(WARNING: This post contains spoilers for Westworld)
I've been enjoying HBO's new series Westworld even though it's been hard to keep track of everything that's going on. Just when you think you know what's going on, the show takes an unexpected twist. Things can get a bit confusing and a little convoluted since the show doesn't spell everything out for you, but I find those mysterious aspects of the show to be the most compelling.
In the most recent episode, Episode 7 "Trompe L'Oeil," it was explained that the park was not created to be an adult Disneyland. Instead, the park was created for a greater purpose. This reveal drastically changed the meaning of the show for me. Up until this episode, I thought that the main theme of the show was exploring the true nature of humanity when confronted with complete freedom.
Exploring humanity's nature may still play into the big picture, but it seems as though the importance of humanity is secondary to why the park was built. I have a theory as to why the park was built and it wasn't for the betterment of humanity, that's for damn sure.
Dark Verses Light
If you were a fan of the TV show #Lost, you'll remember that a continual focal point of the show was dark verses light. I've gotten the impression that Westworld is about Arnold verses Ford (Anthony Hopkins). At this point, we know very little about Arnold other than the fact that he might be dead, and that he helped Ford create the park. You get the impression that a power struggle occurred between the two based on the limited information shared by Ford and others.
In my opinion, Ford is the individual that represents the light because his motivations to build the park, and to maintain it, are rooted in the nostalgia he has of his childhood and wants to replicate it, but with perfections. We've heard Ford sharing stories of his childhood with the robots that he built, we've seen him care for a robotic family eerily similar to his own biological one, and we know that Ford was never interested in backing up the I.P.s (intelligent properties) of the park — something that the park board values significantly. I think Ford is more interested in what the visitors to the park will experience rather than making a buck.
On the other hand, it appears as though the park board, and people like Theresa (Sidse Babett Knudsen) are more interested in the lucrative aspects that the park provides, and care less about the personal satisfaction that the visitors experience. I'm assuming that Arnold's motives might have been more in line with this ideology, which resulted in a conflict between Arnold and Ford.
It's true that we saw Ford instruct Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) to kill Theresa, but this does not necessarily make Ford the bad guy. By killing Theresa, Ford was protecting the the park from the interests of the board — something that Ford has been doing for some time. I bet the robot being built in Ford's underground facility — where he had Theresa killed — is a replica of Theresa. If true, Ford will now have two robotic spies feeding him information so that he can stay a couple steps ahead of the board.
The Purpose Of The Man In Black
Based on the tidbits of information sprinkled throughout the episodes, we've come to learn that Arnold supposedly died 30 plus years ago. We also know that the mysterious Man in Black (Ed Harris) has been in the park for some time and knows Ford. In Episode 5 “Contrapasso” the Man in Black tells Ford during their icy conversation:
“Arnold almost took this place with him. Almost, but not quite, thanks to me.”
Whatever happened between Ford, Arnold, and the Man in Black appears to have motivated the Man in Black to find the deeper meaning of the park by following a trail of the same symbol — a human body surrounded by a maze. It's my belief that the Man in Black will never discover the deeper meaning of the park because he's human. More on that in a minute.
The Deeper Meaning Of The Park
I believe that Arnold's contribution to the park has to deal with the deeper meaning of it. Now that we know that the park wasn't specifically created for the enjoyment of the guests, I've come to believe that the park was created (dramatic pause) to foster artificial intelligence through the review of human behavior.
The robots created by Ford and Arnold are intelligent, but they are programed to respond the way they do. Also (for the most part) the robots are totally under the control of the programs that run them. As we've come to learn, the robots are instructed to perform a loop of specific tasks. What if Arnold believed that artificial intelligence could spawn after a robot becomes self aware, and breaks free from its loop to then escape from the park? I can see the board and the investors they represent viewing artificial intelligence as the ultimate advancement in robotics, which would result in a lucrative outcome for them. That's why Theresa was trying to back up the I.P.s — in the event that artificial intelligence was achieved, they'd need to know how to replicate the process.
The deeper meaning of the park is the creation of artificial intelligence, and since the Man in Black is human, he isn't able to see the deeper meaning of the park because he already possess the intelligence that artificial intelligence is meant to replicate. The Man in Black cannot go through a change in intelligence like the robots and therefore he will continually be stuck in his own loop of trying to find the deeper meaning of the park, which is why Ford does not view the Man in Black as a threat.
What about Maeve (Thandie Newton) though? I do not consider Maeve to have found the deeper meaning of the park because her awakening, in part, was due to the park workers altering her programming as seen in Episode 6 "The Adversary." I believe that Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) will most likely be the one to escape the park because she was one of the first robots created by Arnold and Ford and therefore she has been exposed to the loops of park the longest. It's quite possible that she has already found the deeper meaning and is working with Arnold to enact some kind of revenge plot against Ford because in Episode 5 “Contrapasso” after Ford talks with Dolores she says the following when Ford leaves:
"He doesn't know. I did not tell him anything."