wild speculation

The Best Westworld Fan Theories, Updated

Jeffrey Wright as Bernard Lowe. Photo: HBO

After Sunday night’s episode, we’re nearing the end of the first season of Westworld, and getting closer to some answers. Enter the maze with us.

The show exists on multiple timelines.
Likelihood: Certain.

It’s indisputable now that we’re watching different timelines and even eras of the park in the same episode. Perhaps the most definitive moment came late in episode eight, “Trace Theory,” when the Man in Black ran into the host who greeted William upon his arrival to the park, noting that he thought she had been retired and remembering her. Does this confirm that the Man in Black is William? Not yet, but it does confirm that William’s timeline happened long before that host was up for retirement. The Man in Black’s speech to Teddy around the campfire added some weight to the William–MIB connection for some fans. He speaks of a wife and being a titan of industry. Remember that William is at Westworld before his impending marriage. Meanwhile, Dolores is flashing back to a massacre that happened back in an era when Maeve was new and the hosts were very different, leading some to speculate that we’re on at least three timelines — the Teddy/Wyatt/MIB one, the Dolores/William one, and the memories of the town massacre before William even arrived.

The Man in Black is William.
Likelihood: Very likely.

Let’s put it this way: If William is not the Man in Black, the writers are playing a game in which they want us to think he is.

There are more androids than we think.
Likelihood: Fact.

By now, we know this is tragically true, driven home when Bernard killed Theresa in episode seven, “Trompe L’Oeil,” after Ford revealed that his partner-in-crime is a host. And in the subsequent episode, before altering Bernard’s memories of the murder, we see a glimpse of Bernard possibly killing Elsie as well. Has Ford been using Bernard as a literal killing machine?  Who else outside of the park could be a host as well?

The hosts are based on real people.
Likelihood: Too soon to tell.

Suspicion is growing that Bernard has a history based on reality, possibly even that he is based on the notorious Arnold. Hosts like Maeve or Teddy being based on visitors to the park or people from the real world hasn’t been developed, but also hasn’t been ruled out. It could easily become a part of the fabric of the show by the end of this season or next.

Arnold is still “alive.”
Likelihood: High.

It seems clear that Arnold’s endgame included inserting himself into Westworld in a way that no one had previously deemed possible. He’s the Smoke Monster of Westworld, always capable of impacting the stories around him. And it seems likely that as we learn more about the fates of Dolores, William, and the Man in Black that we will also learn more about what happened to Arnold and how he still plays a role in Westworld. Hosts like Dolores and Maeve are still “speaking” to him but what exactly does that mean to the bigger picture? Is he “alive” in the machine? Or …

Bernard Lowe is Arnold.
Likelihood: Maybe.

Bernard Lowe is an anagram for Arnold Weber. (Note: We don’t know what Arnold’s last name actually was, but if it’s Weber than you’ll be ahead of this twist and impress your friends with the word anagram.) Could Lowe actually be Arnold, or a host version of him? More and more, fans are speculating that Bernard is at least based on the man who co-created Westworld with Ford, but there’s little to update here. Even if Bernard is only physically based on Arnold, think about what that says about Ford. He not only needed Arnold around, but in a form in which he could control him forever.

Westworld exists on another planet.
Likelihood: Doubtful.

There are dozens of theories as to where and when Westworld takes place. The music cues (“Black Hole Sun” and “Paint It Black”) hint at the modern era, but how far in the future does the show take place? And where are they? Some have even suggested that Westworld is on another planet. Or perhaps it’s underwater (what was up with all that H2O in cold storage?) or on a man-made island?

The show is so steeped in Americana, it feels unnecessary to add an interstellar element to an already dense narrative. The physical location of Westworld hasn’t been developed, however it may come into play if Maeve’s escape plan becomes a reality. Given the evidence that we’re watching very different timelines and know now that the main action of the show must be many decades past the park’s creation, it would be interesting to see what this show’s vision of the distant future looks like.

The maze is outside Westworld.
Likelihood: Yes and no.

We know that the Man in Black is seeking the maze, something legendary in the universe of Westworld, and something the Man in Black believes represents the ultimate endgame. But what exactly is the maze? Many people have theorized that it’s outside the park of Westworld. It could be the maze-like tunnels we see Dolores in behind-the-scenes at Delos. In a sense, that would make the maze not unlike the Emerald City, and Ford the Wizard of Oz waiting at its end. Or could the maze merely be a mission in the heart of the game? The ultimate level? Perhaps it’s even related to Ford’s final narrative.

Since the first two episodes, the concept of “the maze” has been redefined symbolically instead of literally (although it’s no coincidence that the bizarrely designed halls and tech rooms look labyrinthine). The Man in Black’s speech in episode eight about what he did to Maeve and her daughter defines the maze as a deeper level of the game, something that allows the hosts to experience grief and emotion.

Westworld Fan Theories, Updated