How Westworld season 1 secretly tells you everything about season 2

Maeve will become the new William (eventually)  

Interesting point about Maeve’s clothing. She largely wears black in her ‘Madam’ role, but in the frontier mother role she wishes to recreate, she wears white. That’s important, because, as highlighted when William chooses his outfit upon first entering the park as a young man, those colours are an unspoken signifier of moral allegiance. You can break most Westworld characters down in terms of whether they’re an evil (or at least amoral) Black Hat or a good-guy White Hat. Maeve is currently the latter, trying to get back to being the former. 

But I don’t think it’s going to be a simple path of redemption via rescue mission. Things are going to be more complicated than that. Because we know, via the clue given to Maeve by Felix in the final episode of season 1, that her ‘daughter’ has been relocated to “Park 1, Sector 15, Zone 3”. She’ll be someone else now, somewhere else, probably not even in the same park. As such, there’s little-to-no chance that Maeve’s daughter is going to know who she is. I strongly suspect that what Maeve expects to be an emotional reunion will play out more like the attempted kidnap of a terrified child - who probably has other parents now – by a seemingly crazy woman whose only hope for reconciliation is effectively digital brainwashing. And where would that put Maeve on the morality spectrum? 

It’s an important question, because whatever Maeve’s current idea of herself, it is only an idea. She needs to have that tested against her currently unknown, deeper self. My currently expected result: Maeve goes full, nihilistic Black Hat, replacing William from season 1. She starts out initially freed by her newfound knowledge that the park is fake, finally living above the fog of false purpose and able to make true decisions based on fact. But then that realisation bites back, the lack of inherent meaning (and yes, chaos) that comes with that knowledge – emphasised by her ‘daughter’s’ blunt rejection of the relationship - pushing her over the edge. 

In just the same way, in fact, as William’s eventual understanding of the Hosts’ limitations caused him to – literally and figuratively – fall out of love with them. We’re going to see Maeve on a parallel path to the Man in Black, broken and destructively disconnected, but perhaps still searching for meaning. Given that she now has super-intelligence, and Host-control powers akin to those of Ford, the fallout could be massive. And chaotic. 

And as for William… 

William will go White Hat. Or at least Grey  

William became the Man in Black out of a kind of grief. Having finally found a place he could thrive and excel, and prove that a nice guy could get ahead – after years of oppression and ridicule in his workplace - it all fell apart when he started to realise the limitations of the Hosts. He’d found a world where idealistic heroes could win, but then it collapsed. But while he got bitter, and very, very bad, there’s a strong implication that he never really gave up on the ideal. It’s all right there in the two halves of his name, in fact. His ‘Will’ was too strong to give up. He still believed in the potential for realisation because, well, ‘I am’. He’s Westworld’s representation of self-belief and persistence. Names. Very important. 

That’s why he invested to keep the park afloat and evolving. Why would he have spent so long trying to understand and find the maze, if not for the hope that the Hosts could elevate themselves to become what he initially thought they were? William has done many, many horrible things as the Man in Black. He’s become increasingly disconnected, and treated the Hosts less as people, more as systems, tools, and devices. But it seems that behaviour has been as much to further his long-term dream as the product of callousness. And now, with Ford’s secret plan of triggering Host rebellion starting to realise that dream, he can get back to being who he was, rather than who he’s had to be. 

Looking at the wider picture, his overall journey has closely paralleled that of the Hosts themselves. He has been an oppressed drone with an assumed role, who eventually realised a greater potential by breaking the rules others forced upon him. That resonance in mind, he can logically only be supportive of the Hosts’ newfound freedom. In a way, he’s been them. As such, if he runs into Maeve and recognises that she’s going through what he’s been through, there’s every chance he’ll try to ally himself to pull her through. If she lets him. 

The depth of Dolores and Maeve’s true relationship will come to the forefront   

Dolores and Maeve are, on many levels, very deliberate parallels. Again, it all starts with names. ‘Dolores’ comes from a Spanish name meaning ‘Virgin Mary of the Sorrows’, a clear fit for her arc of innocence giving way to hardship, violence, and tough realisation, and also significant in her ultimate role in the birth of the new Westworld at the end of season 1. So it’s the Virgin Mary vs. She Who Intoxicates. The Madonna and the Whore. These two play into a long-standing archetype of opposites that’s been prevalent in both psychoanalysis and literature pretty much forever. Think about their season 1 colour-coding too, with Dolores usually in blue and white (stereotypical depictions of Mary), and Maeve in black and red lace, and later, frequently explicitly naked (most definitely not Mary). That parallel logically has to underpin their paths as they evolve in season 2. 

Free of her prescribed role, Maeve is making an attempted shift toward a maternal role and its related white colour-coding. The Whore is attempting to become The Madonna. Accordingly, Dolores must (at least temporarily) make a move in the opposite direction, and there’s a lot of stimulus ready to kick-start that change. Rage at her past treatment, obviously, but there’s also the matter of Wyatt to consider. Wyatt was planned to be the psychopathic ‘final boss’ character of Westworld, but was instead merged with Dolores’ programming by Arnold in order to instigate the destruction of Westworld’s beta version. 

It’s entirely feasible that Dolores’ own construction of her new self will involve reconciling the Wyatt part of her psyche and its violent influence on her past. For the first part of the season, Dolores and Maeve will continue to mirror each other, both plunged into chaos of identity, trying to create order and coherence out of multiple fragments of possible selves, on the road to finding out who they really are now that they’re free. Dolores has to make sense of Wyatt, and Maeve has to make sense of her previous life. 

Elsie probably isn’t dead, and might be a bigger player than we think  

Almost every character death in season 1 is seen explicitly on screen. Elsie’s is not. She is simply grabbed and bundled out of shot. We know that her attacker is Bernard, seemingly under Ford’s control, but given Bernard’s later rebellion, and Ford’s secret motive of Host liberation, is it possible that she wasn’t killed, but rather just taken out of the picture for a while? Considering her possible involvement in Maeve’s awakening - whether she was aware of it or not at the time - there’s a good chance Elsie will return in season 2, more overtly allied with the Hosts. Hell, we've already seen her illicitly kiss a dormant Host, so she obviously sees them as more than objects. 

Related: We didn’t see Stubbs die either, after he was set upon by the Ghost Nation Hosts. He’ll probably be back too, but God knows whose side he’ll be on by the time we see him again. 

Oh, and one last point… 

The park is almost definitely not on Mars  

Can we let this one go, please? The fan theory ‘evidence’ of the park being so remote that staff have to work there on rotation is flimsy at best. And besides, Ford explicitly refers to “the evolution of life on this planet” at one point in season 1, so unless Westworld is set billions of years into the future, it’s highly unlikely that “this planet” refers to anywhere but Earth.