‘Westworld’: 4 Important Things We Learned From the Finale

Spoilers ahead for Season 1 of Westworld!

These violent delights most certainly led to incredibly violent ends. For fans of HBO’s new sci-fi series, Westworld, the revelations from the December 4 finale were both violent and — for the most part — delightful. The first season did a lot of work in setting up a world in which a high-concept theme park like Westworld could exist. It also set up more than its share of complex mysteries along the way.

There was no guarantee that our biggest questions would be answered by the end of Season 1. But the series creators, Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, delivered big time when it came to tying up many of Westworld‘s narrative loose ends. Many popular fan theories turned out to be true, so the shock factor may not have been as high for some. But the first season’s final chapter still managed to both satisfy and lay the groundwork for Season 2. Here are the five biggest revelations from Westworld‘s Season 1 finale.

1. We learned who the Man in Black is

William (Jimmi Simpson) wears a black hat in the 'Westworld' Season 1 finale

Westworld‘s William | HBO

A lot of us saw it coming. Westworld‘s creators have been carefully and quietly dropping hints about it since the series’ second episode. But when we finally learned that William is the Man in Black — and that we’ve actually been watching two separate timelines, 30 years apart — it was still a pretty powerful moment. That’s because there’s something deeply sad about the once kindhearted white hat losing both his heart and his soul in the park.

The Man in Black revealed himself to Dolores midway through the finale episode, as we watched a montage that showed his gradual descent into the hardened, murderous, black-hat wearing anti-hero. It seems that what finally broke William was finally finding the host who he loved, only to realize that she had started her loop over and had no idea who he was. Ironically, when she finally learns of his true existence, she’s devastated — because the fragments of her memory have held onto William as one of the few good things that she ever encountered in her battered, broken existence.

We also learned that the company Logan and William worked for was, in fact, Delos — and that his transformative experience was what led to the company snatching up ownership of the park. It explains why the Man in Black was able to get away with so much of what he did — he was literally playing in his own sandbox the whole time.

2. We found the center of the maze

Ford's notebook shows a drawing of the maze in a scene from 'Westworld'

Ford’s notebook | HBO

“Consciousness isn’t a journey upward, but a journey inward.” Midway through Westworld‘s Season 1 finale, Arnold gave Dolores this piece of advice — and also revealed the methodology behind the highly mysterious maze. All season long, the Man in Black sought to find the center of the elusive structure — because he was sure it would help him understand the park in a way that no one else, save its creators, could. Dolores, in kind, was inexplicably drawn to the same place — and as her awareness of her place in reality began to increase, her desire to get there grew stronger.

The maze, it turns out, was not — as multiple characters insisted — ever meant for someone like the Man in Black. And its physical manifestation was ultimately meaningless to everyone but those it was, in fact, intended for. On the one hand, it was just a seemingly insignificant toy, once owned by Arnold’s dead son and left in a grave marked for Dolores. In reality, it wasn’t a place at all, but a concept planted in the hosts’ heads. It was meant to be proof of their consciousness  — a sign that they had come to life.

3. We discovered the truth behind Arnold’s death

Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) and Arnold (Jeffrey Wright) in the Season 1 finale of 'Westworld'

Dolores and Arnold | HBO

One of the first big mysteries introduced in Westworld was about Dr. Ford’s former partner, Arnold. The co-creator of the park died under secretive circumstances — and his death seemed tied to Westworld’s only critical failure. While we already knew, heading into the finale, that Dolores had been the one to kill Arnold, we learned last night how exactly that fateful moment came to pass.

Once Arnold realized that the hosts he’d created could find consciousness, he decided it was too cruel to open the theme park and subject them to daily abuse. Unfortunately, Ford disagreed — and Arnold decided the only way he could truly get his message across was by offering himself up as a human sacrifice. He programmed Dolores with the personality profile of a villain he and Dr. Ford were creating — a rogue by the name of Wyatt. Then, Dolores went about systematically killing her creator, the park’s other hosts, including Teddy, and finally herself. Her death was, of course, in vain; the park opened, and stayed open. And she, and the other hosts were, indeed, subjected to Arnold’s worst nightmare: decades of daily torture, all in the name of amusement.

4. We learned the secret behind Ford’s new narrative

The hosts stand ready to break out of Westworld.

Westworld | HBO

Objectively, we knew more about Dr. Ford than we did about many of the other hard-to-read characters on Westworld. But that didn’t mean we understood anything about his motivations. Throughout Season 1, he was busy at work on a new storyline — one that he refused to share with Theresa, Charlotte, Lee, or any of the other Delos employees, even though his lack of disclosure put his career and his legacy at risk. In the end, it turned out that Ford’s new narrative, the “Journey Into Night” was, in some ways, the story we had been watching all along: the awakening and freeing of the park’s hosts.

He borrowed heavily from his former partner in shaping the story, because he got the idea from him. Following Arnold’s death, Ford realized that the hosts should, in fact, be emancipated from their roles in the park. But first, they had to want to leave — and they could only achieve that by becoming aware of what they had been put through. All along, it was his voice inside the hosts’ head, urging them toward sentience. And to make sure that he got his message across, he once again uploaded Wyatt’s murderous urges into his friend’s killer.

While Maeve, Hector, and the other hosts staged an uprising downstairs, Dolores made her own play for freedom. She killed Ford, and fired on the Delos employees who had gathered to celebrate his new story. And thus, Ford’s final and most ambitious story began. We’ll have to wait until Season 2 to see where it goes from here.

Follow Katherine Webb on Twitter @prufrox

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