We're only three episodes into HBO's latest phenomenon Westworld, and fan theories are piling up more quickly than I can keep up with. But, there's one thing we know for sure — nothing at Westworld is at it seems, whether it's the timeline or the fact that (surprise!) not all the park's guests are humans. Speaking of characters who may or may not be human, many viewers have speculated that Bernard is a robot on Westworld.
There have been some intriguing clues about the park's key engineer/head programmer that lend credence to the theory that Bernard is a robot created by the mysterious Dr. Ford. Some of them are offhand comments, the first of which came from Ford himself in the pilot when he told Bernard that he "knows how that head of his works." Could it be because he created Bernard?
Later, Cullen questions Bernard about why Westworld's robots speak to each other. When he explains that it's how they practice exhibiting human characteristics, Cullen asks him if that's what he's doing with her. On its own, this seems like it could be nothing more than a joke (pillow talk is a strange thing in Westworld). However, his facial expression when she turns her head indicates that he's troubled by Cullen's words — possibly because he's begun to have doubts about who (or what) he really is.
Another significant clue emerged in the Oct. 16 episode when Bernard had no idea who Arnold was. As Ford's second-in-command, doesn't it seem odd that he wouldn't know anything about Westworld's cofounder? Again, this indicates that Ford literally knows exactly how Bernard's head works because he controls his knowledge and memory (or lack thereof).
This makes me want to take a closer look at the relationship and interactions between Ford and Bernard. From what we know about Ford, it wouldn't be surprising if he chose to create Westworld's key engineer and head programmer rather than select a human for the job. In case you haven't noticed, Ford is somewhat of a control freak — and what better way to control every aspect of Westworld than to have the power to manipulate the thoughts of the "person" responsible for all programming?
But, it seems possible that Bernard is beginning to realize that he's a robot and that's why he's so interested in Dolores' cognition. When he encourages Dolores to remember her loops, it may be because he wants to help her — or maybe he's simply examining her memories and behaviors in order to determine whether or not he, too, is an android.
The biggest problem with the robot theory is Bernard's backstory, particularly when it comes to the death of his son Charlie. He carries Charlie's photo with him and his emotions surrounding the child's death certainly do seem genuine. But, to counter that point, it's possible that Charlie never even existed. Ford may have created Bernard's family as a backstory in order to prevent him from realizing that he truly is a robot, not a human. Plus, Ford stated in the pilot that humans had evolved to the point where they could no longer die from illness and people on the verge of death could be cured. Flashback sequences indicate Charlie's death was fairly recent, so there's definitely something about that plotline that doesn't add up.
At this point, I'm fairly convinced that Bernard is a robot — but certain viewers have suspected this from episode 1 and the theory has taken off in such a major way that I have to wonder if the clues are a little too obvious, especially for such a complex show. Are showrunners manipulating us to believe that Bernard is a robot? This could be a massive red herring — but, either way, Bernard is a fascinating character who we should keep a close eye on as the season progresses.
Images: John P. Johnson/HBO (3)