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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Last night's Westworld started to explain the mystery of the Ghost Nation

Illustration for article titled Last night's Westworld started to explain the mystery of the Ghost Nation
Screenshot: Westworld/HBO

Last night’s episode of Westworld gave us a glimpse into not one, but two new parks within Westworld. One we’ve been expecting: The samurai that confronts Maeve and co. near the end of the episode means that we’re inching closer to the much-discussed Shogun World. But the proceedings kicked off in another park entirely, a throwback to British-controlled India that’s undergoing some issues of its own. It’s no doubt that we’ll be spending more time in these locales, but the latest theory rippling across Reddit has to do with some characters we’ve been with since the beginning: the Ghost Nation tribe of painted Native Americans.


We spent a bit of time with them last night, too. After approaching Maeve, the Ghost Nation spokesman declares that they only want Lee Sizemore, the lone human in Maeve’s entourage. One can assume—Lee certainly did—that their intentions weren’t kind, but past evidence supports that, well, maybe they were? There’s also the matter of security head Ashley Stubbs, who we last saw being captured by the tribe in season one. Yet, at the beginning of season two, we see him safe and sound on the beach.

As one Redditor writes:

After tonight’s episode I get this vibe that the ghost nation are saving humans. Maybe it is a narrative or something else entirely, but the revelation that Stubs (sic) is alive in S2E1 despite being captured and then tonight how they only wanted Lee at the river. The way they pick up that girl from IndiaWorld seemed like it would be very relevant later on although didn’t really indicate much just yet.

Other Reddit users elaborated on this theory, pointing out how the Ghost Nation hosts didn’t respond to the commands of either Stubbs or Maeve, indicating that, to some degree, they’re operating independently of the other hosts.

The theory also provides some clarity on one of the more head-scratching moments of season two’s first episode. If you recall, the memories of one slain Ghost Nation host reveal it was killed by Dolores, who says that not everyone deserves to go to “the valley beyond.” At the time, one might wonder why Dolores would slaughter another host for what looks like sport, but it makes sense that she would kill those still working in the interest of humans.

Redditors also seem convinced that missing Westworld engineer/constant theory subject Elsie could be controlling them.

One user writes:

I’m assuming that Elsie has successfully reprogrammed the Ghost Nation hosts to serve her, having seen the drone revolt coming after being spared last season by Bernard. That’s why the hosts didn’t immediately kill Stubbs, that’s why they wanted Sizemore to come with them (they sought to rescue him after identifying him as human), and now that’s why they’ll be saving the woman that escaped the India park.


Of course, Elsie’s been grafted onto any number of fan theories, what with her serving as a sort of wildcard since her disappearance last season. Still, this is as good a guess for the character as any. Another user cites season one: “Ghost Nation are older models hosts, Elsie learned in season one the older hosts can be reprogrammed on the old relays, like the one Teresa and ‘Arnold’ were using.” And it is telling that Stubbs was captured by the tribe while looking for Elsie in season one.

Plausible? Crazy? We’ll find out, but, hey, at least we’re taking a break from parsing these goddamned timelines.


Randall Colburn is The A.V. Club's Internet Culture Editor. He lives in Chicago, occasionally writes plays, and was a talking head in Best Worst Movie, the documentary about Troll 2.