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Monday, October 10, 2016

Westworld 1.2: Who Is the Man in Black?

As the second Presidential debate played out across lots of television tonight, the second episode of Westworld proceeded on HB0.   Actually, it's been available On Demand for about a week - as our own world becomes ever more like Westworld in our ability to control our fiction - but I just saw it in the past hour.

And it was an excellent hour, which furthered and honed a question which arose in the first episode last week: who is the Man in Black?

Only guests are supposed to survive deadly attacks from the android hosts, and the Man in Black is able to dish it out - kill posses and other congregations of bad guys, not to mention innocents who serve his goals - but he seems invulnerable to any shots that come his way, i.e., go right into him.   So that would make him a guest, right?

But he seems to be something more, or maybe other than a guest, would be a better description.  He's being watched by the technicians in Westworld, and they usually seem to focus more on the hosts than the guests.   And he talks about how long he's been pursuing his goals in Westworld, which raises the question, if he's a guest, can a guest stay in Westworld for decades like the Man in Black?

So to the extent that all of that throws a little doubt on whether he's guest, that shifts the pendulum back to his being a host, albeit a special kind of host who's invincible to other host bullets, and we're left with a choice of the Man in Black being either an unconventional host (invulnerable) or an unconventional guest (can stay in the amusement park for decades).

I've seen some wild theories batted about online about the Man in Black's identity (well played, by the way, by Ed Harris).   My favorite is that he's really the Gunslinger from the 1973 movie, played by Yule Brenner.   There is a resemblance, but that would mean he's been in the park, well ... do we know if there's any connection between the movie and the TV series, which could tell us if the series is taking place x number of years after the story in the movie?

Nah, I don't think the movie and TV series are connected in that way.  But even so, Westworld the series is continuing to raise provocative questions, and well on its way to being another winner for HBO.

See also Westworld 1.1: Isaac Asimov and Philip K. Dick Served Up by Jonathan Nolan, Lisa Joy, and J. J. Abrams



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