If the prevalence of rampant speculation and crackpot online theories is any metric of gauging the popularity of a given TV show, then HBO’s Westworld is surely the most popular program in the entire universe. The Westworld subreddit alone is an endless rabbit-hole of theoretical musings and postulations, not to mention the countless other speculative corners of the internet. In the Westworld Weekly Roundup, we do the leg work of sifting through all theories big and small, and report on the ones worth talking about.
This will be an ongoing series that will be updated every week for the rest of the season, and consider yourself officially warned: here there be spoilers.
This past week, the Westworld subreddit officially surpassed the 100,000-user mark – an impressive feat for any niche online community, but rather unsurprising for this one in particular, due to the exponentially-growing theories around the show. This is a double-edged sword; on one hand, it’s great to have a place where like-minded folks can get together and noodle on ideas, while on the other hand, 100,000 people is an awful lot of cooks in the theory-kitchen, which can sometimes turn the sub into a cacophonous echo chamber.
Westworld co-creator gets meta on Reddit
In spite of my minor gripes above, the subreddit is definitely worth at least a cursory visit, if for no other reason than the fact that Westworld co-creator/co-showrunner Jonathan Nolan occasionally shows up and shares his two cents (his purpose for this is clearly to stir the pot of speculation/increase general fandom anxiety rather than answer any burning questions, but I think we can all forgive his delightfully diabolical behavior).
This week, for the second time since Westworld began last month, Nolan visited the Westworld subreddit – this time, to sneakily address a fan’s question before disappearing once more into the ether. The exchange began when Redditor mattdezine posed a humorous, though seemingly innocuous, question:
Yes, it’s funny, but when you think about it, it’s an important question to ask. After all, Westworld is a pretty big place (Nolan himself has estimated its size to be roughly 500 square miles), populated by thousands of hosts – many of whom create things (like Dolores with her pictures) in the course of carrying out their loops. Over the passage of days, weeks, and years, that stuff has to add up, and it has to end up somewhere, right? On the grand scale of storytelling, details like this are arguably inconsequential, but to make a fantasy world feel truly believable and immersive to an audience, it always helps to illuminate the subtleties of that world.
Nolan, in his mischievous wisdom, sneaked into the conversation thread just long enough to say the image “doesn’t look like anything to me,” and provided a hotlink to this GIF:
We know that Dolores doesn’t always end up spending her day painting by the river (this only happens if neither Teddy or a guest picks up her dropped milk can, as outlined in this handy graphic), but over the span of three decades, mattdezine’s estimated figure of nearly 11,000 paintings doesn’t seem so far fetched.
Your guess is as good as mine as to why a lab tech in a hazmat suit is looking through them, or why the tech seems to find the paintings hidden in a cupboard inside of Westworld (they seem like the kind of thing you don’t want a host to discover, even under the assumption they might not see anything at all). It’s unclear if the footage is a deleted scene from an already-aired episode, or if Nolan just gave the Westworld subreddit an exclusive sneak-peek from an upcoming entry, but one thing is certain: in Westworld and in Westworld, the little things do matter.
I usually cringe when showrunners offer meta commentary on a show to flesh out ideas or information not properly elucidated within the show itself (I’m looking at you, Scott Gimple), but Nolan’s playful ambiguity here is something altogether different and refreshing; he’s engaging the fans not to tie up loose ends the show failed to take care of, but rather, he’s offering us a chance to deepen our understanding of the mythos of the show.
Speaking of the mythos of Westworld, I think it’s high-time to take a look at the big theories that survived another week.
The “William = MiB” theory is still utterly inconclusive
Obviously, this theory requires that the overarching two-timeframe theory be true, and since we’ve covered it before, I won’t spend time here going over it again. I will mention, however, that a new theory is getting some traction – one that offers a possible explanation for how everything could be taking place during a single timeframe.
After Episode 4 (“Dissonance Theory”), I was all but convinced this theory was debunked. After the following week’s episode (“The Adversary”), new evidence was introduced to support the theory and I subsequently accepted that everything I know is a lie. Since then, I’ve circled this particular theory very carefully, and though there have been hints that attempt to both support or refute it, I’ve decided to make no definitive statements until the show spells it out, one way or another. Instead, I’ll just lay out the for-or-against evidence as it comes in each week, and let you be the judge.
In this week’s episode (“Trompe L’Oeil”), there’s a few pieces of information that supports the theory, and they’re offered by Lawrence, AKA El Lazo. On two separate occasions, Lawrence says things of William that sound a lot like the Man in Black: “You’re a natural killer,” he says, and later, “You’re better at [killing] than you think.” On one hand, Lawrence is totally describing the Man in Black, on the other hand, it’s probably something Lawrence is programmed to say to every guest who makes it this far on the Pariah/Revolution storyline.
In the past few episodes, there’s also been some parallel dialogue between the Man in Black and William. Here’s the Man in Black speaking in Episode 4 (“Dissonance Theory”):
Now look at these words spoken by William a few episodes later:
When you take both statements together, and add it with this, the William = MiB theory does become pretty damn compelling – especially those last sentences: “I guess I just want to find out what it all means,” says William. The Man in Black is far more assertive, but says essentially the same thing: “I want to know what this all means.” In a show from someone as detail-oriented as Jonathan Nolan, I find it highly unlikely the similarity between these lines is accidental (Nolan wrote Memento and The Prestige, for god’s sake, so we know how meticulously he crafts his mind-bending tales). It’s impossible to know at this point if he dropped these clues to guide the audience to the truth, or if they’re red herrings, meant to distract us from what’s really happening.
There also remains plenty of evidence that says the William = MiB theory is a bunch of hooey, which has been most succinctly aggregated by Redditor griffton.
See why I’ve washed my hands of this infuriatingly inconclusive theory?
The closing scene in Episode 7 was a game-changer – but what does it mean?
The reveal that Bernard is a host was pretty shocking (even if it was anticipated), thanks, in no small part, to Bernard straight-up murdering Teresa right after the revelation. Now that the truth is confirmed, I’m on board with the Bernard = Arnold theory train now more than ever (though it’s worth noting there’s some fun arguments that Arnold’s consciousness is potentially inside a variety of other hosts). Here’s some new evidence to support the claim.
When Bernard and Teresa first enter the Ford’s secret lab, Bernard says it’s a “remote diagnostic facility,” and then heavily implies that Ford and Arnold used a network of these facilities in the early beta days of the park.
Bernard also implies that he’s never seen one of these facilities, and he certainly never says that he’s used them to interview hosts before. But then what are we to make of the scenes where Bernard is interviewing Dolores in a similar, if not the same, facility?
Maybe the scenes of Bernard interviewing Dolores are being manipulated by Ford so that Bernard has no recollection of them, but I think it’s far likelier that the scenes between Bernard and clothed Dolores are taking place thirty-five years in the past. This new evidence supports the groundwork already in place for the theory, and I think it’s only a matter of time before we get yet another big reveal about Arnold’s presence within Bernard.
What big theories did we miss? Sound off in the comments section below!
Donald Trump as Seen by Google’s Deep Dream
THIS CONTENT WAS REPUBLISHED FROM AN EARLIER DATE.
Last Summer, Google unleashed Deep Dream, their neural network that takes pictures and tries to identify patterns and overwrite them, on an unsuspecting public. When you put an image into Deep Dream, what you get when it “wakes up” is often nightmarish. Dogs, birds, insects, pagodas are inserted at random places in the image, giving it a surreal and sometimes beautiful–if terrifying–aspect.
So, since this election season is already off-the-charts surreal, I thought to myself, “What would it look like if we ran some candidates through Deep Dream?” Well, now I know. I started with Donald Trump, who is already deeply weird and unsettling. The results are spectacular.
From the MRA Evidence Archives: The Journal of a Normal, Average Feminist
Awoke and whispered to my boobs, Bea Arthur and Jackie O, “It’s Tuesday. You know what that means, ladies? Time to oppress some dudes.”
THIS CONTENT WAS REPUBLISHED FROM AN EARLIER DATE.
Tuesday July 5, 2016
Walked to work wearing my plunging crop top that says, “This is what a feminist looks like,” hot pants, and six-inch heels. Tossed my hair a lot and sexily chewed my lower lip. Dropped change so I could slowly bend over and pick it up. It took me about an hour to walk five blocks, which is standard.
Exceeded my catcall goal by seven, a personal best. Super flattering, of course, but will pretend to be terrified and make men feel bad about it with a bunch of tweets. That’ll show them.
Some dowdy librarian tried to help me with the change I kept dropping, and she got catcalled too! No one invades my catcalling turf. Slapped the books right out of her hands. Mostly by Hemingway, whom I both hate and would totally do if he were alive.
Arrived late per usual, but the boss didn’t say anything, just stared at my tits and gave me a pass. I had buttressed Bea Arthur and Jackie O in a push-up bra stuffed with the hard-earned cash of some beta male I cheated on. Good thinking.
By Friday I hope to a) screw my way to executive assistant, b) replace some poor slob who works really hard, or c) file a sexual harassment lawsuit. We’ll just see what the week brings, like whether or not the boss is a lesbian. Fingers crossed!
Spent the rest of the workday playing Candy Crush and convincing Dale from accounting to do everything for me. Stringing Dale along is why I keep coming in. It makes all the pretending to work worth it. I might boink him someday, but I want to see how low he’ll stoop for a bit of action.
I don’t get off on it per se, in so much that I don’t get off. Ever. At all. But I pretend that I could, just to make all the guys I’ve ever been with feel like losers. Watching them fumble and feel emasculated without pants is like Christmas – if I were to sleep with Santa and watch him fumble and feel emasculated without pants.
Went to happy hour after work and didn’t pay a dime. Cosmos just appeared in front of me. Dumb guys just handed me cash for being hot, and I filled my bra until Bea Arthur and Jackie O ballooned up like the boobs of evil women on TV. My role models, natch.
Some dude wearing a huge, purple hat came up to me and said I looked like an uglier Angelina Jolie. He lifted his shirt to show that his torso was hard, rippling, and embroidered with diamonds so he had every right to tell me that. I hooked up with him in the men’s room. That’ll show him.
Went home and let loose a series of drunken, liar tweets about how hard my life is and how I want equality. Even inebriated, it’s important to keep my stilettoed foot on the neck of men everywhere. Those tweets and opinion pieces just skewer them. More powerful than the laws of God or man are the messages I hastily type with my thumbs.
A good Tuesday over all, but did not receive free coffee by sexily slow jamming my order. The barista must’ve taken the red pill.
Woman begs city council to bring back McRib
The McRib Shortage of ’15. It was the single greatest tragedy this country has ever endured. But one woman, one brave voice, said, “No. This will not do.” #mcrib #sheslovinit
Well over a year ago a tragic event occurred: In the fall of 2015, the executives of McDonald’s made a grave decision, the consequences of which are still felt to this day. They decided that when the McRib was released that year it would… it would allow the regional managers to decide whether or not they would offer the McRib. As a result, a staggering 45 percent of McDonald’s locations elected not to offer the McRib. It was the single greatest tragedy this country has ever endured. But one woman, one brave voice, said, “No. This will not do.”
First off, shout out to Reader James from Lake Elsinore, CA for alerting us to the tale of hardship and heroism. You see, when Xanthe Pajarillo, a “McRib activist,” realized that none of the ten McDonald’s locations in her hometown of Santa Clarita would be offering the McRib, she did what any reasonable red-blooded American citizen would do. She brought the issue before the city council.
Now it is no secret that the McRib Shortage of ’15 nearly brought the nation to a standstill. In fact, if it weren’t for the release of a special McRib locator app, experts speculate that America would have ceased to exist as it does today. But amidst all of the rolling blackouts, the deaths, and the riots, we overlooked all of the smaller, personal tragedies that took place because of the cruel decision made by nearly half of McDonald’s regional managers.
In her impassioned plea to the Santa Clarita city council, Pajarillo explained just why the McRib meant so much to her and her family, and why the city council had to act in order to bring it back.
“The removal of the McRib from the menu has affected my family, because every Thanksgiving, my family would, like, order a 50-piece chicken McNugget and like, 10 McRibs. It was like, a tradition in our family, and now it’s like—well, like my family’s holiday spirit is kind of messed up and broken.”
Recently Pajarillo heroic speech before the city council has gone viral, gaining attention at the national stage across social media. Since that dramatic event, Pajarillo has continued to fight for the return of the McRib, even going so far as to release a song dubbed “The McRib Blues.” In it, she lays bare her soul and the souls of those like her to whom the McRib is more than just a barbecue pork sandwich, but is instead, a way of life.
There are those out there, deplorables who hardly deserve mention, that call her bravery nothing more than a stunt. Performance art holding up a mirror to America’s consumerism and obsession. However, others stand by the truth. Pajarillo is a hero, fighting for both a sandwich, but also for something more. Something ephemeral. That little piece of Americana that brings us all together. The McRib.
Fight on, brave warrior, fight on.
♪ Cause we have right to eat what we like, McRib is worth the fight ♪
Still can’t get enough of the McRib? Learn how a McRib is made, courtesy of BuzzFeed.
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