One of Westworld’s most genius moves was, in the exact opposite to its source movie, making the majority of the main cast the robots that populate the titular park. After all, the show is all about the nature of consciousness and what it means to be human, so putting the focus directly on beings on the brink of sentience is the perfect way to explore that theme.
Most of these hosts – Westworld’s word for robots, coined because they were designed to be, well, hosts – live in the park on pre-written loops with limited room for improvisation, and exist to provide a world and narrative for the human guests to engage in. At the end of each loop (which, depending on guest interaction, can range from a day to a few weeks) their memories are wiped. But, as this is a Jonathan Nolan story, things aren’t that simple.
We’re dealing with a show that features multiple time periods spanning thirty-five years (seeing the hosts develop from artificial skin grafted onto a metal endoskeleton to synthetic replicants), tinkering with their core code and the constant possibility that any of your favourite characters could secretly be an android. So, which Westworld characters are definitely robots, which characters are definitely human, and which ones could still go either way?
Who Definitely Isn’t A Host?
There are so many hosts that it’s actually easier to start with who isn’t a robot. The most obvious examples are William a.k.a. The Man in Black and his brother-in-law Logan, the only two guests the show puts any real time into. On the guest side of things we also have the couple from the premiere who get nervous on a journey beyond Sweetwater, before taking down Hector and the badass who teamed up with Teddy against Wyatt.
Behind the scenes we can say with certainty that the deceased Theresa Cullen and Arnold Weber are human by both their actions and the fact they’ve stayed dead. There’s also Felix, who many suspected was a host due to his helping of Maeve, but was confirmed in the finale to have just been under her spell (and possibly, but unconfirmed, Sylvester).
And, finally, there’s Robert Ford, the mastermind of it all (although his situation is a little more complicated).
The Reveries Hosts
In the first episode, a standard update of the host code has a last minute addition from Ford, called the “reveries” – little, subconscious tics stemming from residual memories that make the hosts even more lifelike. It’s not clear how exactly at first but this update leads to several problems with the robots. It’s eventually revealed the reveries were code originally developed by Arnold as the final step in the metaphorical maze towards consciousness, repurposed as the instigating part of Ford’s new narrative.
Although the update, which affected about 10% of active hosts, is immediately pulled back, the damage is already done. The primary focus of this is Dolores Abernathy; Season 1 is essentially her thirty-five-year journey to consciousness, wrestling her way around “the maze”. She still is very much a robot, but now she’s a free-thinking being the gulf in definition between her and a human is only going to shrink.
The other host majorly affected by the reveries is Maeve Millay, a brothel madam at Sweetwater’s Mariposa Saloon, whose updates see her plotting an escape, although it’s eventually revealed everything on her awakened journey had been remotely coded, meaning she was still on some pre-defined loop.
There’s also Teddy Flood, who, as a well-meaning but ultimately doomed figure, is programmed to be a loser until Ford provides him with fake memories to give him purpose, leading to him eventually breaking free of his loop.
Two other hosts most noticeably affected by the reveries are Clementine Pennyfeather, who’s the first host the changes are picked up on (although sge doesn’t display any real dangerous tendencies until she’s altered and eventually lobotomized as part of Charlotte’s scheme against Ford) and Peter Abernathy, Dolores’ “father”, who quickly loses his grip on reality after finding a photo of a girl in Times Square (revealed later to be William’s wife).
The Other Key Hosts
Beyond those “special” hosts, pretty much everyone else you see in the park is also a robot. The key characters we see who aren’t given reverie updates are Armistice and Hector Escaton, who begin as standard hosts, playing criminals in one of Westworld’s violent storylines, but over the course of the first season are “woken up” by Maeve, becoming her personal soldiers to aid in her escape.
There’s also Lawrence/El Lazo, a thirty-year-old host who helped William as a Mexican gang leader and later became his patsy as the Man in Black.
Along with the regular hosts and the Ghost Nation, there’s five hosts in the park that are removed from the main system – a replica of Ford’s family, complete with a younger Robert, made by Arnold. Young Robbie features most prominently, influencing his real/future self into moving forward with his new narrative.
These are much older hosts than any of the other active models. In fact, the father robot is one of the first developed, evidenced by his presence in the photograph of Bernard and Arnold.
Not all the hosts are active in the park, however. It’s revealed partway through the season that Bernard Lowe, Westworld’s Chief of Programming, is actually a robot replica of park co-creator Arnold. His memories are all artificial and he exists to serve Ford, at first helping him move the park into reality before greatly advancing the technology used; a machine creating better machines.
Throughout his existence, Bernard would have periods of awakening, but each time Ford would wipe his mind to get him back on track. Once the new narrative neared completion, however, he had Bernard shoot himself (although it’s unclear if that was to simply help Maeve). In the end, Bernard was there experience the start of the new narrative first hand.
Presumed Humans (But Could Be Hosts)
Of course, as any deserving show with near-perfect replications of humans, Westworld leaves the opportunity open for any of the presumed human characters to wind up being hosts all along. We first got this with Teddy in the show’s prologue, while Bernard’s true nature was a major late-season reveal. With that experience in mind, are there any characters we assume are human that could be hosts? Why yes, of course.
The most debated is Ford. Yes, we did establish he was human at the start, but the theorizing centres on his final appearance; it’s alleged that, instead of letting himself die at Dolores’ hand, he used a host duplicate, probably the one he was shown making below his “family’s” house. There’s some evidence from Bernard’s confused reaction after the pair’s parting handshake (it was established earlier in the season that gave away robots), although on a thematic level it doesn’t chime with the message he’s trying to convey. Possible, but unless Anthony Hopkins is confirmed to return unlikely.
Both Elsie and Stubbs, Bernard’s loyal-yet-outspoken assistant, were removed from proceedings mysteriously off-screen, with their ultimate fate unknown. A tie-in site has hinted at their survival, so we’re not done with them yet, and as Ford was behind their disappearances, they could have host links.
There’s also an outside chance Delos’ Charlotte Hale and/or story head Lee Sizemore are hosts, although the suggestion comes more from a lack of resolute evidence they’re definitely not rather than anything concrete. It would explain the surprising speed of Charlotte’s unannounced arrival at the park and turn her scheming into a way to keep the board busy, but as with Ford doesn’t quite ring true.
There’s a lot of hosts in Westworld, infinitely more than there are humans, reflective of the show’s focus on the nature of sentience and promising an incredibly dangerous backdrop for the revolutionised park in Season 2. If you’re ever on the spot and have to guess if a character’s human or not, your best bet is to just guess host – you’ll probably be proven right eventually.
Westworld will return in 2018.