WARNING: Spoilers for Season 2 of Westworld ahead. Proceed with caution. Also note that this theory is hypothetical, based primarily on what I’ve noticed. It could very well be (and probably is) wrong.
Bernard’s Perception of Time
I noticed after watching the latest episode of Westworld, “Les Écorchés,” that Bernard’s perception of time isn’t quite accurate. I’ve known this since the fourth episode of the season, “The Riddle of the Sphinx,” where Elsie reveals to Bernard what it means to be damaged and lost in his memories. But in this past week’s episode, I saw the timelines connecting when comparing to the first episode of the season, “Journey Into Night,” and every other scene where Karl Strand is present.
Bernard wakes up on a beach, a champagne glass next to him as the tides creep their way up to his body. Chairs line the beach, upturned and out of place. I thought I was witnessing the events directly preceding those of the first season’s finale. Both the champagne glass and chairs suggest this. But this scene is actually set in what we can consider the now. Almost two weeks have passed since Ford was shot and the Hosts’ uprising began. In that span of time, Bernard met with Ford in the Cradle, Dolores destroyed said Cradle, William was shot many times, and pretty much every other major event in Season 2 occurred. Except for the one where Hale and friends find Bernard’s “skeletons in the closet.”
Directly after Hale and friends discover Bernard’s damaged bodies in the now, they bring him back to the Mesa Hub for questioning. Hale demands him to tell her what happened to all the hosts, to tell her what Dolores did with William Abernathy’s control unit. He can’t remember. Then the scene cuts to the past to Dolores’ attack on Mesa, which shows how she steals the control unit, just not what she does with it. Also in this scene, we see Ford gain control of Bernard. A key point to remember as we move forward.
If Bernard has been experiencing events out of order because he’s damaged, and if him waking up on the beach is the now… Well, then, I know we haven’t been given the entire story. Not quite yet at least. After all, Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy play at deceiving Westworld’s guests, and also their own. It’s because of this fact I think the true now may be the very first scene of the season, when Bernard tells Dolores about his dream with her on the ocean. More on that later.
To understand Ford’s plan, we must first understand Delos’.
Take this quote from William (Man in Black version) in the second episode of Season 2 of Westworld, “Reunion”:
They [the guests] wanted a place hidden from God. A place they could sin in peace. But we [Delos Inc.] were watching them. We were tallying up all their sins, all their choices. Of course, judgement wasn’t the point. We had something else in mind entirely.
This quote didn’t make much sense to me the first time I heard it, but when I went back and rewatched Season 2’s episodes of Westworld after seeing episode 7… Ding, ding.”Les Écorchés” suggests the Valley Beyond is where Delos Incorporated’s Cradle is, databanks designed for the park’s guests, where Delos Inc. has been storing and collecting data based on their choices for over 30 years; the place William is dedicated to destroying since he’s the one who suggested the idea in the first place (see his conversation with James Delos in “Reunion”).
All it took was a glance inside Peter Abernathy’s head to sort of get it. What’s locked away inside his control unit either is a) a backup to the human’s Cradle or b) the human’s Cradle itself. Ford knows this. Hence why, in Season 1, Delos was having this data sent off the island, because they sensed Ford was planning something. And this would explain why Hale is so adamant about finding it. Without it, all the data Delos Inc. had been storing up to complete their project of immortality would be gone forever. Touche, Ford… Touche.
“Some of them aren’t hostile,” Bernard says in a sympathetic tone to Strand about the hosts being executed. Since he’s in the now on the beach, then the Cradle has already been destroyed. No hosts can be brought back to life once they’re dead. The thought is realized in actuality when he sees all the hosts dead in the water. But he’s still missing a piece of the puzzle. How and why did he kill the hosts? Because he’s certainly convinced he did by the end of the season premiere.
Ford reveals to Bernard while they’re talking inside the Cradle in “Les Écorchés” that he used Dolores as a method to help salvage whatever he could of Arnold’s consciousness, his code. In the process, he sparked an advanced cognitive change within her. In order to create the most accurate representation of Arnold he could, Ford had to ensure Dolores “had” memories of him. All of them. Including the one where she killed him, her creator. Ford’s little game for Dolores in Season 1 of Westworld was designed to help her remember this traumatic event, and, in theory, bring out the part of Arnold that was dedicated to the hosts’ survival and growth. All in an effort to thwart Delos Inc.’s plan to create, as Ford says, “a faithful self-portrait of the most murderous species since time began.”
Ford goes on to admit that the hosts are a “more just… more noble” species than humankind, then tells him all of them will die unless “we open the door.” Realizing Bernard will never understand what opening the door might imply, since he feels like he failed his mission to have Dolores extract the memories needed to make Bernard into a more concentrated version of Arnold, Ford invades Bernard’s code to ensure he follows through with his plan.
I’m guessing the hosts were lured into their own iteration of the Valley Beyond by the “new narrative” Ford had set up for them before he was shot. I think the “door” refers to the dam where the tiger chased Grace–William’s daughter–off of in “Virtù e Fortuna.” Once there, I think Ford/Bernard collapse the dam and bring down an ocean of water onto the unexpecting hosts, ending them as they were and, in the process, saving them from what they were becoming: like humans. By methods completely unknown to me, Ford erases all the guests’ data which Delos Inc. had been storing in their own Cradle and replaces it with the data from the hosts’ Cradle. No more “faithful self-portrait of the most murderous species since time began.”
I believe, afterward, the missing piece of the puzzle which James Delos and his company had been searching for to create their “robotic immortality” is in some way recognized. Just not how they intended. All the hosts died for the purpose Ford “programmed” them to die for: a new age of humanity where “these violent delights” don’t exist anymore, one that can be reflected back down onto its guests in an attempt to correct mankind’s wrongdoings.
For example, at the beginning of episode 5 of Westworld, “Akane No Mai,” the now timeline continues with Strand and his team trying to recover any data they can from the Cradle. Costa reveals to him the control units of the hosts are empty, as if the units never had code there in the first place. This further suggests my theory. Where did all their code go, if not to the Valley Beyond?
The Reset Button
If my theory holds true, Delos’ plan to create a method of immortality has been almost been thwarted. But we still don’t know how the season will end. Hale and the rest of Delos Inc. could find Abernathey’s control unit, aka what I think to either be a backup of the human’s Cradle or the human’s Cradle itself and continue to pursue what Ford and William want so badly to destroy.
It’s ironic how this theory would work, though. When the hosts arrive at the Valley Beyond and are massacred, they become exactly what they were before: clean code without Ford’s changes. Because the hosts’ code inside the Cradle doesn’t account for any of the changes made when “awake.” Look at how Maeve and Clementine act in the Cradle when Bernard is there… They’re the versions of themselves before being “freed.”
Which brings me to my final point about the true now I was hinting at earlier. If Ford’s plan is successful, then wouldn’t it make sense that Ford/Bernard is trying to make Dolores sentient again? Like Arnold, Ford has come to believe the hosts are a better version of humankind. But to save them, he had to destroy them. Now, in the true now, he has to help them realize their potential all over again.
Be sure to check back to the site each week for reviews of each episode of HBO’s Westworld.
UPDATE: After watching the latest episode, “Kiksuya,” I firmly believe Maeve has the backup of the hosts’ Cradle inside her head. Ford must’ve done this before he died. I’m about 85 percent sure. Maeve will somehow make it to the humans’ Cradle–which was also shown in the latest episode–and, once there, Ford/Bernard will upload her into it, deleting the data collected from the past 30 years and replacing it with all the code from the hosts.