Spoiler alert for anyone who hasn't yet seen the Season 1 finale of Westworld.
On Sunday night, Westworld brought its masterful first season to a close, and the finale delivered a form of closure to some mysteries while offering up new narrative strands for viewers to gnaw on. The clues weren't solely laid out on TV, either, and anyone who visited the HBO series' tie-in websites found they were updated, with one providing a puzzle whose answer seems to indicate that one presumed dead Westworld character could be alive and well. (With a possible neck-ache.) And the character of which I speak is Shannon Woodward's Elsie Hughes.
As viewers know, Elsie has been gone from Westworld for several episodes now, and it was assumed by many that she had been killed off. That was especially true when we got to see Bernard was the one putting her in a chokehold, at a point after we'd watched him murder his former lover Theresa. But skeptics have pointed out there is evidence to suggest otherwise, and Westworld appears to be backing that side of the argument up with its websites.
Actress Shannon Woodward herself first clued us in to this info, but going to the Delos Incorporated website and typing "reverie" into the Admin box brings up a quick bit of distorted footage and leads to a screen full of coding text. A line of it translates into hex (programming language), which then translates to Base64 data, which is then translated into two different web destinations, which offer a video and an audio clip. If you'd like more info on how this works, there's also a handy Reddit post.
The video is a quick look at Elsie's locator device being tracked. It's seen to be in Sector 20, which was the same area that Luke Hemsworth's security head Stubbs was searching for her when he was grabbed up by the Ghost Nation members. Theories abound about Elsie and Stubbs currently working together, though it's hard to tell in what capacity. Maybe Elsie is working with the Ghost Nation group, given her host-sympathy, or she may be spying on the mysterious group for unknown reasons.
The audio is just as short, and all we get to hear is Elsie saying, "Hello?" No sign of where or when it was recorded, so my speculation powers are rendered moot in this case. But it's perhaps her attempting to contact someone through non-standard means, to avoid easy detection by others in the park.
Technically, neither one of these things makes it clear that Elsie is still alive, but the timing of the updates suggests that these posts don't contain useless information. Plus, Ford was very clear to Bernard that he'd never killed anyone before Theresa, and while Ford has a keen way of hiding the truth and being harsh to humans, he's not known for being a blatant liar. Least of all to his most beloved hosts.
Some have guessed that Elsie is a host herself, which would make her potential survival even more sensible. It would also explain why "reveries" is the word that gets us to those clips, since reveries are the host gestures informed by past narratives that Ford has implemented, even though all host memories are supposedly erased. Could be a coincidence, but nothing in this show is a coincidence.
Westworld sadly won't return to HBO or our lives for Season 2 until some point in late 2017 or 2018, though we will probably get a more concrete update on Elsie's fate before then. (At least, we better get one, or we're all changing our narratives to "Riot.") In the meantime, check out our midseason TV schedule to see all the other shows the small screen has to offer in the near future.