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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.

westworld-spoilers

The latest evidence for the William = MiB theory

Images: HBO

Images: HBO

As we move closer to the end of Westworld‘s first season, I’m becoming fairly convinced that the William = MiB theory is true. I’m careful to not make any definitive statements on this or any other theory at work regarding the show, but after considering clues presented in the latest episode, one of two things is happening. Either William is indeed the Man in Black, or the show is throwing down a serious amount of subterfuge to throw us off the scent of something else.

Let’s take a look at the latest evidence from Episode 8 (“Trace Decay”), keeping in mind the two-time frame theory (for reference, here’s a nice graphic that plots the two timeframes across a single timeline).

  • The Man in Black tells Teddy about himself: We find out that the Man in Black recently lost his wife (whether it was to an accident or suicide is still unclear), and that her death ended 30 years of marriage. In earlier episodes, we were told that the Man in Black has been coming to the park for 30 years – that in a sense, he was born in Westworld. We also know that William is currently engaged to Logan’s sister, so between that and the amount of time the Man in Black was married, everything tracks on the time line.
  • The dying Confederado: When Dolores and William first show up in “Trace Decay,” they happen upon a group of slaughtered Confederados. One of them is still clinging to life, and we learn they were planning to ambush Dolores and William based on intel they received from a “new recruit in Pariah” – with Logan’s arrival with the Confederados at the end of the episode, I’m all but certain he is the new recruit, which means he’s a traitorous bastard in addition to being a dick (oh, and there’s also this little ripple of a theory about him). Dolores wants to care for the dying man, but William, in a marked change from his earlier, kinder disposition, knows the man has no chance of living. Though it isn’t explicitly shown, it is heavily implied that William strangles or otherwise finishes off the dying man. Perhaps William is beginning to see that there are distractions meant to slow down the park’s more intrepid guests, and he is beginning to adopt the cold pragmatism that defines the Man in Black we’ve come to know.
  • Angela shows up in the present timeline: When Teddy and the Man in Black find the bloodied remains of Wyatt’s latest raiding party, they find a sole survivor, who turns out to be Angela, the same host who welcomed William to the park 30 years ago. The Man in Black recognizes her and says “I thought they would’ve retired you by now.” It’s also important to note we’ve seen her in a third time frame, from when the park was in its early beta testing days before it was open to the public. Check out these images:
(L) Angela welcomes William to Westworld; (C) Angela smiles during early beta testing; (R) Angela talks to the MiB (Images:HBO)

(L) Angela welcomes William to Westworld; (C) Angela smiles during early beta testing; (R) Angela talks to the MiB (Images:HBO)

Angela’s presence in the current time frame, and the Man in Black’s recognition of her from long ago, definitely adds fuel to the William = MiB fire, but again, this could all be misdirection from the showrunners, meant to make us look closely at things that won’t ultimately matter. Until things are clearly and explicitly laid out for us, we can’t be 100% sure of anything.

In Ford’s new narrative, Wyatt might actually be Dolores

This one sounds pretty crazy, but after the flashback revelation in “Trace Decay” shows that Dolores was possibly the one to slaughter the other hosts in Escalante, the beta town from some 35 years ago.

Courtesy of HBO

Courtesy of HBO

Dolores’ flashback to Escalante in “Trace Decay” has some haunting parallels to the flashback Teddy had in an earlier episode, about which redditor NoMereVeneerofVanity points out:

Teddy’s Wyatt flashback mirrors Dolores’ almost perfectly. We know that when hosts “relive” violent memories, they act them out (like when Maeve slashes Clemantine 2.0’s throat remembering MiB), establishing that Dolores really did shoot a bunch of hosts and then put her gun to her head, as she does this in the present.

Image: HBO

Image: HBO

NoMereVeneerofVanity takes some liberty in assuming that Dolores 100% fired the lethal rounds (I argue the scene leaves things just a tad more ambiguous, as redditor mholl0704 argues), but it still stands as fairly strong evidence for the theory. Redditor ProperNorthernDrink adds some poetic nuance to the idea in regard to Teddy always being “the loser,” as the Man in Black has reminded him of on more than one occasion:

While I was also considering that Dolores was in fact Wyatt, it made me think of how Teddy, who is born to lose, is stuck with having to defeat Wyatt in order to end up with Dolores. He will never be happy.

Yeah. Poor Teddy. To take this theory as step further (and once again relying on the multiple time frame theory being true), the slaughter at Escalante and the death of Arnold seem to have happened at just about the same time – 35 years ago. We may soon learn that Arnold was killed during this very uprising, or that he even let Dolores kill him as a means for her to become self-aware. It would explain why a host with her generally passive programming would pick up a gun and start shooting. NoMereVeneerofVanity goes on to say that

Dolores is somehow linked to Arnold more than any other host, and it may be the case that Arnold told her to kill him, or got her to kill him, to prove that she is conscious and solved the maze. Ford wouldn’t say that he and Dolores are friends ‘at all’ because she is either the host that killed his dear friend, or the creation of his arch nemesis that he can’t seem to crack.

I’m not sure how I feel about this theory, solid evidence or not. Our Westworld journey has been sutured to Dolores’ since the first episode, and to have a twist where she becomes an unwitting villain seems a bit cruel, both to her and to the audience. However, the theory does have a certain poetry to it, and when we couple this with the fact that we have two very adept showrunners telling the story, it could very well pay off in ways I haven’t anticipated. That’s the magic of Westworld: it invites speculation on a level I’ve never seen, but at its core, its telling an amazing story that would hold up without all the theorizing.

What big theories did we miss? Sound off in the comments section below!

Entertainment

Donald Trump as Seen by Google’s Deep Dream

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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.

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Satire

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.”

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barbie doll head being gripped by dirty hands
THIS CONTENT WAS REPUBLISHED FROM AN EARLIER DATE.

 Tuesday July 5, 2016

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.”

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.

mens-rights-venn-diagram

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.

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Food

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

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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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