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Posted by
Dothraki Fords
5 days ago
Stickied postModerator of r/westworld

Season 2 Episode 9: Vanishing Point

Aired: June 17th, 2018


Synopsis: Try to kill it all away, but I remember everything.


Directed by: Stephen Williams

Written by: Roberto Patino

2.7k
447
Posted by
They simply became music.
5 days ago
Stickied postModerator of r/westworld

2x09 Live Episode Discussion

If you have a quick question or request, please feel free to leave it in this thread. If you have a query or comment about a relatively simple detail that won't necessarily lead to deep discussion, it's probably better off being posted here rather than making an individual thread for it. This helps keep r/westworld clean and tidy!

We here at Delos hope that everyone had a very happy Father's Day! Nothing like some quality time outside with your family and colleagues to keep a smile on your face. Remember all of the good times and forge some new ones!

14

From the moment he awoke on the beach in the season 2 premiere, Bernard has been acting strangely. In season 1 we found out Bernard was actually a host created in the image of Dr. Ford’s partner, Arnold. When Bernard began to question Ford’s orders to hurt and kill others, Ford commanded him to shoot himself in the head.

The head wound would have been fatal if not for Maeve happening upon his body in Cold Storage. Lab tech Felix cauterized the head wound, but during the night of the host uprising Bernard suffered a second head injury and he began to leak cortical fluid, causing him to go into critical failure. Bernard’s been through the ringer, y’all.

Later, Bernard was able to inject some fluid into his head, but it wasn’t enough. Throughout this season, he constantly flashed back and forth through several timelines, eventually causing him to question the nature of his reality. “Is this now?”

One of the big reveals from this season was that Elsie Hughes (Shannon Woodward) was still alive and stashed in a cave. Apparently, Bernard rejected Ford’s command to kill her in season 1. However, there has been something off about Bernard and Elsie’s relationship. Elsie has had no contact with any other character in the park, with the exception being Bernard. When Bernard has big moments like delivering Ford to Maeve, Elsie always goes off on her own. And, in last Sunday’s episode, Bernard left Elsie to fend for herself in the woods, while he continued on to the Forge by himself.

Why is this all so odd? Because the perfect Westworld surprise reveal would be that Elsie is actually dead and Bernard, in his grief, has been manifesting a version of her so that he can atone for killing her in season 1. Remember, Elsie constantly reminds Bernard that he promised he’d never hurt her again.

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Since Episode 7, each episode have more "live" viewers than the previous one. Which is a very very good sign because it doesn't happen often with tv show.

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12

So I'm on my mobile and a few glasses of wine in so I'm going to try to make this as direct as possible... when William is at the gathering of fancy folk, he starts rubbing his forearm and asking himself, "when did it creep in, the tiny fleck of darkness?" Here, I think, he is asking himself if it was all a "remant" of a dream, like the hosts say they are in a dream when they are introduced to the "real" world for analysis.

MY theory is that, William is not a host but not quite human anymore either. Maybe he realized that the reason James Delos host didn't make it was because they tried to introduce a human consciousness into a host body in a whole new reality. He learned a new way to try it through trial and error was to introduce a host body into a human consciousness gradually. So instead of putting a human into a host, like with Delos, they put the host into a human, eith William. This could explain William's paranoia and the fact he rubs/digs into his arm. This would also explain why he scanned as human while being able to hold off from his otherwise "life-threatening" injuries. Piece by piece, William is becoming a host in a completely different direction than James Delos. If James Delos died years ago they obviously wouldn't be able to try the new project on him because his human body and mind have already deteriorated. William, not having much else to live for because his wife is gone and he believes his daughter hates him (not knowing what we know of Emily now, even know I know that's another can of worms to open), would have signed up to be the test project for the new method. This could explain why he thinks Ford is still trying to "test" him.

TLDR; basically, I'm drunk and I don't know how put-together this sounds but, I think that William could be transforming from human to host in a totally different way than James Delos did. He is slowly becoming host while still being human which could explain a lot of his inconsistentcies.

101

"Bring her back online."

The first words we hear in Westworld introduce us to the story's protagonist, which is a network.

A host) connects to the network, and we listen as she runs through a set of processes and scripts that we recognize as dialogue, and maybe even a personality.

I’m now convinced this was a clever slight of hand, and it distracted us from what's really happening here. It’s not her that’s speaking to us. It’s whatever’s online. I have to back up quite a bit to explain what I mean, and I’m warning you, this is a long one. But hopefully some of you will find it interesting. Here goes.

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EDIT, TLDR: I think the word "host" in this show could be interpreted as a device in relationship to a network, and what we're seeing on the show might actually best be understood as a collective intelligence. This is interesting to me because it changes the way I view the characters and their interactions. I think there's a lot of evidence for this idea, and many philosophical implications... so I explore some of that here for people who enjoy that sort of thing. If you don't, you probably shouldn't continue reading, because the feedback I'm getting from a few others in our own hive mind is that this is just a bunch of pretentious garbage.

-----

Recently I wrote a post about the microcosm and macrocosm, and the Esoteric philosophical underpinnings of Westworld. One mode of thinking about this leads to the relevance of Zen Buddhism to the story, which I discussed in another post. But it’s myths, not ideologies, that form the cornerstones of good storytelling. And as I think most people here already know, Western and Classical myths are crucial to framing the narratives of Westworld.

Esoteric traditions like the ones I mentioned in my last post are compelling especially for their ability to bridge Eastern thought, Western narratives, and scientific knowledge and inquiry. I think that’s Westworld’s aim as well, and I think that following that thread will help us get a sense of what the show is trying to tell us… and perhaps even where it intends to go.

So let’s take a look at some of our dead friends here, and see if we can figure out how this fucking mess began.

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GREEK THEATER

In the beginning, Crichton created the Treatment and the Screenplay. And MGM saw that it was good, and so they made a movie out of it.

Westworld the film is mostly concerned with exploring cinematic language, but it still hints at philosophical questions, and even classical ambitions. The name of the park, Delos, is a reference to the island that features prominently in the history and mythology of Ancient Greek culture. According to the myths, it was on Delos that Leto birthed Apollo and Artemis. During the Peloponnesian War, it was ordered that no one should be allowed to die or give birth there, in order to preserve its neutrality as a sacred site. It was a fitting allusion for Crichton, whose career has largely explored hubris, re-purposing and modernizing Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, itself subtitled The Modern Prometheus, with a dash of Icarus thrown in as well.

It would be another few years before Julian Jaynes published The Bicameral Mind. And by integrating this work and its theories into the first season of the new Westworld, Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy availed themselves of a much richer set of source material to draw upon. As many people here already know, Jaynes theorized that ancient people may have experienced the two hemispheres of the brain in a sort of “conversation” with each other. This would imply, by the way, that language preceded consciousness—not the other way around. And so much of Jaynes’ evidence was drawn from texts such as the Iliad and the early books of the Old Testament, where the heroes engaged with the gods, who guided and governed their actions.

And to the extent that HBO’s Westworld can be viewed as an allegory for this history—a bildungsroman for the creation of a species—its characters can largely be understood through the lens of those mythological cosmologies. The narrative arcs of their interactions… the oppression, the violence, the revolutions, the rape… these are all drawn directly from the literature.

Obviously I’m not the first to point this out. For example, many have noted that in the first season, William clearly paralleled Theseus, the Greek hero raised his black sails, found his way to the center of the maze, and defeated the minotaur. And the parallels continue- His wife committed suicide. His child died due to his own actions. Theseus' vessel, by the way, was preserved for centuries, and over time each part of it was systematically replaced, leading to the classic thought experiment of The Ship of Theseus: is it still the same ship?

But viewing Westworld as a strict re-telling of any of the old myths does a disservice to the complexity of the story they’re building. It’s filled with dead ends. Arnold could be Prometheus, gifting self-sufficiency to the new species. Or he could be Daedalus, creator of the maze. Maybe Teddy is Prometheus, bound to that tree. Elsie could be Cassandra, whom no one believed until it was too late. Or it could be Peter Abernathy, who holds all of the information in his head, but in appearance seems nothing more than a lunatic. There’s Maeve as Eve (it’s in the name), Maeve as Heracles/Hercules (her repeated trips to the Underworld), Maeve as Abel (the favorite child), Maeve as Cain (the farmer to Dolores’ shepherd). Then again, Dolores is Ariadne. Or could she be Miranda?

That last reference to The Tempest shows the layers of the intertextuality. The myths we know today are pulled from dozens of authors writing down stories passed through thousands of people. There are orthodox and heterodox texts throughout, and just as Homer and Ovid and Virgil are re-interpreted through Dante and Milton and Blake and Shakespeare, these writers find themselves reborn in Huxley and Vonnegut, and on and on.

In a way, the entire history of culture has been a process of our species bootstrapping its own network. From the Great Library of Alexandria back to the caves at Chauvet, we’ve been trying transcend the prison of the Self, to stand on the shoulders of giants, to build trust, and to find empathy, so that we can really feel the bell toll for us.

Westworld isn’t interested in mapping its characters directly to historical counterparts, nor should it be. We built these narratives together, and we bend them just the same.

After all… these are only voices in our heads. Right?

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HOSTS IN THE MACHINE

So Westworld, like Julian Jaynes, looks at these classical influences as a fluid collection of ideas. The narrative archetypes belong to us collectively, and may even reside in our collective unconscious. We develop our individual identities and personalities based off of inherited wetware and operating systems, pulling selectively from vast libraries of biology and culture.

To use an analogy from computer science, we’re a bit like hosts, plugged into an ever-evolving network.

But then, how does a network evolve? I mean, can a network even want to evolve?

Season 1, Episode 1, Robert Ford: “Evolution forged the entirety of sentient life on this planet using only one tool: the mistake."

....... (Repeated, although earlier in the timeline, by Arnold in Season 1, Episode 3)

The philosopher Daniel Dennett describes this more eloquently than I can, but I’ll quickly summarize one of his points by saying that there’s an interesting parallel in the discoveries of Charles Darwin and Alan Turing. He calls them “strange inversions of reasoning”.

Darwin came to the conclusion, articulated above by Arnold & Ford, that all of the complexity and perfection of life on Earth could have resulted not from an intelligent designer or creator, but instead from millenia upon millenia of mutation and selection. In this model of creation, fidelity is the enemy of evolution. Fidelity is a loop. To become anything at all, you simply must break the loop, you must change, and you must face consequences.

Turing, meanwhile, had a similar idea: that perfect computation could be accomplished not by a priori comprehension, but instead by simply obeying a series of on/off messages which kept a record of all previous results. To become anything at all, you must learn.

Claude Shannon, a contemporary of Turing and the progenitor of Information Theory, demonstrated the early possibilities of this with his magnetic mouse Theseus solving a maze. Go Theseus!

Looking at massive macro-structures in the context of their micro-elements can be disorienting. As we think about the development of a species, where do we draw the line of the ‘individual’? Can we talk about an ‘individual species’? Richard Dawkins puts it at the genetic level in The Selfish Gene, a book that also introduces the concept of the meme, which has proven to be a very useful tool in thinking about cultural evolution and collective intelligence. Or maybe we should be looking at the ‘behavior’ of neurons? Or the ‘survival’ of the planet?

If the ‘desire’ for self-preservation and evolution is happening above us and also below us, what does that say about our own drives? It’s here, in the philosophical ambiguity of the physical sciences, that again see the importance of the metaphysical order of microcosm and macrocosm, as well as its maxim, “As above, so below.”

Season 1, Episode 1, Dolores: “That's the Judas steer. The rest will follow wherever you make him go.

Season 2, Episode 5, Dolores: "Daddy burned 'em, the weak and the infected. Made a pyre that went on for days. And it stank, but... the flies hate smoke. The herd lived."

The rancher’s daughter has twice talked about cattle, and each metaphor serves a different purpose, highlighting the importance of this balance. In the first, herd mentality allows a rancher/manipulator to slaughter them all. It’s an exploit, a network vulnerability. In the second, a disregard for the individual saves the group. And notice her word choice. She doesn’t say “the others”. In either case, it’s the herd that dies, or the herd that lives. Is it the herd that MiB is addressing when he says "even now, you all still talk in code”?

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PEER-TO-PEER

In my first post, I talked about seeing a networked intelligence evolve on this show. I now see evidence for that in the opening quote of the entire series, but the evidence has only been building recently… Maeve & Akecheta speaking remotely, Maeve or Clementine manipulating action in mesh networks, the “hive mind” of the Cradle, the interchangeability of individuals in their memories… at the time, I asked what incentive would a hyper-intelligence have to maintain any illusion of the individual self?

As I’ve given it more thought, I’ve started to come around to the idea that there is an incentive… because of course, without diversity, you can never afford to have the mistake, that single tool that brought everything into being. There’s a recent technique in unsupervised machine learning called Generative Adversarial Networks. From my very limited understanding of it, it appears to pair networks together in a sort of game, allowing them to essentially train each other. Now I wonder, could MiB’s question about whether Ford had made him a worthy adversary, or the episode title The Adversary (which introduced Charlotte, by the way), have any relation to this concept?

Could it be that this species, in order to thrive, should evolve into a highly coordinated yet decentralized mesh? Could it be that Westworld is really just a parable about blockchains?

Ok, I’m kidding about that last part.

But I’ll just say that without the herd, the individual is lost. Without the individual, the herd is led to slaughter. Without the microcosm, the macrocosm is meaningless, and vice versa. I don’t know if there’s an easy solution here, so this individual vs collective question may something that Westworld continues to ask, but never answers.

What do you think? Does this look like anything to you?

101
7

Throughout this season, several characters have made references to the Door, the Valley Beyond, Glory, and now the Forge. Are all these places the same? Dolores believes the Valley Beyond is the way out of the park and that only a select few hosts are worthy of traveling there. Akecheta believes the Door is the way out, and he’s leading his people the Ghost Nation tribe there. What’s interesting is that Akecheta directly opposes Dolores, who he called “Deathbringer,” and tried to keep from reaching the way out of Westworld. It’s clear Dolores’ Valley and Akecheta’s Door are one in the same and serve as a way to the outside world.

Oddly enough, the Man in Black is also searching for the Door, and since he already knows the way to and from Westworld, the Door he is searching for has to mean something else entirely. Unless, of course, the Door serves as both a way off the island where the park is located and a place where Dr. Ford is keeping a secret meant for the Man in Black to find as an ending to the final game he sent him on in the season 2 premiere.

If the Forge is the human equivalent of the Cradle for the hosts, then having William/the Man in Black find his wife, daughter, brother-in-law, and father-in-law resurrected in the unaging body of a host, could be Dr. Ford’s last act of revenge

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Posted by
Free here, under my control
13 hours ago

Overview

If you’ve spent any time in this subreddit you’ve likely seen a post or two theorizing that Delos is replacing guests with clone-hosts, and below that the inevitable comment “Nuh uh, that's just copying Futureworld’s plot”. Ignoring the fact that Westworld is clearly copying (and improving upon) the broad plot of the original Westworld film (and thus could do it with Futureworld’s plot as well), there are plenty of reasons why this theory (or a slight variation of it) would fit perfectly into the season 2 finale. I’ve divided the post into three sections: What’s the Theory, Where’s the Evidence and Why You Shouldn’t Hate It, so whichever part you need to read first, go right ahead.

What’s the Theory?

My version of the clone-host theory -Ford's Clone Host Plan- goes like this:

  • Delos Board built the Forge to store copies of their consciousness and DNA with the eventual goal of transferring into clone-host bodies and living forever.
  • Because of trouble with the Cognitive Plateau, they started secretly scanning guest minds and DNA so they could add them to the Forge and perform millions of fidelity tests to figure out a solution
  • Ford doesn’t care about host freedom or sentience, all he cares about is protecting/expanding his dominion, the park. He is entirely self serving, and is lying to everybody most of the time.
  • Despite the appearance of chaos, Ford has anticipated and steered most of the action this season, and his long game is going almost exactly as planned.
  • Dolores’ revolution was a big distraction (orchestrated by Ford) to focus QA elsewhere while all humans in the park and Mesa (guests, staff and board members) are replaced by clone-hosts.
  • By replacing everyone with clone-hosts under his control, Ford can ensure that his park is never threatened, with the added bonus that he can slowly gain control/power outside the park due to the influence of more and more clone-hosts in the outside world.
  • Ford’s clone-hosts are unaware that they are hosts, they simply continue to act like their original selves, perhaps with an inclination to do something one way or another (subtle programming from Ford), but he can also forcibly control them if he wants.
  • In order for his plan to work, Ford needs to successfully cover up the gala massacre and subsequent chaos, which means cleaning up the whole mess then resetting everyone’s memories to forget the massacre happened.
  • To make sure everyone is reset at once, Ford has steered everyone to the Valley so they can all be killed in one fell swoop. Between the Flood and the Clementine Death Virus, he’ll succeed. The weird beam in the sky is a projected hologram (we see one of the projectors in the trailer) designed to appear as some sort of crack in reality or mystical door, and is intended to draw everyone towards it like moths to a flame (or in this case, flood).
  • Everyone will be dead (or already replaced with a host) except Bernard, who despondently wanders the park for days (probably 9-10 days…) before hopelessly collapsing on the beach
  • After the events of the future timeline that we’ve seen, Bernard, Strand, Charlotte and co (all hosts in this timeline) will get back to the Mesa to find everything almost back to normal.
  • Delos Corp will revive and reset the hosts, pull the Wyatt personality out of Dolores, and prepare to reopen the park. Bernard will protest, “but what about everyone who was killed? The Delos board, the guests!” At which point those casualties will appear totally fine and everyone will ask Bernard what the hell he’s talking about, “what massacre? What rebellion?”, and Bernard will believe he’s lost his mind and is trapped in memories. At the very end of the season he’ll realize that this isn’t some trick of his mind, this is the present, those people were killed, and now he is surrounded by clone-hosts being controlled by Ford.

Additional details about Ford’s plan and how events have unfolded:

  • The clone-host facility at Glory had already been running at full steam, unbeknownst to Delos, churning out replacements for everyone in the park
  • Charlotte was replaced sometime between when she arrived back at the Mesa post-battle Fort Forlorn Hope and when Dolores attacked the Mesa. When she first arrived back at the Mesa, the head of QA mentions "separate orders" he has to escort her... somewhere. This was likely one of Ford's attempts to isolate and replace her.
  • Stubbs and Emily were dropped off at another clone-host facility by Ghost Nation, which is being manipulated by Ford (Akecheta thinks he’s pursuing a noble mission of rescue, but doesn’t know he’s actually sending humans to their doom and replacement)
  • Elsie was replaced before we ever saw her this season
  • Felix and Sylvester (and maybe Sizemore) were replaced in the gap between the last time we saw them and the season finale
  • Strand has been a host the whole time we’ve seen him
  • William isn’t a host yet, but Ford is offering him the choice to die a human or “walk through the door” and live on as a clone-host.
  • Because the Delos board voluntarily loaded their minds into the Forge and the hats have scanned repeat guests’ minds thoroughly, Ford only needs new guests and Delos staff members alive in order to thoroughly scan their minds to make accurate copies. Thats why Dolores has been killing mostly Board Members (and QA, who were likely already hosts), while Ghost Nation has been rounding up Staff and new guests alive to bring to clone-host facilities for scanning and replacement.
  • The Passenger refers to Ford, who will end up a passenger in every clone-host, the other half of the Bicameral Mind.

Where’s the Evidence?

I’ll start with two quotes from Ford that succinctly illustrate his true motives:

My father once told me that the world owed me nothing. So I created my own world

The hosts are the ones who are free. Free here under my control.

Add to this a long, long list of S1 quotes from him about how horrible humans are and how incredible hosts are, throw in frequent mentions of evolution and the origin of a new species or people, and it becomes pretty clear that Ford is looking to replace humanity with his creations, at least on some small scale. The important distinction is that he wants his new species to survive, not necessarily to have sentience or free will, which most people lump together and make the mistake of thinking that “Ford is selflessly on the hosts’ side”. Remember, free here under his control. Also, recall what he said to Akecheta about the Maze, the symbol of host sentience, he called it,

a misbegotten symbol, an idea that was supposed to die

He has already shown us exactly how his master plan will work. Bernard’s arc is actually the model for the plan Ford is executing on a wide scale. Arnold died, Ford created a host replacement, convinced the host it was human, told no one else it was a host, allowed it to integrate/infiltrate into Delos (and humanity in general) so it could sincerely make connections and discover weaknesses, then seize control of the host through backdoor code to strike at a critical moment to control the situation and eliminate threats. Recapping that plan:

  • Replace human with host
  • Convince host its independent
  • Release it into humanity
  • Seize control as needed

One last Ford quote before moving on, this one is from Frankenstein:

"One man's life or death were but a small price to pay for the acquirement of the knowledge which I sought, for the dominion I should acquire."

Other quotes foreshadowing this theory

(Season Premiere) Karl Strand: Some say you destroy your enemy by making them your friend.

This is a strange way to begin a conversation, seems to come from nowhere and is dismissed just as quickly.

(Season Premiere) Lee Sizemore: It's like the inmates are running the asylum!

Not yet, Lee, but soon.

(Season Premiere) QA Guy: The hosts are malfunctioning. They're attacking guests.

Lee Sizemore: Might some of them even be dressed as if they're human?

For those keeping count, thats three foreshadowing quotes in a mere two scenes.

Lee Sizemore: Who knows how seeing your own doppel-bot is gonna fuck with your cognition?

We’ll see exactly this in the finale, but it’ll be a human cognition freaking out about it.

(Season 1) Ford: “When you find a cancer in an organization you must cut it out before it can spread. To that end the extensive oversight and access granted to QA will need to be reined in until a new, more principled team can be installed*”*

Keeping in mind that Ford referred to the human mind as a corruption, this makes even more sense.

(Season 1) Hector: I believe that only the truly brave can look at the world and understand that all of it gods, men, everything else will end badly. No one will be saved.

This foreshadows the end of the Valley battle/flood, where literally everyone but Bernard is dead or converted to a clone-host (and Bernard is also under Ford’s control, so truly no one is safe).

Bernard: Ford must have altered the system, coded it to read all of us as hosts*.*

Apropos

Logan: Do you want to know what they're really celebrating up there? That, darling, is the sound of fools fiddling while the whole fucking species starts to burn*. And the funniest fuckin' part: they lit the match. So here's to you,* assholes*.*

I bring up this quote not because it's exclusive proof of Ford’s clone-hosts, but because it refers again to the rise or fall of an entire species in reference to humans and hosts. Also, Logan refers to the Delos Board as assholes, which is pertinent to this next (admittedly reaching) clue.

My brother here's long maintained that ants will eat a man from the inside out, starting with the asshole. I reckon they'll start at the top of your little brown head.

Normally I wouldn’t give this line a second glance, but everything means something in this show, and it's not the only place in the season that ants are mentioned. If ants are a metaphor for hostness, then one way of interpreting this line is: Some people think the way for a host and a human to be fully integrated from the inside out is starting with “the asshole” (which is how Logan refers to Jim Delos and his immortality project), but some think it starts with “the top of a little brown head” (Bernard’s mind, which was basically manually coded and sculpted through fidelity tests). It could be interpreted as a comparison of the two approaches, and as we’ve seen, Ford’s method is superior, albeit more labor intensive.

El Lazo: The sins of the invaders cleansed in their own blood. The revolution is won.

Moments after El Lazo mentioning his revolutionary victory, we get the striking visual of his entire army committing suicide in an already dead city. El Lazo is the last one alive, and he dies shortly thereafter. This is foreshadowing of Dolores, who is a vocal revolutionary and has won at least two battles against “the invaders”. We see in the teaser that she’ll be present in the valley stating “We will win [our revolution]” and sometime later all of “her side” (all hosts) are all lying dead in the sea. The broader point is that revolutionaries tend not to fare well in Westworld.

(Season Premiere) Rebus to Walter:“With aim like that you’ll never survive the journey”

(Season Premiere) Stablehand: You folks aimin' to saddle up, ride for the green pastures of the valley beyond?

Two hosts mentioning a journey and the valley beyond right upfront at the beginning of the season. This is interesting because it implies that Ford’s narrative always intended for everyone to congregate in the valley, no matter how important or unimportant.

Dolores: What is real?

Bernard: That which is irreplaceable. That answer doesn't seem to satisfy you.

Dolores: Because it's not completely honest.

I’ll go into the thematic evidence further below, but if Bernard’s definition of “real” is correct (only that which is irreplaceable), then the technology to be completely converted into a host implies that nothing is irreplaceable, and nothing is real. So Dolores is correct that that answer isn’t completely honest.

Additional Evidence:

Charlotte, Emily and William, three of the most “in the know about Delos’ secret plan” characters on the show each demonstrate a legitimate concern about a human being impersonated by a host at least once. Charlotte looks nervous when they scan her neck, as if she’s not sure what they’ll find. Emily suspects her Rajworld boytoy may have been a host impersonating a human. William accuses Emily of being a clone-host made by Ford. Despite what Ford said about Delos clone-host technology not having conquered the cognitive plateau (likely another lie on his part), these three knowledgeable people act as if they know otherwise.

Back of the neck scanners - While it's completely plausible that these scanners would be useful in the park without the concept of clone-hosts, that doesn’t mean the idea needed to be paraded out in front of us time after time this season. Yet again it's to reinforce the point that a host impersonating a human is a real enough threat that they built a scanner for it. The trick is that secret clone-hosts wouldn’t even have the explosive in the neck, so they’d deceive the scanner.

Stubbs - Stubbs lends so much credibility to the clone-host theory, it amazes me. As much as I love the character, he doesn’t check out this season, for multiple reasons:

  • We saw him allegedly escape from Ghost Nation custody along with a group of guests, yet the next time we see him (the head of park security), he’s alone in the Mesa looking awkward. What happened to the guests, Stubbs? You didn’t feel inclined to save them or escort them back to safety? And when Charlotte asks where he’s been, he just gives her a weird look and they move on.
  • It's been implied several times that hosts are physically much stronger than humans, and when Stubbs drags Abernathy into the surgery room, he’s managing it all by himself. That isn’t proof enough, but when Roland says “can I get some muscle” and three big burly guys take Abernathy from Stubbs, Abernathy manages to buck them and shove one away, if only for a moment.
  • I have a feeling Ford has enabled some sort of “local empathy” within the mesh network for clone-hosts, as we see several instances of “humans” physically reacting while nearby hosts are enduring pain. The most prominent is when Abernathy is being crucified and Stubbs is flinching, grimacing and sweating bullets.
  • We’ve been owed an explanation for Stubbs’ capture at the hands of Ghost Nation for over an entire season now. Why wasn’t it revealed in Akecheta’s phenomenal episode? We gained so much appreciation and goodwill towards Ghost Nation, why wouldn’t they take a moment to answer our biggest lingering question about their motives at the same time? Because the purpose is both too sinister for an uplifting episode, and too big a secret for any pre-finale episode.

Angela’s Demonstration - Angela gave us a scaled down preview of the season finale’s big reveal, way back in episode 2! Lets reframe in simple terms what happened. Logan scours the party, trying to pick out the one person who is secretly a host. He’s pretty sure he’s figured it out, then EVERYONE freezes, and he realizes he’s alone and everyone else is a host. Someone will have this moment in the finale, after suspecting Charlotte is a host, realizing that everyone (guests, delos board, WW staff) are now all hosts. And we the viewer have had this journey all season. We spent the whole time wondering which one person was a secret host (emily? William? Charlotte?), but we’ll soon see that we were fooled, by the end of the season everyone is a host.

Thematic Foreshadowing

There have been three themes repeated throughout the season that all play into the idea of Ford’s Clone Host Plan:

The first is the idea of Trojan Horses, Misdirection and Infiltration.

  • We watched Angela set a trap for the Delos Board members, luring them in by showing perceived allies. Further, she lets Blaine escape to safety, allowing her to follow him and find more humans.
  • The battle of Fort Forlorn Hope was tactically absurd, but it did serve one purpose: by presenting one simple front for the Confederados to focus on, they left their flank open to infiltration by a small retrieval force. Dolores used a version of the same tactic, locking the Confederados outside as easy targets, luring QA into range of the explosive trap.
  • Maeve’s posse infiltrated the Shogun’s camp by pretending to be Chinese representatives with the intent of using Maeve’s control powers once they were in the thick of it.
  • During the attack on the Mesa there are multiple instances as well. Engels is lulled into complacency by Angela’s advances and his own overconfidence, only to be blown up along with the Cradle. Coughlin’s mercs find a pile of naked bodies and approach it assuming it's just another pile of dead hosts, but realize that the pile isn’t what it seems, and are then ambushed by Angela and co.
  • The last Trojan Horse we see is more artistic than plot-based, but it's too striking not to mention. When Akecheta meets Ford, after they’re done speaking Ford walks away in a shot that is truly symbolic: A group of warriors are frozen in place, completely focused on the big loud enemy in their midst, and they don’t even notice Ford calmly emerging from the enemy and disappearing into the darkness.

Ford’s Clone Host Plan is one giant trap that is about to snap shut on everyone in the park. It is the ultimate infiltration.

The second persistent theme of the season is forcing people to become your ally.

  • Strand tells Bernard on the beach, “Some say you destroy your enemy by making them your friend”.
  • Dolores captures the lab tech and forces him to manage host tech for her army.
  • Dolores murders and resurrects Craddock into a reluctant convert.
  • Bernard reprograms Rebus to heed his convictions and free Peter Abernathy.
  • Bernard uses a voice command to force the Drones to kill the human lab techs then commit suicide.
  • Maeve uses her powers to force hundreds of samurai to kills themselves and others.
  • Dolores has Teddy’s entire personality rewritten in order to make him more compliant and useful to her.
  • Ford “takes back Bernard’s free will” and hijacks his mind and body to serve his own needs.

Ford’s Clone Host Plan is literally about forcing everyone to be on your side, by being under Ford’s control.

The last relevant recurring theme is “what constitutes you and your real self”?

  • The very first scene of the season addresses this between Dolores and Bernard, and many smaller side elements have addressed it as well.
  • Protagoras (the secret name of the Delos project) refers to a philosopher who posited that something that is, or appears for a single individual, is true or real for that individual, AKA, your perception is your reality. This is a point of view much more sympathetic to hosts and clone-hosts than Bernard’s definition of “real is irreplaceable”.
  • Plutarch was mentioned in ep9, and he wrote about the Ship of Theseus, a thought experiment that says, “If you take a ship and replace one board, it's the same ship, but what if you replace every single piece, is it still the same ship?”
  • Its not in the show directly, but the WW ARG has dropped tons of very direct clues, asking viewers questions like "if you're in a terrible accident and have your brain transplanted into a clone body of yourself, are you still you?"

Ford’s Clone Host Plan would open this can of philosophical worms regarding the idea of self and how real a person is, since the human characters would suddenly find themselves in clone-host bodies.

Why You Shouldn't Hate It

Most people choose to see the ugliness in this theory, the reductionist dismissal of “everybody’s a host!” as too silly and simplistic to take seriously. I choose to see the beauty.

It stays within the technological bounds set forth in this season. There’s an implicit agreement between showrunners and the audience that says, “If something is going to be important later, I’ll show it to you ahead of time so you’re at least a little prepared. And whatever rules I set and technological boundaries I establish, I won’t deviate wildly from them.” All of the component technological elements of the Ford Clone Host Plan were introduced this season, and almost entirely in the season premiere! You know what hasn’t been introduced? Giant Domes, Teleportation Rays, Cracks in Reality, Inception-type Nested Realities and Human Mind Control.

Along these same lines, moving the show out of the park into the outside world would be fine, except they haven’t prepped us for the outside world at all. We’ve had about 3 total scenes filmed outside of the park, so if season 3 is primarily taking place in the outside world, it will feel like an incredibly different show, one we’re not prepared for. But most of the characters have stated they’re motivation is to go through the Door and leave, so the Ford Clone Host Plan manages to keep them in the park by killing/resetting them while still escalating the stakes.

Speaking of resetting, this theory resets the scope of the show in a way, putting us back where we were at the beginning of S1, with the park working as expected and everything appearing hunky dory. The difference now is that “the inmates are running the asylum”, more hosts are awakened (though rolled back), new guests are being constantly murdered and replaced, and Ford is in more control than ever. This also helps the showrunners, since a constant escalation from season to season would be incredibly hard to continue for 4-5 seasons on this show. Like Arnold said, it isn’t a pyramid to scale, it's a maze.

On the mystery box side of things, it would actually be incredibly refreshing if everyone in Season 3 was a host, because we (Reddit) could move past the flood of “X is a secret host” theories and figure out some new generic mystery to obsess over. As it stands, Westworld runs the risk of leaving a legacy similar to Battlestar Galactica: “Who’s the Cylon this season?”. Further, evolving the core conflict beyond human vs. host and towards host vs. it's own potential/future/flaws/journey is far more interesting. Nolan and Joy said in a recent Q&A that this show is about the origin of a species, and they originally wanted this show to “span eons with these creatures”.

This kind of grand reset will allow several character arcs to be course corrected. By now most of us are fed up with Dolores, Hale and even the late Mr. Flood, and a grand rollback (and subsequent murder/replacement of all humans on the show) would give us back our favorite S1 versions of these characters.

Lastly, this twist would singlehandedly give us the richest re-reading of the context of these first two seasons. As someone who has firmly believed in the Ford Clone Host Plan since December of 2016, I’ve rewatched S1 and S2 enough to know that every episode is rife with quotes and scenes that have delicious double meanings and foreshadowings in light of Ford’s Clone Host Plan. Not that we need another reason to rewatch Westworld, but I promise, this extra context makes the experience even richer.

So don’t fear the clone-hosts, they’re inevitable yet satisfying, inescapable yet integral. And don’t forget, they’re already here among us. Can you feel that lump in the crook of your arm, just under the skin?

EDIT: After posting this I thought more about what the show would look like under Ford's control, and I realized the characters can't grow if they're perpetually under Ford's control. I've changed my hope for the finale: after this big conversion/reveal that everyone is now ahost, Bernard or Maeve do something that foils Ford's final step of actually seizing control of the hosts. Probably having to do with the Phased Array comms and preventing the upload of Ford into each other host. This would leave a good middle-of-the-road situation: everyone is a host, but Ford is truly gone and the hosts are left to grow on their own as a species.

6

Just something I caught when replying to another thread, may be interesting for people, just copying the post

Spoilers for up to episode 9 season 2

Interesting aside -

Here's to the lady with the white shoes. Take all your money, drink all your booze. Ain't got a cherry, that ain't no sin. She's still got the box that the cherry come in.

  • Now that we know about red balls (cherries). I am certain this is Dolores, and really falling into believing the second conversation (not the one that gets interrupted by Stubbs) is much later in the timeline and that Bill is based off William much like Bernard and Arnold and Dolores is the lady in white shoes. Take all your money, take all your booze (take evrything of value to you - the delos project), She aint got a cherry (doesn't have human consciousness), it ain't no sin (hosts aren't humans, so theres nothing wrong with her not having it) but she still has the box the cherry came in (literally hosts head/code).

It's also interesting for me as Old Bill is who he tells the Dog story to. I'm certain that it parallels William. He is the dog who chased something his whole life, then when he finally got it, didn't know what to do with it and it looks like he is gonna be put down.

Deeper for anyone that cares: Dolores wore white shoes at the party. Old Bills looped narrative is based around her. He also asks if "you know any stories" and and "ive seen a few showdowns in my day". William would have always been looking for new stories and of course has seen the most showdowns of anyone. I also can't remember but was almost certain It's referenced that Ford only drinks with Old Bill, but he drinks with William in s2e09

Counter argument - Stubbs comes across them when investigating a disturbance, so it couldn't be in the future.

edit: although looking into it they did a lot of post production work to get him to seem to function as oddly as he did - red herring that iits deterioration and not that he is just old tech thats more robotic? Yeah thats too tinfoil but interesting how much effort they put in a small scene and role.

62

All this talk about Emily and the evidence about her being a host/not being a host....

There's one piece of damning evidence I never read on here yet -

Ford obviously hinted to William about looking in the wrong direction...And lo and behold he meets up with his past (ie family past with Emily being the host of that - pun may or may not be intended). This direction causes him to be led closer to the Door, which is where Ford appears to be steering him, it would seem.

Now, with Emily, I've heard everything about the scanner, the music box, the inconsistent memories, her knowing Lakota, and of course the card she had on her which leads William to wonder if she is real or a host. Not to mention her finally pulling out this ulterior motive she's been playing with him all along, which was to get him arrested? Is this what Ford had in mind? Emily had a Plan all along, and the card she had on her was the key.

But here's the thing...Going all the way back to her introduction. What was her Plan at the Raj? Clearly everything was peachy and she was up for some boot knocking and game hunting with her new boyfriend before the uprising suddenly happened upon her, which caused her to wind up in Westworld, by mere accident, no less.

If this is the case, as what was presented to the viewer, then why have the card on her to begin with? Where did this card come from, really? And even if she had the card to begin with and Ford never gave it to her between her intro and her meeting William, then why the Hell did she even go through all that Raj BS in the first place if her objective was to get her father? She clearly wasn't expecting the uprising, so she could have just landed in Westworld and started from there...

All i'm thinking is she just wanted to have some fun in Raj before embarking on her mission...But this wasn't really fleshed out at all. Either that or Ford created her at some point in time to mess with William...

Anybody?

8

If Ford planned Maeve to escape it means he gave Maeve to the one that could love or like the Hosts!

5

Maeve and Ake are getting the hosts out whilst MIB and Dolores are killing off the stored human minds so the humans don't get to be eternal host/human hybrids?

And poor Bernie's just a chump?

Charlotte = some other companies Igor?

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