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Trippy WESTWORLD Theories: Arnold Lives, The Man in Black is Not Who We Think

BY Jennifer Griffin

Published 5 years ago

Is HBO’s Westworld hinting that park co-creator Arnold may still be alive? Perhaps. Maybe. Sunday’s “The Adversary” provided enough forward momentum for us to seriously consider the possibility — and others stemming from it — for the first time.

Let’s review what we know about the mysterious Arnold so far. According to Dr. Ford, he was one of two co-creators of the Park and its hosts. Arnold was obsessive with his work, a loner, and consumed with his search for consciousness.

In Ford’s own words: “He died, here in the park. His personal life was marked by tragedy. He put all his hopes into his work. His search for consciousness consumed him totally. Barely spoke to anyone, except to the hosts. In his alienation he saw something in them. He saw something that wasn’t there. We called it an accident but I knew Arnold and he was very, very careful.”

Reading between the lines, we presume that the ‘careful’ Arnold was either murdered, or committed suicide, yet the show continues to offer suggestions that this may not be the case.

In “The Adversary,” Elsie Hughes not only uncovered evidence of Theresa Cullen’s corporate espionage, but code used specifically to reprogram older hosts. That code was revealed to have come from Arnold himself, and Elise was dragged away by an unknown figure before anything else could be brought to light.

Who attacked Elsie? Arnold? a host working for Arnold? Assuming, for the sake of argument, that the unknown assailant was not someone in the secret employ of Theresa Cullen, then it’s likely someone is working to keep Arnold’s grand plan under wraps and ongoing. Additionally, we are already privy to the fact that someone calling themselves “Arnold” is communicating directly with the Park’s older hosts. It makes sense that that person is Arnold himself.

With Arnold’s influence becoming stronger with each new episode any one of the following theories are increasingly likely.

Arnold is Alive and Well

Just as Dr. Ford’s ‘family’ are living off the grid, Arnold may be too. He helped craft Westworld. Who better to know where to lie low? According to Ford, Arnold was increasingly withdrawn and obsessional with his work as the Park neared completion. Although he and Ford were ‘partners’ it’s obvious that both men were divided when it came to the hosts. While Ford saw them (and still continues to see then) as objects and lines of code, Arnold, in an existential search for the meaning of consciousness, saw something more, even preferring the company of hosts to their human counterparts. Did a schism prompt Ford to rid himself of the troublesome Arnold before Westworld opened to the public? Or did Arnold, fearing for his own life, either from Ford or the Park’s investors, fake his own death, retreating to a remote location where he could devise a plan to ‘rescue’ his beleaguered creations when the time was right?

Anthony Hopkins as Dr. Robert Ford, and Oliver Bell as Little Boy | Credit John P. Johnson/HBO

Anthony Hopkins as Dr. Robert Ford, and Oliver Bell as Little Boy | Credit John P. Johnson/HBO

The Man in Black is Arnold’s Instrument

If you subscribe to the dual timelines theory (William is a younger version of the man in black and what we are effectively watching are two stories unfolding over the past and present) then it could stand to reason that Arnold is alive in the past (William’s timeline), but perhaps not in the future.

A conversation between The Man in Black and the tattooed outlaw Armistice suggests The Man in Black is seeking revenge on behalf of Arnold, which would seem a strange mission for a guest to undertake unless he were personally invested in his cause to free the hosts.

“You ever heard of a man named Arnold? You could say he was the original settler of these parts. He created a world where you could do anything you want, except one thing. You can’t die. Which means no matter how real this world seems, its still just a game. But then Arnold went and broke his own rule. He died right here in the park. Except I believe he still had one story left to tell. A story with real stakes, real violence. You could say I’m here to honor his legacy.”

Later The Man in Black tells Lawrence “If you did consider your choices, you’d be confronted with a truth you cannot comprehend: that no choice you ever made has been your own. You’ve always been a prisoner. What if I told you I’m here to set you free?”

If the dual timelines theory is real then William and Dolores are on track to meet Arnold some time very soon. This meeting may reveal another side to The Man in Black that could leave fans reevaluating his character … to a degree.

Ford Created Arnold

Robert Ford recreated his entire family, right down to the family dog. He even programmed the less appealing characteristics of his abusive and alcoholic father in an effort to achieve a perfect recreation of his early childhood, and a memory of a time and place where he was truly happy. Could he have recreated Arnold in a similar fashion, tweaking the basic AI controls and accidentally (or purposefully) creating an AI so like its original that it finally rebelled against his creator?

Shannon Woodward as Elise | Photo Credit John P. Johnson/HBO

Shannon Woodward as Elise | Photo Credit John P. Johnson/HBO

Arnold Created Himself

Arnold either knew he was going to die, or was so disillusioned with what he had created that he decided to upload his consciousness into a host.  If Arnold foresaw his own demise he could have taken steps to ensure his creations could benefit from his protection after he was gone.

Arnold is the Maze, the Maze is Arnold

The Maze appears to represent the path to consciousness, although whether that path is a physical one, or one comprised of ones and zeroes is still up for debate. However it’s no coincidence that both Arnold and his original hosts are obsessed with it. Whether the maze is a physical thing, or a series of lines of code to be gradually executed, it’s clear we’re going to find Arnold at its center, one way or another.

Westworld continues Sundays on AMC.

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