Before I begin, let me remind everyone that this is science fiction, where just about anything is possible. I know people are starting to come up with their own wild theories about what’s actually going on, but that’s complete foolishness. We’re three episodes in, folks! No way could you possibly have sussed out the grand opera that is taking place here, especially since the show is going to great lengths to send you off course.
I’ll bet The Man in Black is Arnold!
Oh, you do, do ya? Because you just learned that there’s a guy named ‘Arnold’ in episode three? So it MUST be the Man in Fucking Black? Right. Because instead of a nice, long run of several seasons where diverse, intricate storylines play out over timelines of HBO revenue dollars multiplied by subscription years they’re instead going to wrap everything up in episode three? Really? Do you hear yourself, friend? Take that cookie-cutter, JV, play-doh theorizing out of here and go sit in the corner.
The fact is that we don’t know ANYTHING yet. And because of that, you can’t even BEGIN to construct some all-encompassing theory.
For example, we could have a reveal, eventually, that all of this is happening on Mars. That’s why Bernard has a hard time getting Zoe Washburn on the horn. Because he’s an obscenely far distance from her. At this point, they could pull off this scenario without batting an eye. Would your theory hold up if we found out this was space-based? What if it was just virtual? What if all of this is a simulation?
Or what if I told you that all of your hand wringing about “who is a Host” and “who is a Guest” is just a complete waste of time, because they’re all Hosts. Hard stop. Biological life on Earth vanished eons ago and these creatures, these self-repairing units, from Ford on down to the dildos in the body shop, are all droids. Every last one of them, working on a loop designed with a mistake-based program called A.R.N.O.L.D. that operates using slight alterations or “mistakes” as the main tool of evolution, with the ultimate goal of finding consciousness. There is no Zoe Washburn on the horn. Zoe died eleven thousand years ago.
They could make that be the story very, very easily.
Then how would you feel that you were barking at your co-worker’s husband your definitive assertion that William and The Man in Black are the same guy? And you back that up because of the different LOGO they saw when William rode the escalator with Talulah Riley? That’s why you alienated your co-worker? Because a logo made you cocksure that there must be alternate timelines being shot all at once? So how important do you feel now, one eency-weency episode later, when that multiple timelines theory has roundly been debunked? Are you a smartypants or a blowhard? Now. One week later.
Come on. Take a deep breath.
Just sit back and enjoy the show.
You don’t have to finish episode three and be the only person on the planet who figures this whole thing out. Anyone who comes out of this episode thinking they have a line on the whole story of what’s actually going on, for real? Well that’s just a sign that that person is a self-important windbag of the absolute highest order. People like that deserve a kick directly in the center of their arse.
Pay them no attention.
Having said that, after seeing episode three, I’ve developed a catch-all theory that explains everything. Gather round, children. Gather round.
LORD CASTLETON’S INSANELY ACCURATE GENIUS MIRACLE THEORY
OK, so let me start by saying that I was really bored during certain scenes. Specifically ones where Ford was talking to Bernard in the Dippery. Just a lot of empty platitudes and exposition. And then I thought: BY JOVE! That’s where the clues be!
So everyone wants to know who the Man in Black is. Well, I’ll tell you. In a minute. I’m like Vezzini.
You’ve already told me everything! I know where the poison is!
First, let’s jump to the scene where Ford is uploading a backstory to Teddy and he says that the best stories are rooted in the truth.
But what is that truth?
Well, for starters, it’s that Teddy and Wyatt were friends, once upon a time, before something happened to Wyatt and he went off the deep end. Came back with some “pretty strange ideas.”
Sound like anyone else we know? Someone who isolated himself and saw things that weren’t there? Someone who forced his followers to wear the skin of their dead enemies? Hmmm?
Someone in charge of followers who weren’t afraid of hell because they figured they were already there? Remember what Abernathy said? Hell is empty. All the devils are here.
So I’m guessing that once upon a time, there were two scientists.
Let’s call them Arnold and Ford. They were best friends. Ford was earnest, but Arnold was the true genius. And like all good stories about two friends who grow apart, there has to be a girl.
Let’s call her Dolores.
And let’s say that they’re both in love with her. Now maybe Dolores was a real person and maybe Dolores was just the very first Bot they made together, but she was special to both of them, and somehow, because of ego and smallness and jealousy, Ford broke her.
I’d liken it to the story of Galatea. Pygmailion creates a statue that he falls in love with and Aphrodite brings it to life for him. Let’s say Arnold falls in love with Dolores and he’s like “we can bring her to life, Ford.” And Ford is looking at him like he’s crazy.
No. We can’t. because she’s not a person, Arnold. She’s a thing. She’s an it, designed to be used as we see fit and nothing more.
Somehow, without Arnold knowing it, Ford sabotaged the process, thinking that would be the end of it. And Arnold took it hard. He went away and when he came back he doubled down. He had some crazy ideas. Ford thought he was kidding at first, but no. He meant it. Ford couldn’t believe his ears. What Arnold was saying was somehow perverse and also revolutionary. If he was right, he could save/fix Dolores.
Ford couldn’t have that. So he trapped Arnold. Arnold was always “very careful.” But Ford out-thought him. Arnold’s great weakness, other than implicitly trusting his partner, was this foolish hope that all bots could one day achieve full consciousness. Full actualization. It was a selfish and horrible idea, Ford thought. To wake up these…things. By wiping their memory, Ford was protecting them. He was saving them from a lifetime of realized horrors. What Arnold was proposing was…merciless. It was arrogant and flew in the face of divine nature. But Arnold was so excited by the possibilities that he never noticed the growing discontent of his friend. He was digitizing command lines of his own brain and adapting certain pieces of his own consciousness, which had produced quantum leaps forward in the bots. Arnold, in his delight, never saw how that success was generating anger and jealousy in his partner.
Ford was no Arnold, and he couldn’t continue to run the park without Arnold. It was Arnold’s mind: Arnold’s code and Arnold’s personal genius that made the sun rise and set in Westworld. So one day, when Arnold was uploading pieces of his consciousness to the park’s array, and his coded mind itself was accessible from the back side of the translation interface that he himself had designed, Ford didn’t switch him off. He trapped him in that netherworld between the biological world and the digital one. And he used the science of the times to keep Arnold alive, indefinitely, just like he mentioned to Bernard in the Dippery. They can keep anyone alive, no matter how infirm.
And that’s where Arnold is. Even to this day.
Locked in the deepest, most undiscoverable region of Westworld, a hidden maze which was a combination of the virtual and the physical that he alone can access. It was Ford’s greatest accomplishment. He had all but eliminated his partner and the risk of self-aware bots, and at the same time, Westworld had taken a great leap forward.
Ford was a hero. The Board was only to happy to move on with the more controllable, practical partner and forget about the nutty dreamer entirely. A dreamer whose consciousness Ford was able to digitally access to help him work out the more challenging parts of Westworld. After all, when the legend becomes fact, you print the legend.
But there was only one problem: Arnold had a son.
A little boy, more or less born in Westworld, you could say. Maybe Dolores was his mom. Maybe Dolores was a bot created in the image of his mom. But the little kid was nearly destroyed by the news of his father’s death, and took to wearing black to mourn his passing. As son of a creator, the little boy in black was given full rights in the park. He could go anywhere and do anything. Of course, his kind Uncle Ford took the boy under his wing, and raised him like he was his own son. But the little boy in black never really trusted Uncle Ford. Maybe it was how he never spoke of his deceased partner. Maybe it was how the little boy remembered stories his father had told him: stories about favorite things like a white rose blooming in a brown desert. Or a drop of water that lands on you from a sky without a rain cloud in it.
And then those things started to happen.
And the little boy in black felt his father’s life force around him in the park, even though he was supposed to be ‘gone.’ And quietly, he began to start to unravel the mysteries of the park, piece by piece. He had this powerful feeling that somehow, some way, his father was still out there, reaching out to him. Hiding messages meant only for him that his Uncle Ford wasn’t meant to see. He remembered the first time he was riding through a dry creek bed at night and he heard a stray moaning the name ‘Arnold.’ Well, he tried everything to get that stray to answer his questions but it was gone. Lost. Smoke was actually coming out of its ears. Cognitive function was completely shot. So the boy, now a teen in black, started to take the bot apart, piece by excruciatingly small piece. But nothing. He checked finger bones and under toenails. He dried skin in the sun and lopped off the bot’s head. But nothing. It felt like he was losing his sanity. Maybe none of this was true. Maybe he was so broken by the loss of his father that he just imagined all this shit.
It was nearly too much for him. He sat there, staring at the detached head of the stray, his mind racing, just like the mind of that stray had gone haywire and probably scorched the inside of his brain cavity with all that triggered synaptic activity-
Wait a minute.
He looked at the head of the stray and remembered his father saying that his worst fear was to be scalped. The teen in black reaches for his knife…his hand trembling…and slowly drags the blade across the forehead of the decommissioned bot. A line of synthetic blood appears and the teen in black has to try to hold in his breath to keep from vomiting. He pulls the skin back with a stomach-turning rip and that’s where he sees it for the very first time. A message from his father, burned into the underside of the scalp of the bot using what must have been an ocean of modified code.
“These violent delights have violent ends.”
It became clear that his father was trapped, but through a series of incredibly hard to find clues, was awakening the bots. Tiny increments at a time. His father was trapped inside a maze, both digital and physical, and only a creature of those two worlds could save him. It was the teen in black’s job, and eventually the Man in Black’s job, to help set these events in motion. But the bots won’t grow and adapt until they’re pushed. Pushed in every way. Pushed to the the very limit of their programming. Arnold needs the Man in Black to move the fulcrum by pushing the bots. By jarring them. By making them stretch. He wants them to fight. Without suffering, you can’t grow.
But what were they supposed to grow into? How could they ascend the ladder of consciousness?
It was simple, really. There’s a theory of the bicameral mind. First, a bot needs to achieve the bicameral mind pyramid.
The theory has been debunked, but as a tool for growing a consciousness? Maybe not. Because by episode three, with the subtle help of the son of her creator, Dolores has regained her memory, improvised, and acted in her own self interest to protect herself.
Only free will remains.
Once that happens, The Man in Black will be able to lead Dolores into the maze once and for all. Because this time? The Man in Black isn’t leaving. Not without his father.
But of course, Ford knows all this. He has eyes on everyone and everything. He knows that his enemies are closing in and he knows that he’s going to be destroyed when they do. He still needs Westworld to thrive because he’s old, and only through the advancement of technology can he make a bot that he can upload himself into. He keeps that model of Arnold as his personal piano player in his office because he needs to remember. He needs to remind himself that unless he gets the bots to the next level, he won’t be able to upload his own consciousness into them and become truly immortal. But as of now that bot doesn’t exist yet. So he needs the show to go on. He needs to keep alive the shot at immortality he’s coveted all these years.
But how to defeat Arnold once and for all? How do you defeat an enemy who hides in the code of every blade of grass and every branch on every tree?
You lure him out into the open.
And that’s what Ford’s new storyline is. A replaying of the events of their lives, but set in an unholy final showdown between the good guy, the savior: Teddy, and the insane, unholy devil. The one who lost his mind and had crazy, unnatural thoughts: Wyatt. And the bait?
Why you know who it is. Of course you do.
It’s taken Arnold thirty years to wake her up. Thirty years of moving electrons a fraction of a nanometer to change tiny, unseen codes as Ford’s scan programs try to weed them out. Thirty years to break the woman he loves out of an induced slumber where Ford had put her to be humiliated and raped over and over again. To be treated like the thing that she is.
Thirty years and if Arnold doesn’t show himself, Ford is going to win. Ford will be able to stop her and every other bot from achieving consciousness. He has to do something. He has to.
And Ford knows this. Because in this place, Ford is God. And when God tells you to stay in the Garden of Eden, you bloody well stay there.
Dolores’ final step up the pyramid into free will will be her very undoing. And with her, Ford will take out the pesky, woebegone brat who has haunted his park all these years, the lines of malignant code which threaten to wake up every droid ever created, and in one fell swoop, he’ll purge Arnold out of Westworld’s code forever.
It’s not ultimately a story about artificial intelligence. It’s a story about two friends who let a girl come between them, and one kid trying to find his dad. Simple.
Make sure to yell this theory from the heavens like it’s fact, because by the end of episode four, it will be as inane and preposterous as anything else before it. (If it isn’t already.)
Now, I’ll get back to work on the recap …
Follow Lord Castleton on Twinkler