Westworld is back — and we're as confused as ever. Here are some of the best theories to explain what the heck is going on after that confounding season four premiere:
What's the Man in Black up to at the Hoover Dam?
The season premiere opens with the Man in Black — a host version of William working for the evil host version of Charlotte, who is technically a rogue copy of Dolores — heading to the Hoover Dam to obtain something stored there that he says was "stolen from me." William also says the person who stole it "is dead," meaning "I can't decrypt it, and no one else can."
He seems to be referring to Dolores, which would suggest the data from The Forge — e.g. data collected on the park guests and also the virtual world where hosts like Teddy were uploaded, known as the Sublime — is being stored at the Hoover Dam, and that's what he's after. It's unclear why, but Serac, the villain last season, was also trying to access this data, and he went after Dolores believing she had the encryption key. What Serac didn't realize was that the key is actually with Bernard, and the Man in Black doesn't appear to know that, either.
Is Christina in another park?
Season three ended with Dolores being hooked up to the artificial intelligence Rehoboam, having her memories erased until she apparently dies. Westworld co-creator Lisa Joy has repeatedly claimed the original Dolores really is dead, so the season four premiere, "The Auguries," picks up with Wood seemingly playing a new character: Christina, a video game programmer.
So, what's going on here?
There are a few possible explanations, but perhaps the most compelling fan theory is that everything we're seeing in the Christina storyline is yet another theme park — possibly Futureworld, as seen in the 1976 film sequel to the original Westworld. The best piece of evidence: a moment early on when Christina passes a man who says, "This place is f--king wild. Can't believe this is your first time." That sure sounds like something guests in a Westworld-style theme park would say to each other.
This would also help explain why Christina sees the maze from Westworld on her balcony, and Christina's roommate, Maya, holds up white and black shoes in a clear echo of the choice of white or black hats presented to Westworld guests.
But if the evil host version of Charlotte is pulling the strings now, as season three seemed to set up, some fans think Futureworld may actually be an inverse of the other parks, meaning the hosts are the guests and humans are the hosts. If so, those freaky flies from the opening scene could be controlling the humans, with Christina writing for them when she thinks she's programming video game NPCs, hence her stalker saying that "all these people do what you want them to."
Is Christina in a simulation?
Alternatively, Christina could be inside some sort of simulation, perhaps one that the Man in Black and Charlotte have set up with the goal of getting the encryption key to the Forge data from Dolores. They could have placed the memory-wiped Dolores from the end of season three inside this elaborate virtual world, hoping they'll be able to find information about the key somewhere in her subconscious. Another version of this theory suggests she's in a simulation because Dolores has merged with Rehoboam.
It could also be that Christina has somehow found herself stuck inside the video game she's been programming, which explains the fact that the storylines she's writing seem to be coming to life — e.g. her boss mentioning her writing a storyline about a stalker, and she later is confronted by an actual stalker — but it's not clear how Dolores would factor into that scenario.
Is Christina in the Sublime?
The season four premiere ends with the surprise return of Teddy, who we last saw being uploaded into the Sublime, the virtual world where hosts can live free of humans. So could it be that Dolores is actually in the Sublime, which is apparently being housed at the Hoover Dam, and just isn't aware of it?
One possible clue pointing to this theory: the episode features a Ramin Djawadi cover of "Video Games" by Lana Del Rey, which includes the lyric "heaven is a place on Earth with you" — and for hosts, heaven on Earth seems like a fairly accurate description of the Sublime.
Is Caleb dead?
Maeve's first scene of the season sees her sitting by a fire recalling various memories, and we get a quick glimpse of bloodied Caleb, presumably at some point during the war that occurred between seasons three and four. Could this suggest Caleb actually died during this war, and he's been replaced with a host? Or might that be a fake-out, and the bloodied Caleb scene will actually occur in the future?
Could the Christina storyline be set in the past?
We know Westworld loves messing around with timelines, so another fan theory suggests everything with Christina is happening in the past — as in, before season one.
In that case, could the Dolores host from Westworld actually be based on Christina, a real person, and her life, similar to the way Bernard was based on Arnold? It's possible, though it's unclear in that case why Christina would be seeing iconography from Westworld like the maze, which was part of the effort to get the hosts to become conscious that theoretically wouldn't have happened yet. But one piece of evidence in this theory's corner: In behind-the-scenes footage for the premiere, Evan Rachel Wood claims Christina is human. Then again, she could just be lying to throw us off.
For now, everything is on the table — and the possibility of all these theories being dead wrong in favor of something even more confounding is equally likely.