Last Sunday's episode of Westworld brought with it even more shocking revelations, and now the show's creators are here to break down exactly how those reveals were created.
**Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers for the Westworld episode "Phase Space" below**
Up until Sunday's episode, "Phase Space," the mysterious area of the park known as "The Cradle" had only been mentioned and teased as some future destination where we'd learn even more about what exactly Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) has been up to in all of those moments he keeps remembering out of order. Then, in "Phase Space," Bernard and Elsie (Shannon Woodward) finally reach The Cradle, and it's easily one of the most compelling parts of the park's operations space.
The Cradle is essentially the server room were the brains of every host in the park are stored in backup form. In a new behind-the-scenes video released by HBO, co-creator Jonathan Nolan explains that it was the show's goal to get the audience to ask what the consciousness equivalent of cold storage for the hosts would be. The Cradle is the answer, a massive water-cooled storage area that Woodward described as a "haunted house," a huge room full of minds waiting to be unleashed.
"The idea [is] that hosts always have another version of their mind that is colocated. All of the things that make them appealing to the guests are the result of countless hours of refinement," Nolan said. "You wouldn’t want to lose one of these things.”
The consciousness of each host, the episode also reveals, is stored in a "pearl" inside their heads. We've seen versions of this from earlier in the season as the brains of hosts have been extracted, but this is the clearest explanation yet of how exactly that works. The little ball Elsie takes out of Bernard's head, and the little ball we saw Bernard retrieve in a memory earlier in the season, are "pearls," each containing a mind that can be put into a body at any time. If a host's body is destroyed beyond repair, that host can still be rebuilt and put back into the park with the same personality, so long as the pearl is intact. It's an elegant and aesthetically compelling solution to show both how far the park will go to protect its intellectual property, and how different versions of the hosts could be manipulated through things like backup bodies.
In the lead-up to the reveal of The Cradle, fan theories were of course buzzing everywhere, and while they haven't been fully disproven by what we've seen so far, they also perhaps didn't see what really happened in "Phase Space" coming: The return of Dr. Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins). That pearl that Bernard retrieved earlier in the season apparently contained Ford's uploaded mind, and now he's free to roam in The Cradle, interfering with Quality Assurance's repeated attempts to bring the park under control in the wake of the host uprising.
That's how Ford was able to speak to William (Ed Harris) through various characters over the course of the season, and that's how Bernard was able to find him at the end of the episode. He's living, in some form, inside his creation, which means he's both still playing the game from beyond the grave and he could perhaps be given physical form again someday. Even with all of this detail (and more discussed in the video), though, we still don't know all of The Cradle's secrets. Since this is Westworld, we might never know everything, but Nolan does promise more answers are coming.
"What else is in the Cradle is something we'll come to discover," he said.
Westworld airs Sundays at 9 p.m. EST on HBO.