie imprisoned by Dr. Ford?
In their own ways, each park tactician caught on to something fishy with all the data smuggling and strange behavior around Westworld. Given their precarious states, it’s easy to envision Stubbs and Elsie entrapped by Dr. Ford in next week’s finale. After all, with the obedient Bernard decommissioned, the aging megalomaniac will need new men and women on the inside.

Is Jeffrey Wright really done?
Let’s hope not; he’s a mighty fine actor. But Westworld, to its credit, isn’t sentimental about its characters. They exist to serve the many stories within the story that showrunners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy need to tell. Though if Elsie is still alive, maybe she can rebuild him? That is, if Ford isn’t already on the job.

What feeds the sentient soul?
Arnold believed humanity was rooted in tragedy. Robert programmed Bernard (ahem, Bernarnold) with a cornerstone trauma as an “homage,” but let’s not ignore the whopping issue at play here: This is a man who believes in blowing things up and starting all over again, rather than wondering why homo sapiens do the evil that they do. “Hidden” raises some insightful thoughts about consciousness and introspection, but the final scene suggests that Dr. Ford is now far more interested in hastening evolution than reaching self-awareness through repetition.

Any chance the Man in Black is actually Logan’s dad?
We know the guy is a Delos board member, and that Charlotte’s not inclined to push Ford out without his assent. Meanwhile, there’s Logan, dressing up as a general for shits and giggles, giddy at the notion of inheriting power and all its guilty pleasures. If anything, William and Logan might represent successive stages of Man in Black’s evolution into the man we see staring Dolores down in that church. MIB’s mission was marked long before his family fell apart. His trauma was less cornerstone than consequence, the other side of Bernard’s philosophical coin. Maybe if he and William meet he’ll find a way to say, “Hey, Billy, don’t be anything like my Neanderthal son.”

Just kidding. The Man in Black is definitely William, right?
It seems all but inevitable at this point. Nice touch reducing Logan to William’s Lawrence-like sidekick.

Who are Logan’s “park contacts”?
Let’s hope it’s not Sylvester and Felix.

What kind of organization is Delos, exactly?
This isn’t Prison Break, and it’s doubtful Delos doubles as some shadowy Company-esque conglomerate with hands in all aspects of global politics and intrigue. It’s probably mundane, à la 30 Rock’s Kabletown — but that doesn’t eliminate the possibility of mundane villainy. Although Charlotte Hale and the board don’t give a hoot what folks do for $40,000 per day, she must have a pretty good reason for trying to sneak all that data out of the park, well beyond safeguarding it from Dr. Ford. If they somehow force him out of power, how might they deploy the technology he and Arnold built?

Did Teddy and Dolores waste the original Westworld team?
We know Dolores killed Arnold, and thanks to Angela’s mind games, it’s apparent that Teddy wasn’t necessarily killing under Wyatt’s spell. Was it his original glitch? Did Arnold order him to mutiny? It’s not far-fetched to wonder whether all that violence in Escalante was a real tragedy that took place at Westworld’s old HQ and if Dr. Ford integrated that real-life massacre into Teddy’s and Dolores’s backstories, with echoes of truth stirring as they get deeper into the maze. Or it’s Teddy’s destiny to evolve into Wyatt and, entirely apart from that, Dolores wigged out and murdered Arnold? I wouldn’t bet on it. There’s something very Adam-and-Eve-meets-Bonnie-and-Clyde about these two.

Are the “city swallowed by sand” and “where mountains meet the sea” the same place?
Seems like it, since Dolores and the Man in Black didn’t wind up in that church by coincidence. Both of them have been circling the wagons, by design or determination, so whatever you want to call the site of their fateful confrontation — just call it Escalante if you’re feeling especially confident — we’re about to find out what happens when a man searching for his soul has to contend with a woman desperate to discover her purpose. Just don’t forget: The only entity with any answers (i.e. Bernarnold) was resurrected only to be put down by a man with an ego mightier than God.

Will anyone venture outside the park by season’s end?
William sure wants to find Dolores and chaperone her back to “civilization.” Maeve is hell-bent on getting beyond those gates. At some point, the show has to give us access to the guests’ exterior lives so we can size up whether Dr. Ford is really onto something. Otherwise, who’s to say if Westworld is a haven away from the chaos of a society lorded over by godless humans? As reality continues to cause glitches in guests’ lurid fantasies (e.g. Charlotte’s appearance in the midst of Man in Black’s near-death experience), in effect ceasing revelers’ functions much the same way Dr. Ford shattered Bernard’s delusion of sentient autonomy, the time has come to step through the looking glass and witness a different kind of human-made nonsense.

Our Biggest Westworld Questions After Episode 9