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WESTWORLD: What (or Who) Is Bernard Holding?

WESTWORLD: What (or Who) Is Bernard Holding?

William, my boy! Spoilers abound for Westworld season 2, episode 4!

“The Riddle of the Sphinx” was a dense episode. Elsie (Shannon Woodward) is alive! She and Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) journeyed into a secret lab! Where Bernard had previously gone ham on a bunch of scientists with self-neck-snapping drones!

Oh, and it’s where William (Jimmi Simpson and Ed Harris) periodically checked in on a series of James Delos Personality Bots (Peter Mullan) that went haywire after a couple of weeks in captivity. Mullan, who was the “fascist pig” near the end of Children of Men, strutted his crazy stuff in this episode, and it was a murderous delight.

So now we’re looking at a theme park that was Walt Disneying its corporate owner by uploading his brain data into a replica host body. In other words, human/host hybrids.

It also turns out that tiger huntress Grace (Katja Herbers) is William/The Man in Black’s sharp, capable daughter. It’s a fun revelation, but the most interesting thing is how that family connection might relate to every other revelation in the episode. The Delos hybrid. William’s backward-looking maze. Ford’s posthumous power.

And the control unit. That funky blackish brown marble Bernard pocketed before murdering all the scientists when he was under Ford’s command. “He had me print a control unit for someone else,” Bernard said. “Another human.”

Who’s the other human? We’re headed deep into speculation territory, but the way I figure it, it’s got to be one of four people because, let’s face it, there just aren’t many humans in Westworld.

Here’s who the control unit might be for, from least to most likely.

Arnold

There are sentimental reasons that could propel Ford to create a hybrid copy of his former partner. The same reasons he created a host version. Since the human host project has never worked, it makes sense that Ford would go for the next best option, while creating an Arnold control unit for a future when the hybridization process proved stable.

It would also be poetic. Building essentially a version of Bernard with complete free will by bringing Arnold’s consciousness back to life. Could Bernard replace his malfunctioning control unit with Arnold’s human brain data?

Probably. But Arnold is also the least likely option because 1) Ford isn’t around anymore to need that kind of emotional closure and 2) it wouldn’t serve the current story whatsoever to bring Arnold back. It could save Bernard in an intriguing way, but so could a lot of other things.

Logan

We saw Logan (Ben Barnes) full of splendor at his father’s retirement party, and William casually confirmed to the nth iteration of James Delosbot that Logan had ODed years prior.

But why would Ford create a copy of the wayward son of his corporate owner?

For William, and for the game he is playing as The Man in Black. Presumably there’s a point to The Man in Black’s maze beyond mere survival. Using Lawrence’s daughter (Izabella Alvarez), Ford told The Man in Black that if he was looking forward, he was looking in the wrong direction, which means the game is meant to teach him something about the past. Or, at least, to remind him of it. What if Ford wanted to bring the past to life as a grand finale for The Man in Black? To bring a slice of humanity back to a psycho who left the real world behind long ago?

Logan is the first person I’ll mention that connects the Delos hybrid and Bernard’s control unit to The Man in Black’s high-stakes game, but there’s another Delos family member with a far stronger connection to William, which is why Logan is less likely to be the answer here.

Ford

It wouldn’t surprise me at all if they tossed that DNA ball into the machine and it spit out a copy of Ford, whose body we last saw rotting in a tuxedo. The Westworld co-founder digitally bringing himself back from the grave would be an expected twist. From a story standpoint, it would be fine. Just fine. Not mind-blowing. It squares the circle a little too cleanly. It feels more like something a TV show would do, not something a mad scientist would dream up.

But having Anthony Hopkins back? In a form that would potentially go crazy in two weeks? Yes, please. At least it would be fun.

Still, there’s someone who would potentially have a far great impact by returning.

William’s Wife Juliet

This is the most likely person Ford made a control unit for, and it would be the most satisfying. I’m basing that off a few things.

  1. The show used a stock photo featuring model Claire Unabia as the artifact that jars Peter Abernathy’s memory, revealing later that it’s a pic of William’s wife Juliet. Then they cast Unabia to appear in the show in season 2 as Juliet.
  2. So far she’s only appeared at her father’s retirement party.
  3. But “The Riddle of the Sphinx” confirmed that she had committed suicide some time after her father’s death.
  4. Had William simply spoken that information it would be one thing, but we were also treated to flashback images of the event, creating a stronger emotional bond between us and Juliet, and hinting at its long-term effect on her fragile husband.

So we were introduced to her in season 1, met her in the flesh this season, and saw the tragic end of her life in the same episode that we learned Grace was William’s daughter, that he needs to look to the past to successfully complete the maze, and that Ford commanded Bernard to make a control unit for a person other than James Delos.

Plus, why cast an actress just to mean-mug Dolores for a few seconds?

If we see more flashbacks of Juliet and William’s relationship in the back half of the season, it might confirm my hunch: that Ford intended for a hybrid copy of William’s wife to greet him at the end of the maze, either for triumph or for torture.

Stray Thoughts:

  • How long can someone survive on protein bars alone?
  • What did Bernard say to launch the drone suicide attack? It sounded like “history muscle” which seems like a contender for a Bad Lip Reading video. Whatever it is, it’s a powerful phrase.
  • Was the hostage situation in Las Mudas genuinely part of Ford’s game? If Teddy hadn’t let Craddock go, none of it would have happened, so it seems like a maaaaaajor coincidence.

Images: HBO

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