For two seasons Ford and William, the men most responsible for building the world’s greatest and deadliest amusement park, have been dancing around one another in a passive aggressive battle for the fate of Westworld. In season one The Man in Black went searching for the center of Arnold’s “maze” in hopes it would bring real stakes and meaning to the game and his life, an ultimately futile journey Ford described as a “voyage of self-discovery.” In season two’s penultimate episode “Vanishing Point,” William explicitly stated his goal this time around, saying, “Nothing’s stopping me from getting to the end. Not another one of (Ford’s) games. I make my own decisions, and I’m gonna destroy this whole fuckin’ place!”Except William is playing another one of Ford’s games, the “one final game” Ford cryptically mentioned at the bar in a flashback. But what exactly is Ford’s game? And what is the point of having William play it? The answer comes down to who really owns Westworld, and it points to a dark ending for The Man in Black.
In the final deadly scene between William and his daughter, who he believed was a host sent by Ford to stop him from achieving his goal, William shared how he views his own importance to the park. He screamed at Emily, thinking he was really talking to Ford via yet another host, “You just want to shove what I’ve built here in my face.” In the same scene Emily affirms William’s delusion that Westworld wasn’t just created by him, but that its true purpose is to exist entirely for him. She says, “You don’t just think I’m a host, you think everything here is for you.”
There is no more egregious thing anyone could do to Ford, a man with the worst God-complex possible, than try to take credit for his creation. That’s even worse than William’s stated plan in season one to take complete ownership away from Ford. It wasn’t enough that William, a mere money man who lost himself in Westworld and never found his way out of it, manipulated Ford’s beautiful world into a capitalistic data-collecting laboratory designed to cheat death, he also thinks this place belongs to him–and for him.
So what better way to let William know that neither of those two things are true than to send him on one final journey through the park that ultimately robs William of the only thing he truly cares about. Ford’s game is designed to teach William that he has never been in control, and that while he has used the park for his own selfish reasons, Williams exists for Westworld and not the other way around.
The consequences of William’s journey have already been devastating. He had already lost everyone else because of Westworld, and now he has completely lost touch with reality, killing his own daughter and questioning if he himself is even human. He’s not in control, no matter how much he thinks he is, because this place really belongs to Ford, who is so far in William’s head, he sees and hears Ford everywhere he goes, even when he looks at his last connection to the real world.
“I make my own decisions,” William screamed, but he’s so incapable of that he wasn’t even able to kill himself after realizing he had murdered the real Emily. His inability to make that choice was mirrored in the episode by Teddy’s choice to kill himself. Teddy realized Dolores, like Ford, was leading him down a path of assured destruction. So he made the one choice he could and pulled the trigger. William, stuck in Ford’s game from the moment he fell in love with Dolores, couldn’t, because he has no control and never has.
As William nears the end of Ford’s final game, the only questions that remain are the details of how William will ultimately learn Westworld belongs to Ford and always has. Will it come when Dolores kills him? Will William see everything he built in the Valley Beyond destroyed when she wipes out the Forge, leaving only the hosts as the park’s lasting legacy? Or will it be something even worse?
William wants to destroy “this whole fuckin’ place,” which in his ultimate delusion he thinks he built, but William merely paid for it. The price was enormous; the cost wasn’t just his money, it was his family, his sanity, and his soul. When that didn’t buy him the deeper meaning he hoped to find in Arnold’s maze, he decided to take back control by tearing it down.
But all he’ll find in the Valley Beyond is that Westworld never belonged to him. He was just another character in Ford’s game.
What do you think? What is Ford’s final game for William? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.