Warning: MAJOR SPOILERS for Westworld ahead
In the penultimate episode of Westworld‘s first season, viewers finally got to see the face of Robert Ford’s (Anthony Hopkins) mysterious former partner Arnold – and it was a familiar face indeed. After having his status as a host revealed to him (again), Bernard Lowe (Jeffrey Wright) cornered Ford in one of the dark sub-levels of Westworld‘s central hub and demanded to be shown his entire history – including his history with Arnold. At the same time (well, sort of – it’s complicated), Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) was also on a journey to find Arnold after hearing his voice inside her head.
Finally, the big reveal came: Bernard is Arnold – or, more precisely, he is a host created by Ford that was designed to mimic Arnold’s appearance and personality, and to retain parts of Arnold’s life as backstory. Given the hints of a rivalry between Ford and Arnold, it makes a certain sick sense that Ford would want to create a version of his old friend who could be ordered around and manipulated – even forced to shoot himself in the head at Ford’s behest.
Although Bernard is presumably out of the picture now, the revelations from “The Well-Tempered Clavier” not only make it very likely that Wright will return to play Arnold in flashbacks (or perhaps even in another host body); they also offer hints as to what Arnold’s plan might have been all along.
Arnold and Dolores
Fans have long theorized that Westworld is actually showing scenes from multiple timelines, cut together seamlessly to give the impression that they are all taking place at the same time. This theory was more or less confirmed in “The Well-Tempered Clavier,” which saw Dolores stumbling through Westworld in different outfits, with the park’s environments changing around her. Dolores eventually finds herself in the “city swallowed by sand,” where it is revealed that scenes from the beginning of the series – which appeared to show Bernard interviewing Dolores – were actually scenes of Arnold interviewing Dolores.
As Dolores sits with Arnold, he tells her that he is only a memory, and she remembers that she is the one that killed him. We knew from Ford’s exposition that Arnold had died in the park, and that his death was ruled an accident, but it’s not like we haven’t seen other murders ruled as “accidents” in the show. Did Dolores kill Arnold at his own behest, and was it part of his grand plan? Is Arnold orchestrating everything – from Dolores’ journey of discovery to Maeve’s (Thandie Newton) planned rebellion – via a carefully plotted bit of programming from decades ago? We may know for sure next week.
When Ford first showed the photo of himself and Arnold to Bernard, the host only saw two people in the photo – Ford, and another man whose true identity at the time was unknown. In “The Well-Tempered Clavier” it is revealed that that there were actually three people in the picture, but Bernard was incapable of seeing Arnold due to the same limits that prevent the other hosts from understanding pictures of things from the outside world (“It doesn’t look like anything to me.“) In this penultimate episode we finally see a complete version of the photo, with Arnold standing on the right and Ford on the left.
Some eagle-eyed fans (thanks to Twitter user @heyyjohann for pointing this out) have noticed that the man in the middle is actually the host version of Ford’s father, who Bernard found living in a secret house in Westworld in the episode, “The Adversary.”
Who is Charlie?
Midway through the season, Tessa Thompson joined the cast of Westworld as Delos board member Charlotte Hale. Now, this could just be a coincidence, but Ford does tell Bernard that his backstory and cornerstone – the death of his son, Charlie – is an “homage.” Therefore, there’s a strong possibility that Charlotte is actually Arnold’s daughter, and that their history (whether Charlotte was actually sick as a child, or whether Charlie’s death represents some other trauma from Arnold’s life) was woven into Bernard’s identity as Ford created him – with a few key changes.
There is a hole in this theory: Charlotte and Bernard have met previously, and Charlotte did not appear to recognize the host as her father. So, if we are to believe that Charlotte Hale is Arnold’s daughter, then either she already knew about Ford creating a host based on her father’s image, or she doesn’t actually know what her father looked like. Then, of course, there’s the possibility that Charlotte herself is an android – perhaps Arnold created her and set her loose into the world as part of his grand plan.
What do you think of Westworld‘s big reveal, and what revelations do you think are still in store? Let us know in the comments.
Westworld concludes season 1 next week with ‘The Bicameral Mind’ @9pm on HBO.