Spoilers for all of Westworld, specifically Episode 7, Season 1
Throughout Westworld‘s debut season, the HBO series has inspired a level of discussion we haven’t seen since Lost was in its prime. There’s something about compelling TV mysteries that get people talking, and in the case of this particular show, we’ve seen that firsthand. Constructing a mystery that’s equal parts sensible and satisfying is something of an art form. There’s a reason that the slew of “there’s a secret and we’re not telling you” shows that came after Lost never quite caught on. In Westworld, we finally have a spiritual successor worthy of the questions it poses. The seventh episode proved that in spades, with a massive reveal that changes the landscape of the Season 1 story entirely.
1. The big twist
Many fans have theorized throughout Season 1 that Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) is a host himself. As it turns out, that theory proved to be true, unveiled by Dr. Ford (Anthony Hopkins) in a truly chilling encounter with Theresa, who represented the park’s corporate interests throughout the early episodes. After Hopkins delivers yet another spectacularly threatening monologue, he has Bernard kill Theresa in cold blood. It’s a scene that hits on a few emotional levels, first and foremost of which is the fact that Theresa and Bernard were lovers and close friends. To find out the person you trust the most is in fact an android under the control of your enemy is traumatizing enough. The fact that that same person is the one who obediently ends your life is the cruel icing on the cake.
2. Westworld actually gave us a huge hint early on in Season 1
The above photo was shown to us a month before Bernard’s true identity was ever revealed, and it actually gave us all the information we needed to figure out the mystery weeks in advance. It’s told to us early on that hosts can’t perceive anything that challenges their current existence. An example: A photo of a girl in Times Square doesn’t look like anything to Dolores, because her programming limits her perception. Or as Ford describes it himself, “They cannot see the things that will hurt them. I’ve spared them that.”
So how does that relate to the photograph Bernard is looking at in the above frame? Now that we know he’s been a host the whole time, it makes the big, person-sized blank space on the right side of that photo seem odd. It’s clear now that Bernard was looking at a photo of himself early on in the park’s life, and couldn’t perceive himself in the photograph because of his built-in programming. And that all leads us into the next big theory seemingly confirmed by the recent reveal …
3. Bernard is a host version of Arnold
We’ve long wondered who exactly Arnold was, especially with the park’s former co-creator having died under mysterious circumstances 30-some years ago. With Bernard revealed to be a host, there’s now a big neon sign pointing toward one conclusion: Bernard’s been Arnold this whole time (sort of).
The prevailing theory posits that following Arnold’s death, Ford built a robotic version of his former partner. The photo that Bernard was looking at early on was in fact the real Arnold before he died; he just couldn’t see himself in it, lest it reveal his true identity and challenge his artificial reality. Considering that Ford recreated his entire family as hosts, it stands to reason he’d do the same for his former partner.
4. Westworld might be operating in three separate timelines
In the opening episodes of Westworld, we saw Bernard taking Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) aside for what appeared to be a series of off-the-books chats. They seemed like character-building scenes at the time, but with the information we have now, they hint at a third timeline for the show’s narrative. Notice the staircase in the background of the above frame? It bears a striking resemblance to the basement Ford lures Theresa into, described by Bernard as “a remote diagnostics facility” used “when the park was still in beta.” That means the so-called secret sit downs Bernard has with Dolores could in fact be Arnold running a round of diagnostics 35 years in the past.
For those counting, the three timelines are: Arnold/Bernard’s chats with Dolores (35+ years ago), William’s first visit to the park (20 to 30 years ago), and the Man in Black’s own journey that coincides with Ford’s new narrative.
5. Ford revealed himself to be the true villain
It’s been difficult to figure out who the true villain of Westworld is throughout the show’s first season. The Man in Black (Ed Harris) filled that role early on, but his villainy only extends to the boundaries of killing android hosts. We discovered Theresa was smuggling data out of the park, but even she’s at the mercy of Delos, the corporation looking to oust Dr. Ford. If the latest reveal told us anything, it’s that the true villain is Ford himself.
He’s been using Bernard to feed him information this whole time, both from Theresa, and Elsie (Shannon Woodward) as she’s investigated the malfunctioning hosts. We then see Ford have Theresa killed in cold blood, and it seems likely that he’s the one who made Elsie disappear after she got too close to discovering the truth. Anthony Hopkins of course, has built a career from pulling off subtle menace in his acting, and Westworld has proven to be the perfect playground for his considerable talent.
6. So what’s next?
The facts we have in hand after the latest episode: We know that Bernard is a host, that he could very well be a re-creation of Arnold, and that Ford has a bigger plan we still aren’t aware of. Now, Theresa has been murdered, and her disappearance isn’t likely to go unnoticed by the folks at Delos. It seems likely that Ford will create a host duplicate of her, programmed to be his eyes and ears inside the corporation looking to take him out of the equation.
Meanwhile, Ford’s new narrative looms large, teasing at something sinister on the horizon for both his hosts and guests of the park. We’re left to guess at what’s to come, but with just three episodes left in the season, answers are on the horizon.
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