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"A first-time guest at Westworld, William is hesitant to experience what the park has to offer."
"You want to know who I am? Who I really am? I'm a god. Titan of industry. Philanthropist. Family man. Married to a beautiful woman. Father to a beautiful daughter. I'm the good guy, Teddy. Then, last year my wife took the wrong pills, fell asleep in the bath. Tragic accident. Thirty years of marriage, vanished."
-Man in Black (to Teddy)
William is one of the main characters of the Westworld series. He is played by Jimmi Simpson. William is a first time guest to the park. He arrives with a Westworld veteran, his soon-to-be brother-in-law, Logan. Before arriving at Westworld, William received an EVP (Executive Vice President) promotion at Delos (the company owned by Logan's family). In the first season finale, William is revealed to be a younger version of the Man in Black.
As the Man in Black, William is a Westworld veteran; he has been visiting the park for over 30 years. William believes that the original park creator, Arnold, hid some mystery in the park before he died 34 years earlier, and he focuses on finding out what this secret is. In "The Bicameral Mind", William reveals that he is the majority shareholder and, in effect, owns the Westworld theme park. William is portrayed, as an older man, by Ed Harris.
The Man in Black and Robert Ford are on a first-name basis with each other. In the episode "Contrapasso", he greets Ford by saying, "How'm I doin', Robert?" Likewise, in "The Bicameral Mind", Ford greets him by saying, "Hello, William".
William is engaged to marry Juliet (Logan's sister). William is made an EVP (Executive Vice President) at Delos (the company owned by Logan's family). Logan invites William to Westworld and accompanies him.
Man in BlackEdit
As the Man in Black, William says he has been visiting Westworld for more than thirty years, and wants to visit the deeper levels of the game he believes are hidden in the park. He says he regularly visits Dolores Abernathy, a host who lives on the outskirts of Sweetwater. He is also acquainted with Teddy Flood and Lawrence.
The Man in Black is a wealthy person outside Westworld; wealthy enough to operate a foundation and to be recognized by other guests in the park. However, he becomes annoyed when having his vacation interrupted by guests who recognize him, or by anyone else for that matter (Charlotte).
William has a strong moral compass and inquisitive mind. While at Westworld, William shows respect toward all of the hosts and is eager to learn more about the story lines. As William becomes more frustrated with Logan's behavior, he is forced to make difficult decisions that conflict with his moral compass.
William seems to be more interested in the narratives of Westworld than most people who visit the park.
Over the course of the first season, William begins to become affected by the experiences in the park. He is at first hesitant to 'kill' hosts; and his first time is during a shootout in town when he saves a prostitute, Clementine whom he befriended in a previous episode. His second isn't until much later - during the nitroglycerin robbery in the episode "Contrapasso" - and appears to deeply upset him. He becomes more violent as his frustration with Logan and infatuation with Dolores both increase.
This eventually, after Logan cuts Dolores open to show William her mechanical innards, results in William dismembering and butchering an entire battalion of host soldiers in the night. After this event, he becomes obsessed with "saving" Dolores, to the point that he begins to brutally kill other hosts in the park (until even Logan is disgusted by the violence).
It could also be argued that William puts Logan at risk when he straps him naked to a horse near the park's boundary and sets the horse free. He justifies this as necessary, to humiliate Logan in order to gain more control in the park (as William is marrying into Logan's family, and thus William could take more control from Logan).
These events: the violence; the obsession with Dolores; and his increasingly brutal behavior in the park, appear to be steps on the road to becoming the cruel and sadistic Man in Black. In the outside world, he is a businessman and philanthropist, but in the park shows a different side of himself.
As The Man in Black, William is a ruthless figure, who has no compunctions about killing, torturing or mutilating hosts in a number of ways. He sees the hosts as nothing more than tools, or toys, to be used or discarded. For example, at one point he uses the "blood" from one host to revive another. The Man in Black relishes the game. He slips in and out of character when talking to the hosts, he occasionally mocks or taunt them, repeatedly demonstrating the limitations of their programmed personalities.
The Man alternately sees Westworld as a park and as a game. He feels he has seen almost everything about the park except the "Final Chapter", although he notes along way there are some characters and story lines he had not yet indulged in his 30 years of visits. While he takes advantage of the inability to be killed, he appears to crave a worthy adversary, and the real danger of the possibility of death. On some level, he is aware he is attempting to run away from his growing wreck of a home life, his wife having committed suicide and his daughter being driven away by his cold personality.
In the real world, the Man in Black is at least connected to a foundation that saves people's lives. However, at least while in the park, he has no problem threatening a real human. It is unknown how much that is him playing to a ruthless black-hat character he is in the park, but it is close enough to his true personality that it drove away his family.
The Man seems to have some kind of connection with Dolores, having known her for a long time, perhaps as long as he has been coming to the park. He delights in causing her anguish and pain, but it is unknown whether he truly feels anything for her or thinks she is part of his search for the Maze. In the events of the finale, it is revealed that the Man in Black is in fact William; Dolores was the reason for William's eventual moral decline as he became obsessed with finding and freeing her. William eventually does find Dolores again, but due to the fact she was reset, she had no memory of him - leaving him even more cynical and jaded. He becomes obsessed then with finding the maze, in order to potentially free not just Dolores, but also the other hosts.
William and Dolores are attracted to one another and their relationship continues to grow as they work together. They do not hesitate to defend each other when in times of danger. William shows great concern for her well being, deciding to help get her out of the park. However, his love for Dolores eventually becomes an obsession; he begins to narrow-mindedly search for Dolores to save her, even at the cost of his own morality. Eventually, Dolores is reset after the events with William, and her inability to remember William results in his becoming the cruel and sadistic Man in Black; a cynical, jaded man. After this event, he still recognizes Dolores as something he wants to save; but sees her more as a pawn in the game-play of Westworld.
William and Logan have a strained relationship. They seem to be friends by circumstance; soon to be brother-in-laws and co-workers. Personality-wise, William is a foil of Logan. In Westworld, William earnestly tries to learn more about the hosts and story lines. Logan does not care for them at all because he's only interested in drinking, killing hosts and host prostitutes. Eventually the conflicting nature of the two comes to a dangerous ending - William, fully embracing the brutality of the park in his narrow-minded quest to save Dolores, is seemingly unconcerned with Logan's well-being. He binds Logan's hands, strips him naked, seats him on a horse, and then spooks the horse.
Lawrence Pedro Maria Gonzalez, or "El Lazo" met William during the episode, Trompe L'Oeil. William says that he and Lawrence have had many adventures together.
As the Man in Black, William no longer cares for Lawrence. He instead treats Lawrence as something to be used and discarded in his quest to find the Maze.
Emily is the Man's daughter. They do not have a good relationship, as she blames him for her mother's death and claims that her mother committed suicide. It is unknown what their relationship was like before her mother's death.
The Man and his wife were married for 30 years before she allegedly committed suicide. According to the Man in Black's daughter, Emily, the wife's suicide was due to the fear she felt and the darkness she saw in him. In the season finale, the Man in Black is revealed to be an older, and more ruthless version of the William that first entered Westworld. It's plausible that William's unnamed and deceased wife was Logan's sister, Juliet (who he was due to marry after his first trip to Westworld).
- The Man in Black's clothing (black hat and gray shirt) is similar to that of the Gunslinger from the original film, Westworld (played by Yul Brenner). In the film, the Gunslinger was a robot programmed to antagonize guests into dueling with him. He is supposed to lose these duels. He malfunctions and kills humans. He is the antagonist in the original film. The Man in Black being human may be representative of the TV series' willingness to subvert the original movie, and/or a perspective change in that now the humans are the ones acting evil and the robots are the innocents that are killed. The Man in Black, at least in a conversation with Lawrence, sees himself as the potential hero for the hosts, claiming he is there to set them free.
- When William changes his shirt in Pariah (at the same time that Dolores changes into slacks), it is the same grey shirt that the Man in Black wears. Right after he changes his shirt color, they go on a heist to steal nitroglycerin. On the heist, William shoots dead an unarmed man.
- William is also shown with the same knife that the Man in Black is always seen with.
- When one asks about the Man in Black on the Westworld Website this is the response:
- AEDEN: I’M SORRY, PER THE WESTWORLD CONFIDENTIALITY POLICY, WE CANNOT DISCLOSE PERSONAL INFORMATION ABOUT ANY OF OUR GUESTS.
- AEDEN: JUST BETWEEN YOU AND ME, THOUGH, THE MAN IN BLACK IS SOMETHING OF A VIP. WHAT ELSE WOULD YOU LIKE TO KNOW ABOUT THE PARK?
- Season One
"That gentlemen gets whatever he wants."
-Stubbs about the MiB