Some people watch a TV series for the acting; some watch for the writing; some watch for the social commentary; some for the laughs, or the tears, or purely to escape. However, a large number of viewers live to theorise on all facets of someone’s creation – and Jonathan Nolan’s Westworld certainly attracts the latter type of viewer.
Since the HBO drama concluded its debut season in 2016, fans have dissected the show in copious detail, looking for potential Easter eggs and puzzles to solve ahead of the show’s return in April. A plethora of fan theories emerged online and have slowly become more and more intricate as time has gone on. Admittedly, several Season 1 theories turned out to be correct. Dolores is indeed Wyatt, there are multiple timelines, Bernard is a host, and William and the “Man in Black” are the same person.
Thankfully for devoted fans though, plenty of burning questions remain unanswered ahead of the show’s return. In the meantime, here are the six most thought-provoking theories – and their justifications – around at the moment.
Ford Isn’t Really Dead
In the defining moment of the finale, Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) shoots Ford (Anthony Hopkins) in the back of the head, killing off the creator of the world. Or so it seems. However, this is a series filled with loopholes, rarely absolutes and many are suggesting Dolores shot a host.
It’s hard to believe that a man with an obvious God complex wouldn’t want to see the fruits of his labour. His creations had finally achieved free consciousness and we’re supposed to believe he didn’t want to hang around to see the results? It just doesn’t sit right.
Fans are also basing predictions of a return for Hopkins on an examination of his hands… seriously. When Ford shakes hands with Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) – who was found to be a host in the penultimate episode – some have suggested the ultra-close shot of the interaction was a deliberate telegraph. Ordinarily this would be dismissed, but in Michael Crichton’s original film, odd hands and handshakes were one of the biggest giveaways as to who was a host in the park.
Although this one is somewhat dubious, Ford often mentioned a “secret project” and we’re yet to find out what it is. It’s feasible that he could have created a host version of himself to carry out his final moments while nestled away somewhere in the park – when Dolores put a cap in his mechanical counterpart.
Nolan also fuelled this notion in an interview with Variety, by claiming: “I’m not sure we’ll ever completely rule out the possibility,” [of Ford re-emerging down the line].
The Park is on an Island
Potentially the biggest mystery for viewers that is entirely avoided by the show, is the location of Westworld. Is the park in the United States? Somewhere in Europe? Nobody knows at this stage. That train could be docking anywhere. The most popular fan theory is that the park is housed on some sort of island.
The basis for this theory comes from the aforementioned scene where Maeve escapes the park with the ultimate goal of reaching “Mainland,” although the reference could just be an internal phrase meaning life outside the confines of Westworld. Many believe that the wording is deliberate though and that the attraction is surrounded by a body of water. Issues with flooding and water in the underground control centre also indicative of island life.
One thing we know for sure is the park is in an isolated location. Employees must reside within the facility for sustained periods of time. We know this because Theresa Cullen is asked when she will be “rotating home” by the smarmy Lee Sizemore, meaning the park must be difficult to commute to regularly.
Nolan has suggested that Season 2 may reveal the answer to this clanger, claiming (via EW): “We don’t want to create the world’s largest mystery around [the location] because we have equally interesting, or more interesting character questions to ask.”
Elsie is Alive
One of the biggest questions remaining after the initial season is: what happened to Elsie Hughes? (Shannon Woodward) The quippy, sarcastic programmer last seen in episode six, when she entered the park to investigate who was smuggling personal data outside. Just as she was revealing her findings she was attacked by Bernard – under the command of Ford – and never seen again.
It’s too simple for fans of the show to accept that she was murdered by Bernard, without us physically seeing the death on screen, like we did with Theresa further on. Again, the Delos Incorporated website seemingly confirmed this notion, after releasing lines of code that – when deciphered from hex to text – locate a ping within the park, suggesting she survived the attack and is hiding. A three-second soundbite can also be unlocked of Elsie murmuring “hello?”
Ashley Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth) also went missing within the confines of the park and the finale failed to address his, and the Ghost Nation’s status. Some have suggested that Elsie may have sent a group of hosts to lead him to her, so they could form a team and plot against Ford’s unsettling agenda. The second season will surely reveal both their situations.
Lines Between the Park and Outside World Will Blur
With the park rules essentially disabled, a growing number of hosts are now able to kill humans. The genius entrepreneur Ford is dead; sacrificing himself to kick-start the uprising of hosts in the park and the natural balance seems to have turned on its head.
The park could very well continue as a tourist attraction of sorts but appealing to very different types of people that arrived in Season 1; i.e. death-wishers, the mentally unhinged and straight up psychopaths… it would make pretty good viewing to be fair. The more likely option however, is that the park will descend into chaos and eventually a sort of ground-zero for a civil war between the hosts and the humans.
Maeve’s late progression into what is essentially an infiltration agent, has put many under the impression that it’s simply a matter of time before the hosts realise what they are – and what they’re capable of – before looking to expand beyond their holding grounds, and to the free world outside.
It’s also been confirmed that new characters – in Season 2 – will include a “military commander” and an “enforcer,” suggesting that the hosts may need reigning in after a serious rebellion against the human slave-masters.
An overriding chaos theme throughout the return Season would certainly spice things up.
Delos Will Use Hosts for Power
Throughout the opening season, viewers began questioning the motives of Delos – the board that controls Westworld – and whether they may be interested in applying their new-found technology to more than just an amusement park for the filthy rich. However, it’s currently unclear what that agenda would be. Soldiers? Some sort of medical application? Who knows. But some people are adamant that they will have a huge part to play in future seasons, based on the sequel to the original Westworld film (1976), Futureworld.
The central plot of Futureworld revolves around Delos, replacing some of the most prominent figures across the globe with aesthetically identical hosts under their control. While the HBO series has never been a direct adaption of previous feature films, it’s easy to draw on existing similarities between the two and it’s feasible to suggest that Delos may have a similar end-game. Now that Ford is out the way – surely? – someone has to take the role of Villain in the grand scheme of things. It’s a matter of balance and the Man in Black is too likeable.
Some are even suggesting that Delos may be relishing the potential spill over of hosts into the real world, as they attempt to deploy imposters in positions of power. Maybe even as high as that fella with the toupee in the Whitehouse.
Everyone is a Host
One savvy Reddit user by the name of OfOrchaWales has found a basis to suggest that everyone in Westworld is a host; there are no humans. “The entire point of the park, the point of all of Ford’s games, his whole overreaching narrative for every host, everything is an attempt to force the evolution of consciousness.”
The redditor believes that Arnold was the only human character throughout the entire story, pushing this idea of imparting consciousness to subservient beings. He created the first-gen hosts – including Ford – and then took his own life for the sake of his creations’ development. Ford then resurrected Arnold – as Bernard – and they constructed the whole basis for the rest of Westworld; the board members, the employees, the guests and eventually the known hosts.
For those that question the basis of this theory, the redditor simply refers back to Charlotte’s (Tessa Thompson) demonstration with Clementine (Angela Sarafyan), where it was revealed that hosts can be programmed to read as human to fellow hosts.
A major qualm people seem to have taken against this particular theory is that is firmly opposes the show’s overriding theme of what it means to be human. Naturally the audience has sided with the hosts, with the decadent and brutal humans playing the role of “bad guys.” But if it was revealed that everyone was indeed a host? everything prior would be basically meaningless.
“If you take the humans out of it, then it’s just another show about robots.”