What's Inside The Maze On 'Westworld'? The Man In Black Is Looking For Something Deeper
On the surface, the futuristic amusement park Westworld is simply that: a park where high-paying guests can go and interact with lifelike robots in a Wild West setting for their own personal amusement. But viewers of HBO's new high-concept drama are starting to get hints that there is more to Westworld than meets the eye. At the end of the series premiere, the mysterious guest known only as the Man in Black (Ed Harris) brutally scalped a robot host and uncovered a strange symbol etched under the man's skin. In this Sunday's episode, "Chestnut," we learned that the Man in Black believes this symbol is a map to a maze hidden within the park. But exactly is waiting at the center of this maze?
We know very little about the Man in Black so far other than that he's apparently been coming to the park for 30 years… which is also the exact amount of time since the park's last "critical failure." (Coincidence? I think not.) It's unclear how exactly the Man in Black learned about the existence of this maze — or if it's even real and not just a figment of the imagination of a man bored by witnessing the same narrative loops repeating over and over for several decades — but clearly he thinks that whatever lies within it is the real key to Westworld.
It's also unclear whether the maze is a literal one — a physical construct lurking somewhere within the expansive park — or if it's merely a metaphor for finding the Easter Eggs (like the scalp symbol) that will lead you to some hidden truth or prize that most guests never uncover. But it certainly seems like the Man in Black is onto something, since the same symbol he discovered during the premiere also pops up in a couple of different contexts in the show's official trailer:
So what does it mean? One possibility is that the Man in Black's quest is actually a quest for vengeance, tied directly to his personal history at Westworld. If it turns out to be true that he was present during whatever the "critical failure" was 30 years ago, then perhaps he lost someone close to him — his family or his best friend — and believes that the maze will lead him to the park's architect, Dr. Ford (Anthony Hopkins), whereupon he can finally get his revenge for his loved one's death.
But the Man in Black isn't the only who has hinted that there are other purposes to Westworld beyond the amusement of rich sociopaths. In the premiere, the park's narrative director Lee Sizemore hinted to its operations manager Theresa Cullen that he knew the Delos Corporation (which owns Westworld) has interest in the park's advanced robotic technology other than simple entertainment. It's still unclear what that interest is, exactly — military? medical? — but one theory holds that the lifelike androids are the key to eternal life. If you could upload your consciousness into one of Dr. Ford's mechanical creations, then you would essentially never die.
So perhaps the Man in Black's quest for a deeper level within the park is connected to the deeper level hinted at behind-the-scenes. Maybe the first person to uncover all of Westworld's secrets and reach the center of the "maze" (literally or figuratively) is the first person who will be granted immortality. That certainly would be the ultimate prize.
Images: John P. Johnson/HBO