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Spoilers below for anyone who hasn't yet watched Westworld's third episode.
One of Westworld's longest-held mysteries surrounds the premiere's modern-day photograph that completely altered Peter Abernathy's narrative path, kicking off the ulterior plot to bring sentience to Delores, Maeve and others. It was revealed the woman in the photograph was James Delos' daughter and William's future-wife Juliet. She was fully introduced in Season 2, and her presence unlocked new theoretical connections between Peter and Juliet, since the former's programming was seemingly set up so he could process the image. We'll get into specific theories soon, but first, here's what Peter's portrayer Louis Herthum told me when I asked about a potential link between the two characters.
Before and Westworld fanatics out there start to draw erroneous conclusions, take note that Louis Herthum was very up front about his lack of knowledge on this topic. He wanted me to be very aware that this wasn't a case where he was just being purposefully coy to keep the mystery alive. He apparently doesn't know, which would indicate that Westworld may not be using the current season to address any ties that exist between Peter and Juliet. At least not in any ways that engaged any of Herthum's performances, which means we might be waiting until Season 3. It's disappointing on one hand, but it definitely isn't proof against the connection existing in the minds of co-creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy.
Because everything seen onscreen is of the utmost importance, zero randomness likely went into that photo's placement, and we're not at all convinced there wasn't human interference in the years between William dropping the pic and its troublesome discovery. From the fatherly perspective of Peter, real-world Juliet was the "other woman" in William and Delores' complexity-filled relationship during his first trip through the park, even if the host didn't inherently recognize that. But aside from in-park families, it's equally important (or more so) to remember that Juliet is James Delos' daughter, and Logan's sister, since that seemingly adds further associations between the park's biggest investor (Delos), the park's biggest player (William) and one of the park's most impactful hosts (Peter).
One of the biggest and wildest theories out there is that Peter represents one of Delos Inc.'s first attempts to transfer human consciousness into a host's body, with James Delos himself thought to possibly be "living on" in some fashion within Peter. Now, the physical Peter host was created by Ford and Arnold's Argos Initiative before Delos got invested, and it was a non-Peter host as the Sheriff when William brought Delos to the park. But considering Ford created Bernard as a malleable Arnold clone, we can't put it past him to have figured out a way to input human personalities into already existing hosts' brain-orbs. It's certainly possible that certain elements of Delos were clandestinely tacked onto Peter's software, possibly explaining the host's instant obsession with the photo. It's even possible Peter could have accepted Charlotte's massive data upload more successfully, had secret Delos files not been installed.
Judging from the conversations had in Episode 2, it seems clear that James Delos is dying and has zero interest in facing such a fate. Through indirect dialogue, it's seemingly revealed that in the years between William's first trip to Westworld and Delos' retirement party, efforts have been made to find ways to port human minds into host bodies, so to speak. And William makes it clear that the science isn't there yet at that point in time. But what about after that party, and before Delos' presumed death? Is it possible that Ford & Co. found a way to make such an advancement a reality, with host Peter being the successful-or-not guinea pig?
Delos and Peter don't appear to share any of the same interests, with the host's most recent personality sharing none of Delos' mountainous conceit. And yet, Peter has perhaps mirrored Delos by serving in mostly authoritarian roles, such as a sheriff and a cannibal cult leader; even his rancher was formerly a lawman. As well, one of Peter's biggest character traits is his love for Delores, which still shines through even when he's bouncing between personalities. And we know that Delos loves his daughter Juliet, though we have yet to see if he survived long enough to learn of her probable suicide, which he wouldn't have taken lightly.
Let's also not forget that tragedy always befell Peter's wife in Sweetwater, keeping her out of the picture, while we have yet to meet Delos' significant other, which would assumedly also be Logan and Juliet's mother. These are all circumstantial connections, sure, just like the ill will vibes floating between Juliet and Delores at that retirement party. But it's all still interesting to consider.
And you know what? Even if actor Louis Herthum isn't 100% sure yet of what's happening with Peter and Juliet, he's also just as interested as everyone else to get to the bottom of the myriad plotlines. As he told me, it's a theory he can get behind as a dedicated viewer.
Speaking of going back: there's a weird story behind that premiere photo, too. It was supposedly a licensed Getty Images pic of model Claire Unabia, taken years earlier, which HBO paid to use in the episode. Unabia, who claimed she was initially in the dark about the photo's Westworld presence, was apparently contacted by HBO following Season 1's finale. To be expected, though, Westworld fans almost immediately found that whole situation to be suspicious, though it's not clear whether those suspicions hold any water.
While we might not get any big answers to this very question soon, one has to assume something will get revealed before this show is gone for good. Season 3 seems like a good time for it. Still, tune into HBO every Sunday night at 9:00 p.m. ET to see where the sci-fi chaos will go next, and check out what else we learned from Louis Herthum about Peter's big return. Then head to our summer premiere schedule to see what new and returning shows are on the way to primetime.