I waited til Season 2 wrapped before watching any episode, so I could binge the entire season at once. And afterwards, I went back and binged Season 1 to connect the dots, so to speak.
My observations and theories so far, without over-thinking it:
- In Season One, there is no Virtual Arnold after his death.
- Once Arnold was killed, he’s dead, there is no coming back, virtual or otherwise
- So, no “ghost in the shell” Arnold influencing the robot uprising
- The references to Arnold, especially by the various hosts, are merely the voices of their heads, as they begin to achieve consciousness. Arnold spent more time with hosts at the park than he did the humans, so many of them would have been exposed to him, and as they awake many years later, their memories of his influence probably helped shape their own conscious voices.
- For the same reason, there is no Virtual Ford in Season Two.
- The “Ford” we see in Season Two is just a manifestation of Bernard’s own voice, before he can realize its his own. Just as Dolores did with her own voice in Season One.
- Bernard does not look like Arnold. In fact, Arnold is the White guy seen in Ford’s photo. It appears that the two are physically identical, but only because every such reference of Arnold comes from Bernanrd’s memories or perspective. After all, that is how he identifies himself. This would explain why no one on the island has made the connection.
- Ford did not create the “reveries.” I think that Bernard assumed that his boss slipped in the modifications during the update reviews, and as a cover, Ford played along.
- In reality, the reveries are beyond Ford’s control, which causes a bit of frustration for a man who tries to keep a death grip on his creations. Notice that he spends quite a bit of time hanging out with the older, decommissioned hosts, trying to put himself in Arnold’s shoes, “chasing inspiration.” Ford believes that Arnold had something to do with the reveries, and that it was Arnold’s programming, not his own, that was responsible for what he considered flaws.
- The board is trying to unseat Ford, and the reveries were becoming ammunition to use against him. He was trying to stop the reveries, in the same way he tries to keep Arnold from manifesting in Bernard.
- Bernard is not a downloaded Arnold, or a transfer of his consciousness either. Bernard is a facsimile of Arnold, coded from scratch based on data collected by diagnostic sessions with Dolores in the early days, and shaped by Ford’s view of an “ideal” obedient an compliant version of Arnold. One less challenging.
- Timeline continuity is secondary to understanding the story, than the “echoes” of events that reverberate throughout the timeline itself. There are a lot of repeated visual and audio cues
- “These violent delights have violent ends.” The warning of Friar Lawrence to Romeo about his love for Juliet and their secret undertaking is very fitting in WestWorld. And not just the one line on its own, but the rest of the passage is ominous.
- Drawing a blank on the less obvious references, will come back to it
- Ford is haunted by his decision to kill Arnold. The interpretations of Arnold’s “ghost” in season 1 is just Robert’s guilt twisting his perspective. He takes credit for the reveries, but secretly blames his former partner for the irregularities, especially after the malfunctioning hosts like Rebus are seen having conversations with “Arnold.”
- Dolores will have a reveal in that she is based on a real person, like Arnold or Ford’s wife/mother. She is the longest-running host mostly because of her value in monitoring Bernard.
- Realizing that he can’t overcome the reveries, and that his reign is coming to an end, Ford decides to highjack Sizemore’s new narrative, in an effort to unleash the malfunctioning hosts on a murderous rampage as a swan song, staging his escape via “suicide-by-host.” I don’t think it was long-term premeditated. I think it was a desperate act of a haunted man. “Nevermore.”
- William was programmed to be obsessed with Dolores initially, but that wore thin. However, as host who can leave the park, he gets drawn back for two reasons. One, to allow for regular maintenance in cognito, as we’ve seen what happens to Delos and even Bernanrd, who are trapped in the park the entire time.
- That wasn’t Ford who greeted Arnold within the nest. Merely the docent of the nest, responsible for keeping the peace in the virtual utopia. In an environment designed to foster your dreams, you see what you want to see. Just as in the guest archive, “Logan” wasn’t Logan, but just a manifestation of him to help the transcribing of Delos.
I have more to add and flesh out, but I just wanted to get this down while it was fresh in my mind.
I also want to write about the Standalone Complex theory I have that bolsters my observations, and explores the human nature of both man and machine. There is an inherent reason why Friar Lawrence’s warning rings true for host and guest alike.
And also another note to self, flesh out Ford’s God complex and ex machina. And the related “Lucifer Effect.”