Westworld has inspired a host of fan theories throughout its debut season. The most prevalent (and still not officially confirmed) one though asks one question: Is the series operating in multiple time periods? Many believe that William (Jimmi Simpson) is the Man in Black (Ed Harris) 30-some years in the past, and that William’s journey with Dolores informs the Man in Black’s own narrative. There’s been evidence that both supports and challenges this theory, but in with the season finale right around the corner, it’s becoming harder and harder to deny.
Clues have been stacking up every week, and at this point, all that’s left is for Westworld to confirm our suspicions. So where’s the proof? The answer is “everywhere.” Here’s what we’ve been able to find.
1. The Man in Black’s recently revealed back-story lines up with William’s arc
In the eighth episode of the series entitled “Trace Decay,” we finally get some back-story for the otherwise enigmatic Man in Black. Captured by Teddy (James Marsden), he expounds on what drives his obsession with Westworld. He describes his marriage to a beautiful woman 30 years ago, how it always seemed doomed to fail, and his wife’s eventual suicide that his daughter blames on him. If William’s own story takes place 30 years in the past, that timeline matches up perfectly. Combine that with the fact that William is engaged to be married himself, and the pieces begin to fall in place.
2. A familiar face and a revelatory offhand comment
When William first arrives at the staging area for Westworld, he’s greeted by a gorgeous host named Angela (Talulah Riley). That same host showed up in “Trace Decay,” this time in a far different role. In their search for the mysterious maze, the Man in Black and Teddy happen upon Angela, now a survivor in the wake of a massacre at the hands of Wyatt’s men. Upon seeing her, the Man in Black makes a telling offhand observation: “I would’ve thought they retired you,” he opines. This adds fuel to the flames of the “William = Man in Black” theory; of course the Man in Black would be surprised to see the same host that greeted him 30 years ago, still active and now involved in a brand new storyline.
3. A shared analogy between William and the Man in Black
If there’s one thing we’ve learned over Westworld‘s early run of episodes, it’s that nothing is coincidental. Showrunners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy have constructed a narrative where every frame is packed with information. If you blink, you could very well miss it entirely. So when William describes Westworld as something straight out of a storybook not long after the Man in Black draws the exact same parallel earlier on in the series, you begin to see the bigger picture. What’s even more telling is something Ed Harris mentioned right before that episode ever aired.
Beforehand, they told me enough to understand what kind of life my character had in the outside world and why he was coming to this park. But then you get the script for Episode 7, say, and you’re going, ‘Oh! Thanks for telling me, man! I didn’t realize THAT about myself!’
Given the fact that Ed Harris’s character doesn’t actually appear at all in Episode 7, and that William delivers his storybook analogy in that very same episode, it points toward William and the Man in Black being one and the same with a big neon sign.
4. Westworld’s two logos aren’t coincidental
Fans with a keen eye for detail may have noticed the logo for Westworld change from episode-to-episode. And while you could dismiss it as merely a throwaway design element, it actually lends credence to the multiple time period theory in a big way. The “old” logo first shows up when William arrives at the park for the first time (aka 30 years in the past). That same logo shows up two other times: When Bernard logs into an old computer in the park’s sub-levels, and on the labcoats of the techs shown in Ford’s flashback to Westworld’s early days. The “new” logo appears in what would be the present day timeline, most prominently when Maeve watches a promo video for the park in the sixth episode.
5. Why Delos is the key to it all
Early on, it’s revealed that Logan and William work for a faceless corporation, and are visiting Westworld on behalf of their employer. That corporation apparently is considering an investment in the park, with Logan claiming the park’s been losing money since the death of one of its founders (read: Arnold). The thing is, we already know that Delos is Westworld’s sole investor, while there’s no other evidence that they’re hemorrhaging money on their investment. With all that in mind, one Redditor poses an intriguing (and entirely plausible theory):
The ‘A Delos Destination’ supports the theory that Delos is the company that Logan and William work for. When they visit the park (say 30 years prior to the events of tonight’s episode, but several years after the park opened). It’s an independently held company, but has been losing money since the death of one of its founders. Logan is there to determine whether his family’s company (Delos) should increase their stake. Something happens in the park (the critical incident 30 years ago), and William ends up in a more powerful position in the Delos company. William/Delos purchases Westworld, and rebrand it with a new logo, including ‘A Delos Destination’ underneath.
The shorter version of all that: William and Logan work for Delos before the company ever invested in Westworld. Eventually William moves up the corporate ladder, saves the park from bankruptcy, and later becomes the Man in Black.
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