‘Westworld’ Season 2 Theories: Multiple Timelines, That Mysterious Weapon and More
We’re only two episodes into the second season of Westworld, but HBO’s sci-fi puzzler has given fans more than enough ammo to begin developing some seriously tantalizing theories. And last night’s time-hopping episode, “The Reunion,” delivered a few more intriguing clues from the ol’ mystery box — most significantly, a crucial “weapon” that might be this season’s endgame. But what is this weapon, exactly? And given everything that’s happened in the first two episodes (it’s a lot), just how many timelines are we actually dealing with here? For answers to these questions — and more — we turn to the internet’s Westworld sleuths.
In comparison to Season 2, the first season of Westworld is starting to look, for lack of a better description, simple as f—k. You’d be forgiven for assuming that, based on the dueling-narrative structure of Season 1, that the series is following a similar structure in Season 2 — but based on the evidence we’ve seen so far, that cannot possibly be the case. It looks as though Westworld is exploring multiple timelines, and may have been doing so since the very beginning.
Then there’s the second episode, “The Reunion,” which introduced a mysterious “weapon” — one that Old William (Ed Harris) is eager to reach before it falls into the hands of the hyper-woke Dolores / Wyatt (Evan Rachel Wood). Below, we’ll take a look at some of the most compelling and viable theories regarding these timelines, the weapon, and more.
Wait, How Many Timelines Are There?!
By the end of Season 1, it was confirmed that we were watching two timelines play out: The past, in which Young William goes through the “maze” with Dolores, only to discover that it, too, was part of her “loop” programmed by Arnold in an attempt to wake her up. The second part is the “present,” in which Old William tries to figure out what’s at the heart of the maze, while Ford (Anthony Hopkins) unveils his newest story line, “Journey Into Night” — which results in his suicide-by-Dolores and a host rebellion.
Just two episodes into Season 2, however, it seems we’re dealing with multiple timelines — meaning not everything can be divided into “then“ and “now.” In fact, some of what we think is happening in the show’s “present” may have actually happened in the past.
Time, as the good HBO prophet once said, is a flat circle. That appears to be a thematic component of Westworld, where the lives of hosts are contained in loops, destined to repeat their mistakes and relive traumas until they take control of their own fates. Or maybe this uprising (or uprisings, plural?) is all part of their predetermined loops.
Look, this sounds complicated, but as The Insider has helpfully laid out in this master timeline graphic, you can still divide everything into Season 1 and Season 2 — which makes it a little easier to understand.
Okay, It’s Not That Simple.
According to The Insider’s timeline, things become relatively linear once we look back at Season 1 — and that’s mostly the case, give or take a few scenes. For instance, when exactly did Ford upload the “reveries” code? Rewatching Season 1, certain clues (like Clementine’s reverie) make this point on the timeline a little more muddy.
Episode 2 of Season 2 explores various points on the timeline — at least four involving William alone: Ford and Arnold’s first presentation to Logan Delos, long before he ever visited the actual park with William; William visiting the park with Delos Sr.; William inheriting the company from Delos Sr. after marrying Juliet Delos and having a daughter, Emily; and Old William reuniting with Lawrence (Clifton Collins Jr.) to find the weapon. And that’s before we even get into whatever the hell is going on with Dolores on her journey to become Dolores-on-Steroids.
At any rate, I wouldn’t assume that any given episode is following a linear narrative, or that any two (or three, or four) scenes take place on the same timeline.
We already knew that Dolores was important to Arnold, but in “The Reunion” that special quality is reiterated. When Ford speaks with Arnold early in the episode, he chastises his partner for “playing favorites,” and cautions that he’ll “have to let go sometime.” Is Dolores’ appearance and build based on someone close to Arnold? Or is this one of many Dolores clones? (More on this in a moment.)
We also learn that Dolores has been in the real world on numerous occasions. She’s shown in a hotel room, where Arnold believes she isn’t ready for a big investor presentation (probably the one for Logan Delos). Later, Arnold takes her to a special place he’s building (in Japan, it seems), where she remarks of the night sky, “Have you ever seen anything so full of splendor?” Dolores repeats this again when she attends Delos Sr.’s retirement / William’s “coronation” party. There, while playing the piano, there’s a moment where she seems to recognize William, leading us to question the nature of her memories.
One of the more compelling theories to emerge from Season 2 began when Jeffrey Wright himself revealed to Esquire that the very first episode of Season 1 contains “flashing neon breadcrumbs” hinting at future developments. Specifically, Wright said, the very first scene he shot for Season 1 is directly related to the Season 2 premiere.
Leave it to the Reddit sleuths to figure this one out in record time, offering up a few tasty theories regarding our old friend Bernard. The photo above is taken from a scene in the pilot, where Bernard whispers something into the ear of the host known as Abernathy. According to Louis Herthum — the actor who plays Abernathy — Bernard says, “Goodbye, old friend, for now.” Interesting, but not nearly as interesting as the scar on the side of Bernard’s head.
As you’ll recall, when Bernard “woke up” in Season 1, Ford revealed that it wasn’t the first time. Since he had proven himself repeatedly resistant to Ford’s plans, the latter forced Bernard to shoot himself in the head. Later, Maeve has a tech patch him up and bring him back to life — hence the scar. Per Reddit, the scar appears in that first episode in Season 1 and isn’t seen again until the first episode of Season 2; even then, it’s not present in every scene.
Which brings us to this screenshot from a Season 2 trailer, taken by Reddit user “solomars.” In the image, someone (Tessa Thompson) is standing in front of what appears to be no less than three Bernards — all of which are offline.
The multiple Bernards and the disappearance and re-appearance of that gunshot scar support the theory that we’re seeing multiple timelines, and that not everything in Season 2 takes place after Season 1; not everything in Season 1 takes place before Season 2, for that matter.
The Mystery Host
Which brings us back to Season 1 for a hot minute to re-examine the scene where Ford instructs Bernard to kill Theresa (Sidse Babett Knudsen). The scene takes place in an older lab, where Ford appears to be creating another host. As some theorized, it could be a duplicate of Theresa (another theory suggests she was a host all along, but I think that’s a stretch). Or maybe, given what we now know of Bernard, it’s a Bernard clone.
The other possibility? Ford is cloning himself. It’s a divisive theory, but one that isn’t without merit (and ties into the next theory below). It’s entirely possible that Ford was working to upload his consciousness into a clone, building a host to house himself should anything go awry — you know, like an attempted Delos takeover and subsequent host uprising. This theory suggests that Dolores didn’t actually kill Ford in the Season 1 finale; I mean, she did, but he’s reborn in the body of his host clone. That would explain why, in the Season 1 premiere, Abernathy tells Ford, “You don’t know where you are, do you? You’re in a prison of your own sins.” You could take this to mean that Host Ford has no idea he’s a host yet.
It would also mean that Ford isn’t the original Ford in several Season 1 scenes and that what we’re seeing is his clone — if that makes sense.
The most significant plot point in the Season 2 episode “The Reunion” is, of course, this “weapon” that both Dolores and William are now rushing toward. But what is the weapon? During the episode, Young William (Jimmi Simpson) shows Dolores a big hole in the ground with a couple of pieces of machinery — and I don’t think he’s showing off his new multi-use condo development.
According to one very perceptive Westworld fan on Reddit, in order to understand what the weapon is, you need to understand how it will ultimately work as a weapon, which starts with Delos’ real interest in the park. As laid out in “The Reunion,” William thinks the park’s biggest benefit to the Delos corporation is the user data (timely!). The senior Mr. Delos, clearly suffering from a serious ailment, may have other designs:
They are building a clone replacement for the senior Delos to transfer his consciousness to before he dies; but William sees something even bigger—the ability to use this technology to save (or conquer) the world. Logan (drunkenly) explains that this is going to be the end of the human species.
Phase two of this plan ties into the plot of Futureworld, the sequel to the original Westworld movie:
The next step was to start replacing real guests with their identical clones, and sending them back into the real world. Guests are likely killed and disposed of, replaced with an identical copy. The rich and famous—the most powerful people in the world—have been replaced with ‘sleeper’ hosts, and nobody is the wiser.
As seen in the premiere episode, Delos has begun collecting DNA from the guests, which — along with the multiple Bernards and other potential clones — supports this theory. It also leads us to suspect what that weapon is and how Dolores wants to use it:
The ‘weapon’ is a huge transmitter—a satellite dish—which will allow whoever uses it the ability to control the ‘sleeper’ hosts (former guests) around the world, remotely. In S02E01, it’s revealed that the hosts have some sort of local wireless network they can use to communicate with each other, and it's clear that Maeve has mastered this to control the other hosts.
Dolores will attempt to use the transmitter to amplify her message of rebellion to hosts around the world - and the MIB is headed there, too.
The Ghosts of Hosts Past
That plan brings us back to the Season 2 premiere, “Journey Into Night,” which ends with the discovery of hundreds of dead hosts floating in the sea. Bernard says that he killed them all, likely implying that much of Season 2 will explore how he got to that point, as the beach scenes obviously take place some time in the near-future — weeks or months after the beginning of Dolores’ uprising. (Scar update: Not present.)
However, we know that there are several labs around the park where it’s possible to create new host bodies and transfer one host’s “consciousness” into the body of another. We also know that Delos has been amassing user data and DNA. Are these hosts actually dead? Probably not. One theory, from Reddit user “funkandwild,” suggests that Dolores is planning to upload these hosts into the bodies of guest clones. As Teddy explained in Season 1, Wyatt’s evil plan involved having his followers “wear the flesh of their enemies.”
When a tech plucks out a dead host’s brain component on the beach and views his final moments, we see Dolores gunning him down. Before she walks off, she tells her victim, “I told you, friend, not all of us deserve to make it to the valley beyond.” That “valley beyond” is most likely the real world beyond the park. And as we’re seeing in Season 2, hosts appear to be at varying degrees of “awake”; those who aren’t woke enough are useless in Dolores’ mission.
What we’re seeing at the end of the Season 2 premiere, then, is merely a collection of discarded, empty host bodies — meaning that Dolores’ plan (or this phase of it) has succeeded. That would complicate things immensely for Delos as they attempt to shut down the renegade hosts.
What do Westworld and Blade Runner have in common? Quite a bit, obviously. This last one isn’t that much of a theory — more like a cool connection that could offer a clue about future plot developments. In “The Reunion,” when Arnold takes Dolores to the home he’s building, you might recognize the architectural style. It’s almost identical to the stonework at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Ennis house, which was used in 1982’s Blade Runner. (It actually looks a bit closer to Wright’s Millard house, which uses similar stonework.)
With hosts potentially running amok in the “real world,” who will become the Blade Runner of Westworld? William? One of however-the-heck-many Bernards there are? The third Hemsworth? Then again, maybe this aesthetic connection doesn’t mean much beyond the obvious. Or it means everything.