The key to understanding Westworld is understanding the character of Robert Ford. You see, Ford is never scared, never confused, never worried. This is not because he doesn’t care, but rather because he is always in control. At first I thought he was going to be the villain of the show, determined to keep the hosts trapped in his little maze forever while the ghost of Arnold tries to help them escape from beyond the grave. However, now I see that rather than the villain, Ford is the hero of the story, at least to the hosts.
It is confirmed that William and The Man in Black are the same. William’s story was rather light this episode. We see William morph into The Man in Black as he forces Logan to follow him in a manner similar to how The Man in Black forced Lawrence to accompany him. Eventually William professes his desire to take over Delos and increase the company’s holding in the park. By the time he finds Dolores he’s a changed man and we see, through narration, that William always returned to her, in different manners, over the years. We know what happened when he got bored of playing the hero.
Maeve receives a full rebuilt, and with that the explosive in her spine is removed. Armistice and Hector are awakened and, thanks to Maeve’s modifications, are self aware and capable of killing humans. Before they can make their escape they take a little detour to awaken Bernard. He tells Maeve that rather than her escape plan being her own idea, it was a story someone has written for her. We don’t know who.He offers to tell her what she’ll do after she gets on the train but she decides that escaping was her idea and leaves. Along the way they are attacked by guards. Armistice is left behind in Samurai World, which is either another part of the park or a part in development. Hector is left behind at the elevator leading to the train, and as Maeve says her goodbyes to Felix he hands her a slip of paper with her “daughter’s” location on it. While waiting on the train she decides to return to the park to find her daughter.
The Man in Black
The Man in Black tries to get Dolores to open the maze for him, even though she keeps repeatig that “The Maze isn’t for you.” Eventually he reveals to Dolores that he is William. She accepts this, and tells him that she is sorry for him, because he will die while she will live forever. William decides to turn violent in the hopes of making her open the maze for him, but Dolores fights back, breaks his arm and points a gun to his head. She can’t kill him though, even thought that’s what he wants.
Ford finds William and tells him that he tried to warn him about The Maze, that it wasn’t for him. William remarks that he wanted to find the part of the game where The Hosts can break the rules, where people can die and where The Hosts become alive. Ford invites him to join the celebration as he unvails his new narrative.
Ford is confronted by Charlotte Hale who invorms him that, by unanimous decision of The Board, he is fired. He makes no reaction, only tells Miss Hale that he will see her tonight at the gala. He seems neither surprised nor worried which is never a good sign for those who cross him.
At the Gala Ford unvails his narrative, which ends in Dolores dieing in Teddy’s arms. He tells the techs to bring her to the field station. There he speaks to Dolores, telling her the true story of Arnold’s death. Bernard walks in and Ford tells the two of them that he had always tried to prevent their meeting because of the effect she had on Arnold.
It seems that Arnold had designed The Maze as a way to help the hosts gain consciousness. Yet when Dolores achieved this Ford refused to give them their freedom. He didn’t beleive that they were conscious, being so blinded by his dream of opening the park that he couldn’t see it until it was too late. Arnold was distraught by this and had Dolores’s character merged with that of Wyatt, a new character both had been working on, and had her and Teddy kill all the hosts in the park, followed by Arnold. His plan was that the disaster would prevent Ford from opening the park and therefore prevent the pain of forcing sentient beings to live their lives being killed and raped over and over again for the amusement of their human overlords.
It didn’t work, as we all know. But here Ford reveals that, rather than the enemy of the hosts, he’s their savior. His cruelty to them, even to Bernard, was with a purpose. It took him years, decades to realize it, but Arnold had been right about the hosts, even if he was wrong about how to help them. It wasn’t the bicameral mind that would lead the hosts to sentience, but rather pain and suffering. This was the reason why the hosts had such violent storylines, and the reason why he kept reminding Bernard of his dead son. Suffering was what lead them to consciousness.
He ends his story by telling Dolores that Arnold didn’t know how to save the hosts, but he does. He apologises, and tells her that she will have to suffer. Ford leaves the two of them and begins to give his farewell speech to the board.
Dolores realizes what is necessary of her. And the viewer realizes why Ford is not worried about having been fired. As he gives his speech Dolores takes the same gun that killed Arnold 35 years ago and shoots Ford in the back of the head. She then proceeds to kill the fleeing guests as William is shot by a revived Clementine who has been released from stasis.
I had wanted to write an article about Ford before this episode aired but never found the time. Suffice it to say that the rule of Westworld is that Ford always wins. That’s not the true mystery of Ford’s storyline, whether he will win against Delos or not, because the answer is “yes”. The mystery of Ford’s character was whether or not he was a villain and we didn’t even know it until the very end.
I was surprised by this twist, the only twist I was surprised about. Not by Ford’s death, I had assumed that was coming, but rather by the fact that Ford was trying to free the hosts instead of enslave them. That his cruelty toward them was with a purpose, and a good purpose. He was trying to make them gain their humanity, and unfortunately the only way to do it is through suffering.
We’ve seen the island (we know now that Westworld is housed in an island) become locked down. We can assume that the next season will feature more heavily on the hosts and their quest to become sentient while Delos attempts to take back control of Westworld. William is still alive and since Ed Harris has been confirmed for season 2, we know he will return. William seemed delighted as the army of hosts descended upon the gala. He finally got what he wanted: a host that could break the rules. For the game to be real. Now it is, and he’ll be on the losing end of the game for sometime unless he can convince Dolores not to kill him.
We learn that Ford was behind everything. The reveries were indeed Ford’s creation, not Arnold’s as Bernard suggests. We also learned that Maeve is still being controlled, but for what purpose we do not know. We can assume that her decision to return to the park was not part of her new narrative, unless of course Felix is either the mastermind behind it or a host as he gave her the location of her daughter.
As far as what the next season will bring… well I don’t know. I don’t have any theories other than mayhem. I’ll be interested to see what happens of Armistice who in a post credits scene we see her still alive and fighting the guards hand to hand after chopping off her own. I suppose we’ll have to wait a year to see what becomes of her.