We’re nearly finished with Westworld season two, but … we’re still pretty confused. The addictive HBO drama has come a long way with Dolores, Bernard, Maeve, Teddy, and William in its sophomore year, and fans can’t help trying to decipher some of the biggest questions of this universe. Which questions will be answered in next Sunday’s 90-minute season finale? Which mysteries will linger into season three? While we wait, let’s recap the most compelling fan theories and determine their probability.
Theory No. 1: William is a host
He sure seems to think he’s one, doesn’t he? In “Vanishing Point,” we spot William looking at his arm — both in a flashback to the real world and within the park — and at episode’s end, he’s cutting into his flesh to find either wiring or bone. William is facing down a truly traumatic act — shooting his own daughter because of the delusional belief that she was a host — and his entire worldview is unwinding. Questioning the very nature of existence and free will has been the main theme of Westworld since the beginning, and so it only makes sense that it would come back around to one of the show’s most important characters, uncertain of his own humanity even as he contemplates suicide.
Status: Doubtful. For weeks, it felt like Westworld was moving to a revelation that William is a host, perhaps even a new model that’s based on the real William, not unlike the robot version of James Delos from episode four. It would answer a lot of questions — including how Ford could keep speaking to him from within the Cradle and how Emily kept finding him — but “Vanishing Point” puts a new spin on the theory that suddenly makes it feel less likely. Besides, wouldn’t Westworld’s writers be dropping more clues to make us, like William, question his own humanity, only to reveal that he had free will all along?
Theory No. 2: William is a human
Ed Harris may not have dropped any hints, but Katja Herbers sure thinks so. The actress who played Emily told Vanity Fair that not only is Katja dead, but her flesh-and-blood father killed her. “Vanishing Point” all but confirms that William has questioned his own existence before he began his latest and greatest trip to the park, but he barely hesitates to take another life when he’s within its boundaries. Is that because he’s a human who falsely believes, deep down, that he’s just a host killing other hosts? Or perhaps he’s just a psychopath?
Likelihood: Likely. At this point, William being revealed as a host would feel like something of a cop-out, a way to excuse his vile behavior in “Vanishing Point.” The more tragic ending would be the realization that he is now and has always been human. And he’s a psychopathic killer who just murdered his own daughter and four Delos employees. The park has always been advertised as a place that shows a person who they truly are, and we’ve learned this season that William is simply not a good man. His wife knew it, his daughter knew it, and now he knows it too. Ford’s final game was to reveal to William himself that he was a monster, and that lesson only lands if he’s human.
Theory #3: Teddy and Emily are really dead
Much of the Westworld fan debate after “Vanishing Point” centers on the idea that we may have to truly say good-bye to two of the show’s most memorable performers. Sure, we’ve known that James Marsden’s Teddy was “dead” since the season two premiere, but a waterlogged host body didn’t mean a whole lot back in those days. With the Cradle destroyed, people are theorizing that there is no back-up for Teddy, or any hosts, which makes his death more permanent and the end of “Vanishing Point” all the more tragic. As for Emily, it seems clear now that she was a human and that her father killed her. Does that mean a Westworld good-bye for James Marsden and Katja Herbers?
Likelihood: Strong. Sure, “dead” characters have returned on this show — we’re looking at you, Ford — but, much like the last point, bringing Teddy back would nullify the impact of the end of last episode. Same for Emily. William and Dolores were so blinded by their ambition and purpose that they frankly didn’t consider the impact their actions would have on the people closest to them. We may see Teddy and Emily again in flashback, but it’d be a cheat to pull a “Nah, just kidding, they’re alive!”
Theory No. 4: In the future timeline on the beach, Bernard has a host inside his head
Remember how Bernard was acting so funny in the first scenes of the season? You have to go back through everything we’ve seen so far to really understand why, according to this season-long fan theory. After Bernard wakes up on the beach in the future time line, seems disoriented, and doesn’t even need his glasses, fans could immediately tell something was off, and began theorizing as to exactly what was going on here. After the season turned its attention to themes of consciousness — including the twist Bernard was walking around with Ford in his head for part of the season — these opening scenes took on new depth. If Bernard was acting weird because someone is in his head, who might it be now that he’s purged Ford?
Likelihood: Strong. There’s a Reddit theory in which a commenter suggests a viable explanation. After the writers laid the groundwork for a host’s consciousness to essentially take up residence in Bernard’s head, they gave us a beautiful scene in “Vanishing Point” where Ford speaks to Maeve, seemingly unlocking something in her programming. What if Maeve can be saved by “escaping” into Bernard’s mind? What if she’s the “passenger” that explains his unusual behavior? All the hosts are dead, Delos is taking over, but does Bernard allow Maeve to “escape” in the final scenes of season two? We’re buying it, especially because the title of the season finale is “The Passenger.”
The many, many other theories
Diving deep into the depths of Reddit’s Westworld forum, one realizes that the rabbit hole is way deeper than it was last season. Almost no idea is off limits when it comes to Westworld theorizing. The entire uprising has been a simulation in the Cradle or Forge! Everyone is alive/dead! Everyone is a host/human! Logan Delos is coming back! (People are obsessed with Logan coming back.) On the one hand, it’s fun to experience these dive deeps into fandom — the show certainly invites it — but let’s not lose our eye on the show itself. Here’s to hoping that the finale provides just enough answers to debunk the most ridiculous theories, and then just enough questions to throw us all into a few more loops for season three.