Like all good sci-fi series, there has been a robust discussion online ever since the premiere of Westworld on Oct. 2, as fans come up with their first theories and look for potential faults in its universe. This is particularly impressive considering the fact that only one episode of Westworld has aired on HBO so far. That’s apparently all it took for fans to excitedly discuss where the show could be heading. Unsurprisingly, much of that discussion has centered on one character in particular, with Westworld theories about the Man in Black flooding the internet.
Played by Ed Harris, the Man in Black had a shocking introduction in the series' first episode, "The Original." To understand the Man in Black is to understand Westworld, which is also something fans are scrambling to do after a single episode. All we really know so far is that it is a Wild West theme park of sorts where customers can indulge in their wildest — and most violent — fantasies. This artificial world is populated with artificial life, who play out the same roles every day, unless their "loops" are interrupted by the guests visiting the park. Guests can have sex with the robots, kill bandits, or simply go on adventures with the androids. But, one guest, the Man in Black, brutally murders, rapes, and scalps them in the pilot as he seemingly begins some sort of twisted mission, leading fans to wonder about his motivations.
Is the Man in Black just plain evil? Is he really human? Does his behavior have an origin story? We don't have any of those answers yet, but these Westworld theories may point us in the right direction as the first season reveals more about this villain.
He Was Present At The Last Critical Failure
The Man in Black revealed that he has been a customer of Westworld for 30 years, and someone else happened to mention that the last "critical failure" in the park happened 30 years ago. Many fans picked up on this timeline connection and no one seems to believe that it is a simple coincidence.
His Attack On Dolores Wasn't What It Seemed
The Huffington Post's Bill Bradley posited that perhaps when the audience was lead to believe that the Man in Black raped Dolores in the barn, he was actually reprogramming her — which is why she killed that fly at the end of the episode. Maybe the Man in Black is trying to turn the robots against their creators. (Side note: Why would scientists include flies in this manufactured reality? They don’t need to be there, people)
The Man In Black Is A Robot Too
This theory is all over the Internet, as Business Insider pointed out, and I know what you’re thinking, "If he's a robot, why didn't the bullets from Teddy’s gun kill him?" My personal theory is that if he is a robot, he knows he can’t really die anyway, so he has evolved to ignore being shot at. Or he could be designed to withstand bullets too, tricking the guests into thinking he is one of them.
The theory does hold some water when you consider the events of the original Westworld film, where Gunslinger, a robot very similar to the Man in Black, realizes his world is not real and begins killing people, as the Huffington Post pointed out. But, of course, the Man in Black could simply be a guest as he first appears to be, especially since a video released by HBO does describe him as a human.
He Is Avenging Someone
Redditor The_Telltale_Fart (great name ,by the way) posed the theory that the Man in Black lost someone he cares about in that last "critical failure" and is now out for revenge.
The Man In Black & Dolores Have History
I wonder, drawing from the Reddit theory above, if the Man in Black has been spurned by Dolores and is now looking for his own deranged version of revenge. Maybe on one of his first visits 30 years ago he believed they were in love, and the critical failure gave her a new loop or made something else happen between them that has driven him to go after her and her family this way. The Man in Black may be carrying the violent baggage of something that Dolores doesn't remember.
The Man In Black Is A Disgruntled Employee
The_Telltale_Fart (seriously, how am I typing that name again?) also noted that the Man in Black could be a disgruntled employee of Westworld. However, this theory is weakened when you remember that an employee would be recognizable to the other people working behind the scenes of the theme park.
The Man In Black Is A Disgruntled VIP
When a user visits the website affiliated with the TV series, DiscoverWestworld.com, he or she can act as a prospective “newcomer” or visitor and ask a bot questions about the park. I asked the bot, named Aeden, “Who is the Man in Black?” and it responded:
“I’m sorry, per the Westworld confidentiality policy, we cannot disclose personal information about any of our guests … Just between you and me, though, the Man in Black is something of a VIP. What else would you like to know about the park?”
Intriguing. If Aeden is right, the Man in Black is a human who has reached some sort of elite status within the artificial world. But we’ll have to keep watching Westworld to find out why and how he developed this murderous God complex and what exactly his endgame is.
Images: John P. Johnson/HBO (4), HBO; Giphy (3)