With last nights episode once again throwing us into a vortex of allusion, diversion and good old fashioned mystery we breathed a sigh of relief as Westworld, HBO's epic new show, continued to engage and baffle us much as Sansa's vampy hookup with Little Finger, or the plot of Mulholland Drive.
Oh how we gawked as we discovered more about the mysterious Arnold, and in doing so, felt increasingly uneasy about Hannibal Lecter-turned-Westworld creator, Robert Ford. How we sympathized with possible Host Bernard as he grieved for his dead son. How we laughed at a group of Hosts unable to light a fire for two days due to the designated wood-chopper going AWOL and causing them to enter an unending fireless loop (#classic). But above all, how we marveled as we were lead further into the 'deeper game' of the Westworld Universe, otherwise known as the maze, as we were left with more questions than we thought our tiny sentient minds were able to handle.
While Episode three teases multiple, possibly infinite narrative threads if you believe the show is operating non-linearly, they are all linked by what the 'Man in Black' (Ed Harris) refers to in Episode two as the 'deeper game,' otherwise known as 'the maze.' It lies at the heart of the series and at the heart of the Westworld Universe and this third installment gives us a veritable treasure trove of clues which go some way to explaining just what this labyrinth is, where it is and just how all of the characters both Host and human are integrally linked to it. Prepare for your violent delights to reveal some surprising violent ends as we unfurl the mysteries of Westworld.
The Key To Finding The Maze Is Written In The Stars
- The Constellation Maps
In Episode three we are given a deliciously luminary clue as to how the maze operates. Before running off and leaving his friends to contemplate lighting a fire for forty eight hours, it is discovered that the woodsman Host has been carefully carving constellations into his wooden animal figurines. However, he was never programed with the ability to do this. These constellations are resonating from a dark primordial software soup which exists within him, and links him directly to the 'deeper game' of the Westworld Universe.
- Following The Snakes' Tail
These constellations link directly to what Lawrence's young daughter tells the Man In Black in Episode two:
"Follow the Blood Arroyo to where the snake lays its eggs".
As Redditor damnyouArcGIS correctly points out, in the Northern hemisphere there is a snake constellation which is referred to as the 'serpens.' It is unique among modern astrology as it is split into two parts, the serpent head in the west and the serpent tail in the east. Consequently, the Man in Black will follow the river to the east, to the tail of the serpent where it 'lays its eggs,' and here, will find the entrance to the maze, as depicted on the woodsman's wooden figurines.
The Maze Is Based On An Aztec Map Depicting A 'Creator God' Living Below The Mountains
- A Heady Compare & Contrast
Looking at the underside of Kissy, the unfortunate card dealer's scalp, after The Man in Black attacks him in Episode two, we are shown our first visual image of the Westworld maze. Redditor GardyBot highlights the shocking similarities of the Westworld labyrinth and that of the O'odham I'itoi symbol known as 'The Man in the Maze' originating from a group of indigenous Uto-Aztecans.
Depicting the cosmology of the O'odham people, the maze depicts the mischievous creator god who lives in a cave deep below a mountain who brings people from the underworld to the earth and gives them a series of commandments about how to live in balance with the world around them. Queue a torrent of Arnold theories.
Why Arnold Is The 'Man in the Maze'
- Ford 'Goes Further,' But Convinces No One
Episode three is significant for giving us our first direct discussion about Arnold, Westworld's apparently ill-fated co-creator who supposedly died in the park thirty years ago, ever since Westworld was entrusted solely to the increasingly sinister Ford. However, as watching any soap will teach you, a character isn't truly dead unless you see an indisputably dead body and as such, it's highly likely that not only is Arnold alive, but that he's most probably hiding out in the park, in the centre of the maze which he has created beneath the mountains.
- A Game Of Cat And Mouse, But With Robots And Snakes
If the theory holds that instead of perishing, Arnold retreated deep into the Westworld Universe, chances are that he has been continuing his work in creating consciousness within AI — and Ford knows about it. In Episode two we see Ford aimlessly wandering out in the desert for the first time. Here he comes across a young boy, who speaks as though he were a guest but is undoubtedly a host, perhaps a younger version of Ford, or a replica of a deceased family member.
While discussing the nature of the park Ford amazes the young boy by freezing, of all things, a snake. With the image of the snake being so integral to the discovering the entrance of the maze, we can assume that Ford is wandering into, as the boy puts it, 'nowhere land,' to discover clues to a part of the park beyond his control — the part in the control of Arnold.
- Teddy Becomes Bait, Yet Again
With Ford racing to discover Arnold's location, in Episode three he gives Teddy a whole new narrative which drives him further out into the more uncharted territory of the Westworld map. Following a mysterious bandit named Wyatt, Teddy yet again becomes Ford's willing guinea-pig as he scales large quantities of terrain perhaps in search of where the snake lays her highly prized eggs and where the highly coveted entrance to the maze lies.
The Maze Is Arnold's Test For Sentience Amongst The Hosts
- The Voice Of God
Equipping the Hosts with a software update which made them believe that the commands they interpreted from their programming were actually the voice of God and promptly uninstalling it once it drove many of them mad, Arnold instilled deep within all of Westworld's AI the ability to reach a degree of sentience based on the bicameral model of consciousness.
As Ford explains to Bernard in Episode three, this model essentially states that consciousness was created when one hemisphere of the brain began to listen to the other hemisphere, and obey it. While wildly disproven in terms of human evolution, the effects of this model on AI are clearly, up for interpretation. In the final moments of the Episode Delores only manages to shoot Tenderloin, her eternal aggressor, because she hears the "voice of God" which is likely to be Arnold's own voice, which enables her to break free of her programing loop and go against her own hardwiring. Hello sentient thought.
- 'The Maze Is Not For You'
It stands to reason that if Arnold's whole life purpose has been to create consciousness within the Hosts, that the maze is consequently an extremely advanced form of the Turing Test. As Lawrence's daughter tells the Man in Black and as Westworld's simulation website, discoverwestworld.com tells us, the maze is not for us because we, like the Man in Black, are humans and already (hopefully) can pass the test for sentience without solving the riddle of a complex maze.
- Why Dolores Will Be The First Host To Enter The Maze
At the beginning of Episode three, Bernard gives Delores a copy of Alice in Wonderland. The metaphor could not be more strikingly obvious. Delores is Alice, fit with long blonde hair and prim blue dress on the verge of falling down the rabbit hole, otherwise known as the maze. The fact that in all of her private conversations with Bernard she remains, unlike all the other Hosts, fully clothed, is further evidence that Bernard believes she has bitten from the apple of Eden and is now capable of feeling shame at her naked form — a distinctly human trait.
As the trailer for Episode 4 shows us, it looks like Bernard begins to explain the maze to Delores, stating:
"There's something i’d like you to try, it’s a game, a maze, the goal is to find the centre of it. If you can do that than maybe you can be free."
Everything up until this point seems to be leading Delores down this complex rabbit hole. Firstly there is the reveal that she is the oldest Host in the park and therefore has the greatest backlog of memory to potentially access. Secondly, Abernathy (her father in the first Episode) gives her the ability to unlock these memories with the trigger phrase 'these violent delights have violent ends.’ Finally, her many secret discussions with Bernard distinctly show that he sees the sentient potential within her, all of which mark Delores as becoming the Host-turned-human she was always destined to be.