Warning: Spoilers ahead for “Westworld,” including speculation of future events.
Episode seven of “Westworld” confirmed a longtime fan theory in a devastating way — not only did we learn that Bernard is a host, but he murdered Theresa Cullen in the same gut-wrenching scene.
As the episode ended, fans were left to mull over what the implications of this were for all the past scenes involving Bernard. What’s up with his private conversations with Dolores? Why would Ford have made him in the first place? Why give Bernard the programmed backstory of a dead child and estranged wife?
That’s where the second part to the “Bernard is a host” theory comes in. Many believe that Bernard is a host-version of Arnold.
For several weeks now, fans have been speculating online about the apparent connection between Bernard and Arnold. Our colleague at Business Insider, Chris Snyder, made a video compiling some of the key evidence in the theory so far.
Let’s walk through the theory piece by piece and break it down even further.
What we know about Arnold
Arnold was Ford’s original Westworld business partner. According to Ford, his life was marked by tragedy and he became attached to the hosts. Arnold was consumed by the desire to make the hosts truly conscious, and mysteriously died as a result of this obsession.
Then there’s the maze.
Different characters keep mentioning a maze that was allegedly created by Arnold. The Man in Black has told Armistice and Ford that the maze is the deepest level to the game of Westworld and it was created by Arnold. Though we’re not sure what exactly the maze is (or where it is), so far we’re convinced that Arnold was its maker.
According to multiple characters, Arnold died around 35 years prior to the present day in the show. He likely committed suicide somehow inside the park.
We know that before he died, Arnold built and programmed several hosts that are still being used in the Westworld park. Dolores Abernathy is the main one we know of, so far. She has been hearing Arnold’s voice inside her head as he guides her towards the maze.
What all this has to do with Bernard
So. We know that Bernard is a host, created by Ford. But we do not know how long ago Ford made Bernard, nor do we know why. But we can do some speculating based on dialogue and scenes from the first seven episodes.
Bernard shares a lot of personality traits in common with Arnold (at least the ones told to us by Ford). He seems to empathise with hosts more than humans, and he is Ford’s right-hand man when it comes to coding and creating the hosts.
Ford gave Bernard backstory that included a son named Charlie who died in a hospital at a young age. What if Arnold really did have a young son who died — causing Ford to describe Arnold’s life as “marked by tragedy.”
This would explain the hyper-specific choice Ford made when designing Bernard. He gave Bernard all of Arnold’s personality and real life history.
Then there’s the photograph. Back in episode three the audience first learned about Arnold through a conversation Bernard had with Ford in his office.
As Ford explained who Arnold was, he handed Bernard a photograph.
We saw the picture from Bernard’s point of the view for the first time, and assumed we were looking at a younger Ford (on the left) and Arnold (right).
But in episode six, Bernard found the unregistered cabin full of hosts designed to look like Ford’s family. And we learned that the man in the photograph was actually Ford’s father.
We know that hosts can be programmed to literally not see something that is right in front of them, especially if it would cause them to question the nature of their reality. Which means the photograph of “Arnold” may have been shown to the audience as a misdirect. What if Bernard was really looking at a picture of himself, but his vision automatically obscured it?
There’s also a partially unsubstantiated section of the theory that comes from Bernard and Arnold’s names: Redditor gbtolax realised that “Bernard Lowe” is an anagram for “Arnold Weber.”
Neat right? Except we don’t know Arnold’s full name, so “Weber” is just a shot in the dark based on the remaining letters from Bernard Lowe. But we should all keep a keen ear out for mention of “Weber” just in case.
Dolores, Arnold, and Bernard
The biggest kicker of this theory comes from all the one-on-one conversations Bernard has been having with Dolores.
What if those scenes were actually showing us the past, with a human Arnold?
Vanity Fair’s Joanna Robinson introduced this idea after episode five aired. A lot of fans believe there are two time frames being shown — the Man in Black and Ford in the “present,” with William and Dolores in the “past.”
But Robinson suggested that there might actually be THREE time frames:
1) Arnold (human) and Dolores talking in private (~35 years ago)
2) Dolores and William in the park (~30 years ago)
3) Ford and the Man in Black (present)
For now we won’t get into the implications of Dolores and William existing in a different time frame from the Man in Black, but instead focus on the potential human Arnold scenes.
If these private conversations were actually Arnold speaking to Dolores shortly after he first made her 35 years ago, it would explain why “Bernard” seemed to know about the maze.
“There’s something I’d like you to try,” he said to Dolores. “It’s a game … a secret. It’s called the maze. It’s a very special kind of game, Dolores. The goal is to find the center of it. If you can do that, then maybe you can be free.”
What if this was actually Arnold telling Dolores about the maze for the first time? This would also explain why the voice that speaks inside Dolores’s head sometimes sounds like Bernard. She’s recalling previous conversations she had with human Arnold.
Where the story goes from here
If Bernard is really a host designed to behave and act like Arnold, then we are left with more questions than ever. The one thing “Westworld” constantly delivers is the subversion of assumption and reality. Even if we think we know where the story is headed, odds are showrunners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy will surprise us.
Plus there’s the simple fact that everything we think we know can be flipped at any moment. Can we trust anything Ford has said, including details about Arnold? Can we trust anything Bernard did or said in the past episodes, since we now know that his point-of-view is unreliable?
The final three episodes of “Westworld” have a lot of mysteries to wrap up, but right now, our money is on Bernard/Arnold (Bernarnold?) being one and the same. Tune into the eighth episode on HBO at 9 p.m. EST to see if more breadcrumbs are dropped for us to follow.
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