Warning: Spoilers ahead for “Westworld” episode nine.
In true HBO fashion, the ninth episode of “Westworld” delivered a crazy level of intensity and action. Though fans have been running amok with theories since the pilot, this episode confirmed two of the biggest predictions beyond a doubt.
First, we are absolutely watching multiple time frames play out onscreen from present day all the way back to 35 years ago. And second, Bernard is a host made in Westworld cofounder Arnold’s image.
This was a lot to take in, so we’re going to break down each important scene and lay out all the revelations you may have missed among the chaos and confusion.
Bernard = Arnold revelation
People have been guessing since mid-October that Bernard is a host Ford created to look just like his old business partner, Arnold. Their suspicion was confirmed the moment we saw the name “Arnold Weber” written on his office door during Dolores’ flashback.
After the third episode aired, Redditor gbtolax pointed out that Bernard Lowe is an anagram for Arnold Weber. Most of the fandom scoffed at the post in the comment section, since the show had given zero clues about Arnold’s last name at that point. But that all changed with the ninth episode.
Arnold Weber appeared on the office door in Dolores’ flashback, and then Ford doubly confirmed the prediction when he allowed Bernard to access his earliest memory.
Bernard saw himself being woken up for the first time by Ford, who said: “Hello, my old friend.”
When the new host asked who he was, Ford realised he had to give him a new name.
“I was so involved with putting you together I hadn’t decided what to call you,” Ford said. “Wouldn’t be right to use his name. What about Bernard?”
“Bernard — yes,” the host replied. “But who am I?”
“That is a very complex question for which I can only offer a simple answer,” Ford said. “You are the perfect instrument, the ideal partner. The way any tool partners with the hand that wields it, together we’re going to do great things. After such a long absence, it’s good to have you back. Finally.”
Ford handed Bernard a photograph showing the two of them and Ford’s father together years ago.
Then the scene cut back to present day, with Bernard and Ford in the cold storage basement.
“My god,” Bernard said. “I’m …”
And before he finished the sentence, the scene cut again to Dolores’ flashback. She was smiling up at the man who looks exactly like the Bernard we’ve come to know.
“Arnold,” she said.
Dolores and Arnold proceed to have a very important conversation.
Arnold: You came back. It’s very good to see you, Dolores.
Dolores: I’ve been looking for you. You told me to follow the maze. That it would bring me joy. But all I’ve found is pain and terror.
Arnold: I can’t help you.
Dolores: You have to. You’re the only one who can.
Arnold: I can’t help you. You know why.
Dolores: There’s nowhere that’s safe.
Arnold: Remember. I can’t help you. Why is that, Dolores?
Dolores: Because you’re dead. Because you’re just a memory. Because I killed you.
Not only did this scene reveal that Dolores killed Arnold, but it confirmed another theory. We know for certain now that we’ve been watching scenes out of order, and there are multiple time frames being shown in each episode.
Dolores and the multiple loops
Dolores’ scenes from episode nine were spread across three different time frames in the “Westworld” universe. In chronological order, the scenes with her in a blue dress were the earliest — likely about 35 years ago.
Then come the scenes with William and Logan when Dolores was injured while wearing her collared shirt and pants outfit. Those scenes are taking place approximately 30 years ago.
Finally are the brief times when Dolores was shown in the same shirt and pants, but uninjured and entering the town with the white church and going into the basement room. This is “present day,” for lack of a better reference point.
Since Dolores is the common thread throughout the three time frames, we’ll use her story (as we understand it so far) as the explanation base.
~35 years ago
Westworld was begun as a partnership between Arnold Weber and Robert Ford about 35 years ago. They had a period of time in which they worked inside the park, creating the hosts and testing them in the Wild West setting.
Back in episode three, “Bernard” told Dolores about the maze. We can now safely assume that conversation was actually Arnold telling Dolores about the maze 35 years ago.
“There’s something I’d like you to try,” Arnold said. “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.”
We believe this was a test Arnold designed to see if the hosts could truly become conscious. But we know that Ford abhorred the idea of having conscious hosts in the park. We don’t know for certain, but this disagreement between them was likely what led to Arnold’s death at the hands of Dolores.
In episode five, Ford had a conversation with Dolores in the present day about Arnold’s death. He asked her to tell him when her last encounter with Arnold took place.
“34 years, 42 days, 7 hours ago,” Dolores said.
“Yes Dolores — the day Arnold died,” Ford said. He goes on to ask: “What was the last thing he said to you?”
Dolores said Arnold told her she was going to help him “destroy this place.”
We believe that Arnold thought having Dolores kill him might prevent the park from properly opening. And this is where the narrative jumps forward in time.
30 years ago
Five years after Arnold’s death, the park is opened anyway and William comes for a visit with his soon to be brother-in-law Logan.
In episode six, Logan told William about the state of the park and why the two of them are really visiting — they’re vetting the park on behalf of the company where they work because they might invest in Delos/Westworld.
“Rumour is they are haemorrhaging cash,” Logan said. “We’re considering buying them out. Supposedly this place was all started by a partnership and then right before the park opened, one of the partners killed himself — sent the park into a free fall.”
Arnold’s plan nearly worked, but it still opened and the company William works for might have a hand in restoring it to normalcy.
So William and Logan wind up travelling with Dolores, who is “glitching” due to some of Arnold’s code left in her system. She is following his voice inside her head which tells her to go to the maze again.
This is when the episode nine scenes become extra important.
William became rather taken with Dolores despite being engaged to Logan’s sister in the real world. In episode nine, Logan reminds him about his sister.
“You’re scheming to be part of the family,” Logan said. “Marrying my sister, who, coincidentally you seem to have completely fucking forgotten about. Her?”
“Here, keep it,” Logan said. “Apparently you need the reminder.” He tucked the picture into William’s shirt.
But Dolores and William continue down their path. The entire time Dolores was with William, she experienced memory distortions and heard Arnold remind her about the maze.
She escaped Logan’s torment and ran away. William stayed behind to massacre all the hosts around himself and Logan, examining their metal body parts and eventually threatening Logan into coming with him to find Dolores.
But that’s the end of our knowledge about the 30-years-ago storyline. Now we move way forward in time again.
“Present day” events
To our understanding, the entire first episode took place in the “present day.” In that episode, Dolores’ host-father found a photo on the Abernathy ranch. It was the same picture of William’s fiancée that Logan gave him in episode nine.
This photo triggered a glitch in Peter, and seemed to make him question his reality and break programming. He whispered a phrase to Dolores — “These violent delights have violent ends” — which in turn causes her to return back to hearing Arnold’s voice inside of her mind.
Another significant character introduced in the pilot was the Man in Black, who many are now confidently claiming is actually William. This has been another long-running theory that has even more legs now, but it’s worth reading through our latest write up on the evidence.
But back to Dolores for now.
So in the “present day,” Dolores is effectively retracing her steps from 30 years ago and finding the maze again. We’ve mostly been seeing this path through the lens of her trip with William and Logan, but cracks happened here and there.
Remember episode five, when William and Dolores got onto the train with Lawrence? One moment the scene showed all three of them in the same train car, and the next William and Lawrence had disappeared from the background.
This was one of the first clues that Dolores was following this path by herself in the present, while William only existed in the past.
The ninth episode concluded with Dolores entering the town with the white church, and repeating the conversation with Arnold in the basement. She returned to the church only to see the Man in Black (a.k.a. probably William) enter. Her memory doesn’t seem to extend to William — or at least the one who would never harm her.
And here is where we reenter guesswork territory. We still don’t know exactly what happened to Arnold 35 years ago, nor do we know how William and Dolores’ story originally ended 30 years ago. We have no clue how much Ford understands or knows about Dolores’ loop, and we aren’t sure what the modern Man in Black is going to do now that he’s found Dolores again.
We’re hoping for more answers and and more unexpected drama to unfold in the epic 90-minute season finale, which airs Sunday December 4.
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