This week, EW posted a story about George R. R. Martin thinking a Game of Thrones and Westworld crossover would be a cool idea. Of course, the interwebs ran away from half-reading with the impression that this might actually happen, which is pretty ridiculous, since, if you actually read through the piece, Westworld showrunners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy said that, though they were extremely flattered by the idea, they wouldn’t do it:
‘I need to be believe that dragons are real,’ she says. ‘I want them be a real thing. So as much as I love George, I can’t lose that for myself!’ [Joy]
In an abstract way, setting up a medieval fantasy park — as the original movie did — isn’t a bad idea (one Nolan and Joy already nixed), but actually modeling it after Game of Thrones seems cost prohibitive … and cheesy. It really wouldn’t add anything to Westworld’s story; as HBO’s potential must-see replacement in Thrones‘ primetime Sunday spot, it might even take away from it, distracting the audience from this new and different world. Were I the creator of a new series as fascinating as Westworld, I certainly wouldn’t want it to be haunted by another show.
Another idea that fans and news outlets have run away with is a Redditor’s theory that the Man in Black (Ed Harris) is actually William (Jimmi Simpson). I’m not a fan of the different timelines theory — that, despite seeing those two characters’ stories play out simultaneously, we’re actually jumping around in time, with William’s story being told through flashback. Never mind that it would feel a cheap trick; the bigger issue is money. According to the Man in Black, he’s been visiting Westworld for 30 years. Clearly, the guy has to be quite wealthy, as, according to the Delos Westworld site, visitors pay $40 thousand per day. While we can’t exactly figure out how many days (in human time) are passing each episode — we’ve seen Dolores and Teddy each go through several narratives — for the Man in Black to stay multiple days … well, have you noticed he doesn’t seem at all concerned with the passage of time? He’s completely focused on his mission to find the deeper levels. For me, there’s only one thing that can be happening here and, aside from the fact that I can’t imagine anyone having the money to endlessly stay and play, there are other hints to the Man in Black’s true nature. Episode One’s title was “The Original”; everyone assumed that referred to Dolores, but it could just as easily have been the MIB. When William was hit by a bullet, he went down and was bruised; the Man in Black didn’t even flinch when Teddy shot him several times. There hasn’t been a second since Westworld (the series) started that I didn’t feel certain that the Man in Black — just like Yul Brynner’s original Gunslinger — is a Host, through and through. That’s why he can stay in the park as long as he likes without worrying about money; that’s why he doesn’t feel anything when he gets shot; and, if my still-ruminating theory plays out, it’s why the Man in Black is so intent on his mission. Whether it’s freeing his fellow Hosts, or perhaps Arnold‘s (Dr. Ford’s disappeared, supposedly-died-in-the-park founding partner) programming, the Man in Black is trying to get to and presumably through the maze to complete a mission more important than some video game-like achievement. There are a few possibilities:
- Arnold set the Man in Black up as a Trojan Horse — a malicious program or virus — and his mission is to free all the resort’s Hosts and take over Westworld (possibly beyond). He may, in a sense, be hearing his creator’s voice, the bicameral effect, and be following Arnold’s instructions to destroy Westworld, the result of Arnold realizing Ford didn’t share his dreams.
- Dr. Ford mentioned that Arnold wanted to “create consciousness,” and, perhaps, with the Man in Black, Arnold was successful. The Man in Black may be on his own self-actualized mission, under the guise of playing a game within Westworld.
- Arnold’s virus has been set off in Westworld with Shakespeare phrases (“These violent delights have violent ends”) that, when repeated to another Host, infect that Host’s programming and will eventually go through all the Hosts. It could be that the Man in Black believes he is human, and his personal mission is driving him to the place where he’ll discover he is a Host. So, this may be a virus or an attack Arnold created to attack from different angles.
- Final theory today: Might Arnold actually be alive somewhere in the park — or, more likely, his consciousness uploaded somewhere/to something (being/Host) — and the Man in Black is being driven (through programming) to find his creator?
Now, there’s one small thing we haven’t discussed. Why does Teddy …
… who seems to believe himself Dolores’ hero …
… and acts like a good guy …
… wear a black hat? What is Teddy’s true nature, and why could/would he be a villain?
Help me solve this and other mysteries during this week’s Westworld episode, “Dissonance Theory”, this Sunday. Here are episode photos released by HBO (Note: How much does Logan look like Raylan Givens in that second shot?):