Posted on Wednesday, October 19th, 2016 by Peter Sciretta
Westworld is certainly a show that presents the audience with many mysteries and just as many questions, something we’ve come to expect from Bad Robot and Jonathan Nolan. We’re only three episodes into the first season of this HBO series adaptation, and already we’ve seen our fair share of Westworld theories. Some theories question the location and time of this story, while others try to draw connections between the characters. Some of the most exciting theories may already be debunked (or were they?) . And other theories have been directly addressed by the showrunners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy Nolan, who would neither confirm or deny your assumptions.
With a couple of days to digest the third episode, “The Stray,” we have rounded up a new batch of Westworld theories for you to consider. In this edition we ask the big question of “Who is Arnold?” and how will his presence impact the future of this series? Also, where does the Maze lead and how does the constellation of Orion connect with what we know so far about the Westworld backstory? All this and more, after the jump.
Orion Might Be A Clue
The title of the episode “The Stray” comes from the storyline of a stray host had randomly started inscribing a constellation (Orion) and wandered off from his group and looped storyline. What might the constellation of Orion tell us about the story going forward?
/Film reader Gary R mentions that in Greek mythology, Orion was a hunter who was killed by Artemis and placed among the stars as the constellation of Orion by Zeus. The giant was born a twin, alongside Apollo, on an island called Delos. As you might remember, the company that runs Westworld is named Delos. Also, a NASA mission to Mars planned for the 2030’s, which has been in development since 2011, is called Orion. Is this just a coincidence or does this further substantiate the previous theory that Westworld is on another planet, like Mars?
Who Is Arnold?
The biggest new mystery introduced in “The Stray” is Arnold.
The hosts who are going off script are talking an imaginary man named Arnold. Later in the episode, Doctor Ford (Anthony Hopkins) finally tells his protege Bernard Lowe (Jeffrey Wright) about Arnold, who co-founded Westworld but was removed from the history books. It was explained that at first they were developing the technology for Westworld without any board meetings or oversight, something Ford describes as glorious years of “pure creation.”
Short aside: This exact wording was used in Jonathan Nolan’s brother Christopher Nolan’s 2010 film Inception, employed by Ellen Page’s character Ariadne. It’s interesting that this exact phrase is used again in another Nolan project. It’s worth noting that while Jonathan doesn’t have a screenwriting credit on Inception, it’s possible he did an uncredited polish for his brother, and it’s not uncommon for writers to unconsciously reuse bits of dialogue in their projects. Or, it could just be a coincidence. Moving on…
Arnold wasn’t interested in the appearance of intellect or wit — he wanted the real thing, he wanted to create consciousness,” allowing hosts to hear their own programming as inner monologue (i.e., the bicameral mind). According to Ford, you don’t want the hosts conscious in this kind of environment. The “only vestiges that remain” of his theory around “boot-strapping” consciousness are “the voice commands” the programmers use to control the A.I. And we’re to assume that the recent glitches in hosts may be signs of Arnold’s old code resurfacing.
Will Arnold Show Up In Westworld?
Could we expect to see someday Arnold show up in Westworld? Ford says he died in the park, his “search for consciousness consuming him totally.” How did he die? We’re not told; Ford only says that “we called it an accident, but I knew Arnold, he was very, very careful.” Can we trust Doctor Ford’s story? Is Arnold dead? Ford may not be telling the truth, or at very least, not the full truth (remember, Ford says earlier in the episode that “a fiction that, like all great stories, is rooted in truth.”).
Will we see Arnold again in Westworld, in any form? Jonathan Nolan was asked this question directly by EW, and the showrunner bluntly responded that “I think that’s unlikely.” While he says so dismissingly, he doesn’t outright say it won’t happen.
The Maze The Key To Consciousness
The maze image in Westworld is a riff on the O’odham myth of the “Man in the Maze.” As PetrusDran points out on Reddit, anyone who lives in the Southwest would recognize the image immediately as its on a lot of products in the area of the country, including belt buckles. Did anyone else notice Ford’s rather extensive collection of miniature Hopi kachina dolls in “The Stray?”
According to Wikipedia, “I?itoi or I?ithi is, in the cosmology of the O’odham peoples, the mischievous creator god who resides in a cave below the peak of Baboquivari Mountain, a sacred place within the territory of the Tohono O’odham Nation.” Some fans have noticed the similarity to the Mesa Gold, Delos’ behind the scenes facilities in Westworld.
The Man in the Maze motif appears frequently in contemporary crafts and art of the American Southwest, most prominently by Tohono O’odham silversmiths in rings and other jewelry and by Akinel O’odham artisans in baskets. Among these groups, the pattern has been very popular since the 1900s. Every basket pattern has a “mistake,” called a dau (“door”), which is intentionally integrated into its design so that the spirit of the basket can be released.
Sourhero points out that Lowe’s conversation with Dolores in “The Stray” focuses on mistakes which he might see as being a door to release the spirit of Dolores. Remember, she even says, “I think when I discover who I am, I’ll be free.” This fan theory suggests that the Maze was created by Arnold “who hoped to reach actual consciousness with the hosts hoping that one day a mistake would let them find the door.” This would explain why the little girl tells the Man in Black, “The Maze isn’t for you,” because he is not a host.
On the next page, we take a look at a bunch of theories about Arnold’s role in the future of Westworld.