(Fair Warning: We can’t contemplate the future spoilers without revealing the old ones. Dust your boots off and let’s get to it.)
After a twisting, character-fueled season that’s overjoyed to raise questions and only occasionally happy to answer them, Westworld‘s opening chapter ends this Sunday. Showrunners Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan have assured fans they’ll close as many loops as possible (in your face, Mystery Box), but I’m still preparing mentally to find a super weird hatch or to discover it’s all happening in a snow globe (dust globe?) in the last few minutes.
If the task is to answer all its questions before moving to Season 2, the 90-minute finale has a lot of work to do, starting with these ten big ones.
1. What are Ford’s True Motivations?
This has been hazy since the first episode, particularly because Dr. Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins) has been five chess moves ahead of everyone else. He doesn’t have anyone to reveal his ultimate plan to because they’re all beneath him, even as he’s literally digging up the past—he has no equal adversary.
We understand that he’s invested fully in the park, in the Hosts, and in a grand design, but it’s difficult to know what it all means for him. Is it maintaining a status quo? Does that require burning down everyone that opposes him? Just to keep the park operating as is? Is it a matter of “protecting” the Hosts from becoming like humans because of how much he despises people? And how, after thirty+ years, does the initial park massacre fit into that plan?
He doesn’t even appear firmly opposed to Host sentience, so much as he’s firmly in favor of controlling everything around him. If Bernarnold (Jeffrey Wright) wises up, he may choose to leave, and Ford will lose his partner all over again. If Dolores does, she may leave, and Ford won’t be able to avenge his partner’s death by torturing her every day of her “life.”
But his motivating engine must be something more than what’s directly in front of him.
2. What’s At the Center of the Maze?
The heart of the question! This is what The Man in Black (Ed Harris) has scalped and slaughtered and struggled for this entire season. Prominent theories about its purpose include a pathway to free will for the Hosts, a self-destruct button for the park, and source code to control everything in Westworld, but not all theories are created equal. The first feels more likely, if we trust the show to be straightforward about what Dolores is seeking and why it’s “not for” the Man in Black. The second is a tough sell for a show that wants to survive past season one, and the third just seems hollow. After all, the entire Westworld Slack channel has been uploaded to Dolores’ dad in an effort by Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson) to smuggle it out of the park.
Then again, The Maze may be none of these things. And telling the Man in Black that The Maze isn’t for him may simply be one of the deterrents meant to protect it.
There are a few mysteries Westworld can get away without answering, but leaving this one vague may be tantamount to refusing to show who gets their face smashed in by a famous bat.
Pretty silly to include a giant maze in a game anyway, though, right?
3. What’s the deal with Dolores?
We need to see what really happened at Escalante 35 years ago when she (and Teddy?) murdered everyone trying to teach robots to dance; we need to see what happened 30 years ago after running away from William (Jimmi Simpson) and the camp, after her sessions with Arnold’s memory, and how they pertain to her present; and we need to see what she’ll do next now that she’s reunited with the Man in Black.
If we’ve been seeing her past this whole time, we also have no idea what she’s been doing in the present, since watching her dad glitch out and slapping the fly on her cheek. Is she having the same growing thoughts of consciousness that led her to kill everyone the first time? Was she (is she) Wyatt? What happened between her and William that tore them apart? If she killed everyone, why was she repaired and put back into the field?
4. What Really Happened in the Barn and What Will Happen in the Church?
These are two specific Dolores scenes that need context. The latter will undoubtedly be shown (since we saw its beginning in last week’s episode), and hopefully we’ll get a glimpse into the former.
In the very first episode we see the MIB kill Teddy and drag Dolores into the barn to—we assume—rape her like every other guest does. That’s almost certainly not what really happened, though, now that we know more about them. If the MIB really is an older William, it would definitely put his character into a bizarre light, but even if he isn’t, there’s little chance that the MIB treated his freedom with Dolores like any average visitor. There must be something more going on there.
5. How many people did Dolores (and Teddy) kill all those years ago?
This may feel minor, but an answer would help connect the dots on how we went from tragedy to a successful park. The Escalante slaughter happened before the park opened, and it’s obvious that the whole thing was swept under the rug, but did Dolores kill anyone else besides Arnold and some Hosts in beta? How can you launch a park if a bunch of your techs were killed? How do you keep survivors who know about Arnold’s death from going public?
6. Is Maeve’s endgame escape or destruction?
Or both? And does Ford know about her? She’s done all of her upgrading in the shadows, but Ford presumably knows everything that goes on in his park, so there’s a chance that he’s even a few chess moves ahead of her. After all, she hasn’t gained any power that Bernarnold didn’t have, and Ford tamed him with ease. Ostensibly, there’s also a backdoor into Maeve’s (Thandie Newton) programming, unknown to her, that Ford can tap into if he wants. It’s what kept Clementine (Angela Sarafyan) from pulling the trigger on him.
If he knows, he can’t let her leave.
Her big question is whether leaving is really the point. And what Escaton (Rodrigo Santoro) has to do with it. She successfully recruited him last week in a sex fire, but it’s not clear what he can do by her side. I’ve noted before that his name literally means “the end of the world” so getting the hell out of Dodge may not be the only thing Maeve is planning.
But if she does get out, what then? They’re in the middle of the desert, possibly on Mars (?), and what’s beyond that anyway?
7. What happened to Stubbs and Elsie?
Elsie (Shannon Woodward) disappeared after finding a pirate signal that helped Hosts smuggle information out of the park. Bernarnold attacked her, but we didn’t get to see whether he killed her or not. By mirroring the scene with Bernarnold murdering Theresa (Sidse Babett Knudsen), the show implies that Elsie is a goner, but it could be simple misdirection. On the other hand, why would Ford care to keep her alive? She’s a nosy, low-level employee. If he can take out Theresa, Elsie doesn’t stand a chance.
Ditto for Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth) who gets Muldooned while looking for Elsie. It’s always the Ghost Nation warrior you didn’t even know was there…
8. Is it all just a big milk commercial?
T.C. Sottek at The Verge makes a good case for the park being sponsored by the Milk Advisory Board. Dolores is always dropping that condensed milk can, the Hosts are all really into milk for some reason, and Ford “looks like a guy who runs a milk company.”
Is this the truth behind how DELOS makes all its money? It seems absurd. But…milk sales have gone up .02% (not a pun) since the show started.
9. Who else is a Host?
This is one of the questions that doesn’t need a definitive answer yet. We can find out which one of the assumed humans is really a Cylon as the series goes on, but the finale offers a great opportunity to drop another robo-bomb on us. So far, the show teased us into thinking Teddy was a guest before quickly dispelling us of that notion—one of the first signs that we shouldn’t trust our assumptions in the park—and Bernarnold was obviously more than what he initially seemed. Who else may end up being made of milk and metal?
Is everyone but Ford a Host? Is Ford one?
What about the MIB? Will he reach Escalante’s church only to realize he’s a Host as Dolores is realizing her incipient humanity?
Oh, no. Are we…are we all robots?
10. Who is Ford building in his parents’ basement?
When Bernarnold slammed Theresa’s face into a wall, a slower Host Maker 3000 was chugging away on a new robot to add to Ford’s collection, but we have no clue who it will be. A replacement Bernard (who he left down in cold storage for any random tech to stumble upon)? A replacement for himself? Something completely different?
Is he planning on beating Charlotte at her own game, or beating her against a wall and sending a replica back to the Board?
Is what’s happening down there in secret going to inform where the show goes in season two? And why am I craving a tall, cold glass of milk all the sudden?
Hopefully we find out the answers (and meet a few new questions) this Sunday.
What do you think will go down? Let us know in the comments below!