We are officially halfway though Westworld’s 10-episode first season and fans have more questions — and theories — than ever. The Man in Black is perhaps one of the HBO series' most mysterious characters (which is really saying something) and he only keeps gaining more layers. Viewers knew that he had a life outside of the park, and after watching the Man in Black meet Ford on Westworld last week, I'm wondering if their connection goes beyond that of creator and guest.
In the Oct. 30 episode, "Contrapasso," Teddy and the Man in Black are joined by Robert Ford for a brief sit-down. Ford and the Man in Black greet each other with familiarity and their joint past is hinted at throughout the conversation. The Man in Black is open about his hunt for the maze and, intriguingly enough, the name Arnold comes up in conversation. “Arnold almost took this place with him. Almost, but not quite, thanks to me,” the Man in Black says, so it seems that they have at least one important person in common.
But who is Arnold to the Man in Black? This isn’t the first time he has uttered the name and we know that Arnold was Ford’s business partner who allegedly committed suicide before the park opened. If the Man in Black has always been a guest, how could he have known about someone who died before Westworld even opened? Here are a few ways this conversation and apparent could be explained as the season continues.
MiB Bailed Westworld Out Financially
OK, to fully understand this theory, you have to support the popular theory that William is the Man in Black 30 years ago. That theory states that William and Dolores’ story is actually playing out about five years after Arnold’s death, and Dolores leaving her loop is part of the upcoming "critical failure" set in motion by Arnold. When Logan and William discuss the partner’s suicide, it could be interpreted as a recent event, as Logan says that the park has been "hemorrhaging money" ever since.
We also know that in addition to working for a company that invests in the park, William is marrying into Logan’s wealthy family, so it's possible that he could use that money to bail Westworld out of its financial troubles. That would explain not only how the Man in Black knows about Arnold when many others don't, but also why Ford knows him and why he gets special treatment as a guest.
MiB Saved Westworld After The Critical Failure
The William theory places the Man in Black in Westworld at the time of the critical failure that's been mentioned before. We know William is connected to Dolores, so maybe he, the future Man in Black, saved Westworld after Dolores nearly destroyed it with Arnold's influence. Perhaps he was a hero at the time, but now, is rethinking his actions. After all, he did tell Ford, “Arnold almost took this place with him. Almost, but not quite, thanks to me.” Maybe William/MiB was able to break Arnold's hold on Dolores and stop the critical failure from getting even worse.
MiB Is Avenging Arnold
When the Man in Black first uttered Arnold’s name, it seemed like he could be avenging him. He said:
“You ever heard of a man named Arnold? … You could say he was the original settler of these parts. He created a world where you could do anything you want, except one thing. You can't die. Which means no matter how real this world seems, it’s still just a game. But then Arnold went and broke his own rule. He died right here in the park. Except I believe he still had one story left to tell. A story with real stakes, real violence. You could say I'm here to honor his legacy."
It's possible that Arnold personally introduced the Man in Black to Westworld and, by extension, Ford.
MiB Is A Board Member/Park Insider
We know that the Man in Black is a VIP guest of some kind, but that may not be because he's a regular. Instead, he could belong to the board, the Delos corporation, or have some other official, important link to the park that grants him his special privileges.
MiB Uses Westworld's Technology
This is sort of a stretch, but we know the Man in Black has an organization that saves lives, as a fellow guest tried to thank him for his work, and we know that he is capable of performing a blood transfusion on the fly. Could the Man in Black use Westworld's advanced technology outside the park to save people's lives? If that's the case, he could partner with Ford professionally, as well as being a guest, because they share technology and research.
Any of these theories could explain how Ford and the Man in Black know each other, but if there's anything we know about Westworld, it's that nothing is ever as it seems. Whenever this mystery is finally solved, the answer may be something we never could have predicted.
Images: John P. Johnson/HBO (5)