Just like the many levels of the Westworld operational complex, we're starting to learn that there are layers upon layers to the mythology of the park — and its architects and their robotic creations — that we're only just now starting to glimpse three episodes into HBO's new series Westworld . We've heard a few unexplained references to someone named Arnold, and in the Sept. 16 episode we finally learned the truth about who Arnold is on Westworld … although what we learned isn't necessarily the whole truth.
Bernard went to Dr. Ford to voice his continued concern that they hadn't actually fixed the cause of the glitch displayed by Peter Abernathy and other hosts in the series premiere, but rather just the symptoms. He was particularly troubled by the fact that the hosts most affected by the glitched seemed to have been carrying on conversations with an imaginary person named Arnold. Well, it turns out that not only is Arnold actually a very real person, but in fact he was one of Westworld's original founders alongside Dr. Ford.
For three years before the park opened, Ford and Arnold (along with a team of engineers) lived alone in Westworld, perfecting the hosts. Although they quickly passed the Turing test, Arnold apparently wasn't satisfied. He wanted more than the appearance of consciousness; he wanted the robots to be conscious.
Arnold based his code for consciousness on four things: memory, improvisation, self-interest, and something called the Bicameral theory — the idea that primitive humans used to think their own thoughts were the voices of the gods speaking to them. Arnold wanted to use the Bicameral theory to make the hosts hear his programming as a constant inner monologue… but instead it drove them crazy. Arnold's code was supposedly wiped from their drives, but apparently the glitch allowed a few hosts access to this early code — hence their conversations with "Arnold."
According to Dr. Ford, when Arnold's efforts failed, he retreated further and further into seclusion, interacting only with robots until he died mysteriously. Officially Arnold's death was labeled an accident, but Ford insists otherwise — although he declines to elaborate on the man's actual cause of death.
Surely that's not all there is to the story. You don't bring up a partner who passed away under suspicious circumstances unless said partner is going to eventually turn up alive, either because Arnold never died after all… or because he was successful in creating full consciousness, and uploaded his own into a robotic body before he passed. Whatever the case may be, you can be sure this isn't the last we'll hear of Arnold on Westworld.
Images: John P. Johnson/HBO (2)