WARNING! THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS HUGE SPOILERS FOR EPISODE 7 OF WESTWORLD, “TROMP L’OEILL”. DO NOT READ UNTIL YOU HAVE WATCHED IT!
If you haven’t been watching Westworld…well then what are you doing reading this despite my warning up top? Because trust me, you want to be watching Westworld as HBO’s new take on Michael Crichton’s 70’s sci-fi feature film has been some of the best viewing on TV right now, as it spun out the tale of robotic “hosts” in a cowboy themed future amusement park slowly gained sentience and realized they were the hedonistic playthings of rich clientele.
7 Episodes through its 10 episode first season, the show has already been stuffed full of big moments. However, in the shows latest episode, we got treated to its most shocking one yet as it was revealed that Bernard Lowe (Geoffrey Wright), head of Westworld Programming for Delos, the company that runs the park, was actually a host himself, a fancy automaton created by park founder/creator Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins) for unknown purposes. What’s more, moments after the reveal, Lowe violently killed Westworld operations manager and his lover Theresa Cullen (Sidse Babett Knudsen) upon Ford’s instruction, after she found out the truth.
It was a massive paradigm shifting moment that showrunners/co-creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy have clearly be building to for a while.They spoke to Variety about it, and revealed when they brought Wright himself into the loop by telling him of his character’s ture nature.
Jonathan Nolan: We told him after the pilot, before episode 2 — not because that was the way we were going with the story, but because we wanted him to be able to play the role as immersively as possible. But we had reasons that I can’t get into that dictated we be clear with him about some aspects of his performance. With our actors, for the most part, we try to leave them in the dark as much as possible. With Jeffrey, we had the conversation relatively early.
One of the main reasons why the reveal of Bernard as a host came as such a surprise to many, is that the show has established an actual history for him. We’ve seen him talk about and have memories of his dead son, and we even saw a Skype call he had with them. So was all of that just there to fool us?
Lisa Joy: We wanted [Geoffrey Wright] to believe, as his character believes, in the humanity and loss of what he’s experiencing, or what he thinks he’s experiencing. I think he did an amazing job of balancing that, and essentially playing this character, who’s totally convinced of his reality, for the most part, then every so often you’d see a little slip here and there that indicates he might be a host and he doesn’t know it yet.
Another red herring that threw many off the trailer were the many scenes in which we see Ford and Bernard interacting in relatively deep discussions as peers. It’s not normal for the puppet master to regularly sit down for pow-wows with one of his puppets, so why do it here?
Nolan: I think we’ve established that the key to the hosts, part of the key of them remaining in character is that they’re not confronted with the existential crisis of the fact that they are not who they think they are. I think that Ford, Tony Hopkins’ character in the show, is a cypher. We’ve written him, Tony’s played him beautifully in that direction throughout. We don’t know what’s motivating him. We don’t know what his ultimate goal is. We do know that as he’s spent more and more time in the park and become more and more withdrawn, he’s become more and more self-selecting with his company. And he’s also apparently built himself a right-hand man. None of that works if he doesn’t treat Bernard with a measure of humanity.
Ford previously revealed that his mysteriously missing park co-creator Arnold Weber (more on him later) was prone to the eccentricity of preferring the company of robots to humans, and yet this is precisely what Ford has done. Besides for his frequent one-on-ones with Bernard, Ford has also often communed with other hosts, including Old Bill and even a young boy whom we later came to learn was a host version of himself.
Joy: I think it’s the trap of these creations and having the kind of power that Ford wields. It’s always threatening to lose your own perspective on things. So while the hosts are having a hard time figuring out who they are and what they want, I think it can sometimes lead to conflict within the humans too. From the very beginning, Ford had this track record of talking to robots. He’s talking to Old Bill when we started this series. You just get this sense that there’s no one else he can trust, so he’s kind of talking to echoes of himself. He’s become this kind of Platonic Pygmalion and Galatea. You create your creatures, and you might not start to fall in romantic love with them, but you love them, and you need them in order to express yourself.
Nolan: I think there’s a connection to make to the hand wringing in this moment in the world, particularly around the election, and have people silo’d themselves with social media. Has everybody basically created their own echo chamber composed of people who are like-minded.
And this brings me to my theory about Arnold. The whereabouts of Ford’s old partner is a mystery that the show has been dancing around since he was first mentioned, but we may have received the biggest clue about this in this past episode.
If you paid attention carefully to the final moments of episode 7, you would notice that the secret room they were in at the end is the same one in which we’ve often seen Bernard interview the host Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) in? We’ve never ever been able to work our just how Dolores gets from the “surface” of Westworld to the Dells facility so quickly, but what if those interviews we’re seeing were actually flashbacks. Specifically, flashbacks to interview conducted with Dolores by none other than Arnold? Yes, I’m positing Bernard is actually Arnold.
The how of this, I’m not sure about. Bernard could be a perfect replica of Ford, or somehow Arnold’s consciousness was just placed into this robot body. Whatever the means, I think that the two “men” are essentially the same person. Also, remember how Ford revealed in a previous episode that the earlier robots that Arnold designed heard their instructions in their heads as voices, probably Arnold’s voice? Well, when Dolores broke out of her programming and picked up a gun, she most definitely heard a voice telling her to do so. A voice that sounded exactly like Geoffrey Wright. We know that Dolores is the oldest host in the park and was around when Arnold was alive, so the two of them interacting as often as they did should not be surprising.
Of course this theory is still just that: a theory, but with Westworld now seemingly running at full tilt with its narrative I’m guessing it won’t be too long before we have some answers. Well, not all the answers of course, as they will definitely save a whole bunch of mysteries for season 2… whenever it arrives, that is!
If you have a theory of your own, or just want to shoot holes in mine, then sound off in the comments below! I also advise you to read the full interview with Nolan and Joy at Variety, as they raise some other points regarding whether they’ve lived up to the early promises they made about the show, or how the recent US election affects its relevancy.
Last Updated: November 16, 2016