(This article contains some big spoilers for the Season 3 premiere of “Westworld.”)
We’re just one episode in to “Westworld” season 3, and so far it seems like this season might just be pretty straightfoward compared with the incredibly complicated narrative we got in season 2. At least it appears to be. But that certainly doesn’t mean the show is gonna stop being cryptic. Oh no, not at all. And Bernard’s part of the premiere was easily the most myterious of all the new threads we’ve seen thus far.
As we saw at the very end of the Season 2 finale, once Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) got to the mainland, she put herself in another copy of her own body, put one of the Host minds she smuggled out of Westworld in the Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson) body, and put Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) in another copy of his own body.
She told Bernard she wanted him to stick around as a sort of check against herself as she embarked on her quest for world domination. As you may recall, during Season 2 he stood up to her when she wanted to destroy the digital world that so many of the Hosts had escaped to, and later on she realized he was right.
Most of the “Westworld” Season 3 premiere takes place about three months after the massacre at the park, and the Delos cover story fronted by whoever is in Charlotte’s body is that Bernard was responsible for the whole thing. So Bernard is in hiding, working at some kind of big corporate farm trying to stay under the radar.
But something seems pretty different about him this time around. When we first see him he’s still the same sort of awkward and shy guy he’s always been, but after a couple of scenes, we see him in his new home, running diagnostics on himself and demonstrating some kind of split in his personality.
In that scene, Bernard is holding a red button and asking himself questions. He asks the question, presses the button and another Bernard answers. At first, I thought that maybe he had a second host inside him, but both of these personalities refer to the other as Bernard, so it’s probably not that.
Later in the episode, some of his coworkers reveal that they recognize him as the guy responsible for the Westworld massacre, and they try to take him down for reward money from Delos. Since his main personality doesn’t seem to be capable of defending himself, this time when he presses the button, the other Bernard springs into action and beats his attackers unconscious. When he’s done, he hits the button again and returns to normal.
As I see it, there are two possibilities here based on the evidence we get in the premiere. The first is that the button doesn’t actually do anything tangible, but instead serves as a sort of psychological tool. Bernard already demonstrated an ability to trick himself back when he was in Westworld, when he conjured up a hallucination of Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins) to make himself build the Charlotte body for Dolores.
It’s very possible he’s doing the same thing here, using the button as a sort of psychological trigger in the same way he used Ford in Season 2.
This trigger would be, judging by the scenes, a way for Bernard to access his true, objective self. Bernard’s mind is just that, a mind, but he is also basically a computer. As we saw with the Ford hallucinations last time around, there are things that the computer part of him knows that his actual mind is not able to access normally. So this would be a way around that.
The other possibility is that this body has, to some degree, a mind of its own. And thus there are two separate Bernards — one being the mind and one being the body. And there’s evidence that this body is different from the one he had in Westworld. For example, in Season 2, when he would plug into a table for diagnostics, he would plug the cable into his right arm but, in the Season 3 premiere, he plugs into his left arm.
And his apparent paranoia that Dolores has been somehow communicating with him without his conscious mind knowing about it is another bit of evidence for this theory.
But I don’t think we have enough information yet to really know one way or another, and so it’s certainly possible that the answer is something completely different. But for now, I’m not sure what other educated guesses we could make about this.
And on top of all that, after Bernard bails on his new job, he heads out to hire a boat to take him back to Westworld. He’s clearly ready to spring into action, but to what end? What kind of move is he about to make?
Hopefully it’ll all become clear very soon.