Westworld: 5 Theories Through 5 Episodes

Westworld is the most talked about show this fall. With Game of Thrones winding down, it shows signs of being HBO’s replacement centerpiece. It’s also one of the more complex and intriguing shows that has come along in quite some time. The internet is abuzz with theories surrounding the manmade dystopia/utopia, depending how you look at it. With five episodes under its belt, and as many to come, here’s five theories based on what we’ve seen so far. Keep in mind that this list could easily include ten, twenty, even 100 theories.


William is the Man in Black

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For this theory to hold any weight, William is currently accompanying Dolores in the past while the Man in Black is in the present alongside Teddy. But why would we think that William and Logan are in the past anyway? Well, for one, when William is shot in town, it leaves a bruise. Remember that when the Man in Black is shot by Teddy in the pilot, the bullets just bounced off of him. This suggests a difference in technology. The other major clue is that the death of Arnold, the mysterious co-creator of the park, is mentioned as a recent event by Logan. When Ford and the Man and Black have their sit-down, the Man in Black specifically talks of Arnold’s death as an event in the distant past.

There’s also Lawrence to consider. In William’s narrative, he is El Lazo. El Lazo appears directly after the Man in Black slit his companion’s throat (Lawrence). Again, this seems to fall in line with the multiple timelines.

But the Man in Black is bad, and William is good? This is perhaps the hardest part of the theory to grapple with: how did William turn from a moralist to a man of such questionable character? After all, William is quite enamored and protective of Dolores, while the Man in Black, by the looks of it, sexually assaulted her in the pilot. Could these men really be one of the same in different times? Well, William has shown he can be “bad,” as he killed those innocent men in episode five. And he is showing signs of being endlessly befuddled and memorized by the park. It’s not implausible that over the course of thirty years he evolved into a man obsessed with finding the answers to the puzzle at the center of the enigmatic maze. Their age difference also agrees with this theory.


The boy is Ford

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In “Chesnut,” Ford takes a long elevator ride down to a point far outside of the park where he encounters a young boy dressed eerily similar to himself. They have a cryptic conversation and then we don’t see the boy again until he stumbles upon the Man in Black in the woods. The boy fetches water for the ailing Teddy, and not long after, we watch the encounter between Ford and the Man in Black in the saloon. It’s possible that Ford sent the boy after the Man in Black in order to guide him to their interaction. While the boy could also be a host version of Ford’s son, as of now we barely know anything about Ford’s personal life. At this juncture, this theory is more of one to watch out for as the story carries on. Yet, the fact that the boy is nameless as of yet, is telling that he is somehow important, and perhaps concealed for a reason.


Dolores is the key to the puzzle

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Dolores is known to be the first host. She also seems to be the most self-aware. Perhaps this is because of her recent secret talks with Bernard. Maybe it’s because she is finally, somehow, unearthing some of the code that Arnold left behind. We saw her lie to Ford when he asked about the last time she spoke with Arnold so we can presume that she has not been 100% forthcoming with Bernard. Her glitches during her journey with William seem to be remembrances of the past. In this way, Dolores is confirming the multiple timelines theory, while also creating a new body of questions. Bernard has told her about the maze, and she claims to be interested in finding it, but why then has it taken so long?

In the present, Dolores has interacted with the Man in Black, but he doesn’t appear to think she holds any important information. This leads to a new hypothesis: Dolores is rewriting time with the inclusion of Ford’s new, large scale narrative. Now that Dolores is equipped with the knowledge of the maze in the present, will she purposely use it to throw William off the trail in the past? Her story grows with each episode, and her connection with Arnold likely holds the key to uncovering some of the parks mysteries.


Bernard is an android, along with many others

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Bernard’s son reportedly died in a hospital, but Ford says that diseases do not plague the outside world anymore. During one of his discussions with Dolores after her father dies for the umpteenth time, she says, “You think the grief would make you smaller inside, like your heart will collapse in on itself. But it doesn’t. I feel spaces opening up inside of me. Filled with rooms I’ve never explored.” This mirrors Bernard’s description of grief during his video chat with his wife (ex-wife?). While similar responses aren’t indicative of them both being programmed beings, the close proximity of these sentiments cannot be ignored. If we take this theory one step further, we could say that Bernard is actually a replica of Arnold. The name similarity and the fact that Dolores starts speaking with “Arnold” closely after her secret conversations with Bernard is worth acknowledging. And if Bernard is an android, who else working at the park isn’t real?

How about Theresa? She met with Ford to discuss the new park renovations, commenting on how she sat at a table nearby with her parents when she was a kid. Ford told her that he knew everything about the park, its hosts and its visitors, and explained that she sat at that exact table. The lines between hosts and visitors occasionally blur, and it’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility that many of the parks workers are actually programmed to think that they are real.


This is all a dream

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Ready to roll your eyes? What if all of this, the park, the people, and its many wonders, is simply an elaborate dream inside the head of Dr. Ford? While I truly hope not, notice how each time a host is questioned in the lab, they are asked where they are at the moment? They always respond with some form of, “I’m in a dream.” In episode five, after Ford listens to Dolores recite those words, he confirms her response. Then he tacks on one extra detail–she is in his dream. In many ways it appears that Ford is playing God in this world. What if he somehow has total control of his dreams to the effect that he is actually the God of Westworld? Dreams and sleep play a major role in this world, but if the only dreams that matter are the ones that dance in Ford’s head? The dream of Westworld.