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This Small Viewing Trick Will Change How You Watch 'Westworld' Season 2

First, there was talk of robot babies. Now, there's something called the Cradle.

“Doesn’t Look Like Anything To Leigh... And Bill” is HuffPost’s weekly “Westworld” recap in which we break down the craziest thing you might have missed. This week: Season 2, Episode 6, “Phase Space.” 

Have you ever questioned the nature of your reality? If you’re a “Westworld” fan, you should probably start.

It’s hard to decipher anything that’s going on in “Westworld,” but in the latest episode, “Phase Space,” viewers got a huge hint as to how they should follow the story.

The episode introduced us to a Westworld program called “the Cradle,” which offers simulations of different narratives in the park for testing. It’s in this simulation program that Ford (Anthony Hopkins) finally makes his official return to the series, showing up at the end in a simulation with Bernard.

He’s apparently living in the code.

While the Cradle simulations seem like just another confusing element of the show, they actually help clear some things up. If you were watching closely enough like us, you might have noticed that the aspect ratio of the episode changes for scenes that are in The Cradle simulation. (Some people on Twitter and Reddit picked up on it, too.) Therefore, anytime you see the aspect ratio on the show change to widescreen, you can be pretty sure it’s a simulation you’re watching, not real life.

For example, here’s Bernard before he enters into the Cradle simulation:

"Westworld" Season 2, Episode 6
"Westworld" Season 2, Episode 6

And here he is when he’s in the simulation: 

"Westworld" Season 2, Episode 6
"Westworld" Season 2, Episode 6

If you’re still not sure, just look at the subtitles. During the simulations, the subtitles appear below the video on a black background.

According to this reasoning, the first scene of Season 2, between Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) and Bernard (Jeffrey Wright), took place in a simulation.

"Westworld" Season 2, Episode 1.
"Westworld" Season 2, Episode 1.

We get a continuation of this scene in “Phase Space,” and it becomes apparent that Dolores is running a simulation in an attempt to bring Westworld co-founder Arnold (also Jeffrey Wright) back to life.

In the scene, Dolores corrects the Bernard-looking character, telling him that what he says isn’t what Arnold would’ve said.  

"Westworld" Season 2, Episode 6.
"Westworld" Season 2, Episode 6.

She says she’s testing him for “fidelity,” which is what William (Jimmi Simpson/Ed Harris) says to robot James Delos (Peter Mullan) in Episode 4, “The Riddle of the Sphinx.” William is trying to get the consciousness of the real James Delos to work in a robot body, so it seems likely Dolores is doing the same for Arnold.

If that’s the case, perhaps the “Bernard” we see wash up on the beach in the beginning of Season 2 is actually Dolores’ robot Arnold. He doesn’t seem to know where he is, what’s going on and appears to twitch, much like robot James Delos does in the tests.

"Westworld" Season 2, Episode 1.
"Westworld" Season 2, Episode 1.

Of course, the aspect ratio logic could be smoke and mirrors.

What if all the Bernard scenes we’ve been seeing this season were actually a simulation?

A few different Reddit users have suggested variations on a theory that scenes from Bernard’s point of view have been a simulation, but YouTuber and Redditor HaxDogma lays it out pretty clearly here:

Basically, HaxDogma suggests Delos may have been secretly running Bernard through a Cradle simulation from the start of Season 2, trying to extract information from him about the host rebellion and how to retrieve the data they lost.

If this is the case, it would explain oddities throughout the season. For instance, in the Season 2 premiere, Bernard seems to be experiencing scenes of hosts being shot by Delos multiple times, almost like he’s been through a simulation on repeat. He even finishes Delos Head of Operations Karl Strand’s (Gustaf Skarsgård) sentence at one point, saying the circumstances of their meeting are less than “ideal.”

"Westworld" Season 2, Episode 1.
"Westworld" Season 2, Episode 1.

Bernard is also constantly questioned by other characters in “Westworld” to the point where we’re like, “OK, y’all, chill.” If you consider Delos might be secretly interrogating him, this makes perfect sense.

We reached out to HaxDogma, who told us the theory was formed during the first episode of Season 2, noting an email sent out by the show that explained “The Cradle” early on. The Reddit user/YouTuber described how everything just fit together:

Karl Strand and his questioning, the repeated scenes (we don’t need the same scene 6 times to show hosts are being killed) and just the overall knowledge that Bernard was a host needing to hide it, helped AND then realizing two weeks earlier he was suffering from injuries he would likely need a full rebuild to overcome. So I worked thinking they knew he was a host. Then the Cradle was introduced and the following email about it the next day and it all made sense instantly. 

We’ll add that the scene in which “Bernard” wakes up on the beach is reminiscent of the first scene in “Inception” (a film from Christopher Nolan, who’s “Westworld” co-creator Jonathan Nolan’s brother) when Leonardo DiCaprio’s character wakes up in Limbo. A nod like that could certainly signal that all the events we’re watching through Bernard aren’t real.

HaxDogma told us the evidence is there, but even if the theory is inaccurate, discussing various possibilities is one of the Redditor’s favorite parts of the show.

Us, too.

The aspect ratio logic in Episode 6 doesn’t quite fit with HaxDogma’s simulation theory, but we’re not ready to rule it out just yet. If Bernard starts spinning tops, all bets are off.

“Westworld” airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on HBO. 

Want more? Read all of HuffPost’s “Westworld” coverage.

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