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Well, that put the robotic cat among the robotic pigeons. With a slow-burning finale that built to a bullet-laden climax, Westworld Episode 10, "The Bicameral Mind," sure went out with a bang. A newly freed Dolores Abernathy blew the brains out of her master, then turned her gun to the crowd of unexpecting canapé munchers. Moving forward to Season 2 of #HBO's robotic romp and who knows what could happen, but for the time being it looks like Anthony Hopkins's Dr. Robert Ford has bowed out in style.
Given that a LOT of #Westworld's formative season was guessed ahead of its airing, those tenacious spoiler-hounds think they have already worked out the big Season 2 twist. *Spoiler* it could involve the return of Dr. Ford. With that it mind, let's look at the "Ford" and against arguments for Hannibal Lecter sipping a glass of chianti in Pariah while he waits for Dolores.
Ford Meets His Maker
Biting the bullet - You all saw it, in fact, the whole board saw it. A bullet through the back of the skull and through a champagne flute looks like DEAD certain to kill someone off. Don't expect any miraculous Hannibal (NBC show) survival where Dr. Ford returns missing half a jaw. That was a clean shot and we saw the body drop just off screen!
Nolan Knows - Just as Jonathan Nolan expertly dodged the question of whether any of the humans were robots in Season 1, he has cleverly dived away from Dr. Ford theories. After the finale Nolan said:
“We loved working with him. As for the show, where it goes, the characters — we’ve well established we’re playing in a more advanced ruleset in terms of death and resurrection than other [projects] I’ve worked on. So I would say: Assume nothing.”
Given how many people tuned in each week to see whether someone was actually a robot, one way to get people to tune in in 2018 is to tease that Dr. Ford is still alive. I call a double bluff on this one. Although Nolan won't confirm that Ford really is dead, he did say that Ford's “sacrifice is real" in a Facebook live post.
The final goodbye - Before you call this out as being a reason for Ford being alive, note that there's a section further down with this very point. However, for the sake of arguments, Ford and Bernard had a tear-welling goodbye in the church. As the pair shake hands and Ford wishes Bernarnold goodbye it seemed pretty permanent. Ford even handed over the treasured maze game which had belonged to the real Arnold.
Coming full circle - Not for one second has anyone really questioned whether Arnold is still alive, so why are we questioning if Ford is? It seems like typical Westworld poetry to have the park's two creators blow out in almost identical circumstances. Ford's work with the park was done — he had completed his narrative and he was about to be turfed out. One way to immortalize yourself in Delos legacy is to broadcast your death at a retirement gala, then simultaneously off half the board who gave you the boot.
What was the point of Dolores? - Perhaps the biggest no-no for Ford returning would be the repercussions for Dolores. We spent 10 episodes watching Evan Rachel Wood's character go from happy farm girl to full-blown gunslinger. Dolores finally seemed to break out of her cycle (again) to achieve full consciousness thanks to Ford's narrative. If he is still alive, it kind of defeats the point — it could still serve as a placebo effect, but where would be the good in that? For Dolores to truly thrive, Ford has to stay dead.
The Grey Area
Then there is that awkward middle ground that either completely rules Hopkins's return out, or sticks a big fat Season 2 sticker on it, so let's continue.
What's in a quote? - Ford's epic speech lingered on his quote below:
"Mozart, Beethoven, and Chopin never died. They simply became music."
The speech works either for or against the Creative Director being deceased in three ways:
- The man who was shot is a host
- That after being shot, Ford's subconscious would be uploaded to a host version
- He is dead and would live on through his legacy in the park
It also fits with Nolan's comment of, "Well, that version of Ford is dead,” hmmmm, more food for thought.
Even they don't know - The option is that Nolan and Joy themselves don't know, leaving the door open for a return or a goodbye. The duo have been cagey in their interviews, going so far as to say anyone could come back, or not, for Season 2. This could explain why only Ed Harris has (so far) been signed on for a second run.
It is pretty obvious that the likes of Evan Rachel Wood, Tessa Thompson, and Thandie Newton will return, but HBO is refusing to confirm any of the above. The network could be waiting to broker a deal for and against Ford's revival between Nolan, Joy, and Hopkins. Presumably the creators have an idea in their head, but fate can always intervene — signing on actors two years ahead of schedule is a pretty big commitment.
Ford Is His Maker
Now we get to the real nitty-gritty/tin foil area; what if the park's overlord actually made it out of Season 1's finale alive? Clearly Ford had been planning his big narrative and reveal for a while, so bear with us on this one. Prepare to go back down Westworld's dirty rabbit hole of theories — "oh hey Dolores, what are you doing down here?"
Bot you talkin' bout - Remember that slowly built robot hidden in Ford's field bunker in Episode 7? Looming camera pans seemed to suggest that something would come of it. Initial thoughts were that he could be building a robotic Theresa, but with the good doctor covering up her murder as accident, it looked like Sidse Babett Knudsen really wasn't coming back.
The bunker robot being constructed appeared several more times over the coming weeks, so, coincidence or something more? In a Facebook live stream, one viewer posed the theory that the new build could actually be of Ford. Nolan acknowledged the theory as "interesting," but refused to delve deeper. Check one for robo-Ford!
Shake it off - Westworld spent 10 episodes building up the mystery behind who was and wasn't a robot, making it a high-tech version of "Guess Who." We also saw several appearances from rickety Old Bill the antique robot. Dr. Ford was quick to say that something like a handshake would give away Bill's jittery robotics and how far the modern hosts had come.
That being said, Bernard went 30 years and seven episodes going undetected as an A.I. Are we seeing the infamous handshake back in play again to reveal that Ford's death was actually given to a decoy, or even the wild theory that Ford too was a host all along (it wouldn't be the first time)?
As Bernard and Ford shake hands for the final time, there was a lingering shot of the two holding hands, also, did you notice the weird way Ford held his hand? Then there was the unmistakable (but subtle) nod from Ford to Bernard — almost a "I'll see you again."
Dr. Samurai - We could also still maintain that Ford is dead, but could return in his robotic capacity. The introduction of Shogun World poses a whole "host" of questions for who runs it, how many other parks are there, and where the Ford the theme park is placed. Imagine a series of parks run by robotic Fords who each have their own slice of a world. Admittedly this would involve Ford being controlled by an even higher power, but Anthony Hopkins playing a load of Anthony Hopkinses is a superb idea!
But, enough for now, my head is about to explode from theories, and I don't want to have another vacation down in maintenance. The sad truth is that we, the viewers, won't know until Westworld's second season moseys on into town in 2018. Even then, don't expect a big Ford reveal until some ways in. If they are keeping Anthony Hopkins up their sleeve, it could make a great mid-season reveal where he spins around in an office chair a'la a Bond villain.
One thing is unanimous though, Hopkins's portrayal was equal parts chilling and mesmerizing, while Dr. Ford was one of the show's greatest creations: the wine wasting, tight pant-wearing, poetry-spouting master of Westworld. Tune in next time to find out more!