Did Westworld Reveal The Key To The Show's Multiple Timelines Last Night?
Delores holds it all together.
BY Matt Miller | Nov 29, 2016 | Film & TV
With everything else aside—the corporate politics, the theme park, William and Logan's bro-y rivalry, the Man in Black's obsession with the maze, Teddy dying/not dying—Westworld is just a show about man playing God. But now we have to consider the implications of man playing God, man dying, and another man building a machine in God's image to help him create more life. What brilliance and creativity that Arnold possessed is within Bernard, the machine whom Dr Robert Ford created in the Westworld co-creator's image? What knowledge and secrets inside Arnold's brain died with him when he was killed, presumably, by Dolores? That's what we're left to consider after one of two major twists in Westworld's latest episode, in which we learn that Ford built Bernard to take the place of his dead partner Arnold, a man who had allegedly built consciousness into the park's hosts. How, exactly, no one seemed to realise that Bernard—one of the top Westworld scientists—was an exact clone of the park's dead creator is beyond me, but, since this show is in the business of actually explaining shit now, maybe we'll come to find out.
So here's what we know: Ford is God. Bernard, for all intents and purposes, is a robot god. He's also been recruited by Maeve to join in on her revolution. But Ford was one step ahead, forcing Bernard to shoot himself at the end of Episode Nine. Who's to say that Ford didn't see this robot revolution coming, too? Perhaps, maybe, this has all happened before: The machines had become sentient, tried to rebel, and were stopped under the watchful eye of Ford, who allows it to happen as some form of control (think the conclusion of The Matrix trilogy).
(I'd like to also take a moment to note that last week Teddy—again—did not actually die. This reverts the Teddy Death Count™ to four. But, I think he really did actually die in this episode, bringing the Teddy Death Count™ back to five, for anyone else keeping track.)
Though the show is told under the assumption of a linear plot, time is another unknown in Westworld. We know Westworld the park is somewhere around 30 years old. But we don't know, exactly, when any of what we're seeing unfold take place. Everything outside the park, we can assume, is set in the present day. The Man in Black and Teddy's storyline, we also know, is in the present because it has overlapped with characters in the park's backstage. Any of the plots involving William, Logan, or any of the hosts are unclear. These hosts don't age, obviously, so the Dolores we see in each story could be from any time in history.
That's the multiple timeline theory we've talked so much about: William's plot takes place in the past, and The Man in Black could be present-day William. This theory was given even more support with a small, brief detail in Episode Nine. Logan, that douchebag, cuts open Dolores's stomach in front of William. Inside we see gears chugging away beneath the plastic flesh, which is what the hosts originally looked like. They were rebuilt to be nearly indistinguishable from humans inside and out, as the Man in Black told Teddy in Episode Five—"this sad, real mess, flesh and bone, just like us." This would mean, of course, that William's storyline is taking place in the past and supports the theory that William is the Man in Black.
That is unless Dolores, the oldest host in the park, was never updated to the new technology, which could also be the case. Another important thing to note in this scene is that the photo of William's fiancée is the same picture that sent Dolores's original father nuts in the first episode.
While much of Westworld's characterisation has been lackluster—who, if anyone, are we supposed to care about on this show?—it has made up for it in the later half of this season. And we now know why there were such weak characters in the opening episodes of this series. As much of this show is placed carefully like the gears of a machine, I'd like to imagine that the stiff, passionless characterisation in the first six episodes was deliberate. The humans are all power hungry, violent jackasses who kill and fuck and manipulate to their own gains, and the hosts were tough to connect with, their decisions made inconsequential by their own immortality. But things are different now: Dolores has woken up. Bernard has woken up. Maeve has woken up. And just in the last few episodes, we finally have a reason to care about these characters—Bernard specifically: watching him wrestle with Theresa's murder was heartbreaking. Though his memory was wiped shortly afterward, Maeve shows him the truth of his own existence, which brings him to a confrontation with Ford. Here, Bernard realizes that the death of his son—the defining moment of his life—was just a clever writing trick to make his AI seem more believable. He also realizes that he's built in the image of Arnold, and had been communicating with Dolores (who killed him?) and the Angela-bot and others to nurture their consciousness. As these hosts have experienced an existential awakening, we the viewer have had an awakening of sorts as well. We feel for these characters suddenly. Westworld played the long game here, and as the hosts have become more alive, their characters have become more relatable, more real to us.
It's a show that is constructed with many meta layers: What's advertised as a sex-and-violence-fueled HBO western is, in fact, a deep meditation on life, science, creation, technology, and the entertainment industry itself. And within that show are more layers: It's a story within a story, within a theme park, within branching stories that are at once frivolous playthings for park guests and a maze of riches that could lead to robot sentience. The stories within the Westworld park—those things to remove tourists from their meaningless, unfulfilling lives—are just distractions from what's actually going on. It's the same for us—perhaps the corporate intrigue, Maeve's rebellion, and Bernard and Ford's partnership are also stories to distract us from something greater.
From: Esquire US