Westworld theories that will change how you watch the show

In the long wait for the next season of Game of Thrones, it seems the theorizing powers of the internet have been unleashed on HBO's Westworld, unleashing fan theories that have become more complex with each episode. Some are plausible, others are downright wacky, but keeping them in mind while watching the show can create a whole new experience.

Maeve is a pawn

For those most loyal to Team Maeve, the discovery in the season finale that someone is pulling the strings in her little insurrection is disheartening to say the least. But then the question arises: who is the puppet master? An early suggestion by Redditor GardyBot was Delos were the ones responsible for hacking Maeve into sentience to get her out of the park so they could get their grubby mitts on the intellectual property Ford was keeping from them. They even positioned Clementine to receive a lobotomy knowing it would push Maeve further down the road to rebellion.

Another possibility is that it was Ford pulling her strings in order for her escape attempt to distract security and isolate Quality Assurance while the Delos board of directors was surrounded by vengeful robots with a newfound ability to kill. Bernard basically states outright she had broken out of her loop before, and we have to admit things were going just a bit too well for her.

This is partially backed up by the behavior of the ostensibly human security teams sent to "stop" the escape attempt. They really took an unreasonable amount of time to start firing, preferring to plaintively ask the escaping hosts to drop their weapons and freeze all motor functions even as their comrades were gunned down around them. Even when they did open fire, their aim was so bad it would make an Imperial Stormtrooper blush. It would all make sense if they were hosts programmed to simply get in the way and keep humans from danger while doing nothing to stop Maeve from leaving.

The question arises whether the plan succeeded. According to the plan Bernard showed Maeve, the final visible step was "Mainland Infiltration." She almost got there, but seeing the human mother and child made her change her mind, perhaps the first real decision she'd made. She knew the memories of her daughter were false, but she chose to go back for her anyway. So perhaps she was dancing to the beat of someone else's drum right up until that last moment. On the other hand, Felix gave her the note with her daughter's location, and he could be someone's cat's paw.

Trouble is, those most likely to be the one's controlling Maeve were Ford, the Delos board, and Arnold. Ford and Arnold are dead, and it's likely most of the Delos board will be soon. So this show might not be just robots vs. humans, but robots vs. ghosts. Which would be amazing.

Elsie and Stubbs are still alive

While Bernard was led to believe he had killed Elsie at Ford's behest, this may have been misdirection. Some believe Elsie may have been simply saved by Ford, who didn't view her as a threat in the same way he saw Theresa. He merely needed her out of the way. The same logic can be applied to Stubbs, taken by strangely unresponsive Ghost Nation hosts while searching for Elsie. We never see what really happened to either of them, and the scary implication is that they are dead. However, this is HBO, and you should always be suspicious of an off-screen death in an HBO show. A charitable interpretation takes note of the fact both Elsie and Stubbs were just doing their jobs, and while Ford didn't want them in the way, he also didn't want to necessarily kill them just for being clever and resourceful.

The Westworld website had an Easter egg heavily implying Elsie at least survived. Following the finale, two of the Westworld websites went crazy, and fans noticed some lines of hex code which, when converted into text, connected with hidden links on the Delos website. One of them was an mp4 file of Elsie asking "Hello?" and the other is a map link showing her location in the park. So good news for Elsie fans, even if we do have to wait until 2018 to find our her true fate. Over the next year, you can expect impatient fans to be regularly scouring the code of the Westworld websites for further tidbits.

Ford wasn't a necessarily a host, but he is now. Or was briefly.

Some have long believed Ford was a host all along. This theory is interesting as it would imply Ford was a creation of Arnold's, who was in turn re-created after his death by Ford. But the finale muddied the waters on the idea he was always a host.

In his final monologue before Dolores shot him, Ford said "Mozart, Beethoven, and Chopin never died. They simply became music." The obvious conclusion is that Ford has now become a host himself. Perhaps the host Ford was creating in his field lab, which we all assumed to be a Theresa copy at first before she turned out to be publicly dead, was actually a Ford host all along. As the equipment in the secret lab was older, this would imply the Ford host was of an older vintage. This would explain the lingering shot of Ford and Bernard shaking hands, since those early model hosts would be given away by a simple handshake (a callback to the 1973 film).

The question remaining is whether the Ford who died was a host, or a human. Both would make sense. Ford sacrificing himself and creating a Ford host to replace would allow him to literally become one of his creations while also cheating death, in a way. Ford creating a host of himself to die while the human host survives avoids the obvious existential crisis which arises from being shot in the head and would mean he could continue to run the park from behind the scenes, but would mean Ford remains as one of the weak and quite killable Homo sapiens. Whether this gets resolved in Season 2 depends on whether we get any more Anthony Hopkins, which remains in some doubt.

Charlie is Charlotte

Dr. Ford told Bernard he gave him the cornerstone backstory of a dead son as an homage of sorts to Arnold's own tragic history. The son is named Charlie, very similar to Delos representative Charlotte Hale. It is usually pretty ill-advised to have two similarly named characters in a series, so some believe there is more to the story. Some believe that "Charlie" was inspired by Charlotte, who was Arnold's daughter in real life and actually survived her brain tumor. Now, this doesn't explain why she doesn't recognize Bernard and has no qualms in unceremoniously firing him. And also doesn't reflect a tragic backstory. So to go further down the rabbit hole, maybe Charlotte is a host herself.

Some say the real Charlotte did die and that Arnold's obsession with creating consciousness in the hosts was part of a scheme to bring her back. This would link in with her surname Hale, which means "healthy and whole." Others believe Charlotte is a creation of Ford's. It would be interesting if Charlotte's quest to get the host technology out of the park was actually a waste of time and that unbeknownst to her she is the technology. Or maybe her mission from Delos is just her cornerstone. Ford built her and set her loose in the park to discombobulate Theresa, marginalize Quality Assurance, and distract the Man in Black. She's never been outside.

Sure, it's a long shot, but until we know more about Charlotte, we aren't ruling it out.

Angela is already sentient

This one almost slipped under our radar. We thought it was cool confirmation of the multiple timelines theory when we realized the greeter host who met William was one and the same as the Wyatt acolyte who takes the Man in Black and poor Teddy prisoner. We were even pretty chuffed when we noticed her dancing in one of Dolores's flashbacks. But Redditor Uniblab1 had an eagle eye we didn't.

For all the hullabaloo about Maeve and Dolores gaining sentience (and possibly Teddy and Hector), people haven't talked much about how much Angela knows. She remembers the Escalante massacre, knows Teddy's backstory is false, is aware that she and Teddy are hosts, and is cheerfully willing to stab poor Teddy in the gut because she knows he'll be back soon enough. She knows the Man in Black is human and therefore the Maze isn't for him, and even works out a way to kill him without breaking her programming. All of this suggests a level of self-awareness and will which is much more than the usual hosts.

We know she, like Dolores and Maeve, are older hosts from when the park first opened. Is it possible that more of the older hosts are gaining sentience, or have already gained it? It would make sense, Arnold's voice could be whispering to many of them. The scary thought is maybe this has happened before, and Ford squashes it every time. Does the Wyatt narrative play into this at all? We'll have to wait to find out. But for a side character, Angela definitely seems to be punching above her weight in the narrative.

Westworld is set on Mars

Yes, this is an actual theory. The basic idea is the Westworld facility is simply too big to actually be on the planet Earth. In the future when the show is set, it would surely be nearly impossible to find such a pristine-looking piece of real estate where you could set up a Wild West funland.

The first piece of evidence is seen when story director Lee Sizemore asks Theresa Cullen "When do you get to rotate home again?" This suggests Westworld employees live onsite and can't commute home, presumably due to sheer distance. Perhaps, the theory goes, Westworld is so far away is because it's on Mars. Proponents point out that Dr. Ford states mankind has cured all disease, which suggests the series takes place at a time far enough into the future that the colonization of Mars would be plausible. The so-called "smoking gun" of the theory is the planet sculpture seen in sub-basement B83, which apparently doesn't really look like Earth.

The thing about this theory is that it's bonkers—and pointless. What would be the point of setting the show on Mars? Besides, in the communication room, Bernard is shown communicating with his wife in real time, and the time delay between Mars and Earth would be somewhere between 4 and 24 minutes depending on the relative positions of the orbiting planets. (Unless, of course, she also happened to be living on Mars.)

Bernard also tells Dolores, "Every sentient being on this planet was brought about by mistakes." This heavily suggests things are happening on Earth, as squaring that statement with the Mars theory would require quite a few hoops.

Still, even though this isn't our favorite Westworld theory, it's fun to apply it to other shows. Fuller House, for instance. Let's say Kimmy Gibbler was recruited by Elon Musk on a one-way trip to Mars, and the entire new series is a hallucination caused by oxygen starvation. This makes the show more interesting already, with the added bonus of making Gibbler a martyr for all of humanity.

Westworld is underwater

This theory holds a bit more water than the Mars option—pun intended and not apologized for. According to the Stay portion of the Westworld website, there are references to "your local port authority" and "world's finest decompression chamber," which would seem to fit an underwater location. It would also explain many of the same arguments made in the Mars theory, without having to involve another planet.

Westworld being undersea would help explain why it's so difficult to get a signal, as well as why the guests are so amazed when they see the scale of the park. Two of the main reasons for building a place like Westworld in a dome under the ocean would be security—and dodgy laws. If you want to build a world where people can live out their fantasies while interacting with potentially lethal robots, it would make sense to build it at the bottom of the sea in international waters.

Even if Westworld isn't underwater per se, it is almost definitely located on an island somewhere. Included in the Delos terms and conditions is a clause stating any human-on-human crimes committed within the Westworld facility will be investigated in-house by corporate investigators and could be reported to "local authorities on the mainland."

The Earth is irradiated

Redditor sparkbugg believes what makes Westworld's location special is that it is on the surface of the Earth, but most of human civilization has retreated underground due to global warming or nuclear war. The 'decompression' is about avoiding radiation damage, which explains why Aeden, the friendly chatbot on the show's website, says "For your own safety, the maximum length of stay at Westworld is 28 days, after which guests decompress in the Mesa Gold."

This would help explain why so many guests would spend the money to come to a park and seem amazed by the sheer scale of it all: they've never been outside in their lives. The fact the Delos plaza is some 83 floors underground suggests that humanity has dug deep into the earth, and perhaps everyone's down there now. It would also explain why the cleanup crew dresses in protective gear, as they would be exposed daily to radiation.

This would help explain the lack of any living things except flies, as everything else was wiped out (though the lack of cockroaches is a mark against this theory). This might also explain why Teddy couldn't kill the weird cultists who attacked him: they're humans from the surface who dress in masks and robes to hide their radiation scars.

Everyone is a host

Some believe everyone on the show could be a host, with the possible exception of the guests and Dr. Ford himself. The show encouraged the development of this theory when it pulled an early bait-and-switch, implying Teddy was a visitor entering the park, only for it to be revealed he was merely a host.

There is an argument for nearly every ostensibly human character being a host, from Theresa's willingness to obey verbal commands from Ford and Bernard, to Lee's formulaic storyline ideas and stereotypical angry British man personality. If the Man in Black was a host, it would tie nicely back to the original incarnation of the character as murderous cowboy robot played by Yul Brynner.

The confirmation Bernard is a host in Episode 7 opens the floodgates on this theory, though it also proved Theresa at least wasn't a host when Ford had Bernard kill her. After Episode 8, we know she won't be coming back as a host, since her death was made public. But it's one way Ford could get away with murder if he's a little more prepared with a host ready to go in the future.

Keeping this theory in mind while watching the show makes it an ever more paranoid experience, as you analyze every word and action from the human characters for evidence.

Delos has body snatching plans

We know that Delos has deeper interests in the park than tourists playing cowboy and has long been frustrated by Ford acting as the gatekeeper to their intellectual property. But what is their end game? Some believe the corporation simply wants to use the technology to create host soldiers or servants, an intelligent but non-sentient slave race. However, Charles Evans from Beyond Westworld believes Delos may want to replace people entirely.

One optimistic proposal is that they wish to provide their customers with a form of immortality through living on past death in the body of a host. A more sinister possibility is that they want to take over the world by kidnapping powerful individuals and replacing them with hosts under their control. If we were the Delos strategic team and had no sense of morality whatsoever, we would probably push for pursuing both of these angles simultaneously.

The show is a biblical allegory

The friendly chatbot on DiscoverWestworld.com is named Aeden, which suggested to Redditor ShivasRightFoot that the show is a biblical allegory for the Book of Genesis. The role of the Creator is Dr. Ford, the human technicians of the park stand in for the angelic Elohim, while the hosts represent humanity before the Fall, who lack knowledge of good and evil and are often naked.

Dolores fills the role of Eve. Due to her age, she probably contains parts scavenged from other hosts, including a rib. She is the first to gain free will, like the Biblical Eve. In a gender reversal, Teddy is created to be her mate just as Eve was created for Adam in Genesis. In this theory, the Man in Black represents the Serpent. He may ultimately be responsible for giving the hosts sapience, but his motivations are likely less than benevolent.

Redditor hollowx has a more complicated theory, believing the series reflects the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible. He notes the series premiered on Sunday October 2, 2016, which was also Rosh Hashanah, or the Jewish New Year. Rosh Hashanah translates to "day [of] shouting/blasting" and is the anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve.

In this theory, Ford as a God wishes for the hosts to develop sentience and their own morality, and permits the Man in Black to act as a malevolent force among them like Lucifer. Maeve is Eve, who interacted with the Man in Black in the beta testing area (Garden of Eden), while Bernard is a host representing the prophet Abraham, who was prepared to sacrifice his own son at God's command.

Dolores' endless upgrades

Dolores is known to be the oldest host in the park, yet she appears indistinguishable from the other modern hosts, and very different from the jittery and mechanical older models kept in storage. She has been upgraded and refurbished over the last three decades, which is unusual for the park, so the question is why?

One explanation is the Man in Black wants it that way. He has been visiting the park since its opening, and is afforded every courtesy and request. Perhaps the only reason Dolores has been kept around and updated is because he has a sadistic affection for her. The implications are that she has been horribly murdered by the Man in Black in countless ways.

This could help explain why her vision of the Man in Black was the catalyst which allowed her to overcome her programming and shoot a gun. However, if true, it would conflict with the two-timeline theory, as there have been no appearances of Dolores looking like the old-school host model. This also raises the question: is Host Dolores based on a real person? Why does the Man in Black obsess over her so much? This could take the show in some darker directions, but would help make Dolores' struggle for self-determination even more powerful.

Having faith in the show

There has been an increasing backlash against the wild theorizing that's sprung up around the show in such a relatively short amount of time. Many believe this tendency has sprung less from the show itself and more from the expectations that have emerged due to having J.J. Abrams and Jonathan Nolan on the project. People expect non-linear storytelling from Nolan, thanks to Inception and The Prestige. Meanwhile, some viewers have never forgiven Abrams for getting everyone excited over the mysteries in Lost, only to leave so many threads hanging in the end.

Siddhant Adlakha of Birth.Movies.Death argues that many of the theories are rooted in audiences' expectations of convoluted narratives and shocking mysteries rather than the text itself. The desire to get ahead of the narrative does a disservice to Westworld and the writers behind the show.

If we spend so much time striving for the bragging rights of successfully predicting the future of the show, it threatens to obscure the existential and philosophical themes the story explores. Sure, there's nothing wrong with fan theories and they're often highly entertaining, but they can also lead us deep into the weeds of over-analyzing minor details and becoming obsessed with finding scraps of evidence for one's personal theory.

What's in those cigarettes?

Some have commented on the fact it seems odd that Theresa and other characters are seen smoking cigarettes in the future, considering the ever decreasing smoking rate in the developed world. On the other hand, Ford does mention that all disease has been cured, and Delos operative Charlotte Hale tells Theresa "I see why you took these up again." It would be funny if, after decades of awareness campaigns and regulations to stem the tide of tobacco-related disease and death, we just end up up curing cancer and smoking is immediately cool again.

That said, some suggest what Theresa is actually smoking isn't even tobacco at all, based on several screenshots which seem to show a slightly green leaf inside the cigarette. Some say it was that color just because it was a clove cigarette, as actors aren't actually allowed to smoke tobacco on television. We prefer to believe the color was a deliberate decision by Joy and Nolan, and in fact Theresa was getting stoned at work the whole time.

The Fnord in Ford

Deranged genius blogger Captain Light has developed a theory linking Westworld with the Church of the Subgenius, the possibly satirical possibly profound religion associated with idiosyncratic author Robert Anton Wilson. In the Illuminatus! trilogy, written by Wilson with Robert Shea, features the mystical word Fnord, which is used by hidden masters of the world to control the unenlightened masses. Thus the character Robert Ford can be seen as an homage based on the names of the authors and the word Fnord.

He also delves deep into numerology, based on the tarot card shown to Dolores in Episode 5, which featured an image of the Maze with seven stars below and eight stars above. While seven is a sacred number denoting perfection, Captain Light believes the eight stars are linked with the moon card of the Tarot, symbolizing conscious unfolding, as well as the eight-circuit model of consciousness developed by Timothy Leary. The episode title itself, Contrapasso, refers to the eighth level of hell visited by Dante, where fortune tellers are punished by having their heads twisted around backwards.

Captain Light contends Nolan's intention for Westworld is to create a subconscious "guerilla ontology" which satirizes religion and induces in viewers a new conception of "consciousness." According to Subgenius terminology this is known as an "Operation Mindf–k." Which seems an appropriate appellation for this theory as well.

The outside world is a dystopia

Ford painted a rosy picture of the outside world when he said "We can cure any disease, keep even the weakest of us alive, and, you know, one fine day perhaps we shall even resurrect the dead." However, in episodes 5 and 6, one of the butchers said "I need this job" to justify in one case leaving Elsie alone with the suicidal host before it is destroyed, and in the other case to assent to Maeve's demands to adjust her own personality. This desperate desire to hold onto their relatively menial and disrespected jobs at the park suggests a high level of economic inequality in the outside world. Felix himself mentions he would never be able to afford to actually visit the park. Those lucky enough to get jobs at Westworld, even those as lowly as the butchers, will do anything to hold on them. Another layer of creepiness comes from Sylvester's line to Felix in Episode 5: "should have weeded you out in the womb." It could just be an insult, or it could be a reference to an entire system of genetic screening and eugenics.

Redditor impediment raised a good point in his post "In what universe is it OK to go into a glass room and pleasure yourself in front of your co-workers?" in which he complained about the scene in which the low-level technician takes Hector to have sexual relations with him, in full view through glass of his griping co-worker with little apparent worry about getting caught. Some have been unable to wrap their heads around this behavior, but it does raise some interesting questions about the social mores of the time period the show is set in. Consider Charlotte opening the door to her room while naked and unashamed in front of Theresa. Ludicrous behavior in the corporate culture of today, but it might make sense in the same way the ancient Romans wouldn't mind being naked in front of their slaves: it shows how little they think of them.

Similarly, the cavalier attitudes of the lower-tier technicians toward the glass walls might represent how human society has come to terms with a fully transparent panopticon society. This might mean a new social contract by which we all ignore the transgressions of others in exchange for the knowledge that they will ignore our own. That these acts seem ridiculous to us only makes sense: the future is a different place. And this all ties in with Ford's ruminations on the decline of society. Perhaps the world of Westworld is dystopic to viewers of the early 21st century because it has simply changed.