‘Westworld’ Creators on the Man in Black: “He’s an Expert-Level Gamer”

     October 24, 2016


While Sunday’s episode of Westworld continued the show’s streak of compelling television, it debunked a few popular fan theories about the Man in Black. One suggested he was Arnold, Dr. Ford’s original partner in creating the amusement park, while another theorized him to be an A.I. with Arnold’s consciousness. Both of them would appear to have been proven false, but the series creators offered more insights into the mysterious character.

The episode, titled “The Dissonance Theory,” saw the Man in Black encounter another guest who recognized him from outside the park. He began praising the MiB on the foundation that saved his sister, but the Westworld villain shut him down: “I’m on vacation.”


Image via HBO

During an interview with EW, executive producer and co-showrunner Lisa Joy said of this moment:

“Our sympathies are so aligned with the hosts it’s easy to think of the Man in Black as absolute black evil with a wry smile. For him, he’s looking at this as just a game and he’s an expert-level gamer. Just like a life-saving doctor can play Grand Theft Auto really violently doesn’t mean he can’t be a wonderful doctor and parent outside that world. So that’s what we’re approaching here, is a shift in perspective that might allow us to imagine a different side of his character that he shows the outside world.”

Turning to the MiB’s planned infiltration of the prison and eventual breakout, executive producer/co-showrunner Jonathan Nolan explained:

“We wanted to move the story forward so you’re asking yourself how he wound up in there, but then they arrive at the prison and the deputy fills in the details — they just walked out and tried to steal a couple horses right in front of him. As an expert gamer, the Man in Black knows how to play this, he knows how to get inside the prison. We just wanted to get into the fun of it.”

And so the plot thickens.