Westworld spoilers ahead for the Season 2 finale and, yeah, even for Season 3.
If you think you’ve wrapped your head around HBO’s Season 2 finale of Westworld, we have one more character twist to send your way. Well maybe it’s less of a twist and more of a confirmation. There’s been a theory that this character may not be what they seem to be (i.e., they’re a host in disguise as a human) since the series’ premiere, but the recent Season 2 finale “The Passenger” gave us our first good evidence to back that theory up. Shortly thereafter, the show’s creative team basically confirmed it. (This is your last spoiler warning.)
Now a number of our recent write-ups have centered on the mystery surrounding which Westworld characters are guests and which are hosts. Season 2 doubled down on host-vs-human violence while oddly doing away with any meaningful exploration of humanity for hosts and humans alike. Most of the humans, who were all awful people, were killed off in gratuitously violent displays, and those who may have had a shred of decency left have been revealed as hosts. (Our own Matt Goldberg penned an editorial criticizing that and more.) This head-scratching narrative decision speaks to the “mystery first, good storytelling second” approach to the second season, and Luke Hemsworth‘s Ashley Stubbs is but the latest casualty of it.
In a recent interview with Vanity Fair, and with secondary confirmation through EW, fans can now rest assured (or not) that the park’s chief security officer is actually a host hand-picked by Ford himself. Viewers picked up on the heavy hints at the Season 2 closer’s final moments when Stubbs had a bit of an awkward conversation with Host Hale (Tessa Thompson), suggesting that he not only knew she was not her human counterpart but that he’d been custom built by Ford to protect and monitor the hosts in the park, not outside of it. VF also has a nice revisit to past moments where Stubbs has been protective of other hosts, specifically Bernard.
Finale director Frederick E.O. Toye told VF that Jonathan Nolan literally wrote this scene after a “light bulb” moment the night before it was shot, so whether that’s an example of a last-minute muse or a mad scramble to cram some more mystery in at the expense of meaningful storytelling is up to you to decide. Toye also shared Hemsworth’s reaction to getting the new pages:
“I just read this scene! Oh shit!”
Co-creator Lisa Joy also previously confirmed the reveal in an interview with The Wrap:
“We don’t say it explicitly, but if you are left wondering with all [Stubbs’] talk… it’s a little acknowledgement of just why he might have his suspicions about what’s going on with Hale, and then lets her pass. And doesn’t it make sense if you are Ford and designing a park and you have a whole master plan about helping robots that you would keep one Host hiding in plain sight as a fail-safe? Maybe the Host who’s in charge of quality assurance?”
So there you have it! One less decent human being and one more decent host in Westworld. It remains to be seen if Hemsworth and Stubbs will return for Season 3 since the story seems to be focused in the world outside the park, but anything goes in this show. Be sure to let us know your thoughts and your “core drive” directives in the comments below!