Out of all the story lines in Westworld, the Man in Black's makes the least sense. There's a full-fledged robot rebellion going on, and the Man in Black, aka William, is still out searching for the meaning behind Ford's game. The Man in Black's motivation has always been a little unclear, but now, a new fan theory is trying to explain his complicated character once and for all. Is the Man in Black a host? It's possible that William could pull a Bernard and reveal himself to be another one of Ford's machines. If that's the case, I'm officially done with Westworld, because I can only handle so many robot reveals before I start wondering whether I'm a host.
When the Man in Black was revealed to be William in a later timeline, fans (except those who figured it out early) were shocked. How could the innocent man who fell in love with Dolores turn into an evil park guest? Well, it turns out, pretty easily: He became power-hungry, both inside and outside the park. After years in the park, the Man in Black was no longer satisfied with having sex with hosts or drinking himself silly; he now wants to get to the center of the park and find out its deepest secrets. Throughout most of Westworld, the Man in Black's quest has been separate from the show's main theme — the hosts gaining consciousness — and even as a robot rebellion swirls around him in Season 2, he seems relatively unconcerned. What will it take for William's story line to crash into the hosts'?
According to one fan theory, it already has. This theory suggests that the Man in Black is actually a host, and Ford is having him play a game in order to have him achieve consciousness. This would explain why the Man in Black seems so unconcerned with the growing consciousness of the other hosts — he's simply acting out his narrative, and he hasn't achieved enough awareness yet to deviate from it. Plus, it explains why hosts suddenly break into Ford's voice when William is around. Hosts are easily trackable, so it's possible that Ford (or someone else at Delos) is tracking the Man in Black and giving him advice through other hosts when he really needs it.
In Season 2 Episode 4, "The Riddle of the Sphinx," fans learned that Delos, William's company, is testing out human-host hybrids by implanting human consciousness in host bodies (basically promising immortality to those who can pay for it), so it's possible that the Man in Black could be one of these test models. Even though William said that some people shouldn't live forever, I can't imagine that, if push came to shove, he would refuse the opportunity to be immortal. This is one self-absorbed dude, remember?
Reddit is abuzz with various theories about the Man in Black, but this one actually seems possible. As one Reddit user, senkaichi, puts it, the human William and Ford have been at odds for years because they have different ideas about the function and possibilities of hosts. In order to beat the Man in Black once and for all, Ford turns the Delos boss into the very thing he detests:
Ford has William killed at the big event and replaced William with a host. Ford had 30 years of data to work with, prob more than any other individual. Now Ford wants William to go through the maze and come to the realization that he has thoughts, he has feelings, that he has consciousness, and that he's a host. It follows the major underlying themes of the show and will totally mind-f*ck William.
As this theory goes, the Man in Black will eventually learn to sympathize with the hosts — a process that started with Hector in "The Riddle of the Sphinx" — and may even join Dolores in her fight against Delos. Now that's one way to bring these two story lines together.
This theory is sending my brain into a tailspin. The Bernard-is-a-host reveal was one of the most important parts of Season 1, so it would be pretty shocking if the Man in Black ends up being a host, too. But at the same time, Westworld's whole schtick is that anyone can be a host. Who better to illustrate that fact than Delos' leader himself? Agh, make it stop!
I think I've fallen into the Westworld Reddit rabbit hole. Is it too late for me?