Well, this makes things interesting. A major twist in Westworld’s seventh episode, “Trompe L’Oeil,” allowed everyone to finally put an internet fan theory to rest — turn back now if you don’t want to be spoiled.
Bernard is, in fact, a host created by Robert Ford to spy on his colleagues. He was also, apparently, designed to murder Theresa Cullen for not listening to Ford’s advice in “Dissonance Theory.” Back in episode four, “Dissonance Theory,” Ford had his first showdown with Theresa when he cautioned her, “please, don’t get in my way.” He asked nicely, as far as Ford goes, yet Theresa’s incessant snooping, and allegiance to the park’s corporate overlords, led to her death.
The ramifications of this shocking reveal and brutal murder raises a lot of new questions, whose answers will undoubtedly play out in the Season 1 finale, but first thing’s first — who is actually a host, and who is human?
Good old Sizemore went and gave the control room map a golden shower in “The Adversary,” which probably disqualifies him from being a host. Have we seen a host pee or poop on the show before? If Sizemore is a host, then leave it to Ford’s twisted mind to program Sizemore with the capabilities to take his digitally induced anger out via an act of indignation via urination.
But something tells us Sizemore is real flesh and blood (and urine). He’s aired his grievances, with the management of the park, with secretive rendezvous with Theresa Cullen before, though as we know now with Bernard, those meetings might just be carefully planned encounters to keep tabs on those out to get Ford.
Still, during Sizemore’s desperate attempt to hit on who we find out is Charlotte Hale in “The Adversary”, his disillusion with the man in charge seems like genuine human gripes. “You’re afraid to lose control,” she tells him. “Well, maybe it’s just a product of my work environment. We’re not exactly in a culture where we can just let loose,” he says back to her.
Sizemore’s biggest gripe is that Ford is limiting his delusional artistic freedom as head of narrative. There’s no legitimate narrative reason for the show to make him a robot against someone who he thinks is “the megalomaniac who started this place.”
Stubbs, on the other hand, might just be the park’s other robot in disguise.
He’s the only other character, besides Ford and Bernard, to handle a diagnostic on Dolores, which is weird because that’s a job for the programming department, and not security. Maybe this is just standard protocol in extreme cases, but it’s a testament to the twisted narrative of the show that his aversion to the robots either makes him suspicious or a rational observer.
The key to Stubbs’s role might be in the host data mining plot that Elsie stumbles upon, and relays to Bernard. When Stubbs and Elsie went looking for the Woodcutter in “The Stray,” he was adamant that they only needed to take its head, and leave the body. Did he want the satellite uplink to finish sending the data to Theresa because he’s a host spy for Ford, or did he just not want to carry a 200-pound host back to base?
If he’s not a host, he definitely has some sort of secret left to be revealed, primarily if he was the one who attacked Elsie in the abandoned theater in Sector 3, and why he’d be working for Theresa and the company to smuggle data out of the park against Ford.
Probably the smartest character on the entire show, Elsie is the classic example of a character that’s in over her head. Making her a host wouldn’t make much sense, considering her complete devotion to her boss Bernard, and the fact that she’s had no real interactions with Ford.
If anything, like he did with Theresa, Ford is simply monitoring her behavior to make sure her innate intelligence doesn’t allow her to overreach into his grand plot. Considering Elsie got to the theater, learned that Arnold was changing the settings on the robots, and Theresa was smuggling the data out of the park, she inadvertently led Ford to kill Theresa via Bernard. If Host-Stubbs is the one who kidnaps Elsie, she might face the same fate as Theresa, but if he’s human, then maybe he’s done some sleuthing on his own, and is there to protect the park’s unfortunately curious programmer.
William and Logan
If these two end up being hosts, then creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy have some explaining to do. It makes more sense that they’re the unwitting human businessmen coming to save the park in the two-timeline theory.
“Rumor is they are hemorrhaging cash. We’re considering buying them out,” Logan says in “Contrapasso.”
“Supposedly, this place was all started by a partnership, he continues, referencing Ford and Arnold. “And then right before the park opened, one of the partners killed himself. Sent the park into a free fall.”
These guys are humans. No question about it. But, then again, this is Westworld. Crazier things have happened.
Westworld’s newest character is simultaneously the one with the most backstory and somehow the most cryptic. The remaining three episodes of the series will surely get to the bottom of why the executive director of the board, overseeing the park, shows up forcing a hostile takeover to undermine Ford. She’s most likely a human, precisely because she’s there to challenge his authority as the supposed godhead of the park. She’s the perfect human foil for Ford: a young woman whose power lies in her cunningness and her status in the hierarchy of the business, instead of the park itself.
Still, it’d be the greatest “fuck you” to Ford if she ends up being a self-aware host, wrestling away all of the park data from her maker, though that seems like it would be cutting into Maeve’s bulk apperception storyline a bit too much.
The Man in Black
To make Ed Harris’s Man in Black into a host would be both a lazy retread of the original movie, and betray the themes of the show entirely. Plus, we find out in “Dissonance Theory” that the Man in Black has a life on the outside. “Your foundation literally saved my sister’s…” a fellow guest says to him, while camped out with Armistice’s gang, before being interrupted by the MiB himself: “One more word, and I’ll cut your throat. Understand? This is my fucking vacation.”
He is the player, and Westworld is the game. He’s the intentional opposite of Dolores, in that one is human, and one is not, though both are also searching for the same cryptic affirmation of meaning, or as the Man in Black puts it in “Contrapasso”: “Something true.”
The Arnold situation remains Westworld’s biggest mystery. Either Ford is lying and has made up the whole Arnold persona as a ruse, or Ford was Arnold’s greatest robotic creation, who achieved free will, and decided to kill its maker.
The characters, and Ford in particular, have a kind of reverence for the first generation hosts, like Dolores. They’re like antique cars. The nostalgia for them is strong. Even Ford’s robotic family from “The Adversary” are technically first generation hosts. “Arnold built them as a gift,” Ford says to Bernard at the Sector 17 cottage. “He said that great artists always hid themselves in their work.” Does this line refer to Ford being an extension of Arnold’s desire for robots to be as real as possible?
Photos via HBO