'Westworld' finale: We have questions

From left, Evan Rachel Wood as Dolores Abernathy, James Marsden as Teddy Flood and Anthony Hopkins as Dr. Robert Ford in the season finale of HBO's "Westworld."
From left, Evan Rachel Wood as Dolores Abernathy, James Marsden as Teddy Flood and Anthony Hopkins as Dr. Robert Ford in the season finale of HBO's "Westworld." (HBO)

"Westworld" went out just as it came in: with guns blazing. And just as the premiere did, it left many viewers scratching their heads.

The HBO series concluded its first season with plenty of spectacle and blood, but we've still got many questions that need answers, and a few ideas to consider until Season 2. 


Major spoilers from the finale and the entire season below.

Ashley Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth) and Elsie Hughes (Shannon Woodward) on 'Westworld.'
Ashley Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth) and Elsie Hughes (Shannon Woodward) on 'Westworld.' (John P. Johnson / HBO)

What really happened to Elsie and Stubbs? 

For a series that delights in showing the deaths of their characters over and over— and over and over— it's suspicious that neither Elsie the programmer (Shannon Woodward) nor Stubbs (the park's head of security played by Luke Hemsworth) received an onscreen death. Instead, both vanished somewhere off in the Westworld wasteland and noticeably absent from the finale.


Elsie was last seen trapped in the potentially deadly headlock of her boss Bernard (Jeffrey Wright), who turned out to be a host. What happened next is lost in his erased memories. Subsequently, her employee tracker was traced to the mysterious "Sector 20," and Stubbs was sent to investigate, unknowingly walking into the clutches of the dangerous "Ghost Nation" hosts, never to be seen again.

If the show's creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy could concoct several devilish ways to continuously off Teddy and Maeve, surely they could've devised a demise for Elsie and Stubbs. Unless that's the point. The "Westworld" Internet sleuths have already combed through the newly "destroyed" Delos Inc. website and uncovered audio files that sound like they're from Elsie, and that she's trying to communicate her location.

When does “Westworld” take place? 

Also floating around in the online "Westworld" ether is a potential clue as to how far into the future the show is set. Thanks to a bit of "leaked" camera footage buried deep in the rabbit hole of HBO's online marketing for "Westworld," a date has been revealed. Footage showcasing Maeve's bloody attempt at escaping the park has the date June 15, 2052, marked in the corner. If this Reddit online commenter's marketing intel is to be believed "Westworld's" main storyline is set 36 years in the future.

Logan (Ben Barnes) is tied up by William (Jimmi Simpson).
Logan (Ben Barnes) is tied up by William (Jimmi Simpson). (John P. Johnson / HBO)

Where did Logan end up? 

Last we saw of Logan (Ben Barnes), the angry head of the Delos company, he was stripped, tied to his horse and set loose on the edge of Westworld by his soon-to-be brother-in-law William. It was a truly odd exit.


Did he die from exposure? Would the park really let a guest in their care die naked on a horse?

Picture a miserable horse trotting through the season finale, a skeleton strapped to its back. Now that certainly would have cleared things up, and it's in show canon since the horses are also hosts, thus immortal. Logan, however, is not.

Alas, Logan's whereabouts are thus far unknown, and if he is alive that means he could return in the current timeline with a new, older actor.

Will Ford make it to Season 2? 

"Westworld's" time-juggling narratives makes it a snap to bring back just about any character through a flashback. But that's a little too easy. Instead, we offer this slightly more elaborate theory: Remember the secret field office where Dr. Robert Ford was tinkering with offline hosts unbeknownst to the board? There was a host brewing inside the milky vat in the very room where Theresa met her untimely end. Who was that host supposed to be and, more importantly, could that host be Ford's attempt at a second chance?

The creator has already dabbled in bringing back the dead with Bernard, who was a host recreation of park co-creator Arnold. So why not go the extra step and try and rebuild his own consciousness inside the mind of a host? The idea of humans using the hosts for immortality wasn't aggressively tackled in the first season of "Westworld," but seems like a logical extension of the concept.

Bernard did struggle with the preprogrammed memories of his human counterpart's dead son. Ultimately, deciding to keep Arnold's pain helped him "learn from his mistakes." But while Arnold's memories are programmed into Bernard, the host is conscious that these feelings are not truly his own.

If Ford was going to come back from the dead as a host, that would put immortality on the table, but would it be Ford? Or would it be a coded, self-aware echo of Ford? And what sort of inner turmoil would that stir up inside this new creature? Think of all the hot takes!

Also, Delos board member Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson) did say that, up until now, Westworld had been thinking small; perhaps everlasting digital life is the real endgame.

Who else potentially survived the finale? 

It's probably worth noting that "The Man In Black" (Ed Harris)— who is actually an aged William gone bad, a revelation many fans predicted weeks ago— was seen taking a bullet in the arm when the hordes of nude hosts went rogue. (Or did exactly what Ford programmed them to do? You decide).

Felix (Leonardo Nam), who is going to have some serious explaining to do, also seems to have survived. As for Charlotte or writer Lee Sizemore (Simon Quarterman), we don't yet know if they escaped the siege.

What does the discovery of Samurai World mean? 

One of the many twists dropped in the finale was the discovery of a potential new park. When Maeve and her gang of robot renegades flee Westworld they stumble across a new place full of hosts clad in ancient samurai-style armor and the background logo SW. Could that be Samurai World? While the name for this new world is still unknown, it does confirm something that originated from the original Michael Crichton film: the existence of different theme parks. Fingers crossed for the other movie-inspired parks including Roman World, Medieval World and Futureworld.

Also, when Maeve was headed out on the guest train, she was informed that her host child was being kept in "Park 1 Sector 15 Zone 3." One could make the assumption that labeling something "Park 1" usually means there's more than one park.

Maeve (Thandie Newton) gets closer to her freedom.
Maeve (Thandie Newton) gets closer to her freedom. (John P. Johnson / HBO)

Who programmed Maeve to escape? 

The biggest surprise from the finale was Ford's secret desire to free his creations, which made him seem less like the evil lunatic this series has threaded since the pilot. Of course, he's still a murdering psychopath who built a sexual assault theme park— despite knowing that his creations had, or could achieve, consciousness— but the last episode tried to right a few of his wrongs by exposing his plans for a robot revolt.

But if Ford engineered the escape plan, how much of this is about true sentience? We know for certain that the hosts have memories from past iterations of their characters; this was the entire purpose of Arnold's maze. That being said, if Ford was the one who programmed Maeve's exit from the park, does that rob her of her own organic desire to be free? Was the purpose of Maeve's violent exit merely to distract from the bloodbath of Delos' board executions?

And also, doesn't unleashing an army of murderous robots still kind of make him an evil lunatic?

The bigger questions remain: Are Maeve's thoughts entirely her own? Is her mission just beginning? And what's next? Will she jump from park to park looking for her lost host child? Or will she take part in the new narrative that Ford built, the uprising at Westworld?


What music will the player piano crank out next year? 

"Westworld's" TV totem, the rickety player piano hit Soundgarden's "Black Hole Sun," The Cure's "A Forest," Nine Inch Nails' "Something I Can Never Have," Amy Winehouse's "Back to Black," and (if you had any doubt that this show was spearheaded by a pack of late thirty- to fortysomethings) it also offered versions of Radiohead's "No Surprises," "Fake Plastic Trees" and "Exit Music." If the second season doesn't have at least one musical cameo from Beck or Wilco, then this isn't the old West robot show we've spent the last two months being confused by.


What happened to Peter Abernathy? 

Actor Louis Herthum gave a brilliant performance as malfunctioning host Peter Abernathy, who was abruptly filed to cold storage after delivering the now-signature slogan, "these violent delights have violent ends." Peter's host body was allegedly brought online by the Delos board to smuggle Ford's code out of Westworld.

When Sizemore went to retrieve Peter, he was gone, as were all the other hosts who "woke" in the park who formed the robot army that would assist Dolores in her revolt. But Peter was not specifically accounted for in this onslaught. So what happened to Peter? Is he still reprogrammed, and is there a walking gold mine of code sauntering around the real world? Does Peter know how to access this new information?

(John P. Johnson / HBO)

What was that post-credit scene? 

The snake-tattooed bandit played by Ingrid Bolsø Berdal was seen with her arm still stuck in the security door. So she literally ripped her own arm off and went after the truly terrible Westworld security. (Seriously, their aim was "A-Team" bad guys bad). Fun fact, the character Berdal plays has a name and it's… wait for it…  Armistice.

What do we actually know about the second season? 

A few second season ideas were dropped from the brains behind the "Westworld" operation shortly after the finale aired. "If the first season was defined by control, the second season is defined by chaos," co-creator and executive producer Jonathan Nolan said in a mini-episode breakdown on HBO. "I think that's part of what we come to understand Ford has been planning all along."

The first season of Westworld was fairly maintained to several tight story loops the hosts were imprisoned inside, so it should be exciting to see a bit of disarray in their world. But Nolan isn't getting too candid with the answers, instead he offers more questions. "Ford has set in motion what he thinks is a plan," he continued in the after-series special. "The nature of that plan is something we explore in the second season, what his intentions are. Are they to let Dolores and the other hosts escape? Are they simply to teach the human guests a lesson?"

Executive producer J.J. Abrams offered up something even more vague for Season 2: "What happens at the dawn of consciousness?" Abrams asked. "What happens when you begin to actually wake up?" What, indeed?

Twitter: @MdellW