After 10 episodes and 100 times as many fan theories, Westworld’s debut season concluded last night, definitively answering questions like, “What’s at the center of the maze?,” “Can Maeve escape Westworld?,” and “How long can they keep the secret that The Man In Black and William are the same guy?” (Those answers being “Sentience for the hosts,” “Sort of,” and “About halfway through episode two.”) But as Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy’s adaptation showed us again and again, answers in Westworld only prompt further questions. The big mysteries were sorted out by the time “The Bicameral Mind” went guns a-blazin’ into hiatus, but the finale wasn’t comprehensive in its resolutions. Here are some unimportant unsolved mysteries to ponder when the wait for new episodes (maybe until 2018?) exhausts the supply of serious Westworld unknowns.
In world-building terms, the biggest reveal in “The Bicameral Mind” arrives when Maeve and her band of robo rebels (and their human escort, Felix) go through a door with unfamiliar branding. The “SW” logo is a callback to the show’s cinematic roots: Westworld is but one wing of Robert Ford’s automated pleasuredome, and this version apparently allows guests to fuck and kill their way through a recreation of feudal Japan. Maybe “SW” stands for “Samurai World,” maybe it stands for “Shogun World,” but it definitely means the robot uprising is going to feature some gunslinger-on-swordfighter action, right? They’d get further if they teamed up, but surely that will be preceded by clashing strategies, language barriers, and Westworld’s take on the T. rex-raptor battle at the end of Jurassic Park. If hosts can harm hosts from other parks, what chance does a katana stand against a six-shooter? The finale’s post-credit sequence suggests that Armistice makes it out of the SW workshop alive (minus a limb), but whether she makes like Charles Bronson in Red Sun remains to be seen. [Erik Adams]
As The Man In Black draaaaaaaaaaaaaaws out the conclusion of the first season’s timeline shenanigans, Westworld allows some handsomely shot murder footage to stand in for Jimmi Simpson’s journey from point A to point Black Hat. And then he steals his future brother-in-law’s clothes, ties him to a horse, and sends that horse galloping to the edge of the park. It’s supposed to be William’s ultimate power play, his sneaky way of undermining Logan and ensuring his seat at the Delos boardroom table. But while he chooses his words wisely—suggesting the feather-and-nothing-else ensemble is intended to confirm that his captive is “reckless” and “impetuous”—“The Bicameral Mind” is vague about whether or not Logan ever returned from Westworld. Not that it would be some great loss if we never saw sign of Ben Barnes and his horndog sneer again, but killing an in-law is a big, big, big step up from simulated Wild West carnage. The show took a lot of shortcuts with William—there wasn’t enough room in The Man In Black’s endless monologue for a brief “And when Logan got home, he was fired”? [Erik Adams]
When watching the opening credits of the finale last night, I remarked that I really felt details on the animals of the park were lacking. Are riding lessons offered at Westworld? Is there a petting zoo for kids? Is there a barn? Do robot horses smell like real horses? Do they have fear instincts? Have they reached their own version of consciousness? By the time the episode reached its bloody conclusion, I had another query. Why didn’t Ford have the creatures go all Ramsay Bolton’s dogs on the Delos guests? Aside from the humanoid ones, Westworld has a whole other arsenal of hosts that can probably be easily programmed to be vindictive. Perhaps they were just lurking in the woods, ready to mow down the well-dressed masses. If not, why would Ford resist employing them? [Esther Zuckerman]
Shit gets bloody in Westworld, that much is clear, but who gets all that sticky stuff off the hosts’ clothing? I am convinced there must be a huge laundry operation at the park in which employees work tirelessly to make sure Dolores’ blue dress and its ilk are spick and span for each new loop. Plenty of improbable things happen in Westworld, but I assume there aren’t 500 versions of the same outfit for each host. That would be madness even Arnold couldn’t fathom. I do wonder, however, if the “blood” injected into the hosts is designed to be more easily removable than human blood to make clean-up easy. [Esther Zuckerman]
Both guests and the hosts knock back plenty of whiskey to steel themselves against the psychological ramifications of robot sex, yet we almost never see anyone eating. Sure, in “Chestnut,” William and Logan are picking at a dinner that’s prematurely interrupted by a stabbing, and later we see a group of hosts stuck in a loop of arguing over who’s going to cook—but that’s about it. The days in Westworld are long and Wild West-arduous, yet for all the shots these people down, no one ever pulls out so much as a strip of beef jerky while they’re on the trail. Surely food would be on the guests’ minds at least twice a day; what’s the point of being on vacation if you can’t unwind from raping and pillaging with a little room service? So who’s doing the cooking? Furthermore, does Westworld’s commitment to maintaining the illusion mean that its hosts fake-eat, just to keep up appearances? And does that mean that it’s then someone’s job to, uh, empty them out—along with all the fluids they’ve collected in a day’s work—or do they have another, as-yet-unaddressed waste disposal system? According to Jonathan Nolan, this is actually a question they’re “really going to get into” in the second season, which means only another year or so of wondering why no one’s constantly puking from drinking rye on an empty stomach, before riding horses in the desert heat. P.S. I am not a crackpot. [Sean O’Neal]
6. Did Arnold wear a lot of vests, or does Bernard wear a lot of vests because of Ford’s obvious love of vests?
We know that Bernard was created as an exact, if more easily controlled, simulacrum of Arnold, right down to giving him eyeglasses solely so he’d have something to clean while pausing in thought—a minor attribute that quietly speaks to Ford’s affection for his old partner. But did that attention to detail extend to creating Bernard’s wardrobe? More specifically, what’s with all the vests? Did Arnold wear a lot of vests—which is inconclusive, based on what we’ve seen in flashbacks—or did Ford suddenly realize, hey, this is my chance to finally put Arnold in more vests, because I think he’d look great in them. Which, no argument here; across the board, everyone’s vests look super. I’ve remarked that they should call the show Vestworld, were that not a bad title that doesn’t at all reflect what the series is about. But given the proliferation of vests across all the male hosts, and the fact that Ford himself constantly wears them (even putting that younger-boy host version of himself in one) it’s pretty clear that the dude just likes a good vest. So perhaps putting Bernard in vests was just one more way of Ford playing god. [Sean O’Neal]
I have a lot of geographic and spatial questions about the construction of Westworld’s titular amusement park that are packed into a lockbox in my head marked “DISBELIEFS: SUSPENDED.” But even assuming androids are terraforming these landscapes and artisanally weathering these metropolises, I wonder still: Where is the secret basketball court? Just as the entertainers at Disney needed a hoop high atop the Matterhorn to pass the time between shows, so too must Westworld’s various technicians, computer scientists, evil business people, and gore engineers need an off-the-beaten-path spot for a game of H-O-R-S-E now and then. It’s a world full of secret labs, undiscovered byways, and derelict villas. In one of them, the gang puts aside their differences and laces up for some good old-fashioned roundball—shirts vs. skins, hosts vs. creators, friend vs. foe. Westworld employees are surrounded by subterfuge, secrets, mazes, and hidden codes, but there’s no room for this on the court. Ball don’t lie, after all. So when will the hardwood’s secret location be revealed, and will we ever get to see Ed Harris dunk on Clifton Collins Jr.? [Clayton Purdom]