***Spoiler Warning: Spoilers for Westworld through Season 2, Episode 4 follow. Spoilers***
With Sunday’s upcoming “Akane No Mai” (possibly meaning “Akane’s [Rinko Kikuchi] red dance”) “ショーグン・ワールドへようこそ” (Welcome to Shogun World), the fifth outing of Westworld‘s second season, we’ll be rounding the halfway point of our favorite time-skipping science fiction series, so it seems appropriate to ponder a few uncertainties. Well, let’s be honest — they are more than uncertainties; they’re outright unknowns. We all have our theories ranging from sensible to far out, and in so admitting, the way we shape possible answers to these questions may be to fit our own ideals. For instance, if you (like me) subscribe to the There Are No Humans Left in Westworld theory, the answer to Is Stubbs a Host?; Is the Man in Black (MiB) a Host?; etc. will always be “Yes”. So as we roll through some of these curiosities, obviously my slant will come through, and likewise, I’ll assume rebuttals and or different points of view can only benefit us all as we try to work our way to the showrunners’ intentions.
- Who, if anyone, is inside Bernard?
In “The Riddle of the Sphinx”, we watched as Bernard’s shockingly dark side emerged after he pocketed what I’m calling a DNA Ball in the Facility 12 lab (also the Holding Chamber that housed James Delos #149 until Elsie terminated the Human Host Hybrid). The question, Who is inside Bernard? arose — and yes, that’s an assumption I’m making, based on
a) The similarities in how Bernard and James has been/was acting.
b) That we learned about the Human to Host Hybrid Delos project.
c) The fact that Bernard stole someone’s “build” (as opposed to the regular process of Host creation).
And, let’s talk about the fact that Bernard’s thumbprint clearly provides the correct access to create a new build, which of course means that Bernard lied to Elsie about not having been involved with this secret project (“No, I don’t think so.”). But, was he merely acting under Ford’s control, or does he have his own dark side? Since Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan (and many of the actors, including Wright) have spoken so often of how this season is about choice — about the Hosts finally having the opportunity to make their own choices (though even that idea seems questionable, given Sizemore’s conversation with Hector, and some of the repeated phrases Dolores and Peter have spoken) — should we not presume Bernard is acting of his own accord? In that vein …
2. What did Bernard whisper to the Drone Host in the lab?
Not that it necessarily matters exactly what phrase he uttered, but that Bernard could say only a few (maybe three?) words to command the Drone to kill the lab technicians, and for that particular Drone Host to pass the command (mesh network, I suppose) to his buddy Drone to help out, and when they were through dispatching humans, for both Drones to snap their own necks. That’s a fair amount to convey in only three words (not unlike Ford’s deep and dreamless sleep phrase, but with fewer words).
Beyond that and back to the matter of choice, Bernard walks over to an injured technician, and seemingly makes the choice to finish off the worker, himself — in a pretty violent manner, I might add. Has Bernard gone full Wyatt?
Was that Bernard’s own choice, or is he being driven by a higher power father figure?
When we ask that question, there are a couple of things to consider (with Westworld, questions seem to spawn further questions, as much as answers):
a) Firstly, is Ford (my first thought) already “inside” Bernard? When Ford seemingly gave up, to “become part of the music”, did he really allow Dolores to shoot him, or was that a Host Ford we witnessed getting offed? Was it human Ford who allowed Dolores to shoot him, albeit with Ford’s Human Host Hybrid already in existence? Or, could Ford have hidden himself (DNA and all) inside this particular iteration of Bernard? Because whomever(‘s) DNA Ball Bernard just built isn’t already inside Bernard and therefore, Bernard probably didn’t create a Ford DNA Ball to put inside himself, unless …
b) … Did Bernard print a Ford DNA Ball to put inside a different Bernard body, and after Bernard shot himself in the head — causing the cortical damage (leaking fluid) that is creating Bernard’s crisis and confused memories — could Bernard have (mistakenly?) put Ford’s DNA Ball into another Bernard Host, resulting in the Bernard who is now with Elsie?
Yeah, that idea is pretty much bananas crazy, but … this being Westworld, it *could* happen. You can’t deny it. (Go ahead, deny it.)
c) Did Bernard print the DNA Ball to put inside another Host, and if so, is that Bernard’s choice, or is Ford driving him to do it because Ford is already inside him (see option b), or is Ford part of a mainframe, so to speak, and still directing everything in the park(s) (he does often seem to show up in child Hosts) from either inside or outside the park?
There are so many options here that I’m making my own head spin. Because, what if Ford — the Ford we met as an older man — was already a Host or a Human Host Hybrid? What if he eventually got the Hybrid right, and created himself? Perhaps Ford created pure consciousness, and he has only truly existed in some kind of computer mainframe for as long as we’ve been aware of him. Still another possibility is that Ford is/was always outside the park, directing the goings-on from the safety of his futuristic living room, which may or may not be in space (along with Westworld, proper).
d) Could Bernard have printed Arnold’s DNA Ball, because he wants to be his true self? This is an interesting idea, though because we knew Ford as Anthony Hopkins, and Anthony Hopkins IS Anthony Hopkins — who we’d love to see more of — I’d rather it were Ford’s DNA Ball. That said, it makes so much sense to me that a Host Bernard would want to pair with his (other) real mind, especially if he knows that the Human Host Hybrid was perfected.
Again, we (think we) know that multiple copies of Bernard exist, which of course means that multiples of any Host could theoretically exist. Since at least one Bernard Host knows the command that will cause a Host to commit Seppuku (so to speak), did one Bernard Host put a Human DNA Ball into another Bernard Host, then tell himself to snap his own neck, but because the first Bernard Host was becoming sentient, he refused, and now we have multiple Bernards with different “occupants” running around?
Yeah, probably not.
Basically, the question(s) remain: Who’s in the DNA Ball Bernard printed, what’s he going to do with it, and why did he take it — is it of his own pure volition, or is he under someone else’s (Ford’s) command, as he’s claimed?
Meanwhile, why is Elsie — a fairly intelligent programmer — so trusting of Bernard, despite his odd behavior, despite only just finding out that he’s a Host, despite hearing that the rest of the Hosts have revolted, and — this bears repeating — DESPITE BERNARD’S EXTREMELY ODD BEHAVIOR? Yes, she mentioned she needs his help, but it’s still so unbelievable when Bernard is spacing out every few minutes, and she simply trusts Bernard’s answer that he’s okay, his promise that he won’t hurt her again.
I’m thinking that Bernard may well be making — or at least think he’s making — his own decisions, and they’re not terribly human friendly.
If I made a guess at this very moment in time, I believe that the Hosts believe they are becoming sentient but in fact, not so much. While Ford may indeed have figured out how to successfully upload human consciousness into a Host body, or a mainframe, I think that’s a separate, and complicated-in-its-own-way thing from Hosts becoming entirely free of their narratives, at least in the iteration of Hosts we’re familiar with. As for evolution, who knows? The Hosts could find a way to progress themselves (Like Ford, Dolores/Wyatt seems to believe suffering is involved.)
A couple of non-Bernard musings: That the Man in Black as William’s later version, might be a Host, is finally entering the collective audience consciousness. If you’re a regular reader around here, you know I’ve believed he was a Host from the beginning, and I continue to believe that.
The idea that the Ghost Nation is somehow protecting humans is gaining traction, and though it’s possible, I’m not convinced. I think it’s more likely that since the Ghost Nation warriors are basically Westworld outliers, they may not have been infected by the spreading message (mesh network) in the same way the rest of the Hosts pass information. They may even be on a separate network, so to speak.
Finally, in her Reddit AMA this week, director/showrunner, Lisa Joy mentioned pairings based on actors who fit together well, and one of the duos was quite intriguing — “MIB and Akecheta season 4“, and I’m so wondering if that was just an offhanded guess, or an actual thing.
… You take two great flavors and add them together to make a new dish. So Maeve and Lee in season 2, Dolores and Hector season 3, MIB and Akecheta season 4, etc. But you have to start at the beginning. And for us, the ultimate meaning of this story, the destination our path has always been leading started back in nineteen ninety eight when the undertaker threw mankind off hеll in a cell, and plummeted sixteen feet through an announcer’s table.”
Until Sunday …