8:18pm PT by Kevin P. Sullivan
'Westworld': How That Shocking Return Opens the Door for Even More Questions
[This story contains spoilers through season two, episode six of HBO's Westworld, "Phase Space."]
Bernard's (Jeffrey Wright) magical, mystical and occasionally confusing journey through the post-Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins) era of Westworld bore some fruit during Sunday's sixth episode of season two, "Phase Space," as it turns out that we're not in the post-Robert Ford era at all.
We should clarify since there's enough confusion about timelines in this season already.
In the immediate aftermath of the host uprising, Bernard and Elsie (Shannon Woodward) have teamed to find out exactly what happened to the park's attractions that allowed them to gun down guests and diverge from their paths. This road trip previously took them to the secret cave lab, where Bernard found the red ball that launched a million fan theories (more on that in a second) — oh, and remembered his part in the massacre that occurred there.
Hopping onto a control terminal with access to the park's many systems, Elsie gets a better idea of what's working and what's not. She's also able to see the attempts being made by others to undo the changes to the host code and the commands from the park's central nervous system — the Cradle — overriding those commands in real time and even improvising. Bernard informs her that to issue those kinds of orders, whoever is doing this would have to physically be at the Cradle itself, so it's off to Westworld's server farm.
Descending into the Cradle, the "hive mind" where all of the host data is stored, viewers were treated to more Bernard flashbacks. He tells Elsie that he previously brought "something or someone" there. Considering that the red ball came from the lab where Delos had been trying for decades to re-create its founder to varying degrees of failure, it's most likely that Bernard brought both a someone and a something here in the form of the red ball, which no doubt contained a stored consciousness.
When Elsie is unable to figure out what's happening with the code, Bernard tells her he's going into the Cradle itself — after a quick and very painful brain surgery.
Bernard learns that entering the Cradle is very much like entering Westworld, except with a slightly different aspect ratio. What he's experiencing here is the raw code of what each host in the park is supposed to do, and we get the bonus of seeing Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) before she became Wyatt and Teddy (James Marsden) before he became Mean Teddy.
One note about the widescreen aspect ratio as seen in the Cradle sequence: It also appears during the opening moments of the episode, when Dolores turns the tables on Bernard during their conversation, freezing all of his motor functions and questioning his wording. When this takes place is a mystery, but the visual connection with the Cradle scenes is intriguing.
The reason that Bernard is so eager to get his brains scooped out is because he (correctly) surmises that whomever's consciousness was contained within the red ball would be somewhere in the virtual Westworld of the Cradle, and the Reddit theorists around the world breathed a sigh of relief. Finally, after two whole weeks, they would know.
The first clue comes in the form of Jock. The doomed greyhound that viewers originally heard about when we first met the little boy Ford in season one runs into the saloon, and Bernard follows. And there, at the piano, is Robert Ford — or at least, the reflection of him.
So, did you correctly guess that Ford had copied his own consciousness into that red ball? If so, well done! Go get yourself a cookie.
While Ford's presence has certainly been felt in the park after his physical departure — specifically in the game left behind for William — having the man himself back in most of his former glory is nothing short of a massive game changer.
With Ford embedded within the Cradle, he could potentially still hold all of the strings when it comes to the hosts. The main question that remains is exactly how many of those strings did Ford cut when he set the hosts free? With some version of Ford still with us, we have a very real chance of finding out exactly what happened when that bullet flew through his head and what it means for the hosts going forward.
What did you think of "Phase Space"? Sound off in the comments section below and keep checking THR.com/Westworld for more.