This Sunday, the second season of Westworld concludes with a bang, as all the different factions converge on “the valley beyond,” also known as the Forge.
By the end of the 90-minute episode, most of the hosts will be dead, left to float in the flooded valley by means not yet known. Every faction save the one headed by Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson) would cheer for the flooding of the Forge, so it’s anyone’s game. So what do we know about the Forge? Created by Delos in the early years of their investment, it houses the actions, brain scans, and darkest secrets of every guest who has ever entered the park. William (Ed Harris) helped create the project in the hopes that one day humans could upload their minds to host bodies, effectively making them immortal. The Forge is significantly larger than the Cradle, a similar facility that houses all the memories of each host in the park. What we don’t know is if only Westworld is part of this data-mining or if each of the other five parks are also elaborate algorithms meant to draw out the inner essence of the uber-rich.
After last week’s episode “Vanishing,” we know from the conversation between William and Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins), that Delos made a deal with Ford. They’d stay out of his narratives and he’d stay out of the valley. But it seems the deal was broken, at least according to Ford. The line is tossed out and immediately discarded in favor of more pressing narrative concerns, but that single statement could have far-reaching repercussions. Westworld excels at dialogue sleight-of-hand, so one could easily assume Ford meant Delos trying to smuggle the package off-property. But look again at Ford’s exact quote.
“I didn’t break the agreement, your project did […] When was the last time you took a good look at your creation and what it’s been learning about its subjects?”
Ford refers to “the project” as breaking the rules. Almost as if it had gained some kind of sentience. As the season has shown, Ford’s consciousness was able to affect the park from the Cradle, and the Forge is larger, more complex, and deals in human “souls” and not host data. More importantly, we don’t know if the Forge has succeeded. The only human-host hybrid we know we’ve seen has been James Delos (Peter Mullan). One could argue his last iteration was successful until William waltzed into the facility and destroyed his father-in-law with harsh truths about the deaths of James’ children. As William is actively seeking to burn Westworld to the ground, throwing a wrench into a success story from the Forge isn’t out of character, right?
With the breakneck pacing and multiple storylines being juggled, William’s motivations as he rampages through the theme park have been left up to audience interpretation. The most obvious would be that William sees destroying his life’s work as some sort of absolution for the suicide of his wife. But clues as far back as Season One indicate the Man in Black might not be paranoid for slicing into his forearm to see if he finds a USB cable. Let’s take a look back.
In his first meeting with Robert in the saloon, Ford tells William he could never conceive of someone like him. Ford goes on to say he would never stand in William’s way on his journey of self-discovery. At the time it was read as a back-handed compliment to the horrors of humanity, but perhaps Ford meant it more literally. Then there’s the timeline. In the first season, William reveals to Teddy (James Marsden) that after his wife’s death, William murdered Maeve (Thandie Newton) and her daughter just to see if he’d feel something. We know that Maeve was reassigned to the Mariposa for a year before she gained awareness. We also know when William’s daughter (or an approximation thereof) comes to retrieve him, she tells him he can’t stay here forever. So, William has potentially been in the park for over a year. That’s a long time.
Except what if the real William isn’t who we’ve been following? If the hosts are able to gain awareness, there’s nothing to say the “people” trapped in the limbo that is the Forge couldn’t as well. No one ever used a scanner on James Delos, so there’s no way to know if he’d have produced a “CLEAR” result. Considering the whole concept of the project was to make immortal humans, it seems unlikely they’d want to be outed by a simple scan. So let’s say the William we know is a human-host hybrid awakened and subconsciously controlled by the Forge. Blowing it all up might be the only way to set the ghosts-in-the-shell free, and William could be the tool chosen for the job, either by the real William himself or some shadowy third-party. Likely contenders include whatever remains of James Delos, and based on the trailers, perhaps Logan Delos (Ben Barnes) as Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) and Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) follow Logan’s memories in the Forge in the season finale trailer. In fact, it would be fitting if Logan’s ultimate revenge was controlling an avatar of his brother-in-law to hunt down the park that destroyed Logan’s family.
I guess we’ll see this Sunday. What do you guys think? Is William human, host, or something else?