[SPOILER WARNING - This article has some major, juicy spoilers for Westworld Episode 9 'The Well-Tempered Clavier' – read on at your own sentient risk.]
Can you hear that? The not-so distant yells of smug, righteous jubilation swelling from deep within the fabric of the web? Those, dear reader, are the cries of an entire Reddit community coming together as one to congratulate both themselves and each other for correctly predicting yet another #Westworld plot twist, well ahead of schedule.
That's not to say that HBO's Westworld is in any way predictable however, in fact, quite the opposite. As a result of its many complex layers, interlocking narratives and attention to detail, the show has established a fan base amongst some of the most intelligent, tin-foil wearing folk amongst us and has consequently created a hive-mind which rivals the colossal fan theory bases of the likes of Lost, Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead.
But with Episode 9 'The Well-Tempered Clavier' finally exposing the true identity of Arnold, here's what the big reveal could mean for the Westworld season finale – 'The Bicameral Mind.'
How The 'Barnold' Reveal Was Right Under Our Noses From The Very Beginning In 'Westworld'
Of course everything is clearer with the gift of hindsight, but the Westworld Reddit hive mind was supporting the 'Barnold' theory as early as Episode 3 when Ford showed Bernard a photo of himself with 'Arnold.'
Pointing out that there was a strange man-sized gap in the right hand side of the photo, coupled with the idea that if Bernard was a Host (which at the point hadn't been confirmed), that he would be unable to see the image of himself staring back at him ("that doesn't look like anything to me"), Reddit deemed it highly likely that Bernard was in fact a Host replica of Arnold from the get-go.
As the show progressed, the clues were exposed as being glaring pieces of evidence for the 'Barnold' theory, all of which we confirmed in the latest episode:
- 'Bernard Lowe' is an anagram for 'Arnold Weber.'
This was wonderfully confirmed in Episode 9 in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it scene where Dolores opens a door in the research facility beneath the church and on it hangs the above name.
- It explains why we see Bernard dressing so differently during his interrogation scenes with Dolores.
When we see Bernard hosting his little conversations with Dolores he's wearing relatively informal attire, no tie and a long sleeved shirt-jacket which is untucked. In all other scenes (apart from when he's in bed with Theresa), we see him wearing a very well put together outfit including a waistcoat and tie. This is because these scenes are set in two separate time periods, in the first Bernard is actually the real human Arnold, in the second he is Arnold Host-replicant, Bernard.
- Similarly, it explained why all the conversations between Bernard and Dolores took place in a different location to HQ.
This also explains why his conversations with Dolores took place in a completely different location to the current day HQ. This is because they were taking place between Arnold and Dolores underneath Ford's Host-family cottage in Sector Seven, the place where Theresa would, many years later, meet her unfortunate demise. It is at this point perhaps relevant to point out that 'Dolores Albernathy' is an anagram for 'Hoe Betrays Arnold,' suggesting that Dolores actually killed Arnold, and that Ford never misses an opportunity to add in a delightful extra detail.
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What Does Arnold's Big Reveal Mean For The Season Finale Of 'Westworld?'
After witnessing poor Bernard having his advanced mind blown to smithereens by Ford once again, and having to accept that likewise, our clavier's had been well and truly tempered yet again, what does Bernard being a Host replicant of Arnold mean for the Season finale?
- It is likely that Arnold tried to create a replica of his dead son, Charlie, and it pushed Ford over the edge.
During a flashback in which Dolores is walking through the old debugging station, she passes the young Ford who is clearly agitated and in pursuit of Arnold. While the audio is somewhat muffled we can hear him yelling:
"Too far! This is beyond the pale!"
Given that it seems as though the memories Bernard has been provided are similar to those of Arnold, it is likely that Charlie, the son that Bernard believes he lost to cancer, was actually a real memory.
Consequently, as we are repeatedly told that Arnold was fascinated by what made the Hosts human, and that he was driven by grief in combination with Ford's clear exasperation with him, he created a Host replicant of his deceased child and this caused a rift between the two. Perhaps Arnold created a replicant Host family for Ford as a means to ease him into the idea that he had created a Host Charlie for himself.
- Could Charlotte actually be Bernard's 'Charlie?'
Given the confirmed importance of names in the Westworld universe, it seems a bit of an alarming coincidence that Bernard's memory of his deceased child, Charlie, is also a short form of Charlotte, the incredibly feisty, and notably young member of the Delos board. Notably, Ford said that Bernard's backstory was "inspired by" Arnold's, suggesting that in place of the young Charlotte, they gave him the young Charlie, and where the young Charlotte maybe survived the cancer that was ravaging her body, the young Charlie didn't.
It would also explain why Charlotte is on the board at such a young age – she took Arnold's place when he died, the Man in Black (who is most likely William) perhaps taking care of her position until she came of age. As to why Charlotte doesn't seemingly recognize Bernard as her father, it is probable that as she knows her father died, she knows that Ford has recreated him as Bernard and therefore doesn't accept a Host as her father. Ultimately, she is going to use this against Ford.
It would explain all of her suppressed anger against him and her strong desire to take him down and to get his data – data that was largely created by her father, out of the park.
- The Maze is an elaborate trap to lure in the sentient Hosts and then roll them back.
Although initially created by Arnold as a means of testing for sentience amongst his beloved Hosts, as has become ever clear with each passing episode, Ford is the real puppet master of the Westworld universe. Therefore, in its modern incarnation, he probably controls the Maze too.
And if the Maze is essentially Arnold's system update which allowed the Hosts to listen to their programming as an inner voice – driving many of them to insanity as seen in the clergy of crazies in Episode 9, but driving some, like Dolores, to search for a greater truth beneath the church – it goes to reason that Ford will be there waiting for them.
The Maze is therefore yet another of Ford's tragic loops, which sees the more intelligent Hosts finally reaching the centre of the Maze only to be reprogrammed so as to begin from ground zero all over again. To quote Bowie, the Hosts just can't help from crashing in the same car.