"These violent delights have violent ends."
If you haven't gotten into HBO's Westworld yet, it's not too late. The premiere isn't until this Sunday, April 22. You only have to watch a single 10-episode season to be all caught up. Then, you too can disappear down the rabbit hole that is the Westworld fan community.
Not since Game of Thrones has a show inspired this much theorycrafting. Showrunners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy put enough loose threads and MacGuffins in Season 1 to put J.J. Abrams--another of the show's executive producers, actually--to shame.
And although most of those threads have been tied off, there's still a few that we're pulling at. Here are the five most pressing ones, to refresh your memory after that agonizing year and a half break.
When you're finished here, check out our list of the 5 craziest Westworld Season 2 fan theories, our interview with some of the actors returning for Season 2, our Westworld Season 1 story refresher, and the 13 things we want in Westworld Season 2.
5. Who programmed Maeve to rebel, and what is their end game?
The most linear, well-plotted arc in Westworld belongs to host Maeve (Thandie Newton), who staged a nearly successful escape from the park at the end of Season 1. In hindsight, Maeve's awakening was sparked by Elsie's adjustment of her attributes, to undo what "those morons" adjusted to make her more aggressive to potential clients. Maeve would later use those Elsie-given attributes to charm Felix and Sylvester and acquire intelligence.
But the jaw-dropping twist came in the Season 1 finale; we learned that Maeve's entire rebellion had been programmed into her. She denies this possibility, and at the very end of the episode, she goes back into the park for her "daughter" from a previous loop. Perhaps this shows that she's truly rebelling against her programming.
But who programmed her to break out to begin with? Was it Ford? If Ford wanted her to break out, for what reason? After all, with the ability to control her fellow hosts, she has more power inside the park than outside of it. And, furthermore, if she's breaking from this new "escape loop," what domino effect is that going to have? Is there any contingency plan in place?
Thus far, much of Ford's master plan has been dependent upon impeccable timing, coincidence, and a little luck. Something is bound to fall out of place eventually. And when that happens, the hosts--and possibly Maeve--will have hell to pay.
4. Is Elsie dead?
Elsie is a hyper-capable, overqualified worker bee who excels in her role. Anyone who's ever worked in an office knows her type--sharp, slightly condescending, and harried by the need to clean up everyone else's messes.
We last saw Elsie in a flashback; Bernard recalled an incomplete memory of assaulting her from behind and choking her. We're meant to think she's dead, based upon this brief glimpse. But perhaps she's still in the park, somewhere; we learn from Bernard and Ford that there are many areas of the park that are simply untracked or unaccounted for (which is how Ford manages to have an entire host family hidden away).
Elsie could be hiding or be imprisoned in one of these places, as could Stubbs, who was similarly in over his head the last time we saw him. Wherever she is, however, Ford knows where (a lot of good that does us if he's dead, though). Because if Bernard forgot about it, then Ford is the only one who could have erased or distorted that memory.
3. Who was Ford printing out under the church?
At the same time that Theresa dies and Bernard is revealed to be a host replica of Arnold, we see Ford's older generation 3D printer creating a new host. Who could this be?
Whoever it is, it's unlikely that we'll find out in a conventional manner. It could be Elsie or Stubbs; the real Elsie or real Stubbs could be dead or imprisoned somewhere, and a lookalike could take their place. It could be a character we've never met before, who will be introduced as a human in Season 2. It could be a double of an existing character, who can now be in two places at once. Or, it could already be destroyed; what if Dolores shot a host Ford at the end of Season 1, and the real Ford is still alive somewhere?
2. What's the greater purpose of Westworld?
This has been alluded to and never specified. But clearly, there is more going on in Westworld than being a theme park for the 1 percent. A consistent theme during Season 1 is that the data and technology of Westworld is constantly in danger of being leaked or or stolen. For what reason and to what ends?
Since the park tracks its clients, it almost certainly has a mountain of embarrassing information about how the clients spend their time there--information that could be leveraged for blackmail and political favors. But likely, the main, unstated purpose of the park is to develop the host technology to serve some means--other than playing cowboy and Indians. Could they be repurposed for slave labor? Or military service? Perhaps they'll serve as hosts for the humans (sort of a sci-fi take of Get Out)? And that leads us to our final question:
1. What's happening outside the park in the "real world?"
Every now and then, the characters give us bits of information about the "real world" outside of the theme park. As Ford says to Bernard, "We've managed to slip evolution's leash now, haven't we? We can cure any disease, keep even the weakest of us alive, and, you know, one fine day perhaps we shall even resurrect the dead. Call forth Lazarus from his cave. Do you know what that means? It means that we're done. That this is as good as we're going to get."
It sounds like utopia at first blush. But perhaps, it's only utopia to a select few. Ford later says, "We destroyed and subjugated our world. And when we eventually ran out of creatures to dominate, we built this beautiful place."
And Dolores asks a reasonable, fair question late in the season, "You both keep assuming that I want out. Whatever that is. If it's such a wonderful place out there, why are you all clamoring to get in here?"
"We," as used by Ford, is a vague pronoun. It could refer only to the rich. It could refer only to the people in this country (whatever the country is). And "we" certainly doesn't include people who have already been eliminated or "destroyed" in pursuit of this utopia. Just because the people in this world "can" do something--like cure disease or keep the weakest alive--doesn't mean they actually do it. That might be a privilege reserved for the wealthy. And if everyone in the "real world" is living worry-free, then perhaps, the wealthy (and a caste of humans who directly serve the wealthy) are the only humans left.
Hopefully, we'll see a clear glimpse of the "real world" in Season 2. And then, we'll know for sure if any of it is worth fighting for.