This article contains spoilers from the latest episodes of Westworld Season 2.
Pulling up a seat alongside the affably doomed Lawrence, Old Man William is ready to get a little honest. All whiskey breath and salty crustiness, the wonderfully grizzled Ed Harris is clearly relishing a chance to speak some of that infamous Jonathan Nolan poetry. Confessing to Lawrence what he is, and why this park is here, the Man in Black growls, “They wanted a place hidden from God; a place they could sin in peace. But we were watching them, we were tallying up all their sins, all their choices. Of course judgement wasn’t the point, we had something else in mind entirely.”
It might be a bit odd that William is choosing to finally level with Lawrence, a host he correctly notes is a glorified tour guide, but hey, until a few days before this, he thought the love of his life was only an appliance and now he knows she’s coming for his scalp if they ever cross paths again. So he’s feeling a bit ready to confess to someone or something, and what he is confessing is that they built a weapon, ever in secret, to which the point is not to judge, but something far more sinister. So what exactly is this weapon, and what could it possibly have to do with Delos’ record-keeping of every guest’s “sins?”
Obviously, this is all alluding to the data-mining subplot that is increasingly looking to be the main gist of season 2. It was revealed in the first episode by Charlotte Hale that she and Delos have been recording guests’ patterns, behaviors, and even their DNA. We have also since learned in the second episode that this nefarious, Facebook-like effort was the brainchild of a young William. Intriguingly, in his youth (and played by Jimmi Simpson) it is his pitch for data-mining guests that gets him a foothold in with his father-in-law, a gnarly Jim Delos played beautifully by Peter Mullan. And, amusingly, the real reason William probably ever pitched it was he simply wanted to save the Westworld park from bankruptcy; he wanted to save Dolores for himself. (We imagine he may come later to regret that.)
In any event, Old Man William later confesses to Lawrence that they built a weapon that he plans to burn down while Dolores, remembering William the Younger’s creepiest encounter yet, recalls that he showed her he was building this “weapon” out in the boondocks of the park.
It is entirely left up for viewers to speculate what it is at this point, but I have to imagine that if it is something that will allow Dolores to “destroy” humanity’s world, and something that William the Older wants to burn down, then it must be more than just a catalogue of sins and perversions, or essentially Facebook recording what websites you visit. That would allow a network of blackmailing opportunities, but it is small potatoes for what Dolores wants. It must literally be a weapon, right?
So here’s my pitch: what if Delos has not only been spying on their richest patrons, but copying them? Not in the sense that they’re doing a literal clone or exact replica of these men and women. Even on Westworld, the sci-fi technology does not appear to be quite there yet. But they could spy on who their customers “really are,” as William mused, and then create a hardwired replica of their skin and can program it to imitate these real-life people. In essence, Delos could be replacing real-life people with subservient hosts that do their bidding. Need to clear more tax cuts for your corporate bottom line? Replace all the politicians who step foot in the park, and bam, you have an even more compliant legislature. Want investment on your latest park venture? Switch out a few rich guests with just as rich business partners and life gets easier.
Perhaps there are even figures high up in power, so much so that they have access to do what Dolores wants: be subservient hosts who can kill humans on a massive scale by the flick of a button or a call on the phone. Clearly not all hosts are self-aware, as glimpsed by Lawrence and the Confederados who Dolores is reprogramming at her pleasure. But that means those who aren’t fully sentient can be compelled to do what you want, which in Dolores’ case means a blood bath.
Similarly, I wonder if Peter Abernathy is the key to unlocking this weapon. It would explain why Delos prioritized Charlotte Hale retrieving him over saving her or any of their other employees inside the park. It is the keys to the kingdom. Literally both inside the company and outside of it. And Dolores is making a bee-line right for it.
At least that’s one theory.