Checkov's Non-linear Timeline

I wondering what you guys think of the theory that the events we are seeing with William and Logan are set 30 years in the past. Do you buy it. Is William the Man in black? I did not think this theory was true after seeing the pilot, but the last two episodes have been pushing me more in that direction. 

Also, one small thing I noticed that may be nothing is that as far as I can tell Maeve, the madame, is not in any scenes with William and Logan. It doesn't prove anything, but perhaps it's because 30 years ago she was playing another role like the one from her flashback/dream. 


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  • edited October 2016
    In addition to being a terrible idea from a plot construction level to have secret flashbacks in a show with this many plotlines, it also makes no logical sense. First of all, we saw Dolores run into William and Logan right after a scene in which she had a memory of The Man in Black, so unless she's having premonitions of the future (which, ew no) then the theory doesn't check out.

    Secondly, (and I honestly can't believe people still believe this theory with this in mind), we've established that 30 years ago the hosts were far less realistic - look at Ford's conversation with Old Bill in the first episode, or the flashbacks shown when he was talking with Bernard in episode 3. We also know that Dolores is the oldest host in the park, but has been rebuilt so many times that you wouldn't be able to tell by looking at her. However, if the flashback theory is true, then the park, the hosts, and Dolores haven't changed a bit in 30 years, which runs directly against the information we already know.

    The short answer: no. There is literally a 0% chance of the flashback theory being true.
  • i sure hope not, tricksy for the sake of tricksy is annoying--just tell a fully fleshed-out and good story and i'm with you, don't need "the twist", it's like a virus that has infected pop culture.  thanks, m. night shyamalan.
  • I could buy a multiple timeline theory (but maybe it's a bias because of the Nolans' other works) but I'm not ready to put all my chips on MiB=William. This episode especially because the last two scenes.

    Dolores is in the barn. Remembers earlier loop w/ MIB. Searches hay for gun. Shoots big bad. Runs out. Remembers earlier loop where she's shot. Current loop she runs away instead. Stumbles into camp with Logan and William and falls into his arms. Or at least that's how I interpreted it. Which would be meaning William's timeline is after.
  • To me it seems more like MiB is Arnold 2.0 but I am open all possibilities. 3 eps in and I'm loving the What If's
  • I think it would be pretty clever, and there does seem to be some interesting evidence for it through 3 episodes, but ultimately there's more evidence against it.  The hosts appearance and articulation haven't changed for 30 years?  I also don't see William's character in the MiB, where even if he has some nobler goal, he still revels in the psychological torture of the humanoid hosts.
  • I'm hardcore on the multiple time periods bandwagon. It's shaky, but I think it could be true.

    The evidence for it:
    -William scenes had the old logo
    -We never see William interact with any major "current" characters except Clementine and Dolores, both of who we know have been around for awhile. (Dolores is the original, and Stubbs said Clementine had been the Madame before)
    -Sweetwater has different characters in town when Will & Logan first stroll through.
    -We already know that there is some editing craziness (like Dolores' Groundhog Day shenanigans at the end of Ep. 3, when she gets shot and then the scene resets), so we can't be sure that back to back scenes are actually happening consecutively (like the end of Ep. 3 with Dolores going to Will at the campfire)
    - As for people's claims that the 30 year old hosts were crappy, we have no idea of the actual technological history of Westworld. The "Old Bill" generation could have been 60 years ago, for all we know.

    Evidence against it:
    -It's convoluted
    -The showrunners would be pulling some pretty tricksy editing in order to confuse people (like the end of Ep. 3 with Dolores), which I'll admit is not fair.
    -Some of the evidence that I cited above could easily be the products of the production hell this show was in.

    As for William = the MIB, I like it, but it's a BIG stretch. The only evidence I can find for it are that the only people (non-hosts) we see pick up Dolores' can are Will & the MIB. Also, we know the MIB and Dolores have some history, so we could be witnessing the origin of their story with the William flashback scenes. And finally, the MIB is the only person in the cast list who does not have a real name, so he's either William, a rogue host, or Arnold.
    [Deleted User]Elisa
  • I think we all need to be a little more receptive of the idea that there can be multiple timelines, because this will likely be the big season one reveal.

    To address some points that have been brought up so far:

    Maeve is noticeably absent from the William storyline. Clementine is the only prostitute he interacts with. We know Clementine was the madam at some point, which could explain Maeve’s absence if Maeve was off on the prairie with her daughter. In Clem’s scenes with William she never uses the “rind” pick-up line, and her performance gives off an air of confidence and being in charge that she lacks when Maeve is the madam.

    As far as continuity, with episode 3 it has been asserted that anytime the camera cuts, you can no longer assume that new shot directly follows the preceding shot. Dolores’ loops at the end of episode 3 illustrate this fact perfectly. After a careful rewatch, I could not find a shot where William and Dolores were pictured in the same shot as Dolores exhibiting her new aberrant behavior. Unless you can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that some events have to follow others (ex: MIB abducting Kissy and slitting his throat at night in ep 1, then MIB sitting atop a mountain with Kissy and 3 buckets of blood the next morning) it’s best not to assume consecutive shots are happening linearly in this show.

    To address what happened “30 years ago”. The only thing we know for sure is that there was a critical failure 30 years ago, where presumably a host killed a guest. Most people are assuming the Westworld movie was this event, but again, this is an unsafe conclusion to leap to. In an interview with Nolan and Joy (I can’t remember where I read this, sorry) Nolan asserted that the “30 years ago” was only partly a nod to the film. I believe the show will eventually reveal it’s own version of the critical failure. In the same interview, they also alluded to the park being much older than you may think. They compared it to real world theme parks like disneyworld that manage to keep the audience's attention over several generations. Not to mention, if a park like this opened and had a criticial failure within it’s first few years of operation, do you really think it would grow to be as succesful as it’s become?

    The best evidence, however, is the different logos. The showrunners have been very meticulous which logo is used where/when. Here’s all of the examples I’ve noticed so far:

    Old Logo:

    Sublevel B83: Former Atrium/Current Cold Storage - on the wall before entering cold storage room.

    Ford’s flashback talking to Bernard about Arnold - Embroidered on labcoats.

    William’s first visit - At the top of the escalator (shot lingers on logo after characters leave frame)

    William’s first visit - In the dressing room on the wall.

    New Logo:

    Sublevel (25?) where Ford gets in the elevator - On a column.

    Discover Westworld Website - Everywhere

    Lee developing characters for his new narrative - on windows and walls.

    Lee revealing narrative - same room as above

    It could be argued that the William logos were a production mistake, that the scenes were shot before the showrunners came up with the new logo. But looking at how thorough they have been with which logo is shown where, why wouldn’t they correct this glaring incontinuity in post?

    I believe they actually did change the logo in post, but they changed it from the new logo to the old logo. If you look at this picture image (which is a set photo and cover image from the Ep. 2 selection on HBO GO) it clearly shows William and the Host in front of the new logo. I find it difficult to believe that the showrunners would go back and edit/reshoot the logo if it carried no significance whatsoever.


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  • edited October 2016
    Tonight's episode pretty much confirmed this for me.

    Jimmi marrying into a powerful/rich family. The comment about the MiB foundation. No current staff (that I can remember) interacting in the Jimmi storyline. The explicit (and repeated) white hat/black hat mentions. 

    Also, my wife thinks I'm crazy, but I think that Hector looks an awful lot like Jimmi's brother-in-law or whatever he is, and given that TOS we know where they can keep the likeness and cells....... just saying.
  • The more I think about it the less inclined I am to believe this theory. The show has shown us twice that the older robots were more awkward and clunky. There's no discernible difference between Delores(or any other host for that matter) in the Williams scenes and other scenes. 

    In my opinion The Prestige, which Jonathan Nolan co-wrote, is a movie about making movies. Without spoiling anything I think the movie gives us a blueprint for how they do plot twists. I just think they would have a better big reveal planed for us. 
  • edited October 2016

    -Sweetwater has different characters in town when Will & Logan first stroll through.

    In episode 4, Stubbs called in the army guys to take part in the robbery shootout.  So the soldiers are there present-day.  The shift from posse to army recruiters seems to have been part of the altered storylines due to the recall and narrative changes.
  • I just posited my theory on this subject in episode 4's forum, having missed this topic completely. 

    TL;DR - I'm a believer.
  • Ok so i first liked this theory, but the more I thought about it, the less it made sense. And I still haven't seen any simple answer to the following simple questions:

    - The robots have not changed one bit in 30 years?? During the conversation between William and Dolores. She is having these thoughts that look more and more like human thoughts / feelings. And suddenly 30 years later, she has the exact same storyline, gets tortured by the MIB, and has completely stagnated in all these years?
    - Almost zero improvement (at least visible) in how the park functions in 30 years?

    Adding the points made in previous posts that we're supposed to understand that early droids were more clunky at the beginning and operations were smaller (before the "money men" arrived), I really think we should abandon the 30 years in the past theory. Now they do play fast and lose with the timeline and you can question in which order do things happen... But I don't buy such a big timeline difference.
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    I'm...i'm not seeing the logo in this photo.
  • aberry89aberry89 California
    I am about 60% sure the multiple timelines theory will be correct - not absolutly but very possibly. Honestly, it's mostly because of Jonathan Nolan's previous work, he loves playing with timelines. He did the screenplay for The Prestige and Interstellar and has had involvement in Nolan's other films, a lot of them having non-linear writing.   The whole show started off with a scene that we may learn is much farther into the future then we think. 
  • I'm rewatching because of these questions, and it's thematically verrrrry suggestive that episode 2 opens with Dolores walking from the farmhouse, a voice says remember, and we immediately go to William and Logan waking up on the train with the different Westworld logo.  Have to watch more, but wouldn't be surprised if it turns out the likely employee guy trying to collect Dolores from William off her loop isn't actually in the same timeline as the QA/Hemsworth guy in the HQ telling his underling to have her checked out....
  • Rob said:

    Image didn't post right, here's the link.

    I'm...i'm not seeing the logo in this photo.
    On the wall in the left side of the photo.
  • Doctor_NickDoctor_Nick Terminus
    edited October 2016
    It's very suggestive that Teddy, Dolores, William, Logan and the MiB are all on the same timeline.  It's just possible that the timelines are separate, but it would really require a lot of deception on the part of the showrunners.

    1.  Dolores has encounter with MiB at the barn.  Then gets infected with violent delights violent ends by Pa Abernathy.

    2.  Dolores tries to get Teddy to deviate from his path and take her away.  He won't do it.

    3. Teddy is uploaded with Wyatt info.  Tries to teach Dolores how to shoot.  Goes on the Wyatt hunt.

    4.  Dolores has session with Bernard. Does not want to be restored.

    5.  Dolores has encounter at the farm, her parents are killed. Has flashbacks to various earlier loops, flashes back to MiB.  Kills Rebus and flees.

    6  Dolores another session with Bernard. She says her parents are dead and she fled. Talk about being free and the maze.

    7.  Dolores immediately shown waking up with William following the last talk with Bernard.

    8.  Stubbs is told Dolores is off her loop and wants her checked out.

    9.  Dolores is accosted by a likely park employee or retrieval host.  William intervenes.

    10.  Dolores has discussion with William about her path and existential doom, wanting to go off the loop to freedom.

    11.  The MiB finds Teddy left out to suffer by Wyatt.

    So Teddy tried to teach Delores to shoot before being pulled off into the Wyatt hunt.  Dolores kills Rebus and goes off loop.  She is accosted by retrieval person, likely at behest of Stubbs, who we know is in main timeline.  MiB is also in main timeline, and finds Teddy post Wyatt, almost certainly after he tried to teach Dolores to shoot.  So if this Teddy is on the main timeline with MiB, then Dolores and William should be as well, which jibes with all the sessions that Dolores has with Bernard.  

    For it not to be one timeline  all these thematically similar events that flow from one to the other would actually have to be from other discontinuous timelines that just happen to make narrative sense with the main timeline, which seems unlikely.   
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