Warning: SPOILERS ahead for Westworld
Westworld dropped a bombshell this week when Elsie and Bernard discovered James Delos - or, at least, a host version of him. In flashbacks it's revealed that William was working on a way to transfer a human being's consciousness into a host body, in order to grant them immortality. He hit a wall, however, when Delos became unstable every time he learned what he had become. After destroying the final attempt at turning Delos a human-host hybrid, Elsie and Bernard still have work to do... because Bernard recalls that Delos wasn't the only such hybrid, and there's another one still in the park!
In Westworld season 1, there was considerable uncertainty over whether the human characters were really human, or whether one or more of them might be robots. Because of his enigmatic nature and mysterious backstory, there was a popular fan theory that the Man in Black was actually a host. However, after a double twist revealed that Bernard was actually the host disguised as a human, and the Man in Black was actually the older version of the naive young guest William, played by Jimmi Simpson, suspicions about the Man in Black's human status were pretty much put to rest. But maybe they shouldn't have been.
- This Page: The Latest Revelations About William
- Page 2: Other Evidence William Isn't Human
William and Delos
William originally convinced Delos of Westworld's value by pointing out that the park could be used to monitor the behavior and desires of wealthy patrons when they believed no one was watching them - essentially, it could be used for market research. But after just a few years William was able to offer Delos something considerably more exciting: the prospect of immortality. In the second episode of season 2, "Reunion," Delos confronts William about the pace of this project at Delos' retirement party:
Delos: I was told I might not have to [step down].
William: Things are progressing, but we all need a little patience.
Delos: Yeah, well some of us can afford to have more patience than others.
The conversation could be interpreted as foreshadowing for a reveal that both Delos and William will eventually attempt to put their minds inside a host body. However, the only real way to test the process is by doing it, and so Delos became the first guinea pig. Over the course of several decades, and 149 attempts, William tried to get Delos' mind to accept its new host body, but every time Delos figured out the truth, everything fell apart. After discovering Delos (and finally putting him to rest), Bernard recalls the existence of another human-host hybrid in the park. The big question (aside from the identity of that person) is whether or not this hybrid is aware of what they are. And assuming that they're not, well... what would be a safe way for them to find out?
The Man in Black's present-day arc in Westworld season 2 is all about the search for "The Door" - a puzzle game that Robert Ford left behind that, unlike The Maze, is actually meant for William and William alone. The Maze, of course, had a clear purpose: to guide Dolores to a state of self-actualization without driving her insane, like Arnold's early attempts to give the hosts a guiding voice did. So, what if The Door is more or less the exact same thing, only this time meant to guide William towards an understand of what he is - without him ending up like Delos.
From what we saw in the final flashback scene between William and Delos, William eventually soured on the idea of using host bodies to allow humans to live forever, perceiving his many failures as a sign that it simply wasn't meant to be. However, that doesn't necessarily rule out the possibility of him trying it for himself. It could well be that further flashbacks this season will reveal that he came back around to the idea when facing the prospect of death himself, but that this change of heart was erased alongside the memories of what he became. The journey to The Door, then, would also be a journey back towards making peace with the idea of immortality again.
Reflecting on his earlier obsession with Dolores in "Reunion," William said, "You didn't make me interested in you; you made me interested in me." While this could simply be referring to the way he went on to explore the darkest depths of sadism and cruelty in Westworld, it sees more likely that it's foreshadowing for season 2's revelations, rather than a recap of season 1's. William described Dolores as a "reflection," which only reinforces the theory that his search for The Door could mirror her journey through The Maze.
At the end of the episode, Lawrence's daughter gave the Man in Black a big clue about the type of game that he is playing in his search for The Door: "If you're looking forward, you're looking in the wrong direction." That seems as big a hint as any that the truth lies in the show's flashbacks.