Since Westworld first returned with Season 2, there's been a big mystery as to what the park's "other" project is. With Ford's control over, and Bernard no longer having his memory wiped every five minutes, viewers have experienced him discovering brand new "off-the-record" labs, adorned with a different logo than the rest of the park and staffed by drone hosts. In them, he's noticed that the data mining of the guests goes much further than he ever knew. This week, the show revealed the project was run by William. Moreover, Westworld revealed William's project is one with massive implications for where the show might go next. Warning: Spoilers for Westworld Season 2 follow.
This season introduced another new character in the Delos family, patriarch James Delos, played by the great Irish actor Peter Mullan. From the beginning, his exchanges with William have made fans sit up and take note, especially since in all of them, the elder Delos has made references to not having that long to live. In the second episode, he even seems to be pushing William on a Westworld project, pointing out not everyone has the luxury of time.
This week, that project, one of William's first ideas for selling Delos on the park, was revealed: cloning.
Fans have been wondering if James Delos' mind was uploaded into one of the hosts. There's been a great debate on Reddit if Peter Abernathy's real program he's carrying is Delos' mind. But it turns out the answer to "Is James Delos being cloned?" was far simpler. Making hosts to spec is what they do. Making a James Delos mind is the hard part.
Host minds are pretty simple. They're not based on real human-lived experiences. They have partial memories and partial lives lived on a loop. There's no need to program beyond that. Ford and Delos Inc. never cloned a full human mind. For instance, Ford never cloned Arnold's mind — he made a new host's mind in an Arnold body. That's why he's "Bernard" and not "Arnold."
That's because making an exact replica of an entire human mind, full of the experiences of a lifetime, is really hard. As William reveals at the end of the episode to James during his final visit, they've tried 137 times since that retirement party, and every last one has been a failure.
More importantly, William is done trying. If we follow the timeline of events and assume Emily is born a couple of years into the Delos tenure over Westworld, and she appears to be around the age of 5 at James' retirement party, that means they've been working on this for 25 years or so. William's tired of it and decided this attempt by his father-in-law to live forever is a bad idea anyway. Some people should just die because they're bad people.
But it's the episode's final reveal that is the most shocking. It turns out that scene with William and James was the day William started his hunt for the maze. When Bernard and Elsie discover the mysterious cave lab is the same lab where James' host was kept, and where this experiment has been running for 25 years at least, they also discover the host is still alive, still on his loop, though quite insane.
Could this project be the one that William has been talking about "setting this whole place on fire" to stop? Is the data in Peter Abernathy's head actually all the data from the hundreds of guests that the Delos corporation wants to make clones of, a la James Delos? Is that why they won't send help until they upload it?