By now, Westworld fans are split into two camps regarding Bernard’s identity: He’s either a meddling human or a liberating robot.
If you’re in the Bernard-is-human camp, you’ll point to Bernard’s video chat with his wife, the tragedy of his son’s death and his covert talks with Dolores as evidence he’s a flesh-and-blood man wrestling with grief and sympathy.
And if you’re in the Bernard-is-a-robot faction, you’ll point to the same evidence for entirely different reasons: Bernard is a robot being manipulated by Dr. Ford to program hosts. Bernard’s wife and son, Charlie? They’re just part of a back story meant to keep him anchored. Why else would Dr. Ford so callously remind Bernard of his son’s death? Why else would video conferences happen in a public room? Why else would Bernard’s son mysteriously die on a hospital bed in a world we’re told by Dr. Ford is free of fatal disease?
Why does Dr. Ford need Bernard?
But if Bernard is a robot, why would Dr. Ford need him? Aren’t there plenty of talented, living programmers available who are more obedient, more malleable and less obsessed with questions of consciousness?
Maybe Dr. Ford doesn’t need a living programmer. Maybe he needs the help of someone who’s no longer alive.
Arnold, if you didn’t catch Westworld’s most exposition-rich scene to date, is Dr. Ford’s deceased partner. We’re told this genius was a founder of Westworld but fell prey to the seduction of treating hosts as humans. And he died before Bernard began his work at the park.
So, let’s review:
- Feels sympathy and loyalty to the hosts
- Works hand-in-hand with Dr. Ford
- Has a mysterious back story
- Risks life and reputation to empower hosts and increase their abilities
Sound like someone you know?
The Dolores connection
Let’s take it a step further: Bernard specifically works with one host: Dolores. He claims she’s “different.” We know Dolores is the original host. Is Bernard finishing the work Arnold started with Dolores?
We’ve witnessed so many Westworld characters battling their demons. Now it looks as if we’ve seen a ghost.
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