Posted by Tom Chapman @tchapman
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Tom Chapman

Warning: Spoilers for Westworld Episode 3 'The Stray' ahead!

With Westworld theories coming thick and fast, it looks like HBO's all-star Western is becoming more like an episode of Sherlock than your standard John Wayne outing. The latest Westworld puzzler proposes a twist that seems plucked from the screenplay of Saw IV — are we actually seeing two different timelines play out on the plains of the wild, wild, West? If so, the truth about Ed Harris's Man in Black has been right in front of our noses this whole time.

The following Reddit theory will blow your mind, suggesting that Jimmi Simpson's nicer-than-pie William and M.I.B could be the same man in both past and present!

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'I Was Born In This Park'

Redditor Where_isJessica_Hyde claims that the pair are the same character, which opens up eagle-eyed viewers to a whole host of nitpicking over scenes to see whether we really are watching two different time periods. Certainly William's story is going to be a main focus of the show, and I'm not buying the meek virgin backstory — are you?

Harris's M.I.B. was M.I.A. this week, but we did see William fire his first gun, as well as take a bullet. We already know that The Gunslinger is partial to those flying Westworld bullets, and "The Stray" proved that although non-lethal, they still pack a punch to humans. Think of it as wild West paint-balling. The thrill of being shot seemed not to worry William, and we have already seen how M.I.B. loves a good shootout. As Logan says, "you popped your cherry." Bringing us neatly back to M.I.B.'s mantra of "I was born in this park." Are we seeing the transition of boring "real world" William, to a rough 'n' ready Gunslinger?

To The Hat Cave

Image: HBO
Image: HBO

We have already been over the whole white hat-black hat theory, and why William chose one over the other. The hat may just be a throwaway to the original 1973 film (using hats to differentiate good from bad), but the lingering shot over William's choice threw conspirators into overdrive. Sure, he may be wearing a white hat now, but nothing is stopping William going rogue. "The Stray" was a step up in the action for William, he didn't seem too phased by spilling robo-blood. Admittedly it is a far cry from The Gunslinger's little town slaughter from last week, but William has 30 years to learn!

A Blast From The Past

Image: HBO
Image: HBO

As William and the despicable Logan roll into Sweetwater, the later says:

"This place is the answer to that question you've been asking yourself: who you really are...And I can't f—king wait to meet that guy."

As well as William's gun-popped cherry, the big clincher for the time travel theory is the park itself. So far we have only seen our modern characters (Ford, Lowe, Hughes) interact behind the scenes of the park, in dimly lit and dank corridors. Compare this with William and Logan's gleaming arrival in Episode 2, and you can see what we mean. Episode 1 also gave us the look at cold storage — something we theorized looked like an old shopping mall — it had escalators and a giant globe, and clearly used to be used as something other than a robo-graveyard. Admittedly the staff could be using disused areas of the park as a way to get around, but it is more fun this way.

Image: HBO
Image: HBO

So, are we really looking 30 years into the past?

One huge clue is the two different logos that have been spotted. As William and Logan enter Westworld we clearly see a rustic blocky logo, whereas in "present time" we see a two-banded 'W' which is used in the promos for the show. There is the train ride too — William and Logan are set in the saloon style drink cart, whereas normally the arrival of the train brings James Marsden's doomed Teddy Flood into town. Teddy was missing as Logan and William departed the morning train, so as one of the "newer hosts," is Teddy yet to exist? With Jonathan Nolan's past works including a helping hand on Memento, Inception, and The Prestige, trickery is always afoot! Some are calling the twist cheap — I call it brilliant!

Image: HBO
Image: HBO

We don't know the true intentions of M.I.B. other than he has clocked up a fair few Westworld Air Miles, and is driven back to the park for some particular reason. Viewers are screaming rape as M.I.B. drags Dolores into the barn, but we have yet to actually see him do her any harm. The same with washed-up madam Maeve. Tin foil hats on again; M.I.B. could be using his trusty knife to delve into the mind of the hosts and try to trigger their memories. I'm not convinced that Ed Harris is all bad — so far he has shot up some no good desperadoes and the ever dying James Marsden.

Stick A Can In It

Image: HBO
Image: HBO

Both William and M.I.B had the same "can roll" interaction with Dolores — that having been said, so did Teddy, but I'm pretty sure he isn't the Man in Black. We know that M.I.B. has been coming to the park for over 30 years, as well as having some sort of bond with Dolores , who it turns out is one of the park's oldest hosts. Non-conspirators have tried to debunk the theory by saying that if we are looking to the past, the robots would be far less advanced 30 years ago. "The Stray" also gave us a reappearance of Talulah Riley's intro host Amanda, she has clearly been doing the rounds for a while, too. Sure, Delores could have had a remodel or two, but she looks pretty tech-savvy for an ol' bird.

Image: HBO
Image: HBO

It is alluded to that 30 years ago there was a "critical failure" — could said failure be linked to the demise of poor Arnold, Ford's partner in robotic crime? We know very little of the origins of the park, but just because an incident happened 30 years ago, that isn't necessarily when the park first opened. We already know that Dolores and the rest of the hosts have started to remember their pasts, leading Dolores to see the grim scene of everyone around her gunned down.

Clearly M.I.B. had a hand in what got nasty in the past-y, and that could be what turned William into the gnarled gunslinger we see on our screens. Chances are we will have to wait until the end of the season to really see what M.I.B. is up to, but with his presence being missed in Episode 3, let's hope he hurries back soon!

Check out the promo for next week to see what you think, and sound off in the comments below!

Poll

Is William the Man in Black?