Westworld's team of programmers assumed they had a handle on their robots' recent glitch when they rolled back Dr. Ford's "reverie" update and took malfunctioning host Peter Abernathy out of service; but the Westworld premiere ending — and its fly-swatting cliffhanger — indicate otherwise. In this Sunday's episode, "Chestnut," programmer Bernard wondered aloud to the park's architect Dr. Ford whether someone might be sabotaging the hosts, since the photo that Abernathy found couldn't have been enough by itself to trigger his aberrant behavior. But if the robots are being sabotaged, then who's doing the dirty work? Unfortunately, right now the list of suspects is just about as long as the show's list of cast members.
Whoever is responsible seems to have a larger goal in mind than simply making Abernathy have an existential crisis. Elsie raised the concern that the glitch might somehow be contagious… and we immediately saw that she was correct, when Dolores passed on her increasingly self-awareness to Sweetwater madam Maeve. Maeve's awakening seemed to initiate when Dolores repeated the quote her father told her: "These violent delights have violent ends." Did someone program that specific line to be a trigger that causes a host to start accessing their archived memories?
To me, the most likely suspect seems to be the park's architect himself, Dr. Ford. He's the one who implanted the ill-conceived "reveries" in the hosts without consulting his team of programmers, and the end of this week's episode hints that he has grand (and mysterious) plans for the park that he's not sharing with anyone. We know he is frustrated that humanity seems to have reached its evolutionary endpoint, and it wouldn't be surprising to learn that he's trying to push his robots past their safe limits.
Then again, it's precisely due to the fact that Dr. Ford being the culprit wouldn't be surprising that means he probably isn't. Surely the writers have an even bigger twist in mind, right? Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your point of view), there are plenty of other candidates. Could it be narrative director Lee Sizemore, as part of a vendetta against Dr. Ford? Could it be Elsie, who has previously shown an inappropriate level of interest in the hosts? Could it be quality assurance director Theresa, on orders from the shadowy board of directors that runs the park — and who have already been proven to have ulterior motives in their robotic inventions? Could it even be the seemingly innocent Bernard, whose curiosity and attachment to the hosts might have driven him too far?
Pretty much the only Westworld employee I don't suspect right now is head of security Ashley Stubbs; he has already shown himself distrustful of the hosts, so why would he do anything to make them even more dangerous? But everyone else is fair game. I just wonder if the person who is sabotaging the hosts realizes that they're pushing Westworld to the brink of another "critical failure"… or if maybe that's their entire goal.
Images: John P. Johnson/HBO (3)