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Westworld: 15 Burning Questions After Watching Season One

by  in Lists, TV News Comment
Westworld: 15 Burning Questions After Watching Season One

WARNING: This list contains massive spoilers for the first season of “Westworld.”

Like “Game of Thrones,” “Westworld” is one of HBO’s decidedly adult series that leaves viewers scratching their heads, but begging for more. The first season, which just ended, explored the difference between living and consciousness, as well as what place tragedy has in our lives. Lots of big questions were answered, like the identity of the Man in Black and who really killed Arnold.

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However, plenty of questions remain. There are hidden agendas yet to be revealed and the fates of several characters were left in doubt. Fans are circulating their own theories while the show’s creators, Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, are remaining tight-lipped on what they have planned for Season 2.

Let’s take a look at 15 burning questions we were left with after watching the first season of “Westworld.”

15. Is Ford Really Dead?

ford-westworld

Taking a bullet to the head, especially from a pistol that’s fired from close distance, usually guarantees that the victim is dead. Although that’s what happened to Dr. Robert Ford, in Westworld, nothing is a guarantee. For instance, Bernard appeared to be Ford’s right-hand man. After several episodes, Bernard was revealed to be Ford’s right-hand host, not a real man, who was so lifelike that he fooled the park’s board and staff. He also turned out to be a copy of Ford’s late partner, Arnold.

If Ford could make a carbon copy of his best friend and partner, he could easily make a copy of himself. Ford knew what, or who, was coming because he programmed his last narrative. Perhaps he created a host of himself who could mingle with guests and deliver that speech, knowing full well that Dolores would come for him. He did give her back her dress and pistol, after all. It wouldn’t be much of a stretch for him to still be alive, while only his host was killed.

14. What does Armistice do After the Finale’s Post-Credits Scene?

armistice-westworld

Armistice was last seen chopping off her own arm and heading back into the fray against the security team with a gleam in her eye. Her willingness to sacrifice herself and her ability to improvise, which is one of the steps toward achieving consciousness, could indicate that Armistice (or should I say Arm-less) was closer to being self-aware than anyone realized.

But, what happened next? She could have escaped to join the other hosts in the park who were part of the final narrative. She could have fought her way out, in hand-to-hand combat. Hector wasn’t able to escape, so it’s possible he doubled back to help her, using the automatic weapon he still carried. Most likely, she was killed. She was unarmed and the guards on her side of the glass was heavily armed.

However, no host stays dead for long in Westworld, especially when at least two of the hosts have the ability to program them. It wouldn’t surprise us to see her repaired and returned to the park as a host, only to remember what happened during the finale.

13. Who was Dolores Actually Speaking to When she Spoke to Her Inner Self?

dolores-talking-to-herself

Poor Dolores seems to have more than one personality. There’s the Dolores of the blue dress, who went all Wyatt and killed all the hosts, even Teddy, before the park opened on its first day. She also killed Arnold at his request, who gave her the strength to do this by combining her programming with the one meant for Wyatt. Then there’s the Dolores of the britches and shirt whom William knew and fell in love with. Finally, there’s the current Dolores, who found her way to the center of the maze and seemingly became self-aware.

When Dolores realized whose voice she was hearing, she saw the Dolores of the blue dress sitting in the opposite chair. She seemed to be talking to herself, in a state of self-awareness. However, she could have been talking to Wyatt-Dolores, who was initially called into action to help with Ford’s final narrative. When she came out of the underground examination room, she was wearing the old blue dress again. Perhaps she wasn’t truly talking to herself, but only following Ford’s programming. Or, perhaps Wyatt is the one who achieved consciousness and not Dolores.

12. If Dolores Was Stuck In a Loop for 35 Years, Why Wasn’t She Ever Retired by Park Security?

dolores-suicide-westworld

Plenty of hosts had been retired since the park opened, as evidenced by the morgue-like warehouse full of bodies. Hosts were retired for inexplicable behavior, overly violent aggression (especially if it was toward guests), or for getting stuck in a loop like poor ol’ Abernathy. Why wasn’t Dolores retired? She was stuck in a loop that kept drawing her back to Escalante, even when it was buried under dirt. If she was stuck in a loop, then Delos, the corporation that owns and maintains Westworld, would have found a nice spot for her in cold storage. It’s entirely likely that she wasn’t really stuck in a loop, but rather working toward consciousness, but to everybody outside of Ford and Albert, it would seem like there’s a broken host in the park that needs decommissioning.

However, they don’t. She was the oldest host in the park, so surely more than one board member or team member would have wanted to retire her. Did Ford override any directive they would have issued? She was Arnold’s “child,” after all, so perhaps Ford was sentimental. It’s also possible he was observing her while she was evolving toward consciousness, which is what Ford had been working on for 35 years.

11. Why Was the Security Team So Ineffective At Stopping Maeve, Armistice and Hector?

westworld-ops

For a theme park where anything goes, the security team is terribly unprepared. The hosts are trained to be violent, for the most part, so it only makes sense for the security team to be able to put them down when necessary. Dolores’s slaughter before the park opened should have been an impetus for training along the lines of a Navy SEAL. Ashley Stubbs certainly seemed to have an itchy trigger finger when it came to hosts behaving too violently or abnormally.

How was it, then, that when two hosts turned extremely violent, that an entire team of security guards couldn’t take them down? Sure, Armistice and Hector snagged automatic weapons off of two of the dead guards, gleefully discovering just how much damage they could do in a short amount of time, but the park’s only response was to send men running straight into danger. Were there no snipers? No one trained in covert ops? No riot shields? No kevlar-based body armor? For a theme park that earns its bread and butter from violence, the security team was woefully unprepared when the violence turned on them.

10. What Was Charlotte Trying to Smuggle Out of the Park?

charlotte-westworld

Charlotte, the board member who is fond of strappy apparel, was trying to smuggle intel out of the park. First, she recruited Theresa to help her. When Theresa went “missing,” she brought Lee in on her pet project. She took him to where the hosts were stored, showed him ol’ Abernathy, and asked him to create a narrative that would get Abernathy up and running, and out of the park.

What was Charlotte doing? She knew the board was going to dismiss Ford, so was she just looking for a way to protect the park’s intel in case Ford wanted to wipe out everyone and everything? Or is she trying to sell information to a competitor like Elsie thought Theresa was doing? Was she trying to use information on the guests, either to blackmail them or to sell their behavioral habits to a marketing firm? The answer might have died with her in Escalante if it turns out she didn’t survive Dolores’ rampage.

9. Where Is Abernathy?

westworld-old-abernathy

Speaking of Abernathy, where is he? The last time we saw Dolores’s former father, he was standing in formation down in cold storage. Of course, when Lee went to the warehouse to perform whatever mysterious duty Charlotte set for him, all the hosts were gone. They were called into action, along with most of the armory, by Ford’s final narrative.

Is Abernathy with the other armed hosts as part of the final narrative? The empty warehouse seems to indicate that Abernathy is out in the park with the others, ready to kill the humans. However, he was retired because he was experiencing “reveries,” the abnormalities caused by Arnold’s code. Is it possible he’s on his own path? Did Lee or Charlotte have time to plant intel on him before he was removed from the warehouse? We didn’t see him as one of the crowd of armed hosts, but most likely, he’s there, and with a wealth of knowledge planted on him.

8. Is Ashley Stubbs Dead?

westworld-ashley-stubbs

The last time Ashley Stubbs, the head host putter-downer, was seen alive, he was far out in the park looking for Elsie. He ran into a group of Ghost Nation warriors who didn’t respond to his voice commands. They advanced on him while he steeled himself for a fight. However, the camera cut away before anything went down.

“Westworld” has proven that anything goes, with big twists and resurrected characters, so it’s just as possible that Stubbs is alive as it is he’s dead. We never saw his body, but we did see that he had been replaced. The new controller was calling the shots in the red control room when Armistice and Hector turned feral, so did that mean he’s dead or just MIA? For that matter, Elsie’s body was never shown, although Bernard’s flashback showed him attacking her. Stubbs and Elsie could be dead, alive, or held prisoner somewhere in the park. Given “Westworld’s” tendency to show a character’s bloody death, it’s highly likely that both of them are still alive since we never saw them actually get killed.

7. Why Didn’t Teddy Join the Killing Spree?

teddy-westworld

When Dolores opened fire on the guests at the cocktail party, James Marsden’s Teddy was completely horrified. His expression was, well, expressive. He was shocked and dismayed at what she was doing. Dolores, however, clearly had no qualms or confusion about taking back her world.

What does this mean? Ford obviously changed the hosts’ programming to be able to hurt and kill park guests. But Teddy wasn’t having any of it. Moreover, he seemed appalled. Why wasn’t he killing guests? It’s possible Ford didn’t program Teddy to take part in the final narrative, but that seems unlikely. It’s also possible that Teddy became self-aware, but his self-awareness took a different path, not one of vengeance but one of compassion.

If Teddy wasn’t feeling trigger-happy, maybe other hosts aren’t on board for killing all the humans. That would set up two factions of hosts on either side of the battle for Westworld. A divide between hosts would allow for a lot of dramatic conflict in Season 2.

6. How Many Other Parks Exist?

samurai-world-westworld

One of the most tantalizing Easter Eggs in the “Westworld” season finale was a brief glimpse of hosts dressed as samurai practicing sword fighting. They were discovered behind a door bearing “SW.” Fans quickly surmised that “SW” stood for Samurai World, or Shogun World, much like how the other logo, “WW,” stood for Westworld. So how many other parks exist?

In the 1973 movie, written by Michael Crichton, audiences were treated to Medieval World, set in medieval Europe, and Roman World, set in the Roman city of Pompeii. Its sequel introduced us to outer space with Futureworld (which is also the name of the sequel) and and the ultimate in relaxation destination, Spaworld (which may have been where Lee was shown vacationing midway into the season).  Showrunners Nolan and Joy have said in interviews that they are definitely exploring other parks in future seasons of “Westworld,” but they will not confirm or deny anything. For instance, they won’t say whether Ford controls the other parks, or if they are only based on his and Arnold’s work.

Regardless of who is running them, having more than one park, and therefore more than one world, opens up endless possibilities for future storylines and characters.

5. What Will Happen to the Man in Black?

westworld-man-in-black

By the season finale, legions of “Westworld” fans had already guessed that the Man in Black, played by Ed Harris, was William. The season finale portrayed his story arc from a cock-eyed optimist in love to a violent, soulless “black hat.” His agenda was to find the part of the park where hosts could act freely and he wasn’t assured of a win. (One wonders what kept him from going postal out in the real world, if he was looking for a real fight.) To his dismay, Dolores clarified that the maze was only a mental exercise for the hosts. Thus, William was noticeably depressed at the cocktail party and drowning his sorrows in bourbon. When Clementine shot him in the arm, he looked pleasantly surprised. Here, then, was the real fight, with real consequences.

How long will William last? Dolores fractured one of his arms earlier, now hanging limply at his side. His other arm looked pretty bad after getting shot by a shotgun. The show-runners have hinted that anyone could come back for Season 2, but with both arms out of commission, William doesn’t stand a huge chance of surviving long enough to have any fun.

4. What Happened to Logan?

westworld-logan

One of the most brilliant plot twists of “Westworld” was that, before the season finale was over, Logan had become a bit of a sympathetic character, rather than a despicable one. The man who was a predator became the prey. His send-off was humiliating, and ultimately, inexplicable. Why did William strip him naked, plant a black feather on him and send him off on a horse into the hills? Was the black feather a signal to the creepy horned folk or was it just a sadistic whim of William’s?

It’s more than possible Logan survived. At this point in the show’s timeline, the park would have been keeping tabs on him as a paying guest. If he survived, then it’s also possible that, along with seeing William as an older man, we’ll see Logan as an older man. There is also a chance, however, that Logan met his end, either because he was naked out in the elements without water or food or because of an accident.

3. How did Ford Know Felix and Sylvester Would Assist in Maeve’s Escape?

westworld-sylvester-felix

Ford was presumably all-knowing and all-powerful, so it’s very likely he programmed Maeve’s attempted escape. If so, then the logical conclusion is that he knew she would need help from Westworld workers. Enter Felix and Sylvester. (As an aside, those are also the names of two iconic cartoon cats. Coincidence?) Ford had to have known that Felix was assisting Maeve with all of her upgrades, as well as removing the bomb from her spine. If Bernard could see someone’s hand in her programming, then certainly Ford could see what Maeve was up to with Felix and Sylvester.

If Ford knew what would happen, does that mean he also sentenced Sylvester to potentially die and Felix to live? One could argue that, although Maeve said otherwise, Felix was a host too. She told him he was human, but after this statement is made, we learn she was also pre-programmed to upgrade herself and recruit other hosts. She might have been programmed to tell Felix he was human. Is Felix a host, too? Perhaps that was why Ford allowed him to help Maeve, as well as managed to ensure he would.

2. Who Programmed Maeve to Escape?

westworld-maeve-escape

After Maeve put the pieces of the puzzle together and became self-aware, she started calling the shots in her own narrative. At least, that’s what she thought. She took a big hit when Bernard discovered that her entire escape plan had been programmed; all the way until she’d be sitting on the train. She refused to believe it, even though the evidence was right on the screen. Regardless of Bernard’s revelation, she continued with her escape plan.

She made it to the train safely, but she didn’t actually leave. She decided, instead, to return to the park and look for her daughter. Did that decision mean she had actually achieved consciousness and went against the programming to escape? Or, was that choice also part of her programming? She cut off Bernard before he could tell her what she was going to eventually do.

The escape plan was definitely programmed, whether she made the decision to look for her daughter on her own or not. Who programmed her? Was it Ford, helping her find her daughter and possibly achieve consciousness? (He said that he and Arnold agreed that tragedy helps humans find themselves.) Or was it someone else?

1. Did Dolores Actually Achieve Consciousness?

westworld-dolores-consciousness

Much to William’s chagrin, Arnold’s maze turned out to be, not a physical one, but a mental one for the hosts only. At the center of the maze was consciousness. Seemingly, Dolores found the center of the maze and achieved consciousness. She seemed self-aware and able to understand her place as a host in the park, as well as aware of the consequences of her previous actions and who “she must become.”

But Ford told Bernard that the hosts would go insane, rather than achieve consciousness, if they relied solely on Arnold’s programming to become self-aware. There are three possibilities. First, Dolores did achieve consciousness, somehow, on her own. Second, Dolores went insane, which is why she started picking off the humans at the party. Thirdly, and most probable, Dolores was simply following Ford’s programming, which was part of his final narrative. More than once, Ford proved he controls the whole park. Dolores’s murderous rampage may well have been part of his plan.

Where do you think “Westworld” is headed? Do you have any other questions about Season 1? Tell us in the comments!

Tags:
hbo, hosts, Westworld
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