There may be tons of questions left to answer in regard to Westworld, but few seem as important as the identity of the enigmatic Man in Black, played by Ed Harris. Still without an actual name past his clothing-based moniker, there have been plenty of theories surrounding who he is, where he came from, and what he’s looking to accomplish. Some say he’s actually William (Jimmi Simpson) 30 years in the future. Others still claim that he’s someone else entirely.
Until Westworld provides some concrete answers, we can’t know for sure. What we do have though is a collection of information concerning his background and character traits, parsed out over the early episodes of the series. Here’s what we have so far.
1. “The maze is all that matters now”
We’ve heard mention of a secret maze contained within Westworld, teased at by a signature design (above). That design has appeared in a few places so far: inside the scalp of an unfortunate host, carved onto a wooden table, and on an even larger scale, drawn in the dirt like a miniature crop circle. That maze has been the sole focus of the Man in Black, who himself admits that it’s “all that matters now.” Some fans have taken that to mean that he’s dying, and that this is his last chance to solve Westworld’s biggest mystery, coded into the park years ago by its long-deceased co-founder, Arnold.
2. His history with the park (and Dr. Ford) goes back 30 years
It’s immediately clear that the Man in Black is something of a Westworld frequent flyer. At one point, he reveals that he’s “read every page” of the stories the park has to offer, except for the last one (read: the aforementioned maze). Later on, Dr. Ford enters the park for a chat with him, and it’s not hard to see that their history together dates all the way back to Westworld’s early days, 30-some years ago. The Man in Black knows the park backwards and forwards, is familiar with virtually every host, and is done playing cowboy; he wants the real deal, and he’ll stop at nothing to achieve that end.
3. He has full run of the park
Early on it seemed odd that the Man in Black was allowed to run rampant throughout Westworld with zero limits. The park has a vague set of rules that limit its guests in a few key ways, but those rules don’t seem to apply to the Man in Black. That’s confirmed in one particular sequence, where the head of park security, Ashley Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth) is approached about throwing a few obstacles in the way of the Man in Black. In that exchange, Stubbs matter-of-factly informs us that the Man in Black “gets whatever he wants,” possessing full run of the park. That special privilege seems to be based on some sort of unnamed incident decades ago, where the Man in Black allegedly saved Westworld, although the exact specifics of that incident have yet to be revealed.
4. The Man in Black’s past is marred by tragedy
Up until recently, we had zero background information on the Man in Black. An expository conversation with Teddy (James Marsden) fixed that though, after he revealed a recent history filled with tragedy. The Man in Black was married for almost 30 years before his wife killed herself, a death that his daughter blames on him. As he tells it, both his wife and daughter lived in constant fear of him, as his obsession with Westworld continued to consume his life. Now, his singular focus is finding the center of the maze, with nothing left to live for outside of the park’s own complex (and morally ambiguous) narratives.
5. He’s the head of a major corporation
In a brief conversation with a fellow guest of the park, we see a man thanking the Man in Black, revealing that his “foundation” saved his sister’s life. It’s later revealed that the Man in Black is in fact the wealthy head of a company, and that his experience in Westworld is essentially his vacation. For all intents and purposes, he seems to be a perfectly OK person outside the confines of the park, only playing the part of the murderous villain when he’s gunning down robotic hosts. Given that we know Westworld is run by the Delos Corporation, it seems likely that the Man in Black is the one in charge, especially given his lengthy history with Dr. Ford.
It seems likely we’ll find out who Ed Harris’s mysterious character really is sometime in the final two episodes of the season. If we don’t, we’ll have to wait until 2018 for some answers, so here’s hoping a grand reveal is in the cards soon.
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