‘Westworld': OK, Seriously, Is the Man in Black a Host or Not?

“Is this real? Are you real?”

Last Updated: June 18, 2018 @ 3:04 PM

(Major spoiler alert: Please do not read ahead unless you’ve seen Sunday’s episode of “Westworld” Season 2, “Vanishing Point.”)

The penultimate episode of “Westworld”s second season aired Sunday and, of course, that means we have some new questions, one of the biggest being, is the Man in Black a Host?

Now, it’s not like we haven’t asked ourselves this question before. In fact, we’ve probably wondered if every single human character is secretly a host since the very first episode. But as Season 2 of Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy’s HBO sci fi hit approaches its end, the answer when it comes to Ed Harris’ character seems to be turning from a “WTF? Of course he’s not!” to an “Umm…”

This episode, titled “Vanishing Point,” took us into the show’s very recent past for an inside look at an evening with the MIB (aka an older version of Jimmi Simpson’s William) and his family life outside of the park. Set on the night his lovely (but disturbed) wife Juliet, played by Sela Ward, killed herself, we finally find out why she did it.

Juliet and William’s adult daughter, Emily (Katja Herbers), is concerned about her mother — a recovered alcoholic whose behavior becomes embarrassing at a party — and wants to get her back into treatment. Juliet refuses to go, and insists she is fine, placing the blame for her troubles onto William and insisting to their daughter he doesn’t love either of them and never has.

William ignores the remarks and puts his wife to bed. She asks him, “Is this real? Are you real?” after recalling how she fell in love with him because of how different he was from everyone she had ever met. How genuine.

He waits till he thinks she’s asleep before confessing out loud to the darkness inside of him, confirming her fears that he does not belong to Emily and Juliet, but Westworld. “No one else sees it, this thing in me. Even I didn’t see it at first,” he laments. “Then one day, it was there. This stain, invisible to everyone… except you.”

Juliet waits for him to leave before retrieving something he tried to hide while her eyes were shut: an ID card filled with info on him from the park that Ford (Anthony Hopkins) gave him at the party earlier. She opens it up and sees all of his actions inside of Westworld, which drives her to commit suicide.

Back inside the park in the not-so-distant present day, we see William will stop at nothing to continue his Ford-appointed journey to “find the door.” He’s so obsessed with this that he actually shoots Emily, who he is now convinced is Ford speaking to him through a Host, after she tells him she knows about the ID chip, insisting no one but Ford — who gave it to him — could know.

He’s horrified when he walks over to her lifeless body to find that she is clutching the chip in question — the one her mother found the night of her death and hid in a place she knew only Emily would find.

William wanders out to a field in the park, as we hear Harris’ voice say, “What is a person but a collection of choices? Where do those choices come from? Do I have a choice?”

“If you keep pretending, you’re not going to remember who you are,” he hears Juliet say in his mind, as it’s clear he’s questioning his own humanity after what he did to his daughter.

Is it possible the Man in Black is a Host crafted in William’s image? Is the giant game Ford has sent him on to “find the door” a test to see if he can figure it out?

“Were any of these choices ever truly mine to begin with?” he asks, as he begins to cut his own arm open to find out.

The Season 2 finale of “Westworld” airs next Sunday at 9/8 c on HBO.

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