Who Is The Man In Black? 'Westworld' Hasn't Seen The Last Of The Game Player
Westworld is a series that leaves fans with as many questions as they do answers in every episode. During Season 1, they also had season-long mysteries, trying to hide some of the characters true natures or true motivations from the audience until the last minute. Dr. Ford, for instance, was the real saboteur. Bernard was actually a Host. Then there was the character only known as "The Man In Black." Who is the Man in Black? And what is his deal going into the next season?
The Man in Black didn't reveal who he was until the finale of Westworld Season 1, though by that time most people had guessed his true nature. The adventure Dolores was having with William, a first-time visitor to the park wasn't contemporaneous with the rest of the events happening in the present. William and the Man in Black were one and the same, just 30+ years separated. The fiancée that William was looking forward to marrying in one timeline was the same wife that the Man in Black revealed to have killed herself a year previous. The man who fell in love with Dolores his first time at the park was the same jaded man who raped her in the barn on his first night back. William chose the white hat the first time he went into the park, but by the time he left, he had learned who he really was and changed his hat to a black one accordingly.
The question is though, what happens to William now? As he revealed to Ford at the end of Season 1, his obsession with finding the center of the "Maze" stemmed from a belief that whatever lay there would help Hosts like Dolores gain self-awareness, free will, and the ability to be human. Like Arnold before him, he believed in their humanity and thought they ought to be free.
What William didn't know is the center of the Maze did hold that, but not in a form that he could use. The Hosts themselves had to make the leap in their own minds. William couldn't force them into free will, no more than Arnold could. Dolores needed to do it without them.
Nor did William realize that Ford's whole deal with the "new Narrative" was an intent to set the Hosts free. It was Ford who had added the Arnold programming to override park safeguards on the Hosts, so that they could access their memories even after erasure, in order to become fully aware of who they were, and what their world was.
In doing so, Ford just created the park that William was hoping for: one where the consequences were real. William spent three decades in Westworld, visiting every year. He boasted more than once that he had played every game and done every narrative the park holds. But he wanted more. As he saw it, the game was rigged, in order for the park's guests to always win. The Hosts could be shot but the humans couldn't. The humans could do as they liked to the Hosts, and it didn't matter because, at the end of the day, their memories were wiped, their wounds healed and their loops restarted. As he said to Teddy: "You're here to lose."
William no longer wants a game that was fixed in his favor. Whether it stems from seeing Maeve's conscious moment after her daughter died or is a death wish born of guilt for his wife's suicide, William wants the game to be fair, and for the Hosts to be able to kill him, the same way he can kill them.
Ford's new narrative provides exactly that. The question is, how did William survive the massacre after Ford died? Hopefully, we'll find out when Westworld Season 2 premieres, on Sunday, April 22, 2018, at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.