Last night’s episode of Westworld served up some answers to a few questions that audiences have had for weeks. While it was satisfying to finally get more information on a few things — and have one of the earliest theories essentially confirmed — the episode still didn't acknowledge some of the show's biggest questions.
We’re still left wondering who Arnold is and what, exactly, the Maze is?
With only two episodes left in the season, it seems pretty likely that executive producers Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy will soon release us from our anxiety-fueled nightmares about what everything is leading up to. Even so, there are two more weeks of unanswered riddles staring us down, and it’s our job to speculate wildly about what it could all mean. To the Theory Mobile!
[Warning: The following contains spoilers for every Westworld episode that has aired thus far.]
One of the biggest mysteries we’ve had this season is the identity of Arnold. Nolan and Joy have released the tiniest bit of information in each new episode, unscrewing the cap to let the littlest bit of air out before tightly sealing it again. With each frustratingly vague conversation, it’s up to fans to try and decipher what’s being said by Dr. Ford, Dolores, Bernard or any of the other characters who have some idea of who Arnold is.
There have been some conflicting theories — and it only takes a glance into the show’s subreddit, Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr to see what people have thought up — but one remains the most consistent: the "Bernarnold" theory. The Bernarnold theory, as the name implies, suggests that Bernard and Arnold are actually the same person. Throughout the season, there have been a couple of moments that have suggested that Arnold and Bernard were the same person, but last night’s episode added a few more pieces of wood to the fire.
During one scene featuring the two, Ford tells Bernard that Bernard was built to write new code for hosts so that Ford could give them realistic emotions. Ford adds that what Bernard was capable of doing was far beyond what any human programmer could do, and it seems to line up with the idea that Bernard and Ford had to work in tandem to create the first generation of hosts. This season, Ford has also switched back and forth between proclaiming that "I created this park" and "We created this park" when speaking to Bernard, but we know that Ford built it with Arnold. Everything seems to point to Bernard being a version of Arnold that Ford has kept around, but one of the most important pieces of supplementary evidence to support the theory is Bernard’s earlier conversations with Delores.
There are a couple of scenes that take place between Dolores and Bernard early in the season — secret meetings where Dolores can ask Bernard questions about life, and Bernard confides in her about his son and past life. The two share a special bond, and seem the most comfortable when in each other’s presence. We know that Dolores was created by Arnold, so it would make sense that if Bernard was a reincarnation of Ford’s former partner, that he would still have a connection to Dolores. There are other theories that support the idea that Bernard is Arnold, but view these conversations as flashbacks from when Arnold first built Dolores.
There are plenty of other avenues that all point to Bernard and Arnold being one and the same, but last night’s conversation with Ford seemed to add a little bit more evidence that this theory is true. The episode also pretty much confirmed that the characters existed in multiple timelines. Although that opened up more questions about Ford, Bernard, the hosts and their role within the theme park, it also brought up theories about one of the major plots the show has been focused on all season: the Maze.
In the newest episode, audiences got their clearest look at the Maze yet, thanks to a recollection from the Man in Black.
During a conversation with Teddy on their way to find Wyatt, the Man in Black confesses that he originally killed Maeve and her daughter in a different narrative as a way to prove to himself that he could commit the most despicable of crimes. What shocked him, however, and what he’s been searching for ever since, was the idea that just before Maeve went offline, she experienced this moment of true awareness while lying down in the middle of the field. She stopped being a host under the control of Ford and a program, and actually thought for herself. Even though she shouldn’t have been able to, she acted upon those thoughts and ever since, the Man in Black has been trying to get back to the moment.
All of this seems to point to the theory that the center of the Maze is a place where hosts aren’t under any kind of control and can act freely. It’s a place that’s dangerous to visitors, and as such, has been made incredibly difficult to find. It’s a place that Dolores knows if she finds, she’ll be free. It’s also a place that we know is important to Arnold, and if we go off of the above theory, Bernard was the person who spoke to Dolores about the secret location in the first place. What we can take from that, and run wild with until proven otherwise, is that Bernard as Arnold wants his favorite host to get to the middle of the Maze so she can be free.
Like I say every week, these are just theories that are floating around the internet — or between Polygon staff — but these two seem to be the most plausible. With only two episodes left until the first season comes to an end, it seems pretty likely that we’ll finally be given answers as to just what the Maze is and how Arnold plays into the Westworld landscape.
Westworld airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.