Okay, so if you’re like us, you now have a headache after watching the ninth episode of the first season of Westworld, and badly want someone to try and explain how the timeline fits together, because it’s pretty obvious at this point that not everything happening on this show is happening at the same time. Unfortunately for us, we’re supposed to be the people doing the explaining. And since the show has at least tried to start providing answers, rather than spend this week asking questions, we thought we’d try our best to make sense of how all the pieces fit together.
It should go without saying, but this contains plot-related spoilers from the entire first nine episodes of the show, so you probably shouldn’t be reading this if you aren’t all caught up.
Ready to go down the rabbit hole with us? Right, let’s begin.
All right, so before the park even opened, Ford and Arnold were building hosts that could pass Turing tests, and arguing about how to make them even better. Arnold was of the belief that they should hear a voice in their heads that inspired actions, and went ahead and implemented that idea in the hosts, which included Dolores, the host who welcomes William to Westworld, and possibly Teddy and Maeve. Early in the season, we see Bernard having conversations with Dolores, which lent confusion to the issue of multiple time periods. However, now that we know Bernard was made in the image of Arnold, we can safely assume those conversations happened at this point with the real Arnold, and not the host Bernard. These hosts are tested in a small town, which is the one Dolores remembers during her search with William.
A Death In The Park
So, obviously, something goes wrong, the hosts (or at least one of them) start going crazy from the whole “voices in my head” idea, and Dolores kills Arnold for some reason, which hasn’t been explained yet. Then, she “kills” all the hosts in the original town and possibly herself. At this point, Ford likely takes charge of the direction of Westworld, the original town is buried, and the park itself is rebuilt somewhere else. Westworld opens to the public, with Ford’s plan for evolving the hosts in place, while also ensuring that he has built backdoors into their programming to ensure that he always has control no matter how much they change. It should be noted that the early hosts are still clearly robots underneath, as opposed to the “modern” versions that resemble humans all the way through, which becomes important when determining where we are in a particular timeline.
Thirty Years Ago
A short, indeterminate time after the park actually opens, William and his future brother-in-law Logan, who are highly-placed members of the Delos Corporation, pay a visit. William meets Delores in the starting area, but doesn’t interrupt her routine. However, during the course of her normal storyline, somehow Dolores escapes from the bandits attacking her family’s ranch, and meets back up with William. They go on their adventure to Pariah, join up with Lawrence, ride a train across Westworld, and eventually discover the now-buried town from Dolores’ memories. At this point they get captured by Logan, where he cuts open Dolores (revealing that we’re in the past with the more robotic hosts), but she escapes again and disappears, leaving William to dedicate himself to finding her again by searching for The Maze.
At this point, the Delos Corporation starts funding Westworld, likely driven by the efforts of William/The Man In Black (it’s not official, but at this point, we feel safe in assuming that they are one and the same), who presumably went back to the real world and married his fiancee, becoming a powerful person in his father-in-law’s company.
Somewhere In Between
Somewhere in between William’s time period and what we’ll call the “present day”, Ford builds Bernard to replace the partner he lost years earlier. Then, some time after Bernard starts working at Westworld, a point which is indistinct but almost certainly happens before anything currently going on in the park, the Man In Black shoots Maeve and her daughter, in their original roles. This causes Maeve to break from her programming and attempt to kill the Man in Black, showing that Maeve was likely one of the original hosts, and also that Arnold’s programming still exists. Ford attempts to calm down Maeve by using Arnold’s old backdoor of playing music, but she still commits suicide in a failed attempt to prevent being reprogrammed and having her memories erased. Of course, that erasure is incomplete, and eventually it leads to Maeve waking up behind the scenes, setting her off on her current path. This is also what gives the Man in Black the idea of how he can re-awaken Dolores and get back to The Maze, which we’ll get to when we fast-forward to…
William never got over his obsession with Dolores, costing him his marriage and his relationship with his daughter. However, he also needs her to be the person he fell in love with, not the memory-erased host she’s gone back to being, and thanks to shooting Maeve and her daughter, he thinks he has an idea of how to do that. He needs to re-create the circumstances that caused Dolores to start becoming her own person and searching for The Maze in the first place. His plan goes in motion all the way back in the first episode, when he leads the assault on her ranch, drags her into the barn, and tries to trigger her ability to fire a weapon, which was how she originally broke her programming way back in Pariah. It doesn’t work right away, but it does awaken something, revealed at the end of the first episode, when Dolores quite deliberately, kills a fly. Shortly afterwards, the voice of Arnold, combined with the efforts of the Man In Black, causes her to shoot the host assaulting her in the barn and once again run off into the night. However, this time she doesn’t stumble across William and Logan, so she finds her own way to the original town, which has been rebuilt, or at least uncovered, and has her revelation about killing Arnold. Meanwhile, the Man in Black has been following his own set of clues, using his knowledge of which hosts were around in the park thirty years ago, to get to the same place. And that’s where things ended after the ninth episode.
Got it handled now? Okay, we do have time for a couple of extra questions before we wrap up.
Is Dolores Also Wyatt?
It seems likely that Teddy’s memories of Wyatt, which were given to him by Ford, are of Dolores shooting all the hosts in the original town. The real question is, was Teddy actually there when it happened? Was he also complicit in the incident, and does this mean that Teddy is also one of the original hosts, capable of hearing Arnold’s voice in his head? This would actually explain why Teddy was capable of knocking the Man in Black out, although he hasn’t reached his full potential, since he can’t actually kill him. Or was Teddy just a convenient host that Ford decided to give that backstory to, in order to secretly assist the Man in Black on his quest? Either way, this makes Teddy a serious wild card in the confrontations to come, especially since he’s headed back behind the scenes for repairs after this episode.
Is Wyatt’s Group Made Up Of Arnold’s Original Hosts?
The only confirmed member of Wyatt’s group that we’ve actually seen (assuming the man in Teddy’s flashbacks is just a creation of Ford to disguise that he really is Dolores) is the woman who we now know was in the original town during the incident thirty-odd years ago, and also the host who introduced William to Westworld. Obviously, there were more original hosts, and from Dolores’ flashback showing them sitting in the church, we can assume that they all went at least a little crazy. But Westworld never throws anything away, so what are the chances that Wyatt’s gang of masked cult members is made up of all those original hosts, all with the capability to hurt guests buried inside of them? What better way for an awakened Dolores, and possibly Maeve, to quickly assemble an army?
Is The Hemsworth Dead?
Well, with it officially confirmed that Elsis is dead, the loose end became the security chief who showed signs of suspicion when Bernard didn’t have any memories of his relationship with Theresa. It’s likely he’s a victim of uncontrollable Indian hosts, but the show really needs to stop cutting away in order to create mysteries about “did this character actually die, or just get knocked out?” In this case, we’re kind of overdue for a swerve, so it’s entirely possible that he survived. After all, he is a Hemsworth. Besides, this show is in dire need of an actual hero to fight against Ford and the inevitable robot uprising, and he’s really the only candidate left.
What Is Ford’s Storyline?
Something that needs to be recalled is that this is all happening because Ford is allowing it. He built Bernard, he suddenly decided to give Teddy a backstory that helped the Man In Black get to the church, he created Wyatt’s gang, and he rebuilt the original town where the incident happened. The only factor that we’re not sure he’s accounted for could be Maeve, but someone altered her characteristics before Felix and Sylvester got involved, so we have to believe that’s part of his storyline too. Is Ford intentionally helping the robots gain the ability to hurt and potentially kill guests as part of his new grand storyline? Also, it’s fairly obvious that simply rebuilding the town wouldn’t require half the funds given to the park and the massive earth-moving project we’ve seen in development over the season. So, what is Ford’s actual end game, which is so important that he’s willing to commit multiple murders, and sacrifice Bernard just to make sure things go the way he wants them to? We know there’s chaos coming in the final episode, but is it all still proceeding according to his plan?
Who Will Die In The Finale?
Westworld has actually been shockingly light on real deaths thus far (hey, for HBO, two can be considered “light”), given that everyone assumed going in that the premise of the show was “robots rise up and start killing humans”. After all, that’s what the movie was about. Actually, when you look at the cast, there aren’t many real humans left to sacrifice, especially since William and Logan are back in the past. However, William’s present day incarnation, the Man in Black, has to be our pick for the most prominent human not to make it out of the season finale alive, in some sort of karmic retribution for all the things he did in his quest to bring back the Dolores he met thirty years ago. Our secondary picks have tobe at least one of Felix and Sylvester, as punishment for their meddling in things they really should have alerted security to at this point. Maybe we’re wrong, and we’ll get an HBO finale that doesn’t up the death count of named characters in order to reach a quota. But the guns are coming out next episode, and we wouldn’t put money on everyone surviving to the credits. “These violent dreams have violent ends”, after all.