Ah, Westworld. With the imminent return of The Walking Dead and the in-between seasons Game of Thrones gap, it was about time for something new to come along to get our minds running overtime with theories and fantasies. Here's one you may not have heard before, and it concerns Jeffrey Wright's Bernard Lowe, head of the Westworld Programming Division.
We've seen this theory floating around in various iterations, so it's difficult to attribute it to one specific source. But we've done our best to link back to the relevant sources. So, without further ado.
Is Bernard A Host?
One of the most popular theories spinning around on the internet since Westworld premiered is that Bernard is in fact a robot, one of the park's hosts. Numerous Redditors and other people have speculated about this, and we've compiled a shortlist of some of the evidence below.
- Unlike the rest of the staff, Dr. Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins) in particular, Bernard treats the Hosts with respect and sympathy, especially Dolores Abernathy (Evan Rachel Wood) whom he allows to remain clothed during their secret chats.
- In Episode 2 Ford — creator of the park and the Hosts — tells Bernard "I know how your brain works," suggesting he could have been programmed by Ford.
- In the same episode Theresa Cullen (Sidse Babett Knudsen), head of Quality Assurance, responds to Bernard's claim that Hosts talk to each other in order to practice being human by saying: "Is that what you are doing now? Practicing?"
- Like the Hosts in the park, Bernard has a pretty one-sided relationship with Theresa. Whilst he craves intimacy, she uses him physically for sex.
- Bernard keeps his talks with Dolores secret, and does not report that fact that she is malfunctioning — even though this could case big problems for him further down the line.
Given the snide remarks made by Ford and Theresa, and the various parallels between Bernard and the Hosts, it wouldn't be the biggest jump in logic to speculate that there might be more to Bernard that it seems. It's possible that he was created by Ford as part of a larger experiment, or Ford could just be being a jerk to him, as usual.
Bernard does have a backstory though, as we see him talking to his wife Lauren (Gina Torres) in Episode 3 about the death of their young son years before. But, as Elsie Hughes (Shannon Woodward) says:
“Backstories do more than amuse the guest. They anchor the host. The rest of their identity is built around it, layer by layer.”
So just because he has a backstory, it doesn't mean he's not a host. But there's more.
Is Arnold Actually In The Picture?
Lets side-step one moment to look at something else, specifically the photo of Ford and Arnold which he showed to Bernard in Episode 3. A theory posed by BaelBard claims that the man with Ford in the picture isn't actually Arnold:
This is the photo of Ford and Arnold. Something about it looks very weird. Ford stays on the left, Arnold in the middle. And there is no one on the right. That's not how two people are typically photographed. You don't leave empty space on the side, you position people you photograph in the middle.
So here is the theory: Arnold is actually on the right side of the photo. But Bernard can't see it and we see the photo from his pov. He can't see Arnold the same way Dolores couldn't see the photo of a girl on times square in ep1. That goes beyond her programming, so to her it looks like nothing. And Bernard can't see Arnold for the same reason. So his mind leaves the space empty.
So Arnold is not just "some guy on the photo who we've never met". If this theory is correct, Arnold is probably someone we already know. So it makes sense for the writers to hide him not just from Bernard, but from us, and have big reveal later.
This theory argues both that Bernard is a Host, and that there's a deeper meaning about who Arnold actually is. So, the full theory suggests...
Is Bernard Actually Arnold (Or A Version Of Him)?
Vanity Fair posited this back after Episode 3 aired, asking whether Bernard could be a Host created by Ford, or is actually Arnold’s consciousness uploaded into a Host body. Here's some of the evidence collected so far:
- There's a parallel between Bernard and Arnold's backstories. Both suffer from "personal tragedy" which drives them. For Bernard it's the death of his son, but we don't yet know what Arnold's tragedy was.
- The Hosts talk to an "Arnold" in their head when they begin to malfunction, just as we hear Bernard's voice in Dolores's head as she goes in and out of active programming.
- Bernard's tendency to treat the Hosts with respect mirrors the way Arnold treated them — especially the special relationship they both have with Dolores.
- Both Bernard and Arnold are obsessed with testing — and possibly expanding — the limits of consciousness which the Hosts possess.
- When the malfunctioning Peter Abernathy (Louis Herthum) expresses his desire to "meet [his] maker," Ford turns to Bernard and says "You're in luck." Ford and Arnold are the original makers of the Hosts though, not Bernard.
- Peter Abernathy also claims that Bernard and Ford are "in a prison of your own sins," which could be a nod to Arnold's consciousness literally being contained in a Host that he created.
- Bernard Lowe is an anagram of "Arnold Weber" (we don't yet know what Arnold's surname was though, so stay tuned for that reveal).
The anagram is perhaps the most interesting piece of information though, as puzzles are the foundation upon which both Westworld the show and Westworld the park are built. One thing is for sure though, there's definitely something not quite right with Bernard. What that may be however, we'll have to wait until the park unfolds itself to us further.
So, what do you think of this theory? Could Bernard be a Host with Arnold's consciousness programmed into him, or is it all a reach too far? Sound off in the comments, and check out our video with theories about Westworld's Maze below!