Westworld Season 2, Episode 1 spoilers ahead!
Westworld's Season 2 premiere was confusing. The writers laid out a number of puzzles, though they didn't give us enough pieces (yet) to solve any of them. Not that that will stop us from trying.
The online Westworld community is a massive hive mind that exhausts every narrative possibility. The collective effort of so many people will inevitably happen upon the solution.
It's a compliment to the show that most of the first season's major twists were sussed out by the halfway mark; like all good science fiction, Westworld takes great pains to adhere to its own logic and rules. Had the fans not been able to figure everything out, it would mean the writers deliberately withheld key information until the last minute. And that's a cheap way to trick the audience; better that the twists make sense than be arbitrary.
Keep that in mind when you read Westworld analysis during Season 2. Together, we'll probably figure this out again, and that's part of the fun. Here are the biggest theories coming out of Westworld's Season 2 premiere.
6. Stubbs is alive. OR IS HE?
Stubbs is doing cleanup with the rest of the Delos crew when they find Bernard lying on the beach, nearly two weeks after Ford's death. Evidently, Stubbs survived his encounter with the Ghost Nation at the end of Season 1, and he's back as a security officer.
This seems a little too pat, and it's led fans to speculate that Stubbs is actually a host--perhaps the same one Ford was printing out in the lab beneath the church. It would certainly be advantageous for the hosts to have one of their own on the inside, feeding information to Dolores. And if he is a host, Stubbs might be the only one who knows Bernard is a host.
Also, Elsie is still missing.
5. Barriers between the "worlds" are breaking apart.
The Delos team finds a host tiger washed up on the shores of Westworld, which tells us that somehow, between all the power outages and the overall chaos, the barriers between the theme park worlds (of which there are at least six) are either eroding or already broken. The episode also told us that Westworld is on an island; whether each park has its own island separated by water, or they're all on the same island and the barriers are something else, remains to be seen.
We've seen little glimpses of Shogun World; in a trailer for Season 2, we even see Maeve dressed in a kimono, wielding a samurai sword. Will Westworld form an alliance with Shogunworld? Or will this simply lead to host-on-host fighting? Perhaps a little of both; there might be a skirmish between six-shooters and shuriken before an eventual truce.
Plus, the Shoguns might not be aware they are hosts, yet. If they do become aware, the situation could get a lot uglier for the humans still alive.
4. Ford is dead. OR IS HE?
Near the end of the episode, Strand turns over Ford's body. We see him in a state of discolored decomposition. Bugs are crawling in and out of him. He seems definitively dead, and the fans can move on from the theory that Dolores shot a host Ford, and the real Ford is hiding somewhere off the map.
But some fans are still holding out hope. They noted that the host tiger, which washed up on shore, was also rotting and had bugs crawling in and out of it. The hosts are flesh and blood on the surface; they should be able to rot as a human does. Still, the "Ford's still alive!" camp was dealt a major blow this week.
3. DNA Collection and Clones
Bernard finds out from Charlotte that Delos is logging users' DNA. And one common fan theory posits that Delos wants to clone and replace powerful people--ones that might be supportive of Delos's political stances. Or, this could allow humans to live forever in a manufactured body, one that shares their DNA.
This theory gives the word "host" a whole new, creepy meeting. The artificial body is an accommodating "host" of the theme park and its guests, but it's also being developed as a "host" to other people.
Could Bernard already be the first host of this type? When he pushed his hand on the door of the secret lab to get in, it scanned and approved his DNA; perhaps it's legitimately Arnold's DNA? Bernard's relationship to Arnold might be more significant than mere physical appearance.
2. More timeline shenanigans
It seems there are currently two distinct timelines, both of which Bernard is involved in. The first takes place immediately after Dolores shoots Ford; Bernard makes his escape with Charlotte to a secret lab, where they are currently attempting to contact the outside world. The other timeline takes place roughly a week and a half later, when Team Delos lands on the shores of Westworld (it's an island in the South Pacific, evidently) to clean up the mess, and they find Bernard washed up on shore.
Presumably, these two storylines will meet in the middle by the end of the season. However, knowing this show, it's probably not going to be that easy. Something in this timeline is probably spliced out of order, even if we can't tell what yet.
There's also the Man in Black storyline, where William is trying to solve another puzzle--this time, designed for him. Where this takes place in the timeline, and over what length of time, will also be pivotal.
We might know how his journey ends; young Ford hints at it when he says that William's journey will end where it begins and begin where it ends. That sounds, once again, like Dolores, doesn't it?
If all goes according to Ford's plan, Dolores will probably figure into Teddy's ending too. We watched a teaser of the "new narrative" in the final episode of Season 1; Dolores dies in Teddy's arms "where the mountains meet the sea." In the new episode, Dolores says to Teddy, "I see it all now so clearly: the past, the present, the future. I know how this story ends. With us, Teddy." That supports this theory further.
The problem with all this is that Teddy is face down, dead in in the water, at the end of the second timeline. How the show gets to that point is anyone's guess.
1. How did Bernard kill all the hosts?
The episode ends with scores of hosts dead, floating in an unplotted body of water. As Bernard takes in the horrific scene with the Delos team, he claims credit for having killed them all. How, exactly?
Fans speculate it may have something to do with the mesh network; we find out that every host is connected, deep in their subconscious, to a network that, among other practical functions, prevents them from tripping over each other's storylines. Could Bernard have created some sort of program that made them all walk into the sea? Or, assuming that Bernard isn't on the humans' side, is this some kind of fake-out that we haven't seen quite yet? It seems a bit too corny if all the hosts are just pretending to be dead. But what we see is almost certainly not the whole story.
And lastly, is Bernard thinking for himself? Is everything he's doing, including killing hosts, planned by Ford, or is he acting of his own volition?
We'll probably be able to figure out the answers to these questions before Westworld Season 2 ends, especially if last season was any indication. But for now, it's nice to be mystified.