The fifth episode of Westworld, titled “Contrapasso”, was noteworthy for a few reasons. Last year, much was made of the fact that HBO shut down production on the series so that showrunners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy could regroup, catch up on scripts, and plot out exactly where the show was going. That shutdown happened after Episode 4, with everyone taking a couple months off before coming back together for Episode 5, which was last night’s installment. So this episode was the first one produced after — we think — the writers had plotted out exactly where they were going, and what everything means. This assumption makes sense when you factor in the enormity of information divulged in “Contrapasso”, as well as the further teasing of mysterious Westworld co-creator Arnold.
But one of the biggest aspects of last night’s episode was how much evidence it seemed to present in support of a popular Westworld fan theory regarding Ed Harris’ Man in Black character. Consider this your official spoiler warning if you don’t want to know what this theory entails, and what twist it might spoil.
So, the theory that was formulated early on in this season is that Jimmi Simpson’s William becomes Ed Harris’ Man in Black, and that his adventures with Logan and Dolores are taking place in the past. There was some evidence early in the season to suggest this—when William was shot by a host, he developed a bruise, while bullets simply brushed off of the Man in Black. The reason? Advances in technology from William’s time to the Man in Black’s time.
In “Contrapasso”, however, Westworld came extremely close to explicitly stating that William and Logan’s storyline is taking place in the past. Let’s run down the new evidence.