Warning: SPOILERS ahead for Westworld’s season finale
The final episode of the first season of Westworld answered a number of questions and confirmed some popular fan theories. Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy made the first season of Westworld a puzzle, and after the final moments of the episode “The Bicameral Mind”, the new puzzle is what season two will look like.
“The Bicameral Mind” was an action-packed and fast-paced 90 minutes, and so there is quite a bit of material to address. We summarized the biggest reveals below, along with explaining how they relate to the progression of Westworld‘s first season. If you can’t get enough Westworld, be sure to read our review of the finale.
What is the maze?
The Man in Black is told repeatedly by hosts, “The maze isn’t meant for you.” As it turns out, the maze was built by Arnold not for guests, but for the hosts; instead of the Man in Black, the maze was built for Dolores. She goes to the graveyard next to the church, to a grave that is marked with her name. She opens a box with Charlie’s name on it to find a small maze game.
The maze is not a literal enclosure or place; it’s a metaphor for consciousness. When Arnold first conceived of consciousness in hosts, he imagined it as a tiered pyramid: memory, improvisation, each step working towards the upper level of self-realization. However, Arnold tells Dolores that he eventually realized that, “Consciousness isn’t a journey upward, but a journey inward. Not a pyramid, but a maze.” Ford later says that the maze required empathy and imagination, two non-tiered values that could quantify what it meant to be conscious. The maze is a metaphor for Dolores’s self-actualization within her own mind, when she realizes that the voice inside her that is guiding her and telling her what to do is her own. However, before the end of the episode, Dolores is unable to put together the pieces that Arnold laid out for her.
The maze is the way out of the bicameral mind (which is also the title of the the finale). The theory of the bicameral mind is that thousands of years ago, primitive humans had language but not full consciousness. The result was that instead of being capable of making decisions, they would experience auditory hallucinations of a voice telling them what they should do. Their minds were “split” into two halves; the first half would speak and the second half would obey, without the recognition that the voice they were hearing was their own.
By navigating the maze, Dolores is able to find her own consciousness and realize that the voice that she has been hearing is not Arnold’s voice, but her own. She is now able to make her own decisions, because she is in control of her own voice.
Memory and Multiple Timelines
One popular fan theory was fully confirmed in “The Bicameral Mind” – that Dolores has been experiencing memories from her time with Arnold and her journey with William. When she is confronted by the Man in Black, she tells him that William loves her and will come to rescue her. The Man in Black reveals to her that he is, in fact, William. Given how much traction the fan theory had gotten at this point, Dolores may have been the only person who was surprised by this drawn-out reveal.
As it turns out, William went hunting for Dolores and found a taste for the violent delights of the park. In fact, he loved it so much that he went on to marry Logan’s sister and used his influence at Delos to buy majority shares of Westworld. As William aged, he continued to frequent the park, but he watched Dolores revert back and forget him every time the park reset.
In the decades that passed, Dolores continued following the same loops, and continued to work towards finding her own consciousness in the maze. Meanwhile, William became the heartless Man in Black, who has grown so tired of winning by default that he hoped that by unlocking the maze he could have some real competition. It is worth noting that William wants the hosts to be fully human so that he can continue to rape, pillage, and murder them. Given the smile on his face at the end of the episode, it looks like he might get his wish… if he survives, that is.
Who is Wyatt?
Another popular fan theory was proven correct when it was revealed that Dolores is also Wyatt, the sinister and religious demagogue at the center of Ford’s new storyline. Wyatt was a character that Ford and Arnold were developing, but Arnold realized that Dolores (and therefore the other hosts) were truly alive, and asked Ford to close the park. When Ford refused, Arnold downloaded the murderous Wyatt into Dolores, and instructed her to kill all of the hosts with Teddy. All of Teddy’s previous memories when he and Arnold massacred a whole town were actually related to Dolores and Teddy killing all of the hosts. Dolores also kills Arnold, but as Ford says, “She didn’t pull that trigger. It was Arnold pulling the trigger through her.”
The current-day Dolores is beginning to spout Wyatt philosophies, saying that “this world” does not belong to the guests, but rather, “It belongs to someone who has yet to come” – presumably self-aware hosts. It is unclear how much of Dolores’s consciousness is hers, and how much of it is Wyatt’s.
In the new storyline that Ford is unveiling, “Journey Into Night”, he muses that Dolores/Wyatt plays a central villainous role, but “This time by choice”. In the final moments of the episode, Dolores shoots Ford in the head and then begins to fire into the crowd of members of the Westworld board. She is able to choose to hurt humans; she is a Host with full autonomy.
What’s Happened With Arnold?
As it turns out, Bernard’s son Charlie is designed after Arnold’s own son. After Charlie died, Arnold sought a new child in the form of Dolores. He worked to help her to find consciousness, and using the maze model instead of the pyramid model, he found that Dolores was able to develop awareness. As Arnold says, “We can’t open the park. You’re alive.” Arnold realizes that no matter what he and Ford do, the Hosts will continue to find their way back to consciousness, and opening a park where they are murdered and tortured for amusement is “unconscionable”.
When Ford refused to see Arnold’s perspective, Arnold decided to have Dolores/Wyatt and Teddy murder the rest of the hosts to stop the opening of the park. Of course, the hosts could be fixed, so Arnold had Dolores kill him, too. Arnold’s own suffering over the death of his son could be seen as part of the motivation behind his suicide, as he programmed Dolores to kill him rather than giving her the choice to do so.
One mystery about Arnold that is not solved, however, is how he plays into Maeve’s storyline…
What’s Happened With Maeve?
Operation Escape Westworld is in full effect in “The Bicameral Mind.” Maeve used a fire to require her body to be completely remade, this time with Felix’s supervision so that it could leave the Westworld facility. Maeve, along with her two Host sharpshooters and Felix (who is, despite his moment of doubt, not be a host), are firing their way out of Westworld. However, Felix notes that someone initially altered Maeve’s code, allowing her to wake up from sleep mode. Maeve has Felix revive Bernard to learn more about this, and Bernard reveals that Maeve is not actually in control – her storyline has been changed by Arnold (or at least someone using Arnold’s access code). In the new storyline, Maeve’s objective is to escape from Westworld. Maeve becomes angry and refuses to accept that she is following a program again. “These are my decisions,” she tells him, “I’m in control!” She rejects Bernard’s hypothesis, and continues her escape plan, even rejecting Felix’s information about her “daughter” that is still in Westworld.
It’s possible that Ford could be responsible for Maeve’s storyline and that he narrative is part of his “Journey Into Night”. After all, someone would need to distract the Westworld security from the events that were occurring within the park, especially if Dolores/Wyatt was going to attack humans. It’s also possible that Maeve’s storyline was altered by Charlotte and Lee as a way of getting information smuggled out of the park. It’s likely that season 2 will give audiences some clarity about Maeve’s journey.
However, at the last moment, Maeve has a change of heart. She gets off of the train that would take her out of Westworld and returns towards the park, presumably to find her daughter. If her new programming from “Arnold” instructed her to escape from Westworld at all costs, then this would be an example of Maeve rejecting her predetermined objectives for her own wants and desires. On the other hand, perhaps staying at Westworld was simply the decision she was programmed to make.
What’s Happened With Ford?
In what was perhaps the most surprising reveal of the finale of Westworld season one, Dr. Ford’s motivations finally become crystallized. While Ford has always been placed in contrast with Arnold before, Ford reveals that he actually does believe that the hosts are conscious and is also trying to save them. After Arnold’s death, Ford came to realize that his friend was correct, and he tried to fix his mistake. As he says to Dolores, “Wasn’t it Oppenheimer who said that any man whose mistakes take 10 years to correct is quite a man? Mine have taken 35.”
Ford does believe, as he has referenced previously, that the Hosts and humans will inevitably be in evolutionary conflict, and that humans will try to kill the Hosts if they perceive them as fully living beings. After all, Hosts are able to outlive and outage humans; evolutionarily, they have some strong advantages to flesh and bone.
But Ford’s reveal is that he sees himself on the side of the Hosts as their parent/creator/god figure, rather than as an oppressive human who is trying to stop them from destroying humans. This is why Ford gave the Hosts Arnold’s reveries again; their memories and suffering are the key to helping them unlock the maze. Ford devised what he believed was a way for Hosts to survive, but he believed that they needed years to learn about their “enemy” and become stronger than human beings. Ford tells Bernard that now the Hosts have an opportunity to be free. However, he cautions: “And I’m afraid in order to escape this place, you will need to suffer more.”
Ford helps Dolores/Wyatt reach consciousness again, using Michelangelo’s depiction of Adam and God. He points out to her that God sits upon the image of the brain, and that the divine does not come from another source, but from inside our own minds. He also alludes to what she will need to do in order for the Hosts to be free from Westworld – she will need to become Wyatt again. He gave her the gun, he gave her the choice, but Ford is still the master orchestrator – he knows exactly what she would do next.
Violent Delights and Violent Ends
Given Ford’s value of human life (he ordered Bernard to murder multiple people), his value of Host life may not be terribly high either. He allowed Dolores and other Hosts to suffer for decades, and only offers that they “needed time” as an explanation. Additionally, it appears that Ford realized that the board was going to remove him from his post, and in that way, his new narrative appears to be just as much a personal vendetta as it is a freeing of the hosts. This is his grand finale and his suicide note – and he in his creations, the Hosts, he will live forever:
An old friend once told me something that gave me great comfort. Something he had read. He said that Mozart, Beethoven, and Chopin never died. They simply became music. So, I hope you will enjoy this last piece… very much.
During Ford’s speech, Dolores whispers to Teddy, “It’s gonna be all right, Teddy. I understand now. This world doesn’t belong to them. It belongs to us.” She then walks up to Dr. Ford and shoots him in the head. Dolores has overcome her bicameral mind, and she is able to make choices for herself. Given the choice that she makes, it appears that Wyatt may be calling the shots, but Dolores seems to think that her actions are the first step to free the Hosts from the oppressive human rule.
How the next season of Westworld will play out may be the biggest mystery of all. The Man in Black has gotten his wish, and he will be able to face-off with Wyatt one last time. The rules of the game have changed – but while we wait to see how Westworld evolves, we can know one thing for sure: the violent delights of Westworld became violent ends.
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