So far, pretty much every major Westworld theory has been proven true — the dual timelines, Bernard being both a host and a recreation of Arnold, and soon, you'd imagine, William and the Man In Black being one. Ahead of the supersized season one finale this weekend, in which all manner of shit is guaranteed to hit the fan, it feels like a good time to throw a new theory out there...
Were Arnold Weber And Dr. Robert Ford More Than Partners?
Before we get into this, let me just say that most of this theory is based on my perception of the psychology behind Ford's decision to recreate Arnold in host form, rather than either hard evidence or any particular desire to see a gay male character in Westworld. You may think I'm talking out of my ass, and that's fine.
So, somewhere between 30-35 years ago, Arnold died in mysterious circumstances. One theory dictates that Ford used the back-door override built into every host to force Dolores's hand in killing Arnold. Perhaps he thought there was irony in Arnold, the man who played god, being murdered by the first host to achieve what he termed the "bicameral mind."
Their conversations had a gentleness which suggests Arnold had some sense of affection or pride for Dolores — he did not interrogate or demonstrate superiority over her in the way that Ford and others in the lab frequently do when questioning the hosts. If she was proof of his theory that a robot made in a lab could access the top level of consciousness, the thing that makes us human, it stands to reason that Arnold would hold Dolores in great regard. Ford, therefore, was jealous of their close bond.
We've seen countless times across the first Season of Westworld that Ford holds the fundamental belief that pain, suffering, anger and uncontrollable emotion are unnecessary facets of existence. Arnold existed at the polar opposite end of the spectrum, his belief that a tragic backstory provides the hosts with the most solid "cornerstone" seemingly being proven right in the modern timeline, Maeve's resets being overpowered by the sheer pain felt at her daughter's murder.
Essentially, Arnold was a forward-thinker and Ford a creature of nostalgia, hence the host family hidden in the cottage where he had Bernard murder Theresa, a miniature museum preserving what Westworld had been in the beginning. In fact, Ford strives for two things — preservation and control. In Bernard, he preserves a perfect visual replica of his partner, only this time one he can control. Ford is not interested in the pursuit of the bicameral mind, because true human consciousness cannot be controlled or reset.
But considering the distinction between humans and the hosts — the idea that real pain, something a host can only act out without ever actually experiencing, equates to true human consciousness — why would Ford want to create a host version of Arnold? Without the curiosity that drives his work, the need to achieve something Ford would rather not with the hosts' minds, he's not Arnold, just a visual replica.
As Ford, why create a host who only looks like Arnold? If their relationship was strictly business? If they had increasingly little common ground on a personality level, it doesn't make sense for Ford to want an Arnold clone around after having taken control and removed the "threat" he presented to Ford's vision of Westworld when alive. And didn't it feel like Ford took an almost coolly sadistic pleasure in seeing Bernard kill Theresa? In a sense, that may have been Bernard's "punishment" for sharing a bed with somebody under Ford's nose.
I don't think it's impossible or even unlikely that Ford's obsession with Arnold — he still mentions him constantly, apparently romanticizing the memory of him despite their vast differences — went beyond the professional. If Ford was in love with Arnold (I'm not sure it was sexual desire, seeing as Ford seems to be more or less an asexual being), it would be easier to have an obedient clone around than the real thing.
Right now, this theory is more gut feeling than anything. If there's a major weakness with it, it's the possibility that Ford, like most sociopaths and/or narcissists, isn't even capable of feeling love. To him, that might be just another weakness, like pain, an unnecessary emotion. That would also explain why he's now seemingly done with Bernard, who may or may not be dead but seems to have asked one too many questions for Ford's liking.
Check out the promo below for the Season 1 finale, 'The Bicameral Mind,' in which Maeve attempts to board that train out of Westworld. Good luck, darling.
Could there be any truth to the idea that Ford was in love with Arnold?