Westworld Theory: The Man In Black's True Motivations And Backstory

Watching the latest episode of Westworld, I came up with a new theory which may explain the background and motivations behind Ed Harris' The Man in Black. While I don't believe there is enough evidence just yet, I get a sense that the story may be headed in this direction. So grab your white or black hat, and board the train into Sweetwater with me.

Westworld Episode 5 Trailer

The Man in Black Is A Board Member

We know the company that runs the park, DELOS, has secret intentions for Westworld. While we don't know exactly how the park services their needs, we have previously noted that the Westworld contracts contain a clause that gives the company ownership of the DNA of any visitor who enters the park. I have previously theorized that maybe the hosts in Westworld are designed from the DNA of real people. Is it possible that DELOS is using the park to reach the singularity, a point where technology will allow us to live forever? It sure seems so.

So this is what we know about Ed Harris' The Man in Black: He has been coming to the park for at least 30 years, is treated as a VIP and is in search of a mysterious maze hidden within the world. In this week's episode we learned that outside of Westworld, he runs some kind of foundation that saves lives. Showrunner Lisa Joy says that this reveal "is a shift in perspective that might allow us to imagine a different side of his character that he shows the outside world." But who is he in that outside world?

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.

I wonder if the Man in Black is involved in DELOS in some way. Maybe he is a board member or an owner of the company. How is it he knows about Arnold, the co-creator of the park who was vanquished from all the history books. I mean, even high up Westworld staff members like Bernard didn't know about Arnold, so it's not like his involvement in the park is a secret that Westworld fanboys probably have access to.

Is it possible that the Man in Black is involved in DELOS and is searching for a way to prolong life? Maybe he believes that Arnold had the answer and hid it somewhere in this world. Him being on the board could also explain his VIP status and why he seems to be able to get away with a lot more trouble inside the park than most visitors. DELOS and the Westworld staff (outside of Bernard and probably Ford) probably know nothing about the maze supposedly hidden somewhere inside the park.

But why would the Man in Black be so concerned with saving lives and the quest for immortality? Maybe he isn't as interested in immortality but bringing back a loved one who died of a terminal illness. Why does this man run a foundation? What might he be searching for in Westworld? Perhaps is he can find out how to make the hosts sentient, he can bring this loved one back from the dead. Which takes us to the next theory....

westworld photo time square

The Woman In The Photo Is The Man In Black's Dead Wife

In the first episode of Westworld, Peter Abernathy discovered a photo of a young lady standing in front of a 21st-century setting, which appears to be Time Square in New York City. We believe this was what caused this host to malfunction, but Abernathy also had a run-in with the Man in Black, who may have altered his code. Remember, while we are led to believe that the Man in Black rapes Dolores in the barn, we are coming to learn that something else probably happened behind those doors. And whatever happened seems to have led to Dolores' awakening.

But enough about that, what about the photo. Is it just a random picture that was left behind by a past park visitor? I think it will play a much bigger role in this series. Yes, we've theorized that the park is not on Earth, and this photo is the first thing that makes us wonder, what is on the outside of Westworld. But I don't think that is the sole purpose of this photo.

What if this is a photo of the Man in Black's dead wife. And if the Man in Black/William theory pans out (the jury is still out), that would make this woman William's fiancèe and Logan's sister. As for how this photo ended up in the ground, we will probably find out later in the season. Did William drop or bury it in the earlier timeline, or did the Man in Black lose it in his most recent visit?

Again, there isn't enough evidence for this theory yet, but I think it will tie into my theory about the Man in Black's motivations. Now the question becomes, what is Bernard's involvement in all of this? Why is he trying to help Dolores find the maze and "become free?"