Just a handful of episodes into the first season of Westworld, and the HBO series already has fans buzzing. The level of intrigue that the Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy-led series offers is significant, and with a Lost-level of questions yet to be answered, it’s led to a fair bit of wild theorizing. That’s not to say all the various theories aren’t entirely plausible. In fact, many make a whole lot of sense, and based on the current evidence we have in hand, any one of them could very well end up proving to be true. Which ones make the most sense though? Try this bunch on for size.
1. Westworld is operating on duel timelines
This theory is the runaway favorite among fans right now, purporting that we’re actually seeing Westworld‘s story told in two separate timelines. The first features William (Jimmi Simpson), introduced in the second episode as a timid first-timer to the theme park. The second shows us William 30 years in the future, having become the enigmatic Man in Black (Ed Harris), searching for the “next level” of Westworld‘s complex narrative. It would certainly fall in line with much of the language used by William’s friend Logan, who’s constantly encouraging him to embrace his inner “black hat.” Perhaps three decades into the future, the mild-mannered first-timer has finally done just that.
2. Arnold is the Man in Black
A compelling alternative to the duel timeline theory involves the revelation of Westworld’s second, uncredited creator, Arnold. Dr. Ford (Anthony Hopkins) reveals the story behind his former partner in an intimate conversation with Bernard (Jeffrey Wright), pausing short of telling us what exactly became of him. What we do know is that Arnold became obsessed with the idea of bestowing actual consciousness on the robotic hosts of the park, and it ended in some sort of unspecified tragedy.
It wouldn’t be at all surprising if that “tragedy” was actually Arnold becoming so engrossed in his creations, that he straight up chose to live among them for the rest of his life as the Man in Black. We know the people running the day-to-day operations have a strict “leave the guy alone” policy for Ed Harris’s character, which is exactly the level of treatment you’d expect for one of the co-founders of Westworld.
3. Dr. Ford’s new story is going to have disastrous consequences
The closing moments of the second episode teased at Dr. Ford’s huge plans for his new narrative. We saw it enacted firsthand in the very next episode, and already it looks like it’s causing problems among the hosts. First off, it dramatically altered the prescribed loop for Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood), who’s programmed to watch bandits kill her family at the end of every day, only to have fellow host Teddy (James Marsden), swoop in and save her. With Teddy reassigned to Dr. Ford’s new story, Dolores is left to fend for herself, and as a result, defies her programming and shoots one of the bandits. If Dolores can beat her programming and learn violence, what’s to say other hosts can’t do the same?
Over in the aforementioned new narrative, we see things take a dark turn. The mysterious followers of Ford’s villain, Wyatt seem immune to gunfire, and wield cleavers and axes. That’s significant for one key reason: The hosts are programmed to be unable to use sharpened instruments, as a way of limiting the possibility for accidents that could harm the human guests. Wyatt’s men defy those rules, and that could very well end up putting human lives in danger before it’s all said and done.
4. Bernard is deliberately sabotaging the hosts
Over recent episodes, we’ve seen Bernard exhibiting some suspicious behavior. He’s made a habit of calling Dolores in for private conversations on a daily basis, asking her a series of leading questions that seem to be aimed toward helping her realize her own consciousness. We’ve also recently learned that Bernard lost his son, and that years ago, the tragedy threw him into a troubling downward spiral. It doesn’t seem coincidental that a man still reeling from the loss of a child is working in a place where it’s entirely possible to make fully conscious, nearly-human androids. The question we have with that in mind: Could Bernard be sabotaging Westworld’s hosts in hopes of bringing his son back in the form of a self-aware robotic host?
5. Westworld is set on an entirely different planet in the distant future
This doesn’t necessarily affect the plausibility of any of the other popular theories floating around right now, but it’s still worth tackling nonetheless. The sheer size and scope of the Westworld theme park requires a massive swathe of available land that simply wouldn’t exist in today’s world. The fact that the show appears to be set in the distant future makes it even more difficult to fathom that somehow, Dr. Ford and company were able to find hundreds of acres worth of property to build their theme park on. That leaves the most likely explanation that Westworld, is in fact set on an entirely different planet.
It aligns well with what we know so far. All the technology we see utilized by the park’s employees is decades (if not centuries) away from development in our current world. And if Westworld does take place in the future, it would make sense in a sci-fi context if mankind has already colonized distant worlds and turned them into gigantic android theme parks. Combined with the fact that the employees of Westworld seem to never leave the park’s facilities, this one sits atop the list of “most plausible fan theories.”
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