Warning: Spoilers for the season two premiere of Westworld follow!
Who is Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins) and what does he want? These are the questions that have plagued me since the first season of Westworld debuted on HBO. Now, with the second season having premiered, these questions only became more pronounced. Both the audience and the denizens of the show know practically nothing about the creator of Westworld. The only people alive that might have an inkling as to Ford’s motivations are Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) and William (Ed Harris). What little we do know is this: Ford wasn’t the kind of man to take a little something like murder lying down. In fact, I’d bet a shiny dime he orchestrated his own death… as far a something like death can affect Robert Ford.
Before the season two premiere, there were many people convinced that Ford had somehow managed to survive the slaughter of the DELOS board of directors. Sure he took a bullet directly to the head, but that would only count if the Ford that was shot was the real Ford. In a place where robots look indistinguishable from humans, could you really believe your lying eyes? The premiere seemed to clear up that yes, Ford had indeed been brutally (though perhaps justifiably) murdered. Maggots in the wound of the decomposing corpse appeared to seal Ford’s fate. But I’m still not so sure.
So what do we know really know about the creator of Westworld? We know Ford was obsessive about his creation. He took a minute interest in every aspect of the park. Everything funneled through Ford and he seemed to foster a near omnipotence and an iron grip steering his metaphorical ship. And this was before we knew he was in charge of at least six separate parks, all running concurrently. But how was this possible? Hopkins is in his 80s, so one could easily extrapolate Ford is of a similar age. Where did he find the energy? The time? The most logical explanation is staring us in the face: He made hosts of himself. Probably dozens.
In the trailer for season two, there is a split second where we see a cold storage unit filled with Bernards (Jeffrey Wright) in various stages of evolution. The “Previously On Westworld” reminder at the beginning of the season two premiere made sure to once again focus on the host Ford was building in secret beneath the recreation of his childhood home. Combine the two, and it seems entirely logical that Ford wouldn’t trust anyone but himself to run things, thus outsourcing management to a team of…himself.
This would explain the godlike powers Ford has within the first season, the most prominent of which being when he took Theresa Cullen (Sidse Babett Knudsen) to the brunch spot she visited as a child with her parents. Without verbal cues, Ford was able to cease the motor functions of every host within visible range. We now know, from the season two premiere, that the hosts are all subconsciously linked via something called the Host Mesh. If the Ford that took Theresa to brunch was a host body, he could have easily accessed the Mesh to freeze and reactivate the hosts nearby.
I say Ford’s “host body” because I’m not entirely convinced Ford isn’t just a metaphorical brain in a jar somewhere. We’ve learned that the park hosts are networked together but the drone hosts performing brain surgery and collecting blackmail on guests are not. It stands to reason Ford could easily network together a bunch of clones of himself and hook them up to his brain. The feedback would give Ford Prime™ access to everything that happened in his domain without him having to be there.
If Ford is indeed beyond such paltry things as death, this would also explain why the robotic child Ford (Oliver Bell) seemed to be glitching. While congratulating William on finally reaching a game that was meant for him—finding the Door to escape Westworld—the young robot continuously had Anthony Hopkins’ voice interspersed in his lines. It could have been an audio cue to remind the audience that the boy was indeed a version of the park’s creator, or it could’ve been Ford’s ghost in the shell.
But if Ford is still alive, then how was his dead body decaying in the hot Westworld sun at the end of “Journey into Night”? We have no idea if the hosts decay, but I’d guess they do. They’re made of mostly organic matter at this point. It’s not like DELOS was going to leave expensive merchandise out in the elements long enough to rot. Placing decommissioned hosts into cold storage could easily be to keep them from decomposing.
So what do you all think? Just how Machiavellian is Ford? Do you think he’s truly dead and gone or simply biding his time in the bowels of Westworld? Is he still terraforming the island and guiding his creations to the promised land? Or have the creations truly overtaken their creator?