There are dozens of Westworld theories that have run rampant over the course of the last 10 weeks, but tonight’s finale answered one of the biggest.
[Warning: The following contains major spoilers for the entire first season of Westworld, including the finale.]
We can all sit back and sigh in relief: William is the Man in Black.
That's perhaps one of the biggest theories the show’s fans have agreed upon, and the season finale gave us the full, detailed description of how William went from being the sweet and sensitive romantic he was introduced as to the sadistic, unforgiving Man in Black.
After Dolores and William got separated, William went on a hunt to find the love of his life, dragging along Logan — literally — and seeking help from whoever he could. As he went from one spot to the next, William began killing more frequently. More importantly, he realized that he liked the feeling of killing the hosts.
While the journey started out as a mission to find Dolores, William quickly realized that he was learning more about his true self than he ever thought. During the final encounter between William and Logan, the latter reminds William that the park has a way of showing people who they really are. Tied to the saddle of a horse, completely naked, William sends Logan on his way and continues his journey. Beforehand, however, he tells Logan that their company will invest heavily in Delos, calling Westworld the future.
William spent the next bit of his life searching for Dolores, never losing sight of his main mission. When he finally came upon her again, however, she stared right through him, and he realized that she couldn’t remember any of their adventures together. To some extent, it soured him. Like Logan told him, however, William realized that the immense disappointment he felt over Dolores not recognizing him didn’t matter, as he came to realize what was really important to him: his self-realization. The story he was most interested in wasn’t Dolores’, but his own.
Eventually, as we know, the Man in Black — who will remain being called the Man in Black to avoid timeline confusion — would go on to commit the most heinous crimes. He would kill Maeve and her daughter, embark on sadistic journeys and continue looking for the center of the Maze. We also learn in this episode that the Man in Black is the majority shareholder of the park and, as such, has an important sway when it comes to what occurs in it.
That’s important to remember for a couple of reasons. We know that he’s very interested in Ford’s new narrative and that he’s bored by what Westworld currently has to offer. We also know that Ford is being ousted by the board because his narrative designs are considered too dangerous and too unhinged for human visitors. As a majority shareholder, however, the Man in Black can make the argument that it’s the next logical step for the park, bringing even more chaos than ever before.
This revelation — which most fans have seen coming for weeks — also provides us with a pretty intense showdown between Dolores and the Man in Black. Upon realizing that the Man in Black was William, the man that Dolores was waiting for to come save her, everything changes. Instead of showering each other in love and affection, the two become icy toward each other, and after a fight over what the middle of the Maze is, they get into a physical fight that ends with the Man in Black stabbing Dolores and Teddy, who arrives in the nick of time, shooting the Man in Black.
So what does this all mean? Well, unfortunately, nothing. Dolores and William aren’t a couple and probably aren’t going to be one ever again. The Man in Black has moved on from his prior infatuation with the host and is hellbent on finding the next level of the park. While she is trying to navigate the tutorial menu, figure out how everything works and learn how to manipulate the controls to her advantage, he’s already finished the game and is looking for the first expansion pack.
This was arguably the show’s longest running theory and, ironically enough, the most obvious one. The finale answered a few other questions and theories that had been floating around — including confirming that Dolores was Wyatt and the center of the Maze was in fact the hosts’ consciousness — but this was the one that delivered the most satisfaction.
Westworld will return for its second season in 2018, but for now, the finale did a pretty good job of wrapping up the various questions, theories and loose ends that we had going into it.