9:00am PT by Josh Wigler
'Westworld': 7 Predictions for the Season Finale
[Warning: This story contains spoilers through episode nine of HBO's Westworld.]
Over the course of nine twisting and turning episodes, Westworld viewers have learned to take the show's advice and question the nature of its reality. Much as the enigmatic Man in Black (Ed Harris) searches for the equally mysterious "maze," the show's fans study each and every picture frame, company logo and costume change for clues about where the story is going.
But the guessing game's about to come to a close — or, at least, it's about to cease motor functions for a good little while.
The first season finale of Westworld airs on HBO this Sunday, and while the show has been renewed for a second season, it's not expected to return for at least another year, likely not until 2018. With only one episode left before Westworld hangs up its pistols for the foreseeable future, here are seven of our predictions for what we'll see in the finale.
1. William Is the Man in Black
Easy enough, right? Fans have tracked this theory from the moment William (Jimmi Simpson) first arrived onscreen. For newcomers to the theory, here's the short version: William and Logan's (Ben Barnes) story takes place 30 years earlier than most of the main events, and what we're watching is William's transformation from Westworld cynic to Westworld fanatic, thanks largely to his feelings for Dolores. William's violent actions in recent episodes certainly align with the Man in Black as we know him, and other easy-to-miss details (such as the photo of Logan's sister, previously seen by Dolores' father in the series premiere; or the fact that the Westworld logo is different in William's scenes than it is virtually everywhere else in the series) only fuel the theory's fires further.
2. Elsie Is Alive
Elsie (Shannon Woodward) went missing back in episode seven, the same hour that revealed Bernard Lowe (Jeffrey Wright) as a host. Since then, Bernard has experienced visions of choking Elsie. Some viewers take this as confirmation of Elsie's death. But until we see that body drop, don't rule anything out. Some believe she was taken hostage by Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins), either to utilize her services toward his nebulous "new narrative," or because she's an important person to someone Ford wants to impact… like the Man in Black, possibly. We know he has an estranged relationship with his daughter. What if that daughter is Elsie? Other possibilities exist, but odds of an Elsie comeback in the finale are decently high.
3. Wyatt Approaches
The only entity more shrouded in mystery than Arnold is Wyatt, the boogeyman at the heart of Ford's new narrative. Countless theories surround Wyatt's true identity. Is it Teddy Flood (James Marsden), more of a malevolent force than he realizes? Is it Arnold, who returned from self-imposed exile with "strange ideas" and decided to kill the hosts, and die as well in the process? Is it Dolores, driven mad by the discovery of consciousness, or perhaps ordered by Arnold to commit the killings? The best stories are rooted in truth, according to Ford, and it's a sure bet the truth about Wyatt will come out in the finale.
4. Bernard (and Arnold) Will Return
Much like the Cylons on Battlestar Galactica, it's worth remembering that the hosts live, die and repeat the process over and over again on Westworld. With that in mind, expect Bernard's suicide to stick for only so long. There's no way Jeffrey Wright's days on the show are behind him, certainly not after the penultimate episode's Arnold reveal. The finale trailer places Maeve (Thandie Newton) near Bernard's body; nothing that Felix (Leonardo Nam) and Sylvester (Ptolemy Slocum) can't fix right up. If and when Bernard comes back, expect him to come packing at least a few Arnold answers, too. Perhaps Bernard and Arnold are both truly dead, and we're about to enter the age of Bernardold.
5. Maeve Won't Escape
Maeve is smarter than virtually everybody and everything around her, thanks to some recent upgrades. She's certainly smarter than this writer, who spent a decent amount of time reacting to this past episode wondering why the heck Maeve would burn herself alive given the pain and recovery time, and only after speaking with others realized she's aiming for an extensive body overhaul in order to resume the bomb in her spine. See? She's smart! But not smart enough to break free from her so-called "hell," and that's because Maeve's awakening is by someone more powerful's dark design.
6. Ford Will Win
Robert Ford never walks into a room without a clean way out. Every time he appears cornered, Ford's escape route is just a King Lear line read away. It's possible that we're witnessing the end of the Mad King of Westworld's reign. But given that he's been ahead of literally every character on the show so far, Ford's continued success looks like the surer bet. It's a decent bet that he's responsible for even Maeve's awakening, too, which would be a stunning testament to his power. As much as it would hurt to see more misery for the good-hearted heroes of the show, Ford's win at least would mean another season for Anthony Hopkins. There's always a silver lining.
7. Westworld Isn't on Earth
Okay, not really. But this is the spot where we we fasten on our tinfoil safety belts and consider the possibility that Westworld is packing a massive left turn in its season finale. While many fans cracked some of the show's mysteries along the way (such as the two Bernard twists and, potentially, the Man in Black's identity), it's highly likely that the finale will feature some twist that even the savviest Westworld theorist won't see coming. Does Westworld exist on a different planet, because humans ravaged Earth? Is Ford planning to raze Westworld so he can replace it with Roman World, or some other theme park, drastically reinventing the show for season two? Will Dolores and Maeve and the others break free and take the show into the wider world? Whatever form it takes, don't sit down for the finale on Sunday night without first getting prepared for a gut punch.
Follow THR's Westworld coverage for more theories, interviews and news.