The later part of the season, or even from Episode 4 onwards, has really been much more confirmation and answer based, rather than giving us lots of ideas for theory crafting, which as a Westworld fan has it’s advantages and disadvantages. Phase Space, gives us a huge reveal on the Cradle, and some intriguing hints at people we think are humans maybe being hosts.
With the original idea behind the ‘Westworld Theory Log’ simply being one long form article, not anticipating how much speculation and theorising we’d have so soon, I’ve now split each episode’s entry into it’s own post. Over each week there will be a new post with some of my own theories, and my take on some of the best and most interesting theories from the web, namely the overly active (and extremely impressive) Westworld sub reddit. That said, with the more recent episodes becoming less and less theory based, and focussing way more on reveals recent posts have focussed on observations rather than theories.
Ford and the Cradle:
When we first saw Bernard’s flashbacks to being in the secret James Delos lab (in episode 3) we saw him picking up a control unit (the circular red brain piece that goes inside the host brain). There he explained that it was similar to the James Delos brain, in that it wasn’t simply code like the Hosts, and that it was likely another human copy.
We see in the flashback that Bernard goes to the secret facility, retrieves the control unit, and then kills all the humans and hosts there. The main question we were left with following the reveal that there was another human/host brain out there, was who exactly it was.
A number of likely candidates cropped up, ranging from Juliet, or William, to Arnold, and of course Ford.
At first I thought Ford would be too easy of an answer, and I’m still not fully convinced that it isn’t, but at the very end of ‘Phase Space’, we see Bernard enter the Cradle (the back up server for all of the Hosts) and get the huge reveal that Ford (actually Anthony Hopkins this time) is there, waiting for him.
What exactly this means going forward, and how it impacts what we know (or thought we knew) about Ford’s plan, Dolores’ actions, and just about everything else going on in Westworld is yet to be seen, but one thing we do know is that by the ‘two weeks later’ timeline (where Bernard wakes up on the beach and meets Stubbs and Strand), the Cradle is destroyed, so unless Ford some how makes his way out of the Cradle, his return from the dead may be short lived.
The Opening Scene of Season 2:
The opening scene of Season 2 showed us a familiar interaction between what looked like Arnold and Dolores, but with two notable exceptions. The first was that the entire scene was in a letter box, 16:9, aspect ratio and gave off a intentionally different look to the scene, it was clear we were supposed to notice something was different here.
In addition to this pretty obvious distinction, and on a more thematic basis we can see that rather than Arnold being in control, guiding Dolores to consciousness and free will as we have seen a number of times before, instead Dolores seemed to be in control here, leading the conversation, and perhaps Bernard (or Arnold). At first I was solidly in the camp of ‘this is happening in the future’ and it was Dolores helping Bernard ‘wake up’ as Arnold once did for her, and that still could be the case, but one thing we do definitely know is that the scene takes place within the Cradle.
We first get confirmation that it is in fact Bernard (not Arnold) and that Dolores is in control at the beginning of the episode where the screen ratio comes back for the first time since Episode 1. In mid conversation Dolores points out that ‘he’ didn’t say it like that, and corrects Bernard, explaining how Arnold really said it in the past. It’s clear then that this is some sort of fidelity test, just like we saw with William and James Delos, and that Dolores is trying to shape Bernard into a more human, and more Arnold-like, person.
The confirmation that this scene is in the Cradle comes later in the episode where we see Bernard enter the Cradle in the present timeline (or at least one of them), and the aspect ratio returns again.
William (or Emily) is a Host:
After we discover ‘Grace’ was actually Emily, and William’s daughter, at the end of Episode 4 there was a lot of questions on whether she was really his daughter, possibly a host copy, how that plays into the bigger role of ‘the Door’, and why exactly she had gone into the park in the first place.
Here we find out that at first William assumes Emily is a Host copy (as he has done with pretty much everyone lately), sent by Ford as a part of ‘the Door’ quest. He quickly realisesthat she is in fact his actual human daughter, after she notices a trap even he didn’t catch. Eventually, while camped out, the two have a heart to heart conversation, where Emily apologises for blaming him for Juliette’s death, and says she isn’t going to let him kill himself in the park. The scene shows off a great moment for both characters, and goes down as a highlight of the Season so far. The scene ends with William agreeing to leave the park with Emily, and at the very least start off making amends with each other.
Of course we find out soon enough that he was lying, and he won’t give up his quest to destroy Westworld quite so easily. The really interesting part of this scene however comes in with a specific line of dialogue that references Juliet and Emily.
After Emily explains she started off in The Raj during this visit, and that it was always her favourite park when she was younger, William then claims that she was scared of the Elephants as a child, but Emily corrects him and says it was actually her mother Juliette who was scared of them. He seems a little confused by the correction, but otherwise continues. The theory here is that this was some sort of fidelity test (from Emily, to William), and whether intentional or not shows us that William is a Host and not quite a perfect copy of the original.
Without bringing theories into this scene the main implication here is simply that William is a bad (or at least forgetful and inattentive) father to Emily and that it’s simply an error on his part. But if we look a little closer and see it as a possible fidelity test, similar to how William would question the James Delos host clone, it has some huge implications for the William being a Host theory.
We’ve already seen William overcome some pretty significant injuries with relative ease (admittedly we know the medical technology is far superior to our own by this point in the future), which is a large part of what started the idea of him being a host. Since then we’ve seen a similar moment to this one with Emily, where William questions whether or not he had told Lawrence about him having a daughter.
We can even look to William going to see James Delos over and over again, thinking he’s testing him for fidelity, as part of his own loop, and in fact being a fidelity test on himself. As an extension we could also see this possible fidelity test between William and Emily as being the other way around, and proof that Emily is in fact a Host as William first suggested, and that is why he decides to abandon her.
Multiple Timelines and the Train Crash:
Almost every scene in Westworld Season 2 is (intentionally) ambiguous as to when it’s happening in relation to the others, to the point I’d argue it’s almost getting in the way of the actual storytelling, but with Dolores crashing the train into the Mesa we get some pretty concrete evidence as to when most of the events are happening.
In short it puts Dolores’ with Teddy, Hale with Stubbs and Coughlin, and Elsie with Bernard all at the same point, as the train crash can be seen impacting the other stories as well. It also solidly places all three of these before the Hale, Bernard, Stubbs, and Strand storyline, as we know that is after the Mesa is attacked, and after the Cradle goes offline.