WARNING: SPOILERS FOR WESTWORLD, OBVIOUSLY.
We did it. We survived the first season of Westworld. Now we wait until 2018 to find what happens when the world discovers the denizens of their favorite theme park are not only sentient but have taken it upon themselves to murder their way to freedom. But for every question answered — William (Jimmi Simpson) is the Man in Black (Ed Harris), yes there are other worlds besides Westworld — there are a dozen it didn’t. We still don’t know where the property is located (but I stand by my theory that Delos’ theme park is literally another world). We don’t know what happened to Elsie (Shannon Woodward) and Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth). We don’t know which park Maeve’s (Thandie Newton) daughter is in. We don’t know if Peter Abernathy (Louis Herthum) escaped the park. We definitely don’t know who Ford (Anthony Hopkins) was making on his secret host table under the recreation of his childhood home.
But I have a guess. And it’s all tied to the other photo Peter Abernathy found. You know, the one with the Golden Gate bridge in the background.
The pilot for Westworld was shot two years ago. When the show was picked up for series, it had been almost a full year, as evidenced by all the Dubsmash the cast is finally able to show off now that the season is complete. Part of the reason the show isn’t returning until 2018 is because it wasn’t renewed until three weeks ago. Despite showrunners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy halting production to map out five years of narrative, they made sure the season finale of Westworld could also be a series finale if need be. Having Ford give the keys of his kingdom to Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) and Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) and sacrifice himself and the Delos board to free the hosts from “hell” nicely wraps up the story while not sealing it so tight that there’s no room to explore what happens next. So it’s possible the switch from the Brooklyn Bridge to Times Square was merely a production error. But for a show that seamlessly blends timelines, that’s not necessarily the case.
I’m still not entirely sure how old Ford is — or that Dolores’ final move was nothing more than the metaphorical reset of The Matrix. Westworld goes out of its way to remind us everything has happened before. Dolores has returned to Escalante over and over again. Bernard and Maeve have awoken before. The board has tried to oust Ford before. Loops within loops, all designed by one man. Or maybe two. So what is the easiest way for Ford to protect the hosts? Get rid of the board, either permanently or by replacing them with cloned hosts of themselves. After all, there is precedent since anyone coming into Delos rescinds the rights to their own DNA. What’s to say versions of William and Logan (Ben Barnes) haven’t decided to invest in the park after a “catastrophic event” before?
In the finale, Bernard infers perhaps Arnold reseeded the hosts with the reveries — not Ford — still fighting against Ford from beyond the grave. Maeve’s new storyline also appears to be be at the ghostly hand of Arnold. But the reveal is that Ford has finally come to agree with his long dead partner; the hosts are alive and should be set free. This seems at odds with Ford’s earlier (correct) assertion that humans will not react well to their creations leaping forward to eclipse them on the evolutionary ladder. One way to get the hosts to play along is to make them think Arnold is helping them when, in fact, Ford’s hand moves all the pieces. As the Architect (to borrow again from The Matrix) Ford could very possibly be balancing the desires of the hosts with the fears of humanity; locked in an endless loop.
One thing Ford is not? Someone who would give up control. Ever. Which brings us back to Elsie, Stubbs, and Ford’s secret host-creation facility. If Elsie is alive (which she probably is) and has roped Stubbs into whatever she’s discovered, there’s a possibility Ford is with them. Again, Westworld is not one to casually leave a discrepancy lying around, as the weaving of multiple timelines requires airtight continuity. So who was on Ford’s table during the murder of Theresa Cullen (Sidse Babett Knudsen)? Possibly Ford?
A man like Ford does not spend his life as a god, manipulating everything to suit his own ends, to simply allow himself to be killed for the greater good. Can you imagine a man like Ford not being present for his greatest triumph, lording his omnipotence over the cowering masses of the Delos board? No. Until proven otherwise, I will believe that Robert Ford sent his host clone to die in his place, the sacrificial lamb. And if the Brooklyn Bridge photo isn’t a continuity error? It wasn’t even Ford’s first rodeo.
How many times has he reset the board (both literally and figuratively)? We won’t find out until 2018.