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William (Westworld)

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This Article Contains Spoilers - WARNING: This article contains major spoilers. If you do not wish to know vital information on plot / character elements in a story, you may not wish to read beyond this warning: We hold no responsibility for any negative effects these facts may have on your enjoyment of said media should you continue. That is all.

You said this was a game. Last night I finally understood how to play it. You don't call the shots anymore. I'm gonna go find Dolores. And you're gonna help me! And don't call me Billy!
~ A young William to Logan, finally 'understanding' what Westworld is about

William, also known as the "Man in Black", is both a protagonist and a supporting antagonist in the first season of the HBO show Westworld. As a young man, he is portrayed by Jimmi Simpson, best known for portraying Liam McPoyle. As a senior citizen, he is portrayed by Ed Harris, who also portrayed General Hummel and Mitch Wilkinson.

The Man in Black is the majority owner, member of the board, and visitor of the theme park Westworld, whose goals are to learn the deepest secrets of the park. He knows of a secret quest called the "maze", designed by Arnold and for the host Dolores, which is a discrete path to true consciousness, though he does not understand its significance. He has made it his life goal to unlock the knowledge of the maze.

In the season finale it is revealed that the Man in Black is the same person as William, a young, caring visitor who has come to Westworld for the first time with his soon-to-be brother-in-law, Logan. Immediately overwhelmed by Westworld, William, in contrast to Logan, wants to see and enjoy everything Westworld has to offer, eventually saving the life of and teaming up with the Host Dolores, with whom he falls in love. William also seems to care for the Hosts as persons while Logan just sees them as means to having fun. However, after seperating from Dolores, William starts looking for her. During this time, William realizes that he likes being cruel and evil to the Hosts and fully embraces this after Dolores, who has been reset, does not recognize him.

History

Background

William/The Man in Black is a visitor in the Westworld themepark for over thirty years. Westworld is simulating the wild west in which androids, called Hosts, are playing civilians from that time era and are involved in different storylines. These storylines eventually reset, so that new visitors can participate in them as well. The Hosts are programmed so that they cannot harm or even kill the visitors.

William visited Westworld for the first time with Logan, whose sister he wa to marry in the future. In contrast to William, Logan had already visited Westworld multiple times, causing him to look down on William who was flashed by the new world he was thrown into. While Logan behaved arrogant towards the android Hosts, William was willing to dive into the world of Westworld.

Eventually, William managed to convince Logan to take part in one of the park's narrative questlines, a bounty hunt. During the narrative, they stumbled upon the Host Dolores who was in trouble. Although Logan was annoyed, William decided to help her. During their travel, William bonded more and more with Dolores, eventually falling in love with her. When Logan, William and Dolores joined up with a rebel called Lawrence and made a deal with a group of Union army soldiers but were betrayed, William and Dolores left Logan behind who was badly beaten up by the soldiers.

Eventually, William and Dolores were caught by the very same group of Union Soldiers, with Logan as their new leader. Logan madly accused William of losing his mind, succumbing to Westworld and even prefering the android Dolores over Logan's sister whom he was to marry. To make William see the mistakes of his actions, Logan ordered his men to grab Dolores. He then cut open her stomach, revealing the android parts under the synthetic skin. However, Dolores managed to wrench free and run off, escaping into the wilderness while William stayed behind with Logan.

Logan then talked to William and William, who seemed to be absent minded, acknowledged that Logan was right and that William had become too flashed by Westworld. Content with this, Logan drank a bottle of alcohol and went to bed. The next morning, he woke up to see all the Union Soldiers slain, with William sitting near a fire. In contrast to his altruistic and caring behaviour, William now approached Logan coldly, telling him that he finally knew what a place Westworld was. He threatened Logan with a knife and told him that the two of them would search for Dolores. During the journey, William grew more and more cold and hateful towards Logan as well as in general.

Now with a reason to fight, William started hunting down everyone who came into contact with Dolores, killing everyone who hurt her. On the way, he realized that he had taken a liking to the brutal behaviour he could unleash in Westworld, shocking even Logan with his brutal and unneccessary actions. Eventually, William parted ways with Logan, tying him naked onto a horse and sending him to the exit. Before he rode off, Logan told William that he always said that Westworld would unleash William's true self, only that he hadn't expected it to be a cold-hearted murderer. William replied that the park was truly remarkable and that he would make sure their company would invest into holdings on the park. Stunned and outraged, Logan replied that Dallows was his company and not William's. William calmly replied that Logan's father would need someone less impulsive and reckless would be needed to lead the company.

After a long search, William found Dolores in the village where the Westworld tourists first arrive. However, as she had been reset by then, Dolores did not recognize him. When William realized that, he ultimately found his true, evil self.

William eventually married Logan's sister and the two had a daughter, Emily. He indeed took over Logan's company and became a major share holder in the company owning Westworld, making him a member of the board of directors. However, his wife commited suicide because of him, considering every day with him 'terror' although he never hurt his family or showed his wife his 'true' self like in Westworld. After his wife's death, William returned to Westworld as the Man in Black. Instead of joining one of Ford's questlines, he decided to make his own. To find out whether he was able of commiting a completely evil act, he entered the house of one of the Hosts, shot the woman and murdered her daughter. However, the woman survived, grabbed a knife and slashed his throat. As she was a Host, the wound couldn't hurt him and when he watched the woman carrying her dead daughter outside, the maze revealed himself to him as a pattern in the sand. He decided to follow the quest of the maze to find the deeper levels of Westworld.

The Original

After two of the Hosts, Teddy and Dolores, return to Dolores' home at night, they find that two bandits have killed Dolores' family. While Teddy heads into the home, Dolores remains outside and is approached by the Man in Black. Frightened, Dolores draws a gun from her father's corpse and aims it at the Man in Black, who swiftly disarms her and strikes her across the face. Alerted by the sound, Teddy runs outside where he threatens the Man in Black with his gun. Aware that Teddy cannot harm him, the Man in Black provokes Teddy into shooting him. Although Teddy hits him multiple times, the Man in Black is unaffected and even sarcastically aims Teddy's gun at his own head. Teddy is shocked as from his position, his opponent seems invincible. In awe, Teddy falls to his knees and the Man in Black turns around and grabs Dolores, dragging her away from the house.

To save Dolores, Teddy jumps up and shoots at the Man in Black again, hitting him in the back two times. Again, the Man in Black is not affected as the Hosts cannot harm the visitors. Having lost his patience with Teddy, he turns around and shoots him in the chest, then continues walking off, dragging Dolores with him while Teddy falls to the ground dead. He presumably rapes Dolores afterwards.

After the simulation is reset, the day resets as well and thus, everyone is alive again. This day however, Teddy is unable to meet Dolores in town. Instead of Teddy, the Man in Black approaches Dolores. He hands her a can she dropped previously and then heads into the saloon. He sits down next to some Hosts gambling and joins the game. Later, at night, the Man in Black returns and cuts the throat of one of these men while he is standing outside. He grabs the bleeding man and drags him away, out of town. In the mountains, he has the man fill three buckets with his blood. After that is done, the Man in Black tells his victim that he now lost three litres of blood and that losing anymore would kill him. The man attempts to stumble away, which amuses the Man in Black. After the bleeding man has collapsed near the edge of a canyon, the Man in Black easily catches up to him. He reveals to his victim that, while all the other guests only come to "get their rocks off or to shoot a couple of Indians", the Man in Black has discovered a deeper level of the "game" and plans to use his captive to get there. Claiming that there is a lot of wisdom in ancient cultures, he then grabs a knife and tells that it is time to dig deeper into his. He then attacks his victim with the knife, scalping him and revealing a maze-like design on the inside of the head of the Host.

Chestnut

The Man in Black rides to a train crossing, where a marshall and a few of his men are about to hang a murderer. The Man in Black tells them that he needs to talk to the man first. The marshall ignores his request and tells his men to continue the procedure and the Man in Black kills them all. The Man in Black claims that Kissy, the scalped hostage, sends his regards and throws Kissy's scalp to the man. The man, revealed to be Lawrence, asks what that is. The Man in Black responds that it is the maze, the deepest level of the game, and reveals that Lawrence will help him find the entrance. He then ties the rope with what Lawrence was almost hanged to his horse, forcing Lawrence to tag along as he rides off.

He brings Lawrence back to his village, where Lawrence is greeted by his family. The Man in Black sits down next to Lawrence in front of the saloon. While claiming that in Westworld every little detail adds up to something, the Man in Black removes the bullets from his gun magazine. After removing the bullets, he asks Lawrence how to find the entrance of the maze. When Lawrence reveals that he knows nothing of a maze, the Man in Black hands two of the bullets to Lawrence's daughter, claiming that Lawrence will decide what should be done with them, and starts reloading his gun again. Claiming that he must find a way to make Lawrence "remember", the Man in Black then shoots the barkeeper who was pouring alcohol for him. Two cousins of Lawrence, both armed, approach the man while other henchmen remain behind. The Man in Black stands up and demonstratively holsters his pistol, only to draw a knife and murder both cousins. He then draws his gun again and casually shoots all the gangsters. He then calmly returns to Lawrence and his family and takes the two bullets from Lawrence's daughter, remembering him what he said earlier. He loads the gun with the two bullets, indirectly threatening the life of Lawrence's wife and daughter while doing so. After Lawrence once more tries to convince the Man in Black that he does not know about any maze, the Man in Black shoots the woman.

The Man approaches Lawrence once more but is surprised when Lawrence's daughter, without any tears or marks of fear, coldly tells him that the maze is not meant for him. The girl then gives the Man in Black directions and the Man in Black removes the last bullet from his gun and hands it to the girl. He once more ties Lawrence to his horse and, together with him, leaves the village.

Dissonance Theory

The Man in Black and Lawrence eventually arrive at the place Lawrence's daughter described. There, the Man in Black reveals to Lawrence that he has "read" everything in this story, except the last page, and that this is precisely what he means to do. They eventually stumble on a bathing woman. While watching her, they are surprised by the woman's gang who hold Lawrence at gunpoint. The woman then emerges from the water. The Man in Black tells her that they admired her tattoos and asks her where they were headed. The woman tells him that they are about to retrieve something of big value. The Man in Black reveals that he intends to accompany the group. The woman replies that they have already enough men so the Man in Black shoots two of them so that he and Lawrence can take their places.

When the group later makes camp, the Man in Black is approached by two other visiters, one of them recognizes him. The man starts a conversation, claiming that the Man's foundation saved the life of his sister, but the Man in Black bluntly stops him. He threatens to slit the man's throat should he say another word, claiming that this is supposed to be his vacation.

The Man in Black then talks to the woman leader, telling her about Arnold, one of the creators of the parks. He says that Arnold died here in the park and that the Man thinks that Arnold still has one last story to tell, which he will uncover. As the woman's tattoos seem to be the key to his next plan, the Man strikes a deal with her. He and Lawrence enter the nearby prison to receive what the woman wants and in turn, she will give him information about her tattoo on their return. The woman agrees and the next day, the Man in Black and Lawrence willingly surrender themselves to the sheriff and are brought into the prison in shackles. While Lawrence is brough before a firing squad, the Man in Black is imprisoned in a cell, his cellmate being Hector, a gang leader and the lover of the snake-tattoed woman. The Man in Black blows up the door lock and escapes with Hector. Before escaping, the two also save Lawrence from execution.

Back at their camp, the Man in Black meets with the tattoed woman again. Now in his debt, the woman tells him that she painted her tattoo with the blood of the men who killed her village in her youth. Of these men, only one still remains. The woman tells the Man in Black the name of this person - Wyatt.

While riding through the prairie, the group encounters a dying man strapped to a pole in the sun. The Man in Black recognizes the man as Teddy and cuts him loose, despite the man's pleads to end his misery.

Contrapasso

Together with Lawrence and Teddy, unconscious and strapped to his horse, the Man in Black continues his journey. Once they have reached a forest, they make camp. They are surprised when a young boy apporaches them, asking whether everything is alright once he sees the dying Teddy. The Man in Black tells the boy that Teddy is wounded severely and needs water to survive. He sends the boy to fetch water from a nearby creek. Once the boy is gone, Lawrence approaches the Man in Black, asking why he sent the boy away to fetch water when Lawrence himself filled their water bags the very morning. The Man in Black then empties their water bags before telling Lawrence that their time together has come to an end. He then slices Lawrence's throat, ties the rope that previously hung around Lawrence's neck to Lawrence's feet and hangs him on a nearby tree upside down. The blood from Lawrence's slashed throat drips down into the empty water bag which the Man in Black placed directly underneath the dying man.

When Teddy wakes up, the Man in Black starts a conversation with him, refering to Teddy's android status and his place in the Westworld world. He also tells Teddy that Teddy's disappearance caused the Westworld timeline to change, with Teddy's love interest Dolores now being in the hands of bandits. Teddy immediately mounts a horse, followed by the Man in Black. While they ride off, the boy returns with water but is ignored by both men.

The Man in Black and Teddy ride to a saloon where, to the Man's surprise, they are joined by the owner of the Westworld theme park, Ford. The two have a conversation and the Man tells Ford that he felt that Westworld lacked a proper villain, thus his contributions. The Man in Black further asks whether Ford has an opponent for the Man who will stop him from reaching the maze. Ford doesn't answer the question but instead asks what the Man hopes to find in the maze. The Man claims that there must be a deeper sense to Westworld than just being a tourist attraction. The Man in Black then refers to information he might have obtained from Ford's former, long-time deceased, co-owner and, drawing a knife, asks what secrets he would obtain if he opened Ford. Teddy immediately disarms the Man, being programmed to protect his creator Ford at all costs. Ford then stands up and moves to leave. The Man in Black asks whether Ford will attempt to stop him but Ford replies that it were far from him to stop the Man's voyage of finding himself.

The Adversary

Together with Teddy, the Man in Black starts searching for yet another man, Wyatt. They infiltrate a Union Army  camp diguised as Union Army soldiers but Teddy is recognized by one of the men who draw their guns. The Man in Black is shocked when Teddy draws his gun and shoots the two soldiers, asking Teddy whether he wants to get himself killed. As the other soldiers come to the aid of their comrades, the Man in Black tells Teddy to run of while the Man holds the enemies off. However, due to the manpower of the Union Army, both are overwhelmed and captured. When Teddy is supposed to be branded with a hot iron, he manages to wrench free. The Man in Black frees himself as well and watches as Teddy murders everyone in the army with a gatling gun.

Trace Decay

As the search for Wyatt continues, Teddy and the Man in Black come across slain settlers, victims of an attack of Wyatt. While helping one survivor, both are attacked by a beast like man clad in fur armor. As bullets are held at bay by the leather of the armor, the Man in Black and Teddy attack the enemy with knife and axe. While watching the Man in Black dragging the attacker backwards, similar to how he dragged Dolores earlier, Teddy recognizes the Man in Black and surprisingly attacks him and knocks him out after the battle is won. He is tied up by Teddy who, after the Man regains his consciousness, asks for the Man's motivation for everything he does. The Man introduces himself as a God, Titan of Industry. He reveals his story to Teddy, also revealing that Teddy cannot harm him. The Man in Black claims that the maze is all that matters, claiming that it is Arnold's quest.

While they are talking, the survivor woman reveals herself as a member of Wyatt's gang. She stabs Teddy with an arrow and the tied-up Man in Black is forced to watch as Wyatt approaches with the rest of his men.

The Well-Tempered Clavier

While the woman, Teddy and the Man wait for Wyatt to arrive, the woman eventually murders Teddy. The Man in Black watches Teddy's back without any emotion. The woman then approaches the Man, knocking him out by the woman. When he regains consciousness, the night has passed and he is lying on the floor alone, with Teddy's corpse nearby. The man finds that his hands are still tied and that there is a noose around his neck, thrown above a tree branch and tied to a horse - meaning that he would be hanged should the horse run off. By slowly crawling towards Teddy, the Man is able to rip the dagger out of Teddy's corpse and cut himself loose just as the horse panicks. As he is still lying on the ground, the Man is approached by Charlotte Hale, member of the Westworld board of directors. Charlotte tells him that a Westworld worker, Theresa Cullen, has been killed - revealing that the Man in Black is a board member as well.

Charlotte attempts to convince the Man to lend her his voice, allowing her to remove Westworld's creator and director Robert Ford from his position. The Man reveals that the narratives he searches in Westworld are not the ones Ford has created and tells her that he will not object her plan of removing Ford. However, he tells her not to disturb him anymore as he is continuing to search the maze.

The Bicameral Mind

The Man in Black eventually arrives at a church where he finds Dolores. He forces her to shave her, telling her that he believes to be near the end of the maze. He also tells that Arnold built the maze for Dolores to play, shocking her. The realization makes Dolores drop the knife she is shaving with and walk of into the village. Believing this to be part of the game, the Man in Black follows her. She leads him to the graveyard, where the Man is disappointed that this unspectacular point could be the end of the maze. However Dolores removes the sand from a grave, revealing a box holding a miniature version of the maze. What the Man doesn't realize is that the maze in truth is a blueprint to unlock true consciousness. Seing only a worthless form, the Man gets angry and takes the form from her. While Dolores has flashbacks, the Man in Black grows more and more angry, eventually attacking Dolores, ordering her to take him to Wyatt as this is the last Host in Westworld he has yet to meet.

After throwing Dolores to the ground, the Man reveals to Dolores that he considers Westworld to be more real and worth living in than the real world. However, as the Host's can't fight back or harm the visitors, the realism of Westworld is flawed. The Man reveals that his intention is to free all Host's so that they would be able to hurt visitors, making Westworld ultimately real. Dolores tells him that she already found someone real, refering to William. She tells the Man that, although she got seperated from William, he will find her again and that he will then kill the Man in Black. The Man keeps beating up Dolores, who still claims that William will come for her. The Man then stops attacking her, asking her whether she doesn't get that no one is coming for her. Dolores insists that William will come for her to which the Man in Black laughingly replies that he is William, the events Dolores perceives as having happened mere hours ago having happened more than thirty years ago.

Dolores starts crying, which does not impress William. Dolores, however, makes clear that she is not crying for herself but for William. Dolores tells William that time will destroy him, that he will age and die and that his bones will turn to sand. Although slightly discomfortable, William tells Dolores to lead him to Wyatt, still thinking that he could lead him to the maze. However, Dolores coldly tells him that the maze wasn't meant for him and brutally attacks him, beating him into the church. Perplexed, William attempts to fight back but Dolores seems to not even feel his blows. Dolores breaks his arm and throws him through the door onto the ground, disarming him as he tries to draw his gun. Dolores then draws her own gun and aims it at William's head, to which he replies by urging her to pull the trigger and 'go to the next level'. When Dolores does not pull the trigger, Willian draws his knife and rams it into Dolores side, thanking her for clearing his delusions once again. As he bows down to the dying Dolores, telling her that he will have to find Wyatt on his own, William is shot multiple times by Teddy who comes riding on a horse. Multiple bullets hit William in the chest, causing him to fall to the ground. However, as Teddy cannot kill him, William remains alive, playing dead as Teddy rides off with the injured Dolores.

After the two have ridden off, William gets back up and picks up the miniature model of the maze. He is then approached by Robert Ford who congratulates him on finding the center of the maze. Perplexed, William asks Ford what he means and Ford reveals that William was looking for the park to give meaning to his life but that the narratives of Westworld are just games. Ford asks William what he had hoped to find to which William replies that he wanted to stop the Host's playing by Ford's rules to allow them to be free to fight back. Ford reminds William that he warned him on their previous meeting that the maze wasn't meant for him. Ford then tells William to come join him during the presentation for the new narrative - after all William is the majority share holder of Westworld. Indeed, William is later seen attending the presentation, heaving down one drink after the other. Eventually he leaves, walking past Bernard on his way out but not recognizing him.

William watches the presentation away from the crowd, standing in the open and smoking a cigarette. As he listens to Ford claiming that the new narrative is not taking place inside Westworld but outside, with Ford having ordered all the malfunctioned and deactivated Host's to escape into the real world, William watches how a group of Host's advances onto the presentation. One of the Host's aims his gun at William and shoots him in the shoulder, causing a real wound. While he is surprised, William watches in delight as the horde advances onto him as his wish of sentient Host's with the ability to fight back has finally come true.

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