SPOILER ALERT: This post contains spoilers from Westworld Season 2. Proceed with caution.
Many secrets about the Man in Black were revealed during the penultimate episode “Vanishing Point.” There were flashbacks of William‘s wife, Juliet, who was played by CSI: NY actress Sela Ward, as well as present day moments between William and his daughter, Emily. Their strained relationship made for a very emotional, poignant, and quite shocking Westworld episode, especially the end where he killed her because he believed she was a Host.
After he took his daughter’s life, he began to question the nature of his reality. He dug into his arm to see if he was also a Host. While the episode didn’t show the audience what he found in “Vanishing Point,” it did in the finale episode, The Passenger.” So, is the Man in Black a Host? Let’s jump in it.
Man in Black’s Daughter
The Man in Black and his daughter clearly lost touch after Juliet died. We saw from the flashbacks that they were close once. During the party, while Juliet was drinking and Emily was scooting out the door, William was visited by Ford. This was clearly many years ago.
During William and Ford’s conversation, Ford mentioned that William won’t like what his “little project in the valley” has found. That must mean that everything Ford told Bernard when they were together in the Cradle, was William’s idea. His longing for immortality, his desire to be studied by the park, to be turned into a Host… All those things came from William. As Ford said, he was not going to like what he found.
Back in the present, Emily told the Man in Black that she wanted “in” on his project. She believed that it could give her mother a second chance. Not necessarily a second chance at life, but to find out why she died.
Man in Black’s Wife
In flashbacks, William took Juliet home after the party. Juliet had been drinking and began to call William a fake. According to her, he faked his altruism, his gentleness, his grace — everything. She called him a virus that infected her brother Logan (William’s black hat companion from Season 1) and her father, James Delos.
Emily walked in on their argument and told her mother that she needed to go back to the treatment center. This completely unraveled Juliet, who refused to go back. This whole scene felt like it was going to lead to Juliet’s suicide, and it did. What puzzled Emily was the “why”, but it seems obvious that Juliet would have rather been dead than go back to isolation and rehab.
So why was Emily digging at an issue that she already knew about? William thought it was because she was really Ford — that she was really a Host. The truth was, Emily had read William’s file — his data package from the park — and it revealed the true darkness within her father.
When a rescue team showed up to evacuate William and Emily, William open fired on all of them. He even shot and killed Emily. For him, it was all a game that Ford put into motion. Unfortunately — and William realized this way too late — that Emily was real and that he just killed the last person in the world who loved him.
The True Darkness Within
Ford couldn’t live with this and put a gun to his head, but before he pulled the trigger, he recalled one more moment from the night Juliet died. He recalled the darkness that had grown within him. He believed that his darkness had always lived within him and that in Westworld, it could be fully unleashed.
In a scary twist, he began to sound like Dolores. He believed that he belonged to another world. How eerie it was to hear him talk about Westworld the way Dolores spoke about the real world? Does that make them both completely delusional?
During this moment of true confession to his wife, Juliet wasn’t sleeping, she was awake. Hearing William confess to his darkness and his lack of love for her made her weep. After he left the room, she found his data file. She watched it and was horrified. His darkness was the true reason she took her life.
At the end of “Vanishing Point,” the Man in Black finally lowered his gun and and began digging into his arm with his hunting knife. When “The Passenger” picked up, we saw him still digging. Unfortunately Dolores interrupted his quest. It wasn’t until he shot his own hand off that he could see his bone structure.
This question wasn’t answered until the post credits scene of the Season 2 finale:
Yes! The Man in Black is a Host. His daughter is also a Host!
How long has he been a Host? Has he always been a Host? Has she always been a Host? That question and many more will have to be answered in Season 3.
Westworld will return.