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Predicting Westworld: the bots are humans

Predicting Westworld: the bots are humans


I, robot

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Every week, I swing for the fences with one massive theory about the future of Westworld. Am I wrong? Am I right? We probably won’t know for sure for years, so why not enjoy the present?

For weeks, our Westworld predictions have been safe, quite frankly. They’ve been supported by bountiful evidence, and conversations across Reddit and on countless podcasts. Yes, Bernard probably is a robot. The story is almost certainly composed of multiple timelines. And we now know for a fact that the characteristics of at least some of the robots are inspired by real (and dead) human beings.

But what fun is speculation without the occasional long shot prediction? This week, I’m going big with prediction that, if true, will tell reveal how the creators of the show expected to viewers to unravel with its mysteries.

The theory:

Ford is a host, and he is the center of the maze.

The speculation:

I get the sense that “Ford as host” theories has been rumbling beneath the surface for a few weeks. I am, clearly, not alone. In this week’s /r/Westworld episode discussion, Reddit user _cianuro_ describes the theory as such:

I've been entertaining the idea that Ford is the host (that has figured out the maze, built himself a home, and made himself the master). While Arnold is the creator who fell at the hand of his creation — Ford. It would certainly explain why he has a backstory (the house and family) built.

I’ll go a step further and claim the show has already supported this claim. At the center of the theory is Teddy Flood’s explanation of the Maze:

“The Maze is an old Native myth. The Maze itself is the sum of a man’s life. The choices he makes, the dreams he hangs onto. And there at the center there’s a legendary man who had been killed over and over again countless times. But always clawed his way back to life. The man returned for a last time to vanquish all his oppressors in a tireless fury. Built a house and around that house he built a maze so complicated only he could navigate through it. I reckon he’s seen enough fighting.”

The evidence:

There are a number reasons to believe Teddy’s monologue refers to Ford.

First and most importantly, Ford quite literally has a secret house hidden within the park. This clue is so on-the-nose that I almost want to second-guess the theory.

Second, Ford is the only character who can not merely navigate the park, and all of its puzzles, but control it. Entire populations of host freeze, adjust, and submit to his control, often without a word. Every other character has needed tablets to control bots. Maybe it’s easy for Ford to communicate non-verbally with hosts, because he himself is a host.

Third, and I’m being abstract here, Ford is the “center” of the Westworld business. It’s possible the center of the maze and its mystery is a “person” and not a location.

The odds:

50:1. This one is unlikely, but if it is true, I love the larger story it could unravel.

Let’s say Ford was made in Arnold’s image. Eventually Ford gained consciousness, and “vanquished all his [human] oppressors in a tireless fury,” including his creator and every guest in the park. Now here’s where I present the 1,000:1 theory: what if Ford, the new king of an abandoned park, full of slaughtered humans, flipped the script?

What if Ford re-created the park in Arnold’s image, now with an engineering team made entirely of bots. That would certainly achieve the higher form of storytelling — a plot above the sex and violence of the Wild West — that Ford so often praises.

And, okay, while I’m here in rampant speculation town, what if bots went organic because they’re the humans Ford slaughtered. We know in this utopian future all ailments are cured, that practically anybody can be kept alive. So what if we’ve been watching bots rejuvenate or outright create humans?

What I’m getting at is that, at the end of the show, the robots may have been torturing humans all along. And what better way to make us empathic for artificial intelligence than that? That twist, I predict, is at the center of the maze. That’s the secret Ford contains.

Long odds, I know. But what if?

Previously on Predicting Westworld:

Predicting Westworld: you-know-who is actually a bot

Predicting Westworld: where the AI comes from

Predicting Westworld: it’s a memento mori

Predicting Westworld: Dolores’ timeline is in the distant future