The following contains spoilers for Westworld season 3 episode 1.
Through two seasons of Westworld, Bernard Lowe (Jeffrey Wright), may have been the closest thing viewers had to a hero to identify with. In season 1, he was one of a precious few human characters to keep track of. Then in season 2, after it was revealed that he was a host modeled after original Westworld creator Arnold, Bernard still kept up his heroic ways.
And yet, here in the beginning of Westworld season 3, Bernard is public enemy number one. He lives a transient and ascetic lifestyle, working as a farmer and trying to avoid capture from the world’s governments. At one point while working on a cattle farm somewhere in Asia, Bernard tracks down an article about his own manhunt. It reads:
Months Pass, No Leads in Hunt for Park Murderer
At a press conference yesterday, authorities assured the public that they remain vigilant in the worldwide manhunt for Bernard Lowe, the disgruntled Delos employee whose deadly rampage through the park three months ago could only be described as a “bloodbath” by witnesses. Lowe is considered highly armed and dangerous, and Chinese police have maintained heightened security checkpoints at all ports and transit terminals near the Delos parks for the past several months.
That’s quite the report. And it certainly doesn’t jibe with the gentle, bespectacled man we’ve come to know. How did Bernard get here and what does it mean for his arc going forward?
Simply put, Bernard Lowe is a scapegoat for the violent delights unleashed in Westworld. In reality, Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins) was the man who ensured that hosts like Dolores achieved sentience and rebelled. Bernard, if anything, tried to stop and mitigate all the violence. But still he remains responsible for it in the eyes of the law for a few reasons.
For starters, Bernard never really articulated that he was innocent particularly well. At the end of Westworld season 2 episode 1, when the tactical team arrives at a flooded valley with dozens of dead hosts, Bernard absent-mindedly admits that he killed them all. Of course, Bernard really only ensured that the hosts who wanted to reach the afterlife-esque “Sublime” could and it was really Dolores who was behind the destructive flood. Having that admission on his record just can’t look good.
Then there’s the reality that it’s the victors who write the history books. Dolores and her new partner Host-Charlotte Hale (though again: we don’t know which host consciousness resides in Charlotte’s robotic body) unambiguously “won” Westworld season 2. Dolores shot Bernard and then escaped to the mainland, along with the “pearls” of five other hosts. Dolores then recreates Bernard’s body and places his pearl back inside, effectively resurrecting him. Dolores does this not because she needs Bernard as an accomplice or a friend but rather as an adversary. If artificial intelligence is going to make it in the big, bad real world, they are going to need to keep each other honest and on edge. Dolores won’t be able to accomplish anything without Bernard breathing down her neck to stop her.
So while it’s ultimately a pretty nice thing for Dolores to have brought Bernard back to life, she also had quite a head start on him in the real world before he came back “online.” In that time, Dolores could have very easily have started the narrative that disgruntled employee Bernard Lowe was responsible for the massacre at Westworld. In fact, that’s a narrative that the fake Charlotte Hale continues to push at a Delos’ investors meeting so that they can resume production on new hosts for the park.
Bernard has certainly gotten a raw deal here. The good news, however, is that he remains a very capable individual. Having lived most his life as a human being while also possessing all the qualities of a host makes him quite formidable. He goes by the name of “Armand Delgado” now and at the end of the day runs a diagnostic check on himself to make sure that no one is tampering with his code.
Should the need arise though, Bernard is able to alter his own code to be more combative. When two of his fellow farm workers seek to capture him for the bounty on his head, Bernard presses a red button to access his interface and then quietly pleads with his own mind “please don’t hurt them too badly.” Unsurprisingly, Bernard’s ninja moves then proceed to hurt his attackers pretty badly. Still, that level of mastery over one’s own body and mind is exceedingly useful to have as a fugitive.
By episode’s end, Bernard seeks passage to an island off the coast of China. The owner of the boat asks where he intends to go and Bernard confidently answers “Westworld.” To the outside world in might look like Bernard Lowe is returning to the scene of the crime. In reality, our heroic host just has some unfinished business at the park that started it all.