Is Westworld's Man In Black A Human Or A Host? Ed Harris Says Answers Are Coming

westworld season 3 man in black
(Image credit: hbo press)

Spoilers below for the most recent episode of Westworld, so be warned!

Ed Harris' The Man in Black was a key element of Westworld's first two seasons, and has been at the center of several of the HBO drama's major twists and reveals. For Season 2, speculation really started heating up around the idea that the character would trade his humanity to exist as a Host at some point, and the theory was emboldened by the finale's flash-forward scene. Season 3, meanwhile, hasn't let up on keeping viewers in guessing mode.

From one scene to the next, William jumps from over-wrought monologues (Host-like) to emotional reactions (human-like) to complete confusion (both Host-like and human-like), and Episode 6's William-filled therapy session offered all three. Thankfully, Ed Harris has come forward and confirmed that viewers can get ready to soon learn answers about The Man in Black's true state. Here's how he put it to Deadline when asked if Episode 6 hinted at:

I don’t think the viewing public knows for sure, no. But by the end of the season, you know for sure.

Dun dun dun! Westworld will finally deliver a full-on answer for William's identity before the final moments of Season 3 have concluded. Intriguingly enough, there are only two episodes left in this third season, so fans only need to get through another two hours or so before learning the truth. But what is that truth going to be? (Probably not that William has the last of Dolores' mystery pearls inside his head, but wouldn't that be something?)

Since Westworld isn't always a show about absolutes, with lots of room for fractional measures where plot answers are concerned, the Man in Black theory has a sub-theory about William possibly being a human-Host hybrid. The idea there is that some portion of William's brain or body has been supplemented by Delos advancements, but that he's still got enough people bits to be considered a human being. Ed Harris seemingly shot that theory down, however, saying this:

Well, it’s a new one for me. I can’t say that there’s, that I have any reason to feel that that’s a valid theory, but you know, I guess I’m not really supposed to answer for sure.

Westworld's creators and producers might be bothered by Ed Harris offering proof that the character doesn't share the makings of both a human and a Host. But considering we're still no closer to reaching an undeniable conclusion about what The Man in Black's innards are made of, I don't think Harris' frankness stunted anyone's speculation too harshly.

bernard waking william up westworld season 3

(Image credit: hbo press)

Episode 6 did feature a potentially huge clue about The Man in Black's inner workings, by way of his final scene. After killing his past selves within the AR therapy group, William was pulled from the virtual world by Bernard and Stubbs, who noted that it looked like he'd been left alone for a while. The basic implication would be that, on the day that Dolores released the Rehoboam data that sent the world into an uproar, the mental hospital's staff had largely vacated the building and left patients behind.

Westworld is anything but basic, though. In that respect, I'm unsure how Stubbs or Bernard would have been able to instantly recognize that William had been left alone for a while. That is, unless the duo discovered William much later than a few hours after he put on the AR goggles. What if he was trapped inside his virtual world for over a day or more? Arguments against that notion would be that William would have probably been suffering from starvation or dehydration, among other things. However, those arguments would be rendered moot if William was indeed a Host who didn't need such sustenance to survive.

Of course, Westworld purposefully keeps its timeline details opaque when it suits the story, so there's currently no way to tell just how long it took The Man in Black to once declare himself the "good guy" in his own narrative. But I'm betting the answer does indeed inform which side of the line William falls on. Let us know in the poll below what you think about William's identity.

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Westworld Season 3 airs Sunday nights on HBO at 9:00 p.m. ET, and with only two episodes left, there's only so much time to develop dozens of new overarching theories. While waiting to see the next episode, check out all the shows heading to TV this summer that probably won't have us asking these exact questions.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.