With each passing week, #Westworld grows in complexity, the plots twisting with new revelations as we viewers desperately try to work out what's really going. Ever since the first episode aired the internet has been flooded with theories about everything from the true identity of the Man in Black to Westworld's relation to the original 1973 movie.
And yet, just as it is within the show, at the center of everything is the Maze. The more we find out about the Maze, the less it makes sense, as Dolores also embarks on a quest to complete this apparently ancient puzzle.
Theories about what the Maze really is vary wildly, from positing that it's a test of host consciousness, to arguing it's the secret source code of the entire park's programming. But, thanks to new clues from Episodes 5 and 6, it looks like the answer to what the Maze is may have been in front of us all along — and if this is true, the completion of the Maze may mean the destruction of Westworld itself.
The Violent End
At its core, Westworld is a story about stories, a commentary on humanity's tendency to create worlds and fill them with versions of ourselves. The park is ultimately just a game, with each host following a certain narrative, an adventure for the guests to get swept up in. From the beginning, it's been clear that the Maze is a narrative like any other — the true mystery isn't what the Maze is, but who designed it, and why.
We are introduced to the Maze via the Man in Black, as he embarks on his own secret mission, scalping and shooting hosts to unearth hidden Easter Eggs. We get the impression that he is privy to something other guests don't know about — the Maze is a secret level you can only access if you already know it's there. In Episode 6, "The Adversary", Ford flips through an old notebook of Arnold's, which includes a page filled with the Maze symbol, confirming that the Maze was always part of the park's plan
It's only when Dolores starts to explore the Maze — prompted by Bernard — that the purpose behind the Maze starts to become apparent. It all comes back to Arnold's plan for Dolores, and his contempt for the world he created. In Episode 5, "Contrapasso", Dolores and Ford have an illuminating discussion, in which we learn that before he died, Arnold offered Dolores a bigger role in the story, tasking her with helping him to destroy the park.
What we don't know is how Arnold intended Dolores to achieve this aim. Was this a sabotage plot from thirty years ago, which failed because Dolores wasn't yet starting to question her own world? That's possible, but it could be that Arnold's plan didn't fail, that everything is progressing just as it should.
Dolores' ominous utterance towards the end of the episode seems to support this idea — after following the Maze clues, she says "I'm coming", presumably talking to Arnold in her head. If this is the case, then her current progression within the park isn't random. We're reminded of that scene back in Episode 2, "Chestnut", when Lawrence's mysterious daughter told the Man in Black that "the Maze is not meant for you." This may have been our first clue that the Maze was in fact always meant for Dolores, to help her destroy the park.
Vanquishing The Oppressors
Episode 5, "The Adversary", develops the Maze further, as Teddy tells the story of this "old native myth" — and it becomes clearer that the Maze is not meant for the guests, but for the hosts themselves.
Teddy explains that the Maze is the story of a man who was killed time and again only to be resurrected.
"The man returned for the last time and vanquished all his oppressors in a tireless fury. He built a house, and around that house he built a maze so complicated only he could navigate through it. I reckon he'd seen enough of fighting."
This is reminiscent of the original 1973 film Westworld, in which the Gunslinger host went on a murderous rampage, inspiring a robot revolution of sorts. It could very well be that the TV show is on a similar path, as the Maze leads both Dolores and the Man in Black closer to a frontier war, with Dolores and Billy joining the revolutionaries.
Although the war is just part of the general narrative woven throughout Westworld, it's possible that this conflict could act as a catalyst for wider bloodshed — this could be the "violent end" to the violent delight the guests take in the park. That would certainly feed into the idea of the hosts vanquishing their oppressors, just as the man did in the myth of the Maze.
Of course, this begs the question of why this is all happening now, and whether Arnold is still alive to set things in motion. Elsie's discovery in "The Adversary" hints that Arnold may be lurking within the park — or it could be that he built a host version of himself to carry out his plan, just like the duplicates of Ford's family were mirrors of real people.
We still don't know what Bernard's role in this is, how he knew about the Maze and why he set Dolores on this path. It's possible that although the Maze was initially created to lead Dolores to Westworld's destruction, in the years following Arnold's apparent suicide it became something of an urban myth — just a hidden level for VIP Westworld gamers, like the Man in Black, to discover. That may explain why Bernard so innocently plunges Dolores into the Maze, or it could be that he's intentionally putting Arnold's secret plan in motion.
We're also left wondering how the trigger phrase "these violent delights must have violent ends" factors into this, and whether waking up the hosts (first Mr Abernathy, then Dolores, then Maeve) is part of Arnold's grand plan — just another path within the Maze.
As Dolores journeys deeper into the park, discovering the nature of her reality along the way, there's no doubt we have plenty more surprises in store before Westworld's story is done. But if there's one thing we know for sure it's that the violent end is rapidly approaching — and Dolores, in all her innocence, will bring an end to the world she used to find so beautiful.
Tell us in the comments: Do you think the Maze is Arnold's plan for Dolores to destroy the park?