Westworld Recap Season 1 Episode 8

Westworld Recap: Did We Just Learn Who the Man In Black Really Is?

Need to catch up? Check out last week’s Westworld recap here.

Did Westworld just all but say it flat-out? Do we have confirmation that William and the Man in Black are the same person shown at two different points in his life?

The long-held fan theory certainly seemed to edge closer to canon in this week’s episode, “Trace Decay,” when Ed Harris’ grizzled Man in Black recognized a blond female host left at the scene of an attack by Wyatt’s men. And savvy viewers also should have recognized the woman… as the same one who greeted William when he first arrived at the park.

“It’s you,” MIB says to the host, who has traded her sleek white minidress for Western garb. “I figured they retired you. I guess Ford never likes to waste a pretty face.”

That’s the most we get, and I’ll be the first to admit that it’s possible the sci-fi drama — which can be twistier than that other outlaw lady’s snake tattoo — is coaxing us into believing one thing so it can suckerpunch us with another. But given the other stuff MIB says about his life, it’s not that tough to imagine idealistic and hopeful young Billy morphing into this empty, evil individual… is it?

Read on for some more highlights from the episode.

OH NO, ELSIE! | Ford has Bernard wipe all evidence of what he did to Theresa; in exchange, the park’s creator promises to wipe the host’s memories of killing his lover. In fact, he’ll wipe any memory that they hooked up at all. “When you look back, you will remember Theresa with the fondness of a respected colleague,” Ford promises. “And you will be at peace.” (Though, given the way the old man casually mentions how Arnold “couldn’t stop me,” you’ll forgive me if I can’t take much comfort from his words.)

Later, when all of the dirty work is cleaned up, Bernard questions what makes his pain over his son’s death (which isn’t real but feels that way) any different from any true human’s suffering (given that pain really only exists in the mind, anyway). That very question drove Arnold mad, Ford says casually before dismissing it: “We can’t define consciousness, because consciousness does not exist.” Just before he’s rebooted, Bernard wants to know whether his creator has asked him to kill before. “No, Bernard, of course not,” Ford calmly replies… as Bernard has a flash of choking Elsie. (Oh boo. I loved her.)

Oh, and Ford totally knows that Charlotte was behind both Theresa’s data piracy and Clementine’s hulking out, and Charlotte totally knows that Theresa didn’t just slip and fall to her death in the park. So the board member dumps 35 years of “vitally important data” into the decommissioned Abernathy and then recruits Lee to give him enough of a personality so he can pass as human and leave the park.

MAEVE KNOWS ALL | Speaking of leaving the park, Maeve knows that she’s got an explosive charge in her spine that’ll detonate as soon as she leaves Westworld’s perimeter — all the hosts do — but she moves forward with getting administrative control of her fellow androids, thanks to Felix. Sylvester intends to “brick” the beautiful ‘bot as soon as she’s turned off for the upgrade, but Maeve knows that. So as soon as she’s souped up, she grabs a scalpel and slits his throat a little… then demands that Felix use a cauterizing tool to save his co-worker’s life. Because she’s got an army to build.

WILLIAM, WHAT HAPPENED? | But back to that first thing we were talking about: Teddy starts to have flashes of the Man in Black dragging Dolores away in her parents’ front yard, like we saw in the pilot. So he decks the older man, telling him that he wants to kill him. This puts MIB into a contemplative mood, so he winds up spilling a lot of his backstory.” Do you want to know who I am? Who I really am?” I’m a god, a titan of industry. A philanthropist, family man. I’m married to a beautiful woman, father of a beautiful daughter. I’m a good guy, Teddy.” He goes on to say that his wife committed suicide partly because she knew he had a darkness inside that he was hiding, even from himself, and he came back to the park to have his true nature revealed to him.

Enter Maeve in her previous build as a homesteader with a daughter, aka those terrifying and beautifully sunlit slow-mo shots we’ve seen throughout the series. MIB stabbed her in the abdomen and shot her daughter dead, because “I wanted to see if I had it in me to do something truly evil. To see what I was really made of.” (P.S. He felt nothing.)

IN WHICH MAEVE IS (MORE OF) A BADASS | BUT, Maeve fought back — hard — cutting him at the neck and carrying her daughter out into the field, where they died at the center of a maze that had been pressed into the ground. “She was alive, truly alive, if only for a moment. And that was when the maze revealed itself to me,” he recalls with wonder. “There’s a deeper game here, Teddy. Arnold’s game. And that game cuts deep.” Oh, and Wyatt — who reappears at the end of the episode after the blonde stabs Teddy with an arrow — appears to be the key.

In flashbacks, we watch Maeve freaking out at the Westworld labs because her daughter has been killed. She’s not responding to verbal commands, and she only calms a bit when Ford issues a directive. Still, as he goes to wipe her memory, she begs him not to; like Bernard said in an earlier episode, the pain “is all I have left” f her daughter, she protests. But he does it anyway. And then she stands up, lifts a scalpel off a nearby tray and plunges it into her own neck.

In the present, or whenever the heck we’ve been, Maeve realizes she can control other hosts by giving them commands in the third person. So she does. She causes more chaos than usual during the regular Sweetwater shootout, slices the Clementine replacement right across her Adam’s apple when she tries to stop the madam from leaving the saloon, then runs as park employees come looking for her.

GHOST IN THE MACHINE | William and Dolores, who’s still having strange flashes in which she often ends up dead, reach the spot she feels she’s been called to. As she walks into the town, we see her back in her blue gown; it seems like maybe it’s in the very early days of the park, because a group of hosts (including Maeve) are learning to dance in the town square, and a labcoat-wearing park staff member is overseeing the whole thing. Bu then everything shifts, and someone is firing upon everyone in the town. With horror, Dolores realizes it’s her… and just as pants-wearing Dolores lifts a gun to her own head, William finds her and snaps her back to reality.

“When are we? Is this now? Am I going mad? Are you real?” she cries. As the camera angle turns, we see that the church in Dolores’ vision is really the buried church that we’ve seen before — and which is not a few feet from where she and William stand. “I can’t tell anymore.” Billy wants to get her out of there, but she’s resolute that “This is what Arnold wants. He wants me to remember.” And when a group of men on horseback ride up with Logan at the head, they’ve got more immediate problems. “Man, are you two f—ked,” he says with glee.

Now it’s your turn. Are you now convinced that William and the Man in Black are one and the same? Sound off in the comments!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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32 Comments
  1. Guest says:

    Thandie Newton is outstanding!

  2. Lulu says:

    Maybe the MIB is Logan and not William. Logan is married and already pretty close to a psychopath .

    • Jacob says:

      I’m with you on that theory remember how mid said that stuff with Mave was the first time he saw life Williams already seeing that kind of thing with bolores so it can’t be William

    • hollowsoul2016 says:

      I was thinking the same thing. I believe he is Logan and he either kills William or injured him really bad in the park.

      • gm says:

        I think William dies as part of his quest with Dolores and Logan never found out the real cause. It’s one of the things he’s searching for now, as the MiB. (although I admit this theory took a knock last night when MiB recognized William’s intake host.)

    • JG says:

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks that. The one thing that makes me think that it still is William is that Ed Harris has blue eyes and Ben Barnes has brown eyes. I think it would still be more interesting if it was Logan.

  3. Ian says:

    Its funny, because while Im loving Maeve’s story, and at least interested in who wins in Ford vs The Board or whatever, I really couldnt care less about the MIB and this maze. This is a park built by men, not a quest for the holy grail. I came for Evan in the beginning, but I guess I had wanted Maeve’s story for Dolores, and Thandie is killing it, but it’s still disappointing when Dolores’ story started off so promising, and then it went off into an unimportant stage play about a man’s sociopathy. I just don’t care.
    Now that Abernathy’s (!!!!!!!) coming back, I hope to god he gets back involved with Dolores and saves her character. I’m still in love with their father/daughter relationship.

    • Spencer says:

      Same. I thought I was the only one who couldn’t care less about the MIB and the maze. I always get so distracted whenever the focus shifts on him I feel like fast fowarding his scenes. And whenever Dolores story start to get interesting, it shifts again to the board or the MIB. It completely turns me off because the same thing has been happening since the first episode. Her character is only serving for cliffhangers apparently.
      Maeve’s storyline is BY FAR the most interesting one here. Maybe because Thandie IS SO DAMN GREAT AT IT? Idk, but the MIB and the labs scenes are annoying the hell out of me.
      I’m only staying for Maeve at this point.

    • Kevin Stern says:

      I might care about MIB’s maze, if they ever bothered to explain anything about it at all. They’re so busy setting up the mystery element, they forgot to give us any clues or details at all. At this point, MIB might as well be talking about his fav TV’s show central mystery. It’s meaningless to us.

      I fear the maze’s reveal will be utterly disappointing as either Westworld’s central hub, or Arnold laughing and revealing it’s all just one big joke to give him some fun. MIB seems to think it holds the meaning of life, the ultimate answer to life, the universe. and everything. In the end, it’ll be literally nothing but a waste of time. Maybe he’ll get the journey revealed who you truly are, but it all seems to be leading up to, a Yeah so? moment.

  4. Nerl says:

    Her ‘Adams apple’? Wtf

  5. Johnny Utah says:

    Thank you Ms. Roots.

    I find the MiB to be a fascinating character, but I’m completely uninterested in William. He’s just dull, and if he is the MiB, then I’m glad he got more interesting over the course of 30 years. As for Dolores, her character is fascinating also, given her long history in the park and connection with Arnold. But again, I find her relationship with William to be completely uninteresting.

    Talulah Riley is terrific. I hope we get to see much more of her in these last 2 episodes.

    I’ve been wondering if Ford is aware of what Maeve has been doing. Given how much control he demonstrates over the entire park, I find it difficult to believe that he has no idea whatsoever about Maeve (noting that he did get directly involved in rebooting her a year ago when the MiB attacked her and her child, and he was able to shut her down momentarily by playing that music – which I read somewhere was a piece fittingly called “Reverie” by Debussy)…. and if Ford knows about Maeve, then is he controlling her actions? Guiding them? Using her to catalyze some chain reaction to the other hosts in the park?

    This is the best thing on tv right now, and I’ll miss it when the final 2 episodes have come and gone.

  6. Johnny Styles says:

    I still don’t buy the William is the MiB theory.

  7. Gemma says:

    I think you overlooked a key piece of Dolores’ vision in the town. The blonde that is with the MIB was there too. She’s one of the original hosts who hasn’t been in circulation for a while. To me this means she came back for the new Wyatt arc not that William is the MIB. It wouldn’t make sense for the original town to be buried the first time he came to the park since he commented last episode he was there when Arnold died.

  8. Michael Summerset says:

    The burned-down town is evidence that the William we see is in the present. Dolores’ vision of the active town is from 30 years ago. Ford also saw the ruined town, so William and Ford are both in the same time. And we saw Ford meeting with the MiB, showing he’s also in present time. So William and the MiB are both in present time and can’t be the same person.

  9. ew says:

    Holy crap.., that would be cool if we are watching different story lines at different times in history.
    Also, Thandie Newton… just give her the emmy… my god. And to do the stuff she does while naked. Incredible.

  10. Benjamin says:

    Do women have Adam’s apples?

  11. Dan says:

    My theory is that Arnold is/was the first host, then comes Bernard, and then someone who’s name starts with “C”, then Dolores… You get my point… There were many parallels between how Bernard’s and Arnold’s brains were wired… I just don’t buy the William as Man in Black theory. William was not the only person that was greeted by the same host… Maybe MIB’s name starts with “C”…

  12. Jeff says:

    I think we were provided a large hint last night in regards to the “maze”. We saw Maeve misbehave in an old timeline and were shown a tablet with a fragmented brain image that was close to what the maze looked like. Given that I think it’s quite possible a certain fragmentation pattern leads to an awareness level / unlock of core “hidden code”. Equally, when the pattern is close it’s like a loose fitting key and is causing the ‘buggy’ behavior.

  13. GregK says:

    Another shout out to the movie 2001 when Maeve does lip reading like HAL did. Didn’t Sylvester and Felix see the movie? Maybe this show is not on earth on speculation has it.

  14. Ricwig says:

    Time for crazy comment of the day. Yes I think you are right William & MiB are the same. What would happen if he was a host? Say an experiment to see if they could live in the real world but would come back for tuneups and redirection from Ford. Just a thought.

    • Kate says:

      OHHH!!! That would explain why he doesn’t feel anything. That’s a brilliant idea! …doesn’t explain why William, MIB and Ford seem to be in the same time though (burned down town).

  15. frances says:

    Does not anyone know about what DELOS is ? It is a real place, a Greek island which is steeped in ancient historic meaning, ritual and myth. It is said to be the place where tribute was paid (see hecatomb) thereby bringing into being both Apollo and Artemis , most powerful male and female deities in Greek mythology. Has anybody mentioned this? DELOS is not only a corporation, it is a REAL place name. Maybe new insight into what the DELOS agenda may be..

  16. Jake Ryan says:

    I think they are trying to make everyone thing there are two timelines but I have my doubts. She is having the flashback of killing all those people while William is standing there. The burned church is seen in the present timeline from earlier episodes. So that predates william. Here is an interesting test that could settle the issue. We know that Maeve has only been the madame for a year. This change happened after the MIB killed her daughter. So if there are any scenes with maeve as a madame and william in it as well then he is in the present timeline. I don’t recall if there were any. In the most recent episode the MIB talks about being married for 30 years this would be consistent with the two timeline theory because we know william is engaged to be married and that the events that occurred happened 30 years prior to the present.Still I think the idea that William is the MIB is a fake out.

  17. johnkermon says:

    I don’t think there are multiple timelines. I think Dolores and MIB want to solve the maze for different reasons. Dolores to free herself from being a host, and MIB to figure out how to put his conscious in to one of the hosts.

  18. Ange says:

    The show is so confusing; I swear