WARNING: The following contains spoilers for the Westworld Season 3 finale, “Crisis Theory,” which aired Sunday on HBO.
The first two seasons of Westworld painted William aka the Man in Black as quite an intriguing character. Fans knew Ed Harris’ older version was an abusive tyrant, as seen with his assaults on Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood), but the young version, played by Jimmi Simpson, threw them for a loop with his descent after falling for Dolores many years before.
Ultimately, William succumbed to darkness; a need to murder, kill and enjoy the sadist within for a month, every year. This struggle with that black hole on the inside is what wrecked his family life, drove his wife away and what led to him shooting and killing his own daughter when he got older. Season 3 now deals with him addressing these issues, namely pretending he wasn’t a monster all his life. As it ends, though, this set of events leads to the real William emerging, and it’s the most dangerous one there is.
There’s a lot of irony to this because while it’s the William that’s always want to be unleashed, the most truthful William operating at his most basic instinct, it’s not a human but actually a host version of him. Midway through the season, William was tortured by Halores (Tessa Thompson), meeting his younger and older selves, sussing out his abusive childhood and how he went from being spurned to a cold-blooded killer in Delos’ park. She broke him mentally, to the point he believed he was a hero meant to kill all hosts loose in the real world.
Luckily for him, Bernard and Stubbs freed him after he lost his stake in Delos to Halores, but he made it clear he was going to be on a warpath. He escaped and in the post-credits of the finale, William heads to Delos in Dubai to kill Halores. However, fans then see his real self emerging and it’s the most perfect William ever — unabashed, truthful and embracing the demon within. Of course, Halores’ programming probably removed all emotional barriers so he could become the animal he was always meant to be, someone who slits the human William’s throat to kill his old, weaker self.
As he bleeds out after a beatdown, the human’s petrified, not just because the robot is faster, stronger and more durable, but because this is the William he always wanted to be. He suppressed this William deep down and now seeing it in reality is scary. The host explains he reconciled the most real and most parts of all his years, from being a scared boy to a ragged veteran skeptical for humanity, and the result is the alpha of all alphas. This host doesn’t care for romance or revenge because a robot didn’t like him, he simply wants to save the world from injustice and not because of human William’s selfish reasons. The latter was about ego and narcissism, but Halores’ war-dog has processed what mankind is and the role he can play in the culling, accepting that he’s going to be its saving grace by helping Halores purge the planet.
So in a sense, as much as human William is dying on the spot, it’s a rebirth as he looks on at this destroyer — a truly free entity with the will to change the world. The old man was a slave to his own devices and inner demons, but this host is one with the darkness, rather than just using it in bursts to shoot or pillage a park. This William is the one true Man in Black, and the person human William was actually afraid of becoming because he knew he’d enjoy the chaos and destruction too much, meaning he was more monster than man all along.
Airing Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on HBO, Westworld stars returning cast members Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton, Ed Harris, Jeffrey Wright, Tessa Thompson, Luke Hemsworth, Simon Quarterman and Rodrigo Santoro, joined by series newcomers Aaron Paul, Vincent Cassel, Lena Waithe, Scott Mescudi, Marshawn Lynch, John Gallagher Jr., Michael Ealy and Tommy Flanagan.
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Season 3's Westworld finale finally revealed the real Man in Black, and as he's let loose upon humanity, it's clear he's the most dangerous one.