|“||The hosts are the ones who are free. Free. Here. Under my control.||”|
He is the chief programmer and chairman of the board of Westworld, and has an uncompromising creative vision for the park — and unorthodox methods of achieving it.
Dr. Robert Ford was one of the initial creators and designers for Westworld, alongside Arnold, who helped devise emotions and movements for Hosts created as part of the fantasy world. It is assumed that he had a hand in designing the first official host who eventually took the role of Dolores Abernathy. During the early years of the park's development, Ford learned about Arnold's obsession with the hosts, following a personal tragedy. He has since worked alongside new contributors of the project including programmer Bernard Lowe, Lee Sizemore and Theresa Cullen.
Ford often finds comfort in revisiting his old work and causes a disturbance in Sub Level B83. He talks to one of the old model hosts, in the persona of Old Bill. Ford informs Bernard that the animatronic design had been vastly developed since the early models, before asking the host to return to its "slumber". Later, when Theresa decides to recall all the hosts that received a recent reveries upgrade, Bernard is asked to inform Ford of the mistake that he'd made in the upgrade that has been causing malfunctions in Westworld. Ford isn't surprised by this, and explains that humanity was built on a mistake, and that this current stage is the best they'll ever be.
After the hosts have all been collected, Ford is brought in to investigate the odd malfunctioning of Peter Abernathy, after he found a photo left behind by a visitor to the park. In his formal interrogation, Ford discovers that the host can revert to its previous personas, including a cannibal he once was who used to quote Shakespeare.
Dr. Robert Ford and Bernard Lowe are watching a host being manufactured. Lowe tells Ford that the two hosts have been retired, he also says he found it quite hard to do it. Ford tells Bernard that the photograph was not enough to cause the failure to host Peter Abernathy. They discuss the possibility of sabotage. Ford thinks it's more likely to be something just going wrong, that the task of creating lifelike machines is complex enough to guarantee strange failures.
Ford walks through the desert and meets a Little Boy. Ford says that the boy has strayed from where he's supposed to be, just as Ford has. They chat and walk together. Ford seems unconcerned about leading a boy further away from his parents, as though he has known the for quite some time.
After Ford and the boy have walked for a while, Ford tells the boy to look at the town with the white church and listen for the church's bell (there's no town or church there, just the frame of an old steeple). The boy says he can hear the bell. Ford shows the boy how he can control a rattle snake with gestures. He tells the boy to head home, and that the boy should not return to this area. The boy stops talking, drops his stick and obediently leaves. It's obvious now that he's a host.
Lee Sizemore is performing, excited as he is outlining his new narrative to everyone, including Dr. Ford. The new narrative is called "Odyssey on Red River" and he speaks about how wonderful it will be. Ford is watching, as are Theresa and Bernard. When Sizemore has finished there's some applause, but Ford simply says "No. No, I don't think so." He says that he doesn't see the point and humiliates Sizemore in front of everyone.
As Ford continues to speak, we see Logan and William in Sweetwater. William crosses the street to pick up Dolores' stray can of food (the same as in every loop). We hear Ford talk about how the guests fall in love with the details they imagine only they have noticed. As Dolores accepts the can her smile fades, as if she recognised him or was expecting someone else. They don't speak but William tips his hat to her and she smiles back at him as Logan calls him away.
Ford says that the narrative says more about Sizemore than it does about the guests. He says that the guests don't want to know who they are, but who they could be.
Later, in the park, he's showing Bernard the black spire he was looking at with the Little Boy. Bernard is concerned that the board are expecting a new storyline and won't be pleased that Odyssey on Red River has not been approved. Ford reassures him. It appears that the spire is to be part of a new narrative that Ford has been working on for some time. It looks like the top of a church spire, sticking out of the ground.
We hear Robert Ford quoting Shakespeare "The coward dies a thousand deaths..." Ford is examining Teddy as he upgrades him for the new narrative. Ford asks him what he yearns for and then, when Teddy tells him he wants a life with Dolores, he replies that he will never have that. Teddy doesn't react to this. Ford gives Teddy a backstory update. The story concerns Wyatt and we see Teddy remember him as the update takes effect. However, Teddy says Wyatt was a sergeant, and we see Wyatt wearing the two stripes of a corporal.
Later, Ford tells Bernard that for three years he lived in the park, refining the hosts before anyone set foot in the park along with a team of engineers and his partner. Hosts began to pass the Turing Test in the first year, yet Arnold was only interested in creating consciousness, which he believed to be a pyramid with memory at the bottom, followed by improvisation and self-interest and culminating in an unknown stage at the top. Arnold's theory of what the top of the pyramid could be was the Bicameral Mind, in which the hosts would hear their programming as an internal monologue in order to boost consciousness. Despite this, Ford believes Arnold made two mistakes: firstly, that conscious hosts were not suited for the park; secondly, that those believing they were mistaking their internal monologues for voices of the gods would be lunatics. Arnold's approach was abandoned.
Bernard notes that some hosts are remembering, because of Arnold's code having access to partially purged memories. Ford tells Bernard that Arnold is dead, and that his search for consciousness consumed him. Ford implies that Arnold's death was suicide. Ford finishes the meeting by telling Bernard that a new update will prevent any more aberrant behavior in the hosts, and reminds him that he should not make Arnold's mistakes, as hosts are not real.
Theresa meets with Ford, near where a huge excavator digs land for his new story line. Ford then takes her to the restaurant at the Agave Plantation. Theresa mentions that she visited the restaurant as a child with her parents and that she may be sitting in the same seat she did back then. Ford talks about knowing everything possible about their employees Responding to Ford's question about whether she liked Westworld, Theresa tells him that when she started working there, she realized it would be something she would not enjoy. Ford tells Theresa that Westworld was originally intended as something different, and that he had a bet with Arnold about whether the park could be made to be perfectly balanced. The story lines that would have supported that weren't adopted and Ford lost the bet. Ford claimed that Arnold was very cynical towards mankind, preferring the company of hosts to humans. And that Arnold pleaded with Ford to not let a corporate influence affect the park. Ford states that to him, Westworld is not a business venture or a theme park, but an entire world, in which he has designed every detail. This makes Ford a god, and Corporate the guests. While saying this, Ford freezes the waiter with a movement of his fingers. The glass of wine the waiter was pouring overflows and Theresa realizes that every restaurant and plantation worker in sight has also frozen.
Ford explains to Theresa that Arnold lost his perspective and went mad, unlike himself, because he has always seen things very clearly. Ford goes on to say that he knows everything about both the park's guests and its employees. She realizes that she really is sitting in the same chair she occupied as a child, that he must have known that. He reveals to Theresa that he knows about her relationship with Bernard, and follows this with a thinly veiled threat to her to stay out of his way. (He tells her that he's seen her kind come and go and they have "almost always" found a way to get along. He says that he is asking her "nicely" not to intervene in his plans.
Ford unfreezes the hosts both inside and outside the restaurant with a flick of his finger. He tells the waiter to rejoin the others. Theresa and Ford both hear and see the approaching excavator on the horizon now. Theresa leaves, clearly disturbed.
Ford is sitting in the room at the back of the Cold Storage Hall, talking to the Host Old Bill. He asks Dr. Ford if he has any stories to tell. Ford begins telling him a story about a Greyhound dog he once had as a child. He explains to Bill that a Greyhound is a racing dog that runs in circles, chasing after a piece of felt that looks like a rabbit. Bill struggles to recognize the word "Greyhound", mistaking it for "Showdown", and giving a scripted response. Ford begins to tell how he and his brother brought the dog to a park and removed its leash. The dog spotted a cat and chased after it, catching and killing it. He says after the dog caught and killed the cat, he sat there confused. After finally catching what he had been chasing after, he was left not knowing what to do.
Dolores sitting naked in the Behavior Lab and Diagnostics area with Dr. Ford. Ford asks the usual questions. He asks "Do you know where you are?", to which she replies "In a dream.". He asks if she knows what the dream means, and she says that dreams don't mean anything. Ford says that dreams are everything, they are the stories they can tell of what they want to be, who they could become. He asks her if she remembers the man he used to be, but she does not, saying she is forgetful sometimes. Ford mentions that she must remember "him", "Arnold", the person that created her, but again she says she does not recall anyone by that name. But Ford believes somewhere beneath all those updates, he is still there. He asks if Arnold has been speaking to her again and if she’s been hearing voices, but she says not. Ford hurts her by accident, squeezing her hand too hard and she asks him to stop, he quickly orders Analysis Mode.
Once in Analysis, he asks when her last contact with Arnold was. Her reply was 34 years, 42 days and 7 hours ago, the day Arnold died. Again, Ford asks if she has any record of contact with him since, and Dolores answers no. Ford asks what the last thing Arnold said to her was. Dolores replies: "He told me I was going to help him. To destroy this place." Ford says he wonders if Dolores ever took on a bigger role for herself would she be the hero or the villain?
Ford brings her back online and apologises for bothering her, but that she is the only other one that was there, the only one understands. Dolores smiles asks if she and Ford are very old friends. Ford looks upset, and says "No". He gets up and leaves, leaving Dolores seated alone in the dark glass cubicle. As she sits in the dark, we hear her say "He doesn’t know. I didn’t tell him anything."
Ford appears in the Sector 17 cottage that Bernard has found. He explains that hosts here are very old, first generation hosts. He shows Bernard that the little boy is an old electro-mechanical model. He says that he maintains them himself, that these are some of the only hosts left that Arnold built, and that he keeps them for sentimental reasons. He reveals that Arnold created the cottage and hosts as a gift, from a description of a vacation Ford told him about ("...my only happy memory of my childhood"). Ford mentions that Bernard should also think about creating a Host Charlie, Lowe's dead son. Then, Bernard says, "I think I should be getting back". After Bernard leaves, Ford says to the little boy, "Robert, tell me all about your day".
Later, Robert Ford walks into Las Mudas with several men in construction hats after freezing the action of the hosts there. One of the men says that the town will have to be destroyed to make way for the new canyon. Ford tells the man that he instead wants them to end the canyon just short of the town. The group of men leave and he unfreezes the town's hosts. He sees a picture of The Maze carved into a table outside the cantina.
Back in his office, Ford moves a model of a White Church on a work table. He leaves the table, goes over to a cabinet by his desk and gets out an old notebook or journal, full of drawings and diagrams of early hosts, and of The Maze. He stops turning the pages when he comes to the picture of The Maze and gazes at it.
Ford finds the Little Boy in the park. The boy asks Ford if he's lost. Ford replies, "Lost? No, I've strayed a bit from where I'm supposed to be." Ford says that he wants to play catch with Jock, but he discovers the dog is dead and it comes out that the young Host has killed him, because the voice of Arnold in his head told him to.
After a demonstration of a host malfunctioning, Ford is told about Bernard's dismissal. Seemingly troubled by this decision of the board, Ford seems frozen for a moment. Afterwards Bernard confronts Theresa and tells her he needs to show her something. The two head to the secret cottage in sector 17 (in which the unregistered hosts created by Arnold were found earlier), and head for the basement, where they find an active host-crafting station within a laboratory. Theresa finds blueprints of some of the presumably first hosts, as they show Dolores and the Little Boy.
Theresa is shocked to find drafts of a Bernard host as well and after trying to confront him in vain, Ford intervenes, revealing that Bernard wasn't capable of seeing the blueprints as it could have a harmful effect and he (Ford) wanted to spare his hosts from such events. Still in shock about Bernard being a host, Theresa calls Ford a "f*cking monster" and implies that the board would have Ford dismissed as well. Ford however doesn't seem impressed and tells her that the deal he has with the board would be too valuable for them to dismiss him and that Theresa was just a test for him, revealing a quite diabolic side of the board who was enjoying this for the "sporty nature" of these incidents according to Ford, who demands a "blood-sacrifice". Afterwards he instructs a now robotic Bernard to "help" Theresa who has "grown weary". Bernard kills Theresa by smashing her head against the wall, crushing her skull.
The episode opens with Ford asking Bernard to bring himself back online. He does, and immediately begins hyperventilating and sobbing as he remembers what he did to Theresa. He can't understand why he killed her, because he believes he loved her. Ford marvels at Bernard's display of emotion, calling it "a thing of beauty". He tells Bernard that he killed Theresa because he, Ford, told him to, and says he must feel proud of the emotions he's feeling, confusing Bernard. He explains that in the beginning the Hosts could only feel "Primary Color" emotions; love, hate etc. The engineers couldn't create a more complex Host, so Ford built Bernard and together they achieved a wider range of feelings for the Hosts.
Bernard asks why Ford would make him kill Theresa, because he loved her. Ford quotes Frankenstein, saying "One man's life or death were but a small price to pay for the acquirement of the knowledge which I sought, for the dominion I should acquire." He continues his story, saying that 'they' would have destroyed all his work, and destroyed Bernard, and that he won't let that happen.
Bernard becomes angry, and refuses to help Ford in any way. He stands up and throws his chair away, advancing on Ford who freezes him. Ford casually recalls that Arnold felt the same way, and he couldn't stop Ford either. He gives a command to Bernard that shuts off his emotions, and tells him that he needs the old Bernard back, the capable Bernard who can cover his tracks. Bernard, no longer angry, asks Ford how he should proceed, and Ford tells him to erase any connections between them and Theresa's death. He promises Bernard that he will wipe away all memories of Theresa when he's finished, so he may be at peace.
Ford is later present when Theresa's body is unveiled in the Mesa Hub, along with Charlotte and Stubbs. He pretends to be unaware of what happened to her, asking questions and appearing curious. After sharing a look with Charlotte, who brings up Theresa's belief that the new narratives should be delayed, Ford reveals that he has found Theresa's demonstration to be staged, as a technician edited Clementine's code. He suggests that technician access to hosts be limited, until a more principled team can be found. He manages to get Bernard reinstated as head of Behaviour.
Back in the same room as before, Ford prepares to erase Bernard's memory, as he has successfully cleared up any evidence linking them to Theresa. Ford comments on Bernard's extraordinary circumstances; being a host that understands how hosts work. The two converse for a while, with Ford telling Bernard how lucky he is to have no emotions.
Before his memory is wiped Bernard asks Ford wether he has made him hurt anyone before. Ford says no, and initiates the memory wipe, however Bernard has a flashback which proves Ford is lying.
Ford meets with Bernard in one of the rooms behind Cold Storage, and is told by Bernard that he wants his memories back. Ford warns him that he may not like what he finds, and is amused when Bernard pulls out a gun. He says "You're allowed to hold that Bernard, but not to use it.", and Bernard calls in the original Clementine. He tells Ford that her code was damaged during her lobotomy, allowing her to bypass the Good Samaritan reflex and hurt humans. Ford agrees to give Bernard his memories.
He watches Bernard experience his memories and explains where necessary, talking about Arnold and how similar the two are. When asked about the reasons behind giving Bernard the memory of a dead child, Ford reveals that Arnold thought giving the hosts tragic backstories made them more complex and feeling. During Bernard's experiences we see the aftermath of Maeve killing herself due to the trauma of her daughter's death. Bernard tries to understand how she remembered the pain after Ford wiped the memory, and he begins to glitch. Ford explains to him that Maeve's trauma was so great that she just wanted it to stop, and that although the memory was gone the pain remained.
Later on Ford is seen in one of Dolores' memories as a young man, walking through the corridor of an underground Hub, looking for Arnold.
After Bernard sees himself kill Elsie he asks Ford why he was asked to do this, to which Ford replies that sometimes hard choices have to be made, once again demonstrating his willingness to kill to protect his work.
Ford does a voice over as Bernard is revealed as Arnold. He greets Bernard as he wakes up for the first time, and dresses him up to look like Arnold, teaching him all of Arnold's little mannerisms and giving him his new name.
When Bernard starts talking about setting the sentient hosts free Ford says that they will not be safe in the real world, as humans will destroy the hosts to maintain their primacy, and that humans should not be trusted as they inevitably disappoint. Ford later shuts down Clementine, revealing that he could have done so all along as Bernard built a backdoor into all the hosts' code. Ford takes control of Bernard and forces him to take the gun from Clem and point it at his head. He instructs Bernard to shoot himself as soon as he (Ford) leaves the room. Bernard begs him not to do this, but Ford walks away through Cold Storage, as a shot rings out.
Please read the Style Guide before editing.
In Ford's office, the piano player is playing as Ford works. He stops the music as Hale comes in. She's there to tell him he has to retire, after announcing his new narrative. She tells him that the hosts will be simplified, and that she's not worried about him destroying anything as he goes. Ford is unworried and asks if there's anything else he can help her with, she leaves, irritated.
Ford finds the Man in Black at the White Church after Teddy has rescued Dolores, he greets him as "William", and invites him to the Board's presentation. The MiB tells Ford that he wanted a game where the stakes mattered, where the hosts would genuinely fight back. Ford says that he should come to the presentation, that he might find the new narrative more satisfying.
After Dolores dies in Teddy's arms and Teddy's speech, the audience applaud and Ford stands next to them. He thanks the board for coming and celebrating the new narrative "Journey Into Night" After saying a few words on the beach, Ford supervises the staff collecting Teddy and Dolores. He tells them to take Dolores to the old field lab, an RDF.
In the RDF, Dolores is tended to by Ford, he finishes off by repairing her cut lip and waking her. They look at Arnold's favorite painting and Ford points out the Easter Egg left by Michelangelo, the shape of the human brain in the painting, behind the image of God creating life.
Bernard enters and Dolores is delighted, she mistakes him for Arnold. Ford explains who Bernard is, and that he's kept them separate until now. Bernard accuses Ford of killing Arnold, and Ford triggers Dolores' memory of what really happened. She is grief stricken. Ford talks about how Arnold had seen his son die and tried to create another living being, Dolores. The Maze was a test of empathy and imagination, Arnold taking the idea from one of his son's toys. She solved the maze after Arnold's Reveries update. When he couldn't convince Ford not to open Westworld (Location) he merged another character into Dolores' - Wyatt - and used Dolores and Teddy to destroy every host they could find. We see the events in Dolores' memory, Teddy destroying the hosts, and then Arnold using Dolores to take his own life. Arnold he sits on a wooden chair and uses the voice command "These violent deilghts have violent ends". Dolores shoots him in th back of the head, then turns and shoots the watching Teddy. Finally, she turns the gun on herself.
Ford admits that Arnold's plan to prevent the park's opening almost worked, he was only able to continue with the help of a new financial backer, William. He says he believed the hosts weren't conscious at the time - then he says he wasn't able to acknowledge it because he wouldn't have been able to open the park if he had. Dolores accuses him of trapping them all inside his dream. He quotes Oppenheimer, saying that any man whose mistakes take ten years to correct must be quite a man, and that it's taken him 35 years to correct his own. He shows Dolores the gun she used to kill Arnold, and leaves. Bernard looks at Dolores, then follows him.
Bernard and Ford go up in the lift to the white church Bernard tells Ford that he will lose control eventually. Ford talks about how he realized what Arnold had done only after he'd died. He realized that suffering, because of a world that is not as you would wish it, is the key. He insists that Arnold didn't know how to save the hosts, and that he (Ford) does. He tells Bernard goodbye and good luck. He shakes his hand in a strangely awkward way that puzzles Bernard; gives him the maze game in its borrowed box and leaves the church for the Gala.
At the gala, Ford takes a drink from a host and mingles. William is there as well. Ford takes the stage to applause. William watches from the bar. Ford speaks of his life-long love of stories. He says that the story is for a new people and their choices. Dressed in her blue dress, Dolores moves so that she can stand behind Ford. As he speaks, Dolores shoots him in the back of the head, and smiles.
Dr. Ford is brilliant, egotistical, arrogant, charming, and potentially sinister. He is a misanthrope, but also points out on several occasions that Arnold was as well (without noting the similarity between them). He seems to have a strong affinity for the hosts.
Despite this, he is very clear with his employees that they are never to consider the hosts to be real, and that they are not conscious. (Ford reveals later that the reason that he doesn't want anyone to know that some of the hosts have 'awoken' is to protect the hosts; because he thinks that humans would destroy conscious hosts.) Ford angrily shouts at a technician who covered up a host's genitals as he interviewed him, saying the hosts have no modesty and feel no shame. He is willing to kill to protect Bernard, and the other hosts.
- Though other employees need touchscreens or Voice Command's to make the hosts shut down or perform another action, Ford can control all of the hosts in the park — even animal host — with a mere flick of his finger. This was demonstrated when he encountered a rattlesnake during his walk with the Little Boy. We saw this again when he had lunch with Theresa Cullen. He froze a host as it was pouring wine at their table, and paused all of the other hosts in sight at the same time.
- Ford's choice of hat may be significant. He wears a Black Hat whenever he goes into the park.
- As Ford says: "For three years we lived here in the park, refining the hosts before a single guest set foot inside," Ford explained. "Myself, a team of engineers, and my partner."
- Ford shares his name with the historical figure Robert Ford, best known as the man who killed famous outlaw Jesse James. A Western film titled The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford was released in 2007 by Warner Brothers, with the title role played by Casey Affleck.
- Ford also shares his name with the Ford's Theatre, where Abraham Lincoln was murdered on April 4th 1865, with a shot to the back of his head.
- IGN: Interview with Nolan and Joy after the S1 Finale
- IGN: Could there have been any host swap shenanigans or can you say that that was definitely the real Ford at the end?
- Nolan: That was definitely a real Ford. [being shot by Dolores]
- Please note he said "a real Ford", not "the real Ford", so we still don't know *sigh*
Ford having created the host Bernard Lowe out of grief for the loss of his close friend and creative partner, but also in order to improve the emotional responses of the hosts. Ford's human engineers were not up to the task of creating an extended range of life-like emotions for the hosts, but Bernard was able to exceed even Ford's abilities in this regard. Much of their conversation in the series revolves around the possibility of the creation of consciousness in the hosts.
Theresa seems to have a low opinion of Ford, and has no compunctions about her orders from the board to steal all of Ford's data about the hosts (corporate espionage). Ford doesn't want to have to deal with Theresa's meddling in his affairs, so he warns her not to get in his way. He tells Theresa that the board tests him from time to time (and that she is a test), but that he always wins. He casually instructs Bernard to kill her, but he later reveals that he believes he had no choice in order to save Bernard and the other hosts.
Arnold was Ford's creative (and perhaps business) partner prior to the park being opened to guests, and he co-created the technology that makes the hosts possible. Arnold's demise was self-inflicted; Ford was not involved in his death and was grief-stricken by it. We see this when Dolores asks Ford if they are "very old friends", and Ford is so saddened by the memory of Dolores killing Arnold that he sheds a tear.
Ford doesn't appear to like Lee very much. He dismisses Lee's idea for a new narrative and insults his lack of understanding of what the guests come to the park for in front of other employees.
|“||Everything in this park is magic...except to the magician.||”|
|“||One man's life or death were but a small price to pay for the acquirement of the knowledge which I sought, for the dominion I should acquire.||”|
–Dr. Ford, quoting Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, in "Trace Decay"
- Season One