We're only two episodes in and HBO's new smash hit Westworld has already established itself as a major player when it comes to metaphors and references. From the deeper meaning behind the flies in the pilot episode to the way milk is used as an analogy for life itself, nothing here should be taken at face value.
So when "Chestnut" — Westworld episode two — arrived ahead of schedule, we poured over it to try and puzzle out just what is going on with this futuristic Western world. Check out the episode promo below if you need a quick refresher.
So, Episode 2 saw the arrival of two guests to the park who will likely become major players as we move forward — the retiring and gentle William (Jimmi Simpson) who is visiting the park for the first time, and the boorish, hedonistic Logan (Ben Barnes) who is a Westworld veteran.
Of the two men, the focus is put pretty firmly on William in this episode. We see the park through his eyes as he experiences it for the first time, and he provides a surface that reflects the disturbing nature of Westworld back at us. He also seems very out of place in the park, and there's something a bit suspicious about his being there in the first place. Let's take a closer look.
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Why Is William There With Logan?
Clearly, William doesn't like Logan all that much, at least they don't seem close enough to be taking the trip of a lifetime together. They exchange insults when we first meet them on the train, and William says "that's not the term I'd use" when Clementine Pennyfeather (Angela Sarafyan) refers to Logan as his friend. So what's the connection here?
Well, in their conversation over dinner we discover that the two work — or used to work — together, though the nature of their work is not revealed. And there's an interesting exchange between the two in this scene:
William: "I thought you didn't want to talk about work here?" Logan: "Who says this trip isn't work?"
Logan's response to William is knowing, as if he knows or suspects that William has an alternate reason for being here. A reason that has something to do with their line of work.
As a side-note, Logan does also mention his sister to William near the beginning of the episode. It's possible that the two could have a familial connection there, if William is married to or involved with Logan's sister. But at the moment all we know for sure about the connection between the two men is that they work or worked together. So why take a trip with someone from work who you don't like all that much?
What Does That Exchange With Dolores Mean?
The exchange between William and Clementine when he turns down her advances was, presumably, designed to underscore the notion that he's a "good guy." In it we discover that William has a wife or girlfriend "back home," and so has no desire to hook up with any of the hosts in the park.
But then he sees Dolores Abernathy (Evan Rachel Wood) when she drops her can of condensed milk, and there's a moment that passes between them as Dr. Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins) speaks about the guests coming to the park to discover "something they fall in love with." Had we not just learned that William's heart is already spoken for, this would seem to set up a romantic connection between the two — of course it still could be, but that would seem to run counter to what we've learned of William so far.
So perhaps he has an alternate reason for being fascinated by Dolores in that moment. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that she's the oldest host in the park, as we learned last episode.
The White Hat
The thing that piqued my interest first in William was the white cowboy hat he choses at the end of his dressing room experience. While this was an obvious design choice to indicate a difference between him and Logan — who wears an all black costume with a black hat — it could also give something away about his character's intentions.
In certain communities, the term "white hat" refers to a certain type of hacker — a white hat hacker. These experts work in computer and internet security, and typically they are hired by companies to hack into systems in order to discover weak points in the security.
The "white hats" then report these weaknesses back in order for the company in question to fix them, making it more difficult for other hackers with less pure intentions to penetrate the system in question. And as we've learned by now, flaws in the programming are the big narrative drivers of Westworld.
So, could William be there seeking weaknesses in the Westworld system? While there's not really been much to suggest that William has been hired by the company itself, these little hints do seem to suggest that William is not quite what he seems.
All put together, it looks quite likely that he may have ulterior motivations for being at Westworld, and said motivations seem to have something to do with his profession, as hinted at by Logan. William's interest in Dolores also may suggest that there's something deeper going on with his character, as he pinpoints her at a time when she is malfunctioning and evolving to a higher level of consciousness and awareness.
Or, William could just think that Dolores is a pretty face, and the white hat could just be a costume choice intended to set him up as a morally decent man in opposition to Logan's character. Time will tell, and perhaps we'll learn more about the two in Westworld Episode 3 — "The Stray" — which releases this Sunday, October 16.
What do you think William is really up to in Westworld? Have your say in the comments below!