Warning: Spoilers to episode ten ahead.
This article originally appeared in VICE US
The season finale of Westworld included everything the die-hard fans wanted, and many of our theories have proven to be true: The Man in Black (Ed Harris) is, indeed, William (Jimmi Simpson), only 30 years later. The anachronistic photograph from the first episode is the same one that William drops at the end of his long journey into his inner darkness. And Maeve's (Thandie Newton) violent escape—recruiting an "army" of other hosts (two, to be exact) with sidekick human Felix (Leonardo Nam) tagging along—was planned as well, programmed into her, even though she tries to deny it. At the end of the 90-minute plus finale, we're left with Ford's self-inflicted retirement, an army of naked angry bots, and a whole lot of questions.
Thankfully, Westworld has been renewed for a second season, so we won't be left hanging, though it seems like it may take over a year for us to get any answers, as season two isn't expected to drop before 2018. So let's wrap some things up and then get to the questions.
First, Ford is actually (sort of) a good guy. He's not the evil, grasping, egomaniacal bastard he's seemed to be in the past few episodes. In retrospect, his actions point to what he's revealed himself to be in the final episode: a saviour. His apparent motto—"Never place your trust in us—we're only human"—has proven to be true: His fellow humans should never have trusted him, because all this time, he's been working on allowing the hosts to gain consciousness (and on unleashing them; the plans for his narrative in episode six reveal the final scenes of the season). What Arnold didn't understand, Ford explains in the finale, is that the hosts couldn't gain consciousness all at once. It took time, a kind of evolution, one that only Dolores has truly completed, having evolved out of the bicameral mind.
The idea of the bicameral mind, which Westworld has been slightly obsessed with, comes from a psychological theory according to which the human brain used to be divided into two parts, one which gave orders and one which obeyed. The theory goes on to say that the part of the brain that gave commands was basically the voice of god, and that the gods of yore are based on these internal voices. The theory may be absolute hooey—no one really knows—but it works for the hosts, so let's roll with it.
What Dolores realises in the finale is that the voice she's been hearing for some time is her own—she's achieved true consciousness, true self-awareness, hearing her own voice in her head just as we do. Maeve doesn't seem to have achieved this, which is part of what makes her character so tragic at this point. She is still being guided by her programmer, whether it's Ford's narrative or some secret part of Arnold that exists in Bernard.
What Happens Now?
We also learn that William, like Ford, has been trying to unlock the hosts' consciousness this entire time. For years and years, he's been coming to the park, trying to knock some sense into Dolores—in horrible, painful, disgusting ways—but nevertheless his intent was to wake her up, to bring back the truly sentient Dolores he fell for as a young man.
William has always wanted to have the hosts as worthy adversaries. Over time, he's watched the park and hosts evolve, but he himself hasn't, ultimately fixating on the riddle of the maze. Only it's not his to solve, but the hosts'. The last moments of the season give him everything he's wanted: As the army of the "retired" hosts advances on the humans, one of their bullets grazing him, he finally sees them as the enemies and allies he's wanted to play with since his first time in the park.
The main question we're left with is, of course, what the hell happens now? The hosts are free, to an extent—they're able to hurt humans—but they're still, as far as we know, programmed by Ford. The hosts, it seems, are an advanced race of humans: better than us, able to be repaired when damaged, never succumbing to disease or the ravages of age. We can assume that given the right technological understanding, they'd be able to repair and replicate themselves. After all, Maeve, once given hold of human technology, was able to figure it out pretty quickly.
Are There Multiple Parks?
Also, let's not forget the teaser we're given toward the end of the season finale: S (for Samurai?) World. The logo for this world is an SW similarly designed to the W of Westworld itself. And as we see when Felix hands Maeve a note with the location of her daughter, Westworld is only Park #1. There are others. Will these be explored in future seasons? Will the original Michael Crichton worlds—Medieval World and Roman World from the movie Westworld is based on—also be shown? Did Ford and Arnold create these, or did Delos, to increase profits?
Whatcha Researching For?
And what of the research being done in the park? Charlotte (Tessa Thompson) hints at this when talking to Ford about his resignation. What we can gather is that there is research on humans and human behaviour being done in Westworld—the violence, the desire for conflict. All of this may be the info that is being collected by Delos for the world outside, one that we actually haven't seen even a glimpse of. We have no idea what the future holds, or why so many wealthy people are truly coming to vacation in the dusty, dirty, criminal confines of Westworld.
Where Did Abernathy and Stubbs Go?
Finally, there's Abernathy. Fixed up by Sizemore (Simon Quarterman), he's said to have been snuck out with a semblance of a personality, along with all the information stored in his head by Charlotte, the information that was maybe being snuck out of the park by deceased Theresa (Sidse Babett Knudsen), former head of operations. And what about that? If there's corporate spying going on, we still don't know who the competitor is, or what they're looking for. And just as Abernathy is missing from the final episode, so too is Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth), whom we last saw looking for something or other in episode nine.
There are lots of questions left open, many mysteries to be solved, and plenty of material to work with in season two. Westworld has achieved something that seemed almost impossible: It took a premise that is inherently silly (I point again to the first trailer where modern glass rooms warred with seemingly cheap Wild West motifs, underlain with Evan Rachel Woods's dramatic voiceover) and made it an excellent, coherent, gorgeous show, and one that did not underestimate the intelligence of its audience. What remains to be seen is whether we, the audience, will continue to empathise with the hosts, as many of us have so far, or whether their turn for the violent will have us siding with the humans in an AI vs. mankind showdown.
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