Television’s most addictive obsession is back. The first season of HBO’s Westworld was a puzzle box of mounting questions and fan theories, several of which were figured out by fans early in season — Bernard is a host! William is the Man in the Black! — and several of which were left unanswered for the new season. In Sunday night’s season premiere, “Journey Into Night,” Westworld laid to rest a few of those mysteries, but it also served up plenty of new ones in their place. Which, of course, means one thing: Welcome back to the world of Westworld fan theories! Let’s dive in, shall we?
Theory No. 1: Westworld is on another planet
Let’s start with the season-one theory that’s torn to shreds by “Journey Into Night.” Westworld fans had lots of ideas about exactly where something as ambitious and gigantic as these parks could possibly exist. Might it be possible that Westworld was built on an entirely different planet?
Status: DEBUNKED! Nope, it’s near China! Early in the premiere, we meet Delos tough guy Karl Strand, who tells off a man wearing a Chinese military uniform and explained that Delos has “complete control” over the island they’re standing on. Unless China has taken over Mars (or other parts of Earth), Westworld is firmly located in that part of the world. As Vanity Fair’s Joanna Robinson notes in her thorough breakdown, there are Easter eggs buried in season one that affirm this, too: During a video chat, somebody speaks to Theresa in Mandarin, and Maeve escapes to a train station with a Chinese P.A. announcement in the season finale. That’s not all! Remember how Maeve got that slip of paper about the location of her daughter? The Finnish subtitles included coordinates that point to a man-made island between Vietnam and the Philippines … in a string of islands owned at least in part by the Chinese.
Theory No. 2: Robert Ford isn’t dead
At the end of last season, Dolores shot Dr. Ford in the head, but fans instantly started to wonder if death isn’t really death in Westworld. Given the amount of time devoted to Ford’s hands in his final scenes — hands are often the tell for hosts, apparently — some sleuths were convinced that Dolores actually shot an android version of the park’s puppet master instead of the real thing.
Status: DEBUNKED! Ford sure looks dead in “Journey Into Night.” When Strand and his men are killing hosts and taking data out of their heads, the android creations have not succumbed to decay in any way — even though many of them have been dead for days. Yet we get a very graphic shot of the late Mr. Ford, whose body is clearly rotting away. Unless Ford somehow replaced the android version of himself with a body that looks exactly like his own, he’s truly gone.
Theory No. 3: Westworld isn’t the only park
From the very beginning, fans suspected that Westworld would be only the start of this story. The first season mentioned another park, and in the lead-up to season two, official websites seemed to confirm the existence of at least five other parks, at least one of which is called Shogun World.
Status: CONFIRMED! Though we haven’t seen another park yet, we do get a glimpse of what’s to come: When Strand’s team stumble across a Bengal tiger, they note, “We’ve got Bengals in Park Six,” and “We’ve never had a stray across park borders.” The question is, how much longer until we see this mysterious Park Six?
Theory No. 4: Ford’s game isn’t over
With Ford dead and gone, it seemed that the “game” he wrote within Westworld had finally ended. Now it’s every man, woman, and host for themselves, right? But what if that’s not true? Remember, one of the biggest revelations of the end of season one was how Maeve’s newfound independence was actually programmed into her code. And before his death, Ford spoke often about a new phase of the game that involved his final narrative. (He called it “Journey Into Night,” just like the name of this premiere episode.) As suggested in this Reddit thread, could everything that’s happening now — or at least most of it — still be following Ford’s script?
Status: TBD. A key moment of the premiere comes when William speaks to a host version of a young Ford. The android tells him, “You made it to the center of Arnold’s maze. But now, you’re in my game. And in this game, you have to make it back out. In this game, you have to find the Door. Congratulations, William, this game is for you.” What does that mean for the revolution? Where is the game headed next, and is Ford still controlling it from beyond the grave?
Theory No. 5: Bernard is trapped in another loop
This is a complicated one, but fans are digging deep into Bernard’s unusual behavior when Strand finds him on the beach. His behavior is awkward. He doesn’t need his glasses. He seems dazed in ways he never had before. The most interesting theory is that Bernard is being looped, going through this experience with Strand again and again for reasons unknown. When Strand and Bernard first meet, Bernard finishes his sentence: “Good to see you, though the circumstances are…” “Less than ideal.” Has this conversation happened before? Are they trying to get information from Bernard? Or perhaps into his mind, à la Peter Abernathy? Let’s get really wild: What if that’s not Bernard but another host using the Bernard body? Maybe even Dolores?
Status: TBD. There’s clearly way more to the Bernard/Strand arc than what we see in the premiere. Bernard’s unusual behavior, Strand’s need for information, and the weird sense of repetition don’t seem like an accident. After only one episode, the Westworld message boards are hot with a lot of theories — what if Strand is a host too?! — but it’s too soon to tell what all of this means.
Theory No. 6: Westworld is stealing human DNA to create robo-clones
It’s obvious that something was happening at Westworld beyond the entertainment sold to guests. When Charlotte leads Bernard to the secret lab in “Journey Into Night,” he notices that they were “logging records of guests’ experiences” and collecting their DNA, like some sort of futuristic Facebook. But why? Some fans note that the original Westworld film includes a subplot in which famous people are copied by Delos. Imagine the power of being able to “replace” someone with a host version that you could totally control. World leaders, industry titans, and just about anyone else could actually be a host.
Status: TBD. The show is definitely up to something here, but it’s already departed from the original film so much that it’s hard to believe the answer will be as simple as cloning. Still, all that DNA will clearly play a huge role this season. How about this idea sprung forth on Reddit: What if the Man in Black doesn’t leave the park because he was replaced by a host in the real world? After all, the only way someone as powerful as William could spend so much time in Westworld is if nobody noticed that he was gone.