(Warning: this post contains spoilers for all of “Westworld” through the November 27 episode.)
This week gave us an extremely eventful episode of HBO’s “Westworld,” full of revelations and confirmations of long-held fan theories. Among all that was the reveal of what exactly the Maze is.
We’ve seen Ed Harris’ Man in Black search for it high and low all season, but “Westworld” hadn’t deigned to explain what it actually was. The Man in Black didn’t know either, and the fact that he’s a human, rather than one of the robotic hosts, who was obsessed with the concept threw viewers off the scent.
The Maze is, of course, a metaphor. There is no physical maze to be traversed. But the truth of what the Maze actually is and what its point is has finally been revealed. And as the host Angela tells the Man in Black this week, it’s not for humans.
The Maze is in fact a test of sentience for the hosts. The original purpose of the park, at least for Dr. Ford’s (Anthony Hopkins) long-dead partner Arnold, was to create consciousness in the hosts by simulating a reality that involved real people and not just the hosts interacting with each other.
We learn from Dr. Ford that the hosts were able to pass the Turing Test — the traditional measure of artificial intelligence — early on, but apparently that didn’t satisfy Arnold. He wanted more, because consciousness can’t be quantified by a simple question and answer session.
The particulars of the Maze are still unclear, but the hosts successfully remembering their past lives seems to be a key element, as is the personal subconscious narrations that Arnold had programmed into them. At some point, they would be compelled to travel to the remote church we’ve seen numerous times, sit in the confession booth, and be taken to a secret underground room where they would speak with Arnold clandestinely.
All those scenes from throughout the season that we previously believed showed us Delores speaking secretly with Bernard (Geoffrey Wright) actually saw Delores speaking with Arnold — the biggest reveal of the week was that Bernard had been modeled by Ford to look like Arnold.
If the Man in Black is the older version of William (Jimmi Simpson), which has been suggested and discussed at length since William was introduced in the second episode, then this week’s developments would also explain his obsession with it despite being human. We see William passionately arguing with Logan (Ben Barnes) about Delores (Evan Rachel Wood) being different from the other hosts, and he might believe the Maze could, somehow, be his means of proving it.
Bernard, understanding the truth of the Maze and his own likeness finally this week, declared that he would continue Arnold’s work figuring out who the sentient hosts are via the Maze. Though the Maze in the present may be compromised by Ford’s tampering.
See, all the Man in Black’s chatter about the Maze came as he dealt with Angela, a host working in conjunction with an as-yet-unseen character named Wyatt, who is presumably also a host. Wyatt, we were told a couple weeks back, has been introduced to Westworld as part of a new storyline written by Ford. If Ford wrote in the Maze as part of that new story, then he no doubt has some nefarious plan for it, one that would likely attempt to foil what Arnold had been doing in the past.
With one more episode left in the season, it’s a good bet that the full picture of the Maze, past and present, will finally become clear very soon.