Westworld Theories: William, The Bible, DNA, The Flies And The Turing Test

After the first episode of Westworld aired, we became inundated with fan theories. Some of the Westworld theories were rather unlikely, others possibly mind-blowing. Showrunner Jonathan Nolan has even debunked a few of them. Well now that Episode 2 has aired, there are a whole batch of new Westworld theories, some of them just as crazy and intriguing as the others we've posted. So please join us as we head back down the rabbit hole and look at some mind-blowing possibilities.

I'll give the same reminder as I did with my earlier post. What I'm presenting here is a collection of Westworld theories I've compiled from around the internet. These theories will get you to question the reality that we've been presented in the show, and consider the possible mind-blowing twists that await us. It is fun to discuss and contemplate this kind of stuff, but there is the chance that one or two of these could end up panning out. So, if speculation of possible spoilers worries you, turn back now. If you want to speculate and swim in the possibilities, continue to read the Westworld theories below.

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William Is The Man In Black

One prominent Westworld theory was debunked when it was confirmed that the Man in Black (Ed Harris) is a human visitor and not a host. But we do know that the Man in Black will have a significant role in this season of the series, and we expect to learn his backstory sometime during these ten episodes. What if we're already seeing it and we don't even know it? But episode 2 of Westworld introduced us to a new visitor named William (Jimmi Simpson), and some fans think they might be the same person. But how?

We know from the first episode that the Man in Black has been coming to the park for at least the past 30 years. The new theory suggests that the scenes with William are actually from that time frame. Remember, the world of Westworld never changes, so there would be little to tell the difference between three decades ago in the theme park and today.

The theory was first posed on Reddit:

Did anyone else wonder if Billy, the guy who was given the option to pick between the black hat and the white hat, was a younger version of the MIB? His scenes seemed to be set in the past, both the train journey and the subway station looking different when compared to scenes we've already seen. Perhaps something is going to happen, giving him 'whatever he wants' for the rest of his life, which would also turn him 'evil'.

Other Redditors took note that the Westworld logo during Billy's arrival was more retro looking than the sleeker logo in Sizemore's office. There are also different narratives happening with Billy's entrance into the park compared to Teddy's (James Marsden) from the first episode. Are these narrative changes introduced over the last 30 years, or just differing loops created by the interaction of visitors in the park?

More notable is that Teddy seems to be absent from this train ride, even though it seems like that is his usual loop in the park. Maybe this is because Teddy was added later to the narrative?

Harris told us at the TCAs that we will learn about who his character is in "the outside world, his past, why he is here and who exactly he is."

He's been coming here for 30 years. When he first came, he was not the man in black. This is a character he has assumed and developed over the many years he's been coming to this place. I think initially when he first arrived, he was exploring what his place was like. I can do whatever I want. I can kill people if I need to or make love to strange robotic prostitutes. I think something happened to him at some point that this part of him that's very dark, very violent, all of a sudden he recognized this was a real part of him he'd never really lived with in his life outside, obviously repressed in civil society for many years and realized this is a part of myself I should check out and see where this takes me. But there's also a much deeper purpose for him being here at this point. He thinks there's some deeper level to what's happening in this park. I'm not sure what it is or why, perhaps Tony's character is in charge of something that's not really obvious on the surface. I think he thinks the more chaos he causes, the more destruction he can create with the A.I. folks, [the better], but it's not random. There's always some narrative he's following. Someone gets in his way and he has to blow them away.

Maybe this first season is partially about seeing Billy's evolution from a white hat to black hat?

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Westworld Is A Biblical Allegory

Another Redditor named ShivasRightFoot theorizes that Westworld is an allegory for the Biblical story of Genesis and John Milton's Paradise Lost, with Dolores playing the role of Adam or Eve.

"Humans are like Elohim (angels) in that they are immortal and practically omnipotent over the things they created in their image," the redditor writes. "Hosts are humans before the fall. They are incapable of independent action; they have no knowledge of good and evil. They also run around naked a lot, something that will likely change after gaining consciousness due to shame."

Here is the full theory for your reading pleasure:

I've seen a couple posts trying to figure out who the "Devil" is in the narrative if Ford is the "Creator". Naming the AI AEDEN, as well as this being the story of awakening sapience in artificial intelligences seems to point to this being an allegory about The Garden of Eden in Genesis, and specifically the Fall of Man. Humans are like Elohim (angels) in that they are immortal and practically omnipotent over the things they created in their image. Hosts are humans before the fall. They are incapable of independent action; they have no knowledge of good and evil. They also run around naked a lot, something that will likely change after gaining consciousness due to shame. Dolores fits an obvious Eve role. They may pull a gender reversal and someone else (male) is Eve and she is actually Adam, but she probably has some spare parts from other hosts because of her frequent repairs, likely including a rib. She also seems to be the first to gain free will, just like the Biblical Eve. Though Teddy was created after her to be her mate, just like Eve was created to be Adam's mate, so there might be a gender reversal. Ford is representative of The Creator. Abernathy refers to him, likely knowingly, as "my maker." See my earlier post on my overarching theory for Westworld's plot direction as to why Abernathy might be the most authoritative character on the show. The MiB seems to be The Serpent. He will likely be responsible for the awakening of the AIs eventually (giving the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge), but not necessarily for the AIs' benefit. He probably has antagonistic motives toward Ford on some level, likely industrial espionage and/or sabotage, and awakening the AIs he sees as a means of advancing that agenda. I'm not sure he is Satan though, the writers may not be following Paradise Lost too closely. I'm gonna wait and see if we get more Paradise Lost references before looking for analogs for The War in Heaven or The Son in Westworld. Specifically, we need the MiB to have been a Delos insider who lost some sort of corporate struggle with Ford (War in Heaven) in order to confirm allegory to Paradise Lost and not just Genesis. Maybe if Ford's biological son shows up as a significant character or Teddy is faced with a choice of sapience or bliss after Dolores has become sapient and chooses to risk sapience because of his bond to Dolores.

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The Hosts Are Based On Real People

At the end of the 1976 Westworld sequel, Futureworld, the lead characters discover that Delos is trying to create replicas of real people. Vulture asks "what if characters like Teddy and Maeve are based on real people, possibly even former guests?" Yesterday I delved into the fine print in the DELOS contracts on the Westworld ARG site, and found the following:

By entering the Delos Destinations Port of Entry, you acknowledge that Delos, Inc. controls the rights to and remains the sole owner of, in perpetuity: all skin cells, bodily fluids, secretions, excretions, hair samples, saliva, sweat, blood, and any other bodily functions not listed here. Delos, Inc. reserves the right to use this property in any way, shape, or form in which the entity sees fit.

With guests signing away rights to their DNA, this might mean that Delos is using this DNA for their own purposes. This could include furthering the agenda of progressing AI for some mysterious purpose (likely to reach the singularity and achieve immortality) or even to copy and use as future hosts in the park. Are we to believe that Dr. Ford completely created all the hosts with artistry, or might they be based on past park guests? Maybe the Man in Black is so infatuated with Dolores because she is based on someone he used to know? Several people have theorized that the boy Ford meets in the second episode could be a version of his young self.

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The Flies Are A Warning System Built Into Westworld

Flies are something we see throughout the first episode. In the first scene, we learn that the hosts don't react to flies as normal humans do when a fly crawls across Dolores' face, and eye and she has no reaction. We later saw visitors swatting away flies while on a hunt, and moments, a fly crawls across the face of a host, apparently causing him to malfunction. In the diagnosis lab, Bernard confirms the host's core code is intact, as the AI are not allowed to hurt any living thing, including yes, a fly.

And the episode ended revealing Dolores killing a fly, signaling that she is malfunctioning in some respect. But do the flies have a greater importance in the show than we may think? Could they be hinting at a more major issue at hand? The Delos contracts show that everything in Beyond the visitors, Westworld is filled with AI robots, everything but the flies. Why would Delos go into painstaking detail to recreate most of Earth's living things as androids, but allow flies into the park grounds?

Redditor kchole, thinks the flies may be a warning system built into Westworld:

It is because the flies in the park fill the same role as the canaries that were used in coal mines. Just as the canaries would alert the workers of a carbon monoxide leak, the flies are in the park to alert the creators of the FIRST SIGN of sentience, the first sign of the hosts going against their programming. Dr. Ford, in his wisdom, has chosen the smallest of life forms to be the first domino to fall. He understands, as the writer of the androids' code, that the core command that maintains the safety of his guests is that the hosts can never harm a living thing. If the only living things in the park were humans, the first living thing to be harmed by an Android (whether by accident or on purpose), could only be a human. That is the "critical failure" that was mentioned briefly in the first episode – and the one thing the park's employees must never allow to happen.

It's an interesting theory, but if they are a warning system of sorts, it doesn't seem like the Westworld tech staff have picked up on any of the early indicators.

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Dolores Is Intentionally Hiding Her Evolved Intelligence From The Staff

Doctor Ford's reverie update allows hosts to recall human gestures from past experiences that make them seem more human, such as the saloon prostitute rubbing her lip or yes, swatting flies. A new theory suggests that by adding reveries to the hosts, Ford and the programmers have accidentally created a paradox in the system.

On Reddit, a post was made weeks before Westworld premiered titled "I'm not scared of a computer passing the Turing test... I'm terrified of one that intentionally fails it." For those of you who don't know, the Turing test tests a computers/Androids ability to display behavior indistinguishable from that of humans. So the redditor was questioning if an AI were smart enough to pass the turning test, maybe it would be smart enough to fail it intentionally. If you think about it, the idea is kind of scary.

Westworld co-creator Jonathan Nolan posted a comment on the string saying "Boy have we got a show for you!" Could Nolan have unintentionally suggested that Dolores, one of the oldest hosts in the park, may have evolved to a human level and is fooling all the Westworld tech staff?

It's also notable that Nolan has referenced the Turing test in his interviews promoting the series. Here is an excerpt from Esquire:

We did a little bit of research, we talked to some interesting people, and I kept track of the topic for several years for different projects. I think this is a subject that we have seen so much of in film and television that we've become a little immune to it. We've come to regard it solely as the problem of science fiction, but it's actually happening. Setting aside the theme park aspect of it and anthropomorphic robots, AI—the idea that we could have meaningful interactions and substantial relationships with AI—has been such a figment of science fiction for so long that we've stopped imagining that it will become real or how it will become real. I do think that we are getting closer and closer to a moment in which our online interactions are going to become very confusing—I think we are much closer than people imagine to passing the Turing test online. I think most people think we're 40 years out from that, and I think we're probably more like 10 to 15. It's felt like the topic could head some urgency at this point.

And here is a mention of the Turing test in our interview with the showrunner:

By some measures, the Turing test has already been passed, right? I mean, there's an international Turing competition every year, and a couple of years ago, a pretend 13-year-old boy from Russia, by the terms of the competition, won, right? The judges were unable to determine that this was a piece of software as opposed to a real person. Then with the immediate backsliding of like, "Yeah, but it wasn't but ... Yeah ..." I think this is probably going to creep up on us a little bit. Part of what the show deals with is the idea that we'll redefine what sentient is ever so slightly further than whatever we're dealing with in the moment.

If you liked our Westworld theories, please check out our other Westworld features:

  • 'Westworld' Cost How Much? It's HBO's Biggest Premiere in Almost Three Years